ROUND-UP: Africans in the EPL – Week 16
The Premier League was graced with top quality action by many African players this weekend, as Riyad Mahrez continues to excel for Leicester City.
Riyad Mahrez put in another a Man of the Match display against Chelsea, as his early second-half goal earned top-of-the-table Leicester City a valuable 2-1 win over the struggling champions. The Algeria international saw an effort saved after just a minute, before again testing Thibaut Courtois after 18 minutes. Mahrez set up Jamie Vardy’s first for the Foxes, before curling his own effort into the goal. His pace and movement were too much for the Blues and N’Golo Kante had a fine game, seeing an effort of his own go narrowly past the target. Meanwhile, John Obi Mikel was watching on from the bench, as Chelsea were more comfortably beaten than the scoreline suggests.
Yannick Bolasie provided the perfect cross for Yohan Cabaye to tap in from six yards in the first half, as Crystal Palace beat Southampton 1-0. His Man of the Match display could have been topped off with a goal, if it wasn’t for the top form of Saints goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga denying his curling shot going into the top corner. It was the DR Congo man’s first assist since March, while Marouane Chamakh was introduced into added time for the home side. Sadio Mane missed a first-half opportunity to open the scoring, thanks to help of Victor Wanyama, missing two further attempts in the first half. While the Senegal international saw a shot go high and wide in the second half and another blocked in the dying moments of the match.
African duo Kelechi Iheanacho and Wilfried Bony scored the goals to defeat struggling Swansea City at the Etihad in a crazy last final few minutes. Bony gave City the lead against his former club in the 26th minute, after having seen an earlier effort saved. Iheanacho continued his good form by scoring a deflected effort, having come on four minutes from time. But the Swans thought they had stolen a point when Bafetimbi Gomis scored a fine equaliser in the final minute. It was the work of Yaya Toure that got the Nigerian the winning goal, with the Ivorian’s shot striking Iheanacho on the back to deflect the ball past the Swansea ‘keeper. Andre Ayew started for Swansea, while Modou Barrow came on after 76 minutes.
Alan Nyom provided to cross for Odion Ighalo to give Watford a 1-0 lead, and ultimately the win, against struggling Sunderland in the fourth minute. Adlene Guedioura had a shot from outside the box saved, while it was Ighalo’s tenth of the season and 26th in 2015 to make him the top-scoring player in all four divisions of English football this calendar year. Ighalo had a further effort saved in the first half, before two more denied in the second, as he continued to be Watford’s biggest threat and their all-time top goal scorer in the Premier League.
Cheikhou Kouyate couldn’t find the goal West Ham needed in order to get the win at home to Stoke City. The Senegal international’s shot from outside the box after two minutes was saved, before being denied again and missing mid way through the second half and seeing his header blocked into added time. Alex Song featured for the Hammers, while Mame Biram Diouf missed a second-half one-on-one to snatch a late win for the Potters.
Idrissa Gueye missed a chance from outside the box, as Aston Villa fell 1-0 behind at home to Arsenal. The 26-year-old again missed in the second half, after seeing a shot blocked while Adama Traore came on to good effect with three minutes remaining, though, seeing his shot fly into the side netting. Rudy Gestede should have done better with a header for Villa in first-half added time, before missing another header just after the half, as Jordan Ayew also featured. However, their abysmal form continues and are in threat of relegation, having collected just six points so far this season, with a 2-0 defeat to the Gunners this weekend.
Chancel Mbemba’s header lead to Newcastle’s equalising goal, after Tottenham had took a 1-0 lead, as both Toby Alderweireld and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris failed to clear his header as Aleksandar Mitrovic equalised. Papiss Cisse missed a first-half header, before going close early in the second half and seeing a header saved as the game wore on. A late goal by Ayoze Perez stole it for the visitors, who moved out of the relegation after back-to-back wins, following victory over Liverpool last weekend.
Sebastien Bassong featured in defence for Norwich City, as they were held to a 1-1 draw at home to in-form Everton. Arouna Kone had an effort saved shortly after Everton took the lead, before seeing his shot blocked in an attempt to regain the toffees’ lead midway through the second half.