Welbeck: We had a great opportunity to win the title

Arsenal striker Danny Welbeck has admitted that his side wasted a "great opportunity" to win the Premier League title. 

Welbeck scored the only goal in Arsenal’s 1-0 win over Norwich City on Saturday and the victory moves the Gunners to third place on the Premier League standings. However, Manchester City can push them back down to fourth should they triumph in their game against Southampton on Sunday. 

While Arsenal are more than likely to finish in the top four this season, Welbeck conceded he was disappointed that his side let the Premier League title slip out of their hands. 

"Everyone is very disappointed," Welbeck told Sky Sports. "It was a great opportunity for us to go for the title this season and it is difficult to handle the way it is ending. We know as a club that we should be doing better than this."

The Gunners have no chance of catching up with league leaders Leicester City, who will be crowned Premier League champions if they beat Manchester United on Sunday. 

Despite this, the 25-year-old still believes that Arsenal can finish the league in second place as they currently trail Tottenham Hotspur by two points. However, Tottenham do have a game in hand. 

"We want to finish above Spurs but they want to finish above us. We will see what happens," he said.

Saturday's La Liga round-up

Saturday's La Liga action saw narrow wins for Real Madrid, Atlético Madrid and Barcelona, while Granada and Las Palmas played out a dramatic five-goal thriller.

Atlético Madrid remain level on points with Barcelona at the top of the standings after securing a 1-0 win over Rayo Vallecano at Estadio Vicente Calderón.

French winger Antoine Griezmann struck the only goal of the game in the 55th minute, leaving Los Rojiblancos alongside Barca at the top of La Liga, but well behind the Catalans on goal difference.

Real Madrid also managed to keep pace with the league leaders with a 1-0 win of their own over Real Sociedad at Estadio Municipal de Anoeta.

Gareth Bale found the net in the 80th minute, with Lucas Vázquez grabbing the assist to keep Los Blancos just a point behind in the title race.

Barcelona also looked unconvincing in their match against Real Betis, but remain top of the table after grinding out a 2-0 win at Estadio Benito Villamarín.

Ivan Rakitic took full advantage of a double defensive error to put Barca ahead five minutes into the second half, with Luis Suarez grabbing a second in the 81st minute.

Granada did well to recover from an early setback to claim a 3-2 win over Las Palmas at Estadio Nuevo Los Cármenes, earning three potentially vital points in their battle against relegation.

Jonathan Viera bagged a brace for Las Palmas inside 12 minutes, but Rubén Rochina pulled one back for Granada a minute later and Youssef El-Arabi equalised after 22 minutes during a frantic opening session.

The home side's memorable comeback was completed midway through the second half courtesy of Ricardo Costa, who headed home the vital winner from a corner kick.

Sundowns march on past Chiefs

Mamelodi Sundowns took a step closer to the Premiership title as they came from a goal down to beat Kaizer Chiefs 3-1 at Loftus Versfeld Stadium on Saturday.

  • Mamelodi Sundowns 3 Kaizer Chiefs 1
  • Gordinho opens the scoring
  • Castro equalises
  • Nthethe penalty puts Sundowns ahead
  • Gordinho sent off
  • Katsande with an own goal

Match Summary

Amakhosi took the lead through Lorenzo Gordinho just past the half-hour mark, but Leonardo Castro pulled the Brazilians level on the stroke of halftime.

Thabo Nthethe then  buried a penalty to put Sundowns ahead, before Chiefs essentially threw the game away when Gordinho picked up his second yellow card shortly before Willard Katsande found his own net while trying to defend Khama Billiat's free kick.

Full Report

Both sides tried to find their range early on, with Eric Mathoho of Chiefs going on a marauding run down the left flank before blasting wide, while Khama Billiat had an early effort for Sundowns, but blazed his effort just over the crossbar.

Chiefs goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune was called into action for the first time when Leonardo Castro tried his luck in the 16th minute, getting down low to block the Colombian's effort.

Chiefs took the lead in the 35th minute through Lorenzo Gordinho, whose header found the back of the net while Sundowns appealed for a handball.

Amakhosi looked to be closing in on a halftime lead until Castro struck in the 44th minute, getting a glancing header to Billiat's cross to bring the scores level.

The Brazilians then went ahead 10 minutes into the second half when a penalty was given against Mathoho for a handball, with Thabo Nthethe stepping up to fire it into the bottom corner past Khune, who dived in the right direction but couldn't stop it from sneaking in underneath him.

Things then went from bad to worse for Chiefs, with Gordinho receiving his second yellow card for a challenge in the 65th minute.

Sundowns then had a free kick just outside the right side of the penalty box, and Billiat floating in a delicious cross that Willard Katsande poked into his own net.

Barcelona back on top against Betis

Barcelona weren't at their best against Real Betis at Estadio Benito Villamarín on Saturday, but still did enough to earn a 2-0 win.

  • Real Betis 0 Barcelona 2
  • Westermann sent off
  • Rakitic opens the scoring
  • Suarez wraps up the points
  • Barca go level with Atleti

Match Summary

An unusually out-of-sorts Barca struggled in the first half against an organised Real Betis, but the hosts did themselves no favours when Heiko Westermann got himself sent off just past the half-hour mark.

Barca broke the deadlock early in the second half after some sloppy defending allowed Ivan Rakitic to tap home.

And the Catalans improved as the second half wore on, despite never reaching their scintillating best, wrapping it up 10 minutes from full-time when Luis Suarez latched onto Lionel Messi’s through ball, securing the win that see Barca draw level on points with Atlético Madrid at the top of La Liga.

Full Report

Betis made a superb start to the match, not allowing Barca to find their stride at all and effectively keeping their attacking players off the ball, with their first real chance falling to Andrés Iniesta after Neymar picked out the midfielder, though he sliced his effort well wide.

There was a flurry of yellow cards around the 20-minute mark, with Bruno going in the book for impeding Neymar, before Gerard Piqué caught Álvaro Cejudo in the back with his studs to meet the same fate, and Lionel Messi joined them for protesting.

With Betis doing well to keep an unusually timid Barca at bay, their task was made that much harder when Heiko Westermann needlessly lunged into a challenge on Ivan Rakitic in the 35th minute, earning him his second yellow card.

Barca were clearly told to pull themselves together at halftime, because they had their best chance of the match just three minutes into the second period. Neymar picked out Luis Suarez, who had made a run in behind the defence, but his first-time effort was wide at the near post.

Despite Barca failing to tick, they were gifted the lead in the 50th minute when a seemingly innocuous ball in from Messi was not dealt with by either Germán Pezzella or Antonio Adán and fell fortuitously for Rakitic to poke home.

Messi could well have doubled Barca’s lead in the 57th minute when he found room in the box to fire an effort towards the bottom corner, but former Barca defender Martín Montoya was there to make the block for Betis.

Barca almost worked a trademark goal in the 75th minute, only for Adan to gather, and the goalkeeper was called into action again in the 77th minute to deny Suarez after Messi had put him through.

Barca did eventually have their second goal in the 81st minute, when a swift counterattack saw Messi thread it through for Suarez, and the Uruguayan made no mistake with the finish to take the Catalans back to the top of the standings.

Wits stutter against Chilli Boys

Bidvest Wits dropped what could be two vital points in their title challenge, drawing 1-1 with Chippa United at the Bidvest Stadium on Saturday.

  • Bidvest Wits 1 Chippa United 1
  • Sangweni scores on 17 minutes
  • Vilakazi equalises on the hour mark
  • Wits miss some very good second half chances

Match Summary

It was a game of two halves as Chippa dominated the opening period to take a 1-0 lead in at the break, but Gavin Hunt's team came back strongly after the restart to claim the point.

Full Report

Chippa's slick passing game, orchestrated by the trio of Xola Mlambo, Buyani Sali, Thamsanqua Sangweni, saw the visitors dictating matters in the middle of the park in the first 45 minutes.

It was the Chilli Boys who took the lead, Sangweni scorching in a powerful half volley at the near post on 17 minutes after Mlambo had pulled the ball back across goal.

There were, however, not many clear-cut chances, although home keeper Moeneeb Josephs was the kept busy and was needed to keep out some dangerous balls into the box from Dan Malasela's men.

The Clever Boys failed to penetrate the Chippa defence for the most part, although they did come close 10 minutes before halftime when Sibusiso Vilakazi's header was cleared off the line by a defender.

Wits grew stronger after the break, Chippa keeper Daniel Akpeyi having to make a very good save to keep out Vilakazi's angled drive from the edge of the area.

It was from the resultant corner that the hosts leveled matters, Vilakazi climbing in the box to pick out the far corner of the net with his head, making it 1-1 on 59 minutes.

The Students had some great chances to get the winner, but Phumlani Ntshangase shot over from a tight angle, Joaquim Lupeta headed over goal from only five yards out before Daine KJate failed to find the target with a header 12 minutes from time.

Welbeck winner eases pressure on Wenger

Danny Welbeck came off the bench to fire Arsenal to a 1-0 win over Norwich City at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday, much to the relief of Gunners boss Arsene Wenger.

  • Arsenal 1-0 Norwich City
  • Sub Welbeck grabs winner
  • Organised fans protest against Wenger
  • Gunners take big step to top four finish
  • Norwich relegation worries increase

Match Summary

The Frenchman had come under fire from Arsenal fans after another season of perceived underachievement, with two different supporters' groups staging organised protests during and around the fixture against the relegation-threatened Canaries.

However, a well-struck winner from Welbeck just before the hour mark stifled the protests and all-but cemented Arsenal's top four finish this season.

Full Report

Wenger named an unchanged team from that which drew with Sunderland last time out and again Arsenal looked to be struggling at times to break down a stubborn side still scrapping for precious points.

In fact, the best of the first half chances went to the visitors, with winger Nathan Redmond twice declining presentable chances to break the deadlock following slack Arsenal defending.

The Gunners, for their part, enjoyed plenty of possession laboured to find any real penetration. Apparently intent on playing their way through a narrow Norwich side, they repeatedly ran out of room before any meaningful final pass could be played.

Norwich came into the game in increasingly desperate mood after already seeing relegation rivals Sunderland and Newcastle pick up points in earlier games, and you always sensed that as long as Arsenal opened the scoring it would probably be enough to guide them to victory – and so it proved.

With the frustration mounting, Wenger sent Welbeck on for Alex Iwobi and the former Manchester United man needed just four minutes to make his presence felt, firing into the bottom corner from just inside the box after an Olivier Giroud cushioned knock-down.

The game opened up as Norwich abandoned their plan to contain, and Arsenal began creating a few more opportunities, with Mesut Ozil's stinging saved volley the most eye-catching of them.

They struggled to put the game to bed, though, and had to withstand late Norwich pressure before finally being assured of the three points that looks to have realistically all but guaranteed them another Champions League campaign next season.

Late Deeney brace fires Watford to victory

Watford stunned Aston Villa with a remarkable 3-2 victory at Vicarage Road on Saturday, the result going their way thanks to a brace from Troy Deeney in the dying minutes of the match.

Watford 3 Aston Villa 2
Watson strikes the crossbar from 25 yards
Clark scores from a corner
Abdi levels the score just before the break
Aye restored Villa's lead after the break
Deeney grabs a brace in stoppage time

Match summary

The first half started slowly with neither team showing much skill in the final third. Then on 25 minutes the match came alive with a great save from Mark Bunn which lead to a long ange shot from Mark Watson hitting the crossbar.

Aston Villa scored soon after through Ciaran Clark - his header from a corner beating Heurelho Gomes.

With two minutes left on the clock before half-time, right after hitting the post for a second time, Almen Abdio equalised with a superb free-kick.

Jordan Ayew gave the visitors the lead again soon after the start of the second half after combining with Gestede. The latter wasted an opportunity for a third soon after - shooting over the bar.

Villa continued to look dangerous and on 62 minutes Kevin Toner headed an excellent free-kick wide of the upright.

Watford were given a lifeline with 18 minutes left when Aly Cissokho brought down Ikechi Anya with a very poor challenge.

Watford threw all they had at the Villa defence and their unrelenting pressure resulted in a fantastic two-minute brace from Troy Deeney - both in stoppage time.

Full report

It was a match that would have already-demoralised Aston Villa supporters shaking their heads in disbelief. Even with only 10 men on the field for 17 minutes, their embattled team looked likely to take the full three points for only the fourth time this season. 

Unbelievably they were not even going to get a single point, as Troy Deeney, a player who was once on their books, broke their hearts with an injury-time brace.

The game started slowly - a pace that would continue throughout the majority of the first half. Deeney found Villa keeper Mark Dunn with an early flicked header but that, along with a half-hearted penalty appeal form Odion Ighalo, was the only bit of excitement for the opening quarter.

Watford finally found their feet - and the crossbar - in 25th minute. Ighalo made some space for himself after being put through at a tight angle. His shot was saved by Villa keeper Mark Bunn, but the ball came to Ben Watson whose thunderous shot from 25 yards out struck the crossbar.

The opening goal came soon after, albeit at the other end of the pitch. A mere minute after Jordan Ayew's effort missed the upright by some distance the visitors won a corner from which Ciaran Clark headed home.

The home side continued to look relatively inept in front of the goal but eventually, soon after Villa's Ayew met Cissokho's cross and struck the crossbar, Almen Abdi equalised for them.

Villa restored their lead three minutes after the restart as the excellent Jordan Ayew finished past Heurelho Gomes after playing a beautiful one-two with strike partner Rudy Gestede.

The visitors could have had a third mere minutes after via some good interplay from the same two players who crafted the previous one. This time, however, Gestede fired over the crossbar.

Troy Deeney almost had his side level on 69 minutes, was it not for some great defending from Ashley Westwood who cleared the ball off the line from the striker's header.

From that moment the match opened up somewhat and when Cissokho saw red after an ugly tackle on Ikechi Anya, the home side would have felt that an equaliser was imminent.

It did come, but not until the first minute of stoppage time, Deeney guiding the cross from Steven Berghuis home from close range.

The Villa fans were shocked at conceding so close to the final whistle, but their shocked turned to absolute disbelief as the same player found himself in too much space in the box after a chipped ball fell at his feet. Deeny made no mistake, slotting the ball into the bottom-right corner to hand his side a memorable come-from-behind victory.

Hummels: I have not offered myself anywhere

Borussia Dortmund skipper Mats Hummels has denied reports claiming he approached Bayern München to enquire about a potential switch to the Allianz Arena in the off-season.

While the 27-year-old is keen to keen to join the Bavarians, Hummels insists he was not the one to prompt discussions over a transfer.

This after Bayern legend Uli Hoeness recently claimed the Germany international had sounded the German giants' hierarchy.

"I have not offered myself anywhere," Hummels told reporters after his side's comfortable 5-1 victory over Wolfsburg on Saturday afternoon.

"That is the greatest piece of nonsense I've ever heard."

Bayern chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge confirmed as much when asked about Hoeness' comments.

"Maybe Uli has not understood it correctly," Rummenigge revealed. "We were knocking on his door, not Hummels knocking on our door.

"Mats has not moved offensively towards us but we asked him whether he could imagine himself moving to Bayern."

West Ham smash three past Baggies

West Ham United were rarely troubled as they cruised to a 3-0 victory over a deflated West Bromwich Albion side at the Hawthorns on Saturday afternoon.

  • West Brom 0-3 West Ham
  • Kouyate heads Hammers ahead
  • Noble adds second before break
  • Hammers skipper bags brace
  • West Ham move above Man United into 5th

Match summary

West Ham United made easy work of West Brom as they beat the Baggies 3-0 at the Hawthorns, with midfielders Cheikhou Kouyate and Mark Noble grabbing the goals for Slaven Bilic's men.

Kouyate benefited from some excellent work from Dimitri Payet on the wing as the Frenchman's pin-point cross was headed in by the towering midfielder to open the scoring, before Noble scored two goals either side of the half-time break to put the result beyond doubt.

Full report

The game started at a slow pace as Tony Pulis set his side out to frustrate the visitors and contain them in the early stages, but West Ham keeper Adrian had the first action of the two keepers. He was forced to go full stretch and just about got his fingertips to a curling effort from midfielder Craig Gardner from inside the box early on.

The great start from the hosts prompted West Ham to kick up a gear and they were duly rewarded after some great play from their midfield talisman Dimitri Payet set up lovely header from Cheikhou Kouyate ten minutes before the break. West Brom lost possession and Winston Reid fed the ball quickly to Payet, who switched over to the right flank to show some composure before delivering a pin-point cross for Kouyate to head past Ben Foster.

In stoppage time there was some desperate defending on display from West Brom and the visitors went into the break with a two-goal advantage. Cheikhou Kouyate raced down the flank with no Baggies defenders close to him before laying off the ball to his skipper, Mark Noble, who saw an ugly, scuffed shot on goal trickle past Ben Foster.

Pulis was clearly unimpressed with his side's defending going into half-time.

Debutant Jonathan Leko, 17, showed some promise for the home side after the break when he bolted forward and provided Craig Gardner a neat ball on the run, with the midfielder whipping the ball into the box. Salomon Rondon was, however, put off by some intrusive defending from Angelo Ogbonna. 

England forward Saido Berahino then had good chances to score for his the hosts before Mark Noble scored his second of the night to hand West Ham a three-goal lead.

Dimitri Payet again at the heart of every move, glided through the West Brom defence as he laid it off to Andy Carroll. The big target man then sent a high ball in from the left to Noble, who thumped home a volley past a dejected Foster.

With the unassailable lead, Bilic then brought on the highly-rated Reece Oxford as the Hammers looked to see out the game, and the substitution had the desire effect as the score remained 3-0, with the Hammers moving above Manchester United into fifth spot in the Premier League standings.

Bale keeps Real in Primera Division title hunt

Gareth Bale's 80th minute header was enough to hand Real Madrid a 1-0 victory against Real Sociedad at Estadio Anoeta on Saturday and lift them top of the Primera Division.

  • Real Sociedad 0 Real Madrid 1
  • James forces a save from Rulli
  • Bale's header just wide of the post
  • Clearance off the line by Bergara
  • Bale fires straight at Rulli
  • Bale heads home from Jese's cross

Match summary

For 80 minutes Zinedine Zidane's side had Atletico and Barcelona fans on the edge of their seats, hoping that their luck would hold out. The visitors had several chances in both halves but struggled to find the back of the net due to some poor finishing and good goalkeeping.

Real Sociedad were on the back foot throughout the match and simply could not find their way through the Madrid backline, which was expertly marshalled by the excellent Sergio Ramos.

The match never looked like it was going to turn into a festival of goals - and when Bale eventually headed home from a terrific Jese cross, one could feel the match was over as a competition.

Full report

Madrid started strongly and didn't take their foot off the accelerator for the entire match.

The first of several Madrid chances came after some patient build up play. James and Nacho combined to feed Bale who was well challenged by Mikel Gonzalez. The ball fell to Nacho who found James Rodriguez whose low shot was kept out by Geronimo Rulli.

Sergio Ramos, who had a terrific match at the back for the visitors, rose above his marker to head a Luka Modric corner wide of the post.

James' class in the midfield proved too much to handle for the hosts, with the Columbian regularly causing trouble for the Sociedad defence. From one of several corners he won, Bale again missed the target with a header.

Los Blancos' pressure was unrelenting, chance after chance falling to their classy forwards who simply could not find the back of the net. James was again off target on 17 minutes, firing wide after a Vazqez's flick.

Frustrated Madrid fans could have been forgiven for thinking that it simply wasn't going to be Bale's day after the Welshman again missed with a header from James' cross.

James, who was still dominating the midfield, had a chance denied by Rulli on 28 minutes, although the Columbian's straight shot did make it relatively it easy for the keeper.

The second half finally saw the home side apply some pressure in the final third, with Keylor Navas having to parry a great corner from Sociedad winger Bruma.

On 59 minutes, Gareth Bale had the best chance of the match to put his side a goal up. But again the player hardly tested Rulli, firing his shot straight at the keeper after finding himself completely unmarked in the box. With the match going the way it was, it seemed likely to be the last good opportunity Madrid would have to score.

Jese forced two saves from Rulli in a short space of time and finally, on 81 minutes, Gareth Bale made amends for his terrible miss earlier by scoring what must be one of the most satisfying goals of his career, climbing high above his marker to nod home from a Vasquez cross.

Despite some late pressure from the home side, Madrid managed to keep the score at 0-1 and take the league's top spot from arch rivals Barcelona.