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Aston Villa on the brink, Chelsea's unbeaten run ends and Palace register first win of 2016

It was another miserable day for the hosts at Villa Park.

Aston Villa fans staged mass protests this afternoon.
Aston Villa fans staged mass protests this afternoon.
Image: Clint Hughes

ASTON VILLA ARE all but relegated from the Premier League after losing 2-1 at home to Bournemouth.

Crystal Palace’s 1-0 victory over Villa’s relegation rivals Norwich City means Eric Black’s side can still mathematically survive, but they showed few signs of fight as they were beaten by goals from Steve Cook and Joshua King.

Villa – who are one of seven teams to have played in every Premier League campaign – struggled to give those inside Villa Park any sense of optimism, and eventually Bournemouth pounced.

Cook’s deft flick put the visitors ahead before the break, and King added a second with 16 minutes to play.

Jordan Ayew scored a late consolation, but it did little to lift a toxic atmosphere inside much of Villa Park.

Victory took Bournemouth past the 40-point barrier for the season, allowing Eddie Howe to plan a second campaign in the top flight for many onlookers’ pre-season relegation favourites, with Callum Wilson’s first appearance since September further boosting the Cherries late in the game.

Palace won their first Premier League game of 2016, beating Norwich 1-0 to ease their lingering relegation fears.

Jason Puncheon had missed a portion of Palace’s struggles since the turn of the year with a hamstring injury, but the attacking midfielder picked a timely moment to score his first goal of the season, with a superb long-range strike that settled a tense Selhurst Park contest midway through the second half.

Norwich came into the match unbeaten in their previous three matches but struggled to impose themselves and sit fourth bottom - four points ahead of Sunderland, who play the first of two games in hand against leaders Leciester City on Sunday.

Crystal Palace v Norwich City - Barclays Premier League - Selhurst Park Damien Delaney celebrates with Scott Dann. Source: PA Wire/Press Association Images

 

Palace are now 10 points better off than Sunderland and could take another huge step towards safety with a win over Everton on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Chelsea suffered their first Premier League defeat since the appointment of Guus Hiddink as they lost 1-0 at Swansea City.

Hiddink replaced Jose Mourinho on an interim basis in December and has successfully guided Chelsea into the top half following a disastrous start to their title defence.

However, in the first match since Antonio Conte was confirmed as Mourinho’s permanent successor, it was the Welsh club who celebrated reaching the fabled 40-point mark at the Liberty Stadium.

Swansea City v Chelsea - Barclays Premier League - Liberty Stadium Bad day at the office for Chelsea. Source: PA Wire

Gylfi Sigurdsson’s fourth goal in five league matches gave Swansea a deserved lead midway through the first half, while Alexandre Pato wasted two golden opportunities to restore parity.

Having teed up the opener, Jefferson Montero headed narrowly over from a Sigurdsson cross late on, but Swansea held on to end Hiddink’s 15-match unbeaten run and record their first Premier League win over Chelsea.

Francesco Guidolin, who is among the names linked with the Italy post that will be vacated by Conte following Euro 2016, will also now hope he has done enough to remain at Swansea beyond the end of the season.

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Ryan Bailey

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