Culture of Hoops

Barclays Premier League Capsule: Gameweek 27

Image courtesy of Dean Jones/Flickr.

Image courtesy of Dean Jones/Flickr.

The battle for Champions League football continues to boil as three points now separates fifth from third. Chelsea, who were crowned Capital One Cup champions after their 2-0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley, were boosted by the news that their five-point advantage at the top of the table remains intact. Here’s a review of all the news, and action from gameweek 27 of the Premier League in this week’s edition of the Barclays Premier League Capsule:

West Ham United 1-3 Crystal Palace

Alan Pardew’s side make it three consecutive Premier League away wins after their victory over The Hammers. West Ham had the chance to take an early lead when Mark Noble was fouled inches outside of the box, but he could only strike the crossbar with his free-kick. West Ham started the stronger side, but Crystal Palace gradually got into the game with Glen Murray testing Adrian in net with two efforts. Murray was involved again soon after when his deflected header found the back of the net to give Palace the half-time lead. Palace started the second-half where they left off the first when Scott Dann met the cross of Jason Puncheon to head past Adrian and double Palace’s advantage. Things got worse for West Ham as Murray scored the third with another header to give Palace a three-goal advantage. West Ham nearly got back into the game but Nene’s curling effort hit the post. Palace were reduced to 10 men after Murray was shown his second yellow card, and although they couldn’t score three goals, they found a consolation in the 76th minute when Enner Valencia scored. The Ecuadorian international received a pass from Stewart Downing before firing the ball past Julian Speroni. Valencia could have had a second, but Speroni made a brilliant save to deny him. The loss means West Ham’s fall continues, they now sit in ninth-place. Palace, meanwhile, climb to 12th place.

Best Player:

(West Ham) – N/A

Glen Murray (Palace) – looked lively throughout the match, and did well to disrupt the West Ham defenders. The forward hasn’t featured much this season, but he has now scored three goals in his last two matches.

Burnley 0-1 Swansea City

The Clarets’ poor form continues where they’ve only won once in their last 10 Premier League matches, keeping them in the relegation zone. Burnley almost made the perfect start to the match when Danny Ings found Ashley Barnes, but he could only fire his shot at the keeper. Swansea had a chance moments later at the other end, when Wayne Routledge raced through on goal. The midfielder claimed that the keeper fouled him, but the referee was having none of it. With 30 minutes played, Burnley looked intent on taking the lead but Michael Kightly could only scuff his shot against a defender and out for a corner. Bafetimbi Gomis’ high, wide shot was the end of the action in a goalless first-half. Burnley came out after the break and continued to look the more likely team to score. They had a couple shouts for hand-ball ignored before Kieran Trippier bundled the ball into his own net. Burnley had one more shout for a penalty denied before Lukas Fabianski did well to deny Sam Vokes at his near-post. The win means Swansea move up to eight-place.

Best Player:

(Burnley) – N/A

Lukas Fabianski (Swansea) – made a string of important saves to deny Burnley a goal at home. He did well to make himself big after Barnes was in on goal, and saved his side again late in the match. He now has 10 clean-sheets for the season.

Manchester United 2-0 Sunderland

The Red Devils make it three home wins in a row after they defeat Sunderland at Old Trafford. Sunderland had the first real chance, when Connor Wickham led the counterattack and forced a save from David De Gea before Jermaine Defoe curled an effort just wide. United’s best chance fell to Ashley Young whose deflected shot smacked off the crossbar. United continued to press forward, but they couldn’t find an opening in the first-half. With a little over half-an-hour played, United had a chance to take the lead when Radamel Falcao was brought down in the penalty box by Wes Brown who was shown a straight red. Wayne Rooney stepped up to take the spot-kick and made no mistake, sending a hard and low shot past Costel Pantilimon. With six minutes left, winger Adnan Januzaj had a shot saved, but Rooney was in the right place to nod home his second of the match. Ander Herrera had a goal ruled out for offside late in the match as United went on to secure all three points. The win keeps them in the top-four, while Sunderland remain in 16th place.

Best Player:

Wayne Rooney (Man United) – was influential throughout the match, and led his team to victory with an outstanding performance. The striker hadn’t scored a goal since his brace against Newcastle on Boxing Day, but he scored twice to take his tally to 10 goals this season.

(Sunderland) – N/A

Newcastle United 1-0 Aston Villa

Aston Villa’s misery continues as they extend their winless run to 12 matches and remain in the relegation zone. Villa had a chance to take the lead early in the match, but Christian Benteke’s vicious cross was deflected out for a corner before Scott Sinclair could get his foot on it. Newcastle had a couple sniffs at goal before Tim Krul was forced into action to save a Benteke bicycle-kick. Newcastle eventually took the lead when Daryl Janmaat’s cross was turned into the net by Papiss Cisse. Tom Cleverly had a chance to level for Villa, but his shot was well saved by Krul. Villa continued to pile the pressure, and thought they had scored only for Benteke to be flagged for offside. Newcastle had a couple chances to double their advantage when Ryan Taylor forced Brad Guzan into a save before Ayoze Perez hit the post with a headed effort. Newcastle remain in 11th place with this win.

Best Player:

Papiss Cisse (Newcastle) – scored his 11th goal of the season with a neat finish. The striker has been in good form recently and looks to have put his controversial start to the season behind him. He now has two goals in his last three starts.

Christian Benteke (Villa) – couldn’t end his goal drought, but he looked Villa’s likeliest player to score. The Belgian international was involved throughout and was unlucky not to score a goal.

Stoke City 1-0 Hull City

The Potters continue their good form as they win back-to-back Premier League games for the third time this season. Hull City were without leading goalscorer Nikica Jelavic who injured his knee, so Steve Bruce gave Sone Aluko a start ahead of new signing Dame N’Doye. The Ghanaian had Hull’s first real chance, but instead of squaring the ball to a teammate, he tried curled a shot with the outside of his boot that went wide of the net. At the other end, a scramble in the box almost led to a Stoke opener, but after a couple scuffed shots, Allan McGregor picked up the loose ball. After a goalless first-half, McGregor was forced into a save in the second after a vicious Charlie Adam free-kick. Stoke began to build the pressure and influential substitute Adam was involved again when he had a shot just wide before he was brought down outside the box, sending his free-kick inches wide of the post. Things got better for Stoke when substitute Peter Crouch scored within a minute after coming on. The tall striker skipped past his marker and guided his header past McGregor. The win means Stoke continue to press for a European spot, although they remain in 10th place. Hull, meanwhile, are still in 15th place, four points above the relegation zone.

Best Player:

Charlie Adam (Stoke City) – was brought on by manager Mark Hughes in the second-half and made an immediate impact. The midfielder bossed the midfield and pushed his team forward every chance he got. He nearly scored with a couple shots before sending a delicious ball for Crouch to head home.

(Hull City) – N/A

West Bromwich Albion 1-0 Southampton

The Saints’ dip in form continues where they’ve now won only once in their last five Premier League matches. West Brom made the perfect start to the match when Sadio Berahino scored a thumping volley to give his side the lead inside the first two minutes of the match. Sadio Mane had a couple of attempts at goal go over the bar in between a Craig Gardner penalty shout for West Brom. Into the second-half, West Brom had a chance to double their advantage, but Brown Ideye’s poor decision making led to the chance being wasted. Southampton turned up the pressure in the second-half, and their best chance fell to Graziano Pellè who, two-yards in front of goal, failed to connect with Ryan Bertrand’s low cross. With five minutes left in the match, Pellè had another chance to equalise, but this time he couldn’t get enough power behind his shot. The loss means Southampton drop to sixth-place while West Brom climb to 13th place.

Best Player:

Sadio Berahino (West Brom) – scored with his first touch of the match to take his goal tally for the season to 11. The striker was forced to come off due to injury, but his manager will be hoping he makes a swift recovery as the season is nearly at its end.

Ryan Bertrand (Southampton) – hadn’t started the last three matches, but he gelled well after being given the nod. His forward, and over-lapping runs always caused West Brom problems, and he nearly got his team back into the match, but for Pellè’s miss.

Liverpool 2-1 Manchester City

Liverpool’s rise continues as they dent Manchester City’s title hopes. Man City had a chance to reduce the gap on leaders Chelsea to two points as The Blues were involved in the Capital One Cup final, but they couldn’t defeat an inspired Liverpool side at Anfield. Liverpool made a rapid start and Adam Lallana thought he had scored, only for the linesman to raise his flag for offside. Liverpool continued to press forward, and they eventually scored the opening goal when Jordan Henderson rocketed a shot past Joe Hart. City nearly responded, but main-man Sergio Aguero’s effort rattled against the bar. Aguero did make an impact moments later when he found Edin Dzeko who fired past the on-rushing Simon Mignolet in goal to equalise for City. The teams went into the break level, and after the restart, it was City who nearly took the lead through Aguero, but his header was just over the bar. Liverpool began to assert their dominance in the second-half, and moments after Lallana had a goal ruled out for offside, Philippe Coutinho scored a sensational curler to send the Kop wild and put Liverpool into the lead. Substitute Daniel Sturridge had a chance to wrap up the match, but he sent his shot wide of the post, before Aguero did the same at the other end. The win moves Liverpool up to fifth-place, while Man City remain five points behind Chelsea.

Best Player:

Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool) – scored a wonderful goal to give his side the win. The Brazilian has now scored twice in his last two matches to take his tally for the season to four goals—one goal away from equaling last season’s tally.

Sergio Aguero (Man City) – looked City’s most dangerous player and was unlucky not to score a goal. He had several chances, but his shooting wasn’t clinical enough.

Arsenal 2-0 Everton

The Gunners increase the pressure on manager Roberto Martinez as Everton continue to drop in the table. Arsenal were looking to bounce back after a mid-week Champions League defeat to Monaco, but nearly made a disastrous start when a mistake in the back led to a Romelu Lukaku chance. But goalkeeper, David Ospina was quick off his line and was able to clear the danger. At the other end, Olivier Giroud had a chance to open the scoring, but his diving header was wide of the post. Giroud did find the net, however, after he met Mesut Özil’s corner to give Arsenal the half-time lead. Phil Jagielka was lucky to escape a hand-ball before an exchange of passes between Giroud and Santi Cazorla almost led to an Arsenal goal. Lukaku had another chance to equalise for Everton, but Ospina was again on hand to deny him before getting down low to deny Aaron Lennon a goal. With one minute of normal time remaining, Arsenal doubled their advantage when Tomas Rosicky’s deflected effort beat Tim Howard in goal. Everton are now 14th place after this loss, with only one win in their last 10 Premier League matches.

Best Player:

Olivier Giroud (Arsenal) – has now scored four goals in his last five league starts for Arsenal. The striker missed a couple of chances, and should have probably ended the night with the match-ball, but he will be happy with his goal nonetheless.

Romelu Lukaku (Everton) – didn’t score, but his pace and power disrupted the Arsenal defense throughout the match. He has struggled to hit his top form for Everton, and will be hoping he can help his team avoid dropping too low to the relegation zone.

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