Chelsea continue to win as they edge closer to the Premier League title, with Arsenal in their blind-spot. Manchester City lose their seventh match of the season, more than any of the top four contenders, and look to have fallen out of the title-race. Elsewhere, bottom of the table, Leicester City pick-up consecutive wins to kick-start their push for survival. Catch this and more with this week’s review of a monumental gameweek 32 in the Barclays Premier League:
Swansea City 1-1 Everton
Everton have improved in recent weeks, picking up a total of 10 points from a possible 12 in their last four games, but couldn’t prevent an equaliser from a determined Swansea. Swansea produced the first action of the match after Bafetimbi Gomis’ shot was tipped away from the powerful Tim Howard. Swansea had the ball in the back of the net moments later, but Jonjo Shelvey’s screamer was disallowed after the referee decided that Wayne Routledge had fouled Everton defender Leighton Baines in the build-up. Everton’s first shot on target came from Seamus Coleman who forced a good save from Lukas Fabianski just past the half-hour mark. Everton began to glide the ball around, and found a goal five-minutes before the half-time whistle after Aaron Lennon struck home. Both teams began the second-half cautiously, and it wasn’t until the 66th minute where Swansea felt they should have had a penalty. However, two minutes later, and the referee did award the Swans a penalty after Coleman appeared to handle the ball inside the box. Shelvey sent Howard the wrong way to bring his team back into the match. Everton were determined to regain the lead, with Ross Barkley coming close with a shot before Gylfi Sigurdsson tested Howard with a free-kick. The draw means Swansea remain eighth-place while Everton are 12th.
Jonjo Shelvey (Swansea) – was the driving force of his teams attack, and always looked a threat when on the ball. He should have opened the scoring with a fantastic shot, but the referee had already blown his whistle. The penalty was his first goal at home this season.
Aaron Lennon (Everton) – has been in good form recently, scoring two and providing one assist in his last four starts.
Southampton 2-0 Hull City
The Saints have won their last three Premier League home matches after going three matches without a win at the Saint Mary’s stadium. Striker Shane Long wasted an early chance to give Southampton the lead after a terrible back-pass from Hull. Sone Aluko sent a tame shot into the hands of Kelvin Davies before Steve Harper denied Graziano Pellè from close range at the other end. Both teams would go into the break level. Hull’s Jake Livermore was denied by Davies at the start of the second-half before Long was fouled in the box by Alex Bruce moments later prompting the referee to award a penalty. James Ward-Prowse took responsibility and scored clinically past Harper. Hull were determined to make amends, and they nearly scored but for a goal-line clearance by Ryan Bertrand. With nine minutes of normal time remaining, Pellè would score to double his side’s advantage and secure all three points. The win keeps Southampton in the hunt for a European spot, although it’s the Europa League they’re after now instead of the Champions League. Hull, meanwhile, edge closer to the relegation zone and are only two points clear.
Graziano Pellè (Southampton) – finally scored a Premier League goal in 2015, his last coming in a 3-0 victory against Everton before Christmas. The Italian will be hoping to hit double-figures before the season ends, having scored nine already.
(Hull City) – N/A
Sunderland 1-4 Crystal Palace
The Black Cats were brought back to reality after their derby victory over Newcastle last gameweek, going four goals down in the second-half. Crystal Palace were in search of their fourth straight Premier League victory, and after a goalless first-half, they scored four goals in 15 minutes to effectively clinch the win. The first came moments after the start of the second-half when Glen Murray met Yannick Bolasie’s cross with his head. Minutes later, Bolasie ran past the Sunderland back-four and tucked his shot underneath the onrushing Costel Pantilimon to double Palace’s lead. Moments later, Bolasie scored again with a chip over Pantilimon to send the away fans mental. Bolasie would complete his hat-trick with another run into the box, this time bundling his shot into the net. Connor Wickham would eventually score a consolation goal for Sunderland in the last minute, but by that time it was too late. Sunderland remain three points away from the relegation zone in 16th place. Crystal Palace, on the other hand, are 11th place, and a single point away from breaking into the top 10.
(Sunderland) – N/A
Yannick Bolasie (Palace) – troubled the Sunderland defenders with his pace, and was clinical in front of goal, scoring his club’s first Premier League hat-trick. Bolasie has been in fine form recently, scoring three and providing four assists in his last four Premier League matches.
Tottenham Hotspur 0-1 Aston Villa
Tottenham’s dip in form continues as they have now only won once in their last five league matches, and haven’t scored a goal in back-to-back Premier League games for the second time this season. Tottenham were intent on an early goal, but Brad Guzan was on hand to deny Danny Rose after 20 minutes of play. It was Villa who took the lead, however, when Christian Benteke climbed the highest to score with his head. Harry Kane had an effort saved from long-range before Gabriel Agbonlahor struck the post at the other end with a low shot. Kane nearly found an equaliser at the start of the second-half, but his curling shot was just over. Villa were eager to double their lead, and almost did when Fabian Delph was sent through on goal, but Michel Vorm was focused and saved well to deny the Villa man. Villa would end the match with 10-men after Carlos Sanchez received his second yellow-card, but they held on for the victory. The win moves Villa to 15th place where they are now six points clear of the relegation zone. Tottenham, however, are now seven points adrift of the top-four—they sit in seventh-place.
Harry Kane (Tottenham) – didn’t score, but he led the attack well. The captain was forced to shoot from range on a couple of occasions and couldn’t save his side from defeat.
Christian Benteke (Aston Villa) – is in hot form, and now has eight goals in his last six Premier League matches, taking his total to 10 for the season. The striker will be looking forward to the FA Cup semi-final against Liverpool next weekend, no doubt.
West Bromwich Albion 2-3 Leicester City
The Foxes have won back-to-back Premier League matches for the first time since September when they beat Manchester United 5-3. The win was also their first away victory of 2015. After a strong start, West Brom took the lead through Darren Fletcher who scored with his head. Leicester City didn’t let their heads drop, and were right back in the game when David Nugent scored from Leonardo Ulloa’s flick-on. Six minutes later, though, and West Brom regained their lead after Craig Gardner’s deflected shot. The last chance of the half fell to Ulloa who shot over the bar. West Brom could have made it three after the restart, but Saido Berahino’s selfish effort was tame, and straight at the goalkeeper. Leicester pushed forward in search of a goal late on, and with 10 minutes remaining, Robert Huth scored with his head to level the scores. Into stoppage-time, and Leicester weren’t finished, determined to snatch the win. Jamie Vardy won the ball on the half-way line, raced towards goal, and struck a clinical shot past the helpless Boaz Myhill. Despite their win, Leicester remain bottom of the league, but are now three points away from safety. West Brom, however, have now lost back-to-back home matches for the first time this season and are 15th place.
(West Brom) – N/A
Jamie Vardy (Leicester) – refused to give-up and deserved his goal. The forward has now scored in back-to-back away games, and looks an important player as Leicester chase safety.
West Ham United 1-1 Stoke City
The Hammers were denied a win after Stoke City scored a late equaliser to share the points at Upton Park. Both teams came into the match losing their respective matches in the previous gameweek by a 2-1 margin. West Ham started the match stronger, and nearly found an opener after a succession of corners before Aaron Cresswell scored a fantastic free-kick to give his side the lead. Stoke’s best chance fell to Victor Moses, but the forward’s shot was inches away from the post. Stoke thought they had equalised early in the second-half, but Marko Arnautovic’s effort was ruled out for offside. West Ham continued to push forward for a second, but Asmir Begovic reacted well to deny Cheikhou Kouyate. Stoke were unlucky not to equalise after Mame Biram Diouf’s effort came back off the post before Arnautovic had another goal ruled out for offside. Deep into stoppage-time, and Arnautovic had one more chance to equalise, this time staying onside, and smashing the ball past the stretching Adrian. The draw leaves both teams level on points (43) with West Ham in ninth-place and Stoke in 10th.
Aaron Cresswell (West Ham) – scored a scorching free-kick to give his side the lead early in the match, but couldn’t deny his side conceding, despite sliding desperately to get in the way of Arnautovic’s shot.
Marko Arnautovic (Stoke) – persevered, and eventually got his goal after being denied by the linesman on two occasions. The goal was the midfielder’s first of the season, and he deserved it after getting himself in attacking positions throughout the match.
Burnley 0-1 Arsenal
Arsenal have turned their season around formidably, and are now on an eight-game winning run, scoring 18 and conceding only five goals. A dominant Arsenal took the lead on 12 minutes when Aaron Ramsey scored. Tom Heaton had saved Mesut Özil’s initial shot before the ball fell to Ramsey who made drilled his shot into the roof of the net. Burnley’s best chance to equalise came from a free-kick. Kieran Trippier thumped an effort towards goal, but Arsenal’s David Ospina dove well to save the shot. Arsenal came close with a free-kick of their own moments later, but Santi Cazorla’s free-kick curled just beyond the goal. Arsenal began the second-half stronger, and almost doubled their advantage when Alexis Sanchez’ shot was saved by Heaton. Cazorla and Ramsey threatened the Burnley goal, but couldn’t find the finish. A rare chance for Burnley almost lead to an equaliser, but George Boyd couldn’t keep his balance and missed Ben Mee’s cross. Burnley grew in confidence, but Danny Ings’ acrobatic attempt didn’t have enough venom behind it. Burnley left themselves open at the back, as Arsenal hoped to get a second goal, but Danny Welbeck couldn’t score after a counter-attack. Arsenal’s next game is a FA Cup semi-final at Wembley against Reading. The Gunners will be looking for a victory before they welcome Chelsea to The Emirates. The win strengthens Arsenal’s grip on second-place. Burnley, meanwhile, remain in the relegation zone.
Ben Mee (Burnley) – made some good runs down Arsenal’s right, and almost created a goal.
Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal) – has now scored twice and provided three assists in his last four Premier League matches. Scored with a smart finish, and looks capable of building on his form.
Queens Park Rangers 0-1 Chelsea
The Blues scored a late winner to move closer to a fourth Premier League title. QPR gave Chelsea an early scare when Matthew Philips sent a cross into the box that Thibaut Courtois was forced to deal with. However, Chelsea threatened at the other end, winning their first corner inside the first 10 minutes before Willian’s cross hit the post. Charlie Austin was Chelsea’s main threat, and he produced a save from Courtois after a thunderous shot. QPR bossed the second-half, with Chelsea switching play well but unable to register a shot on target. Courtois kept Chelsea in the game with a few important saves, notably from Philips’ shot. With two minutes remaining, QPR goalkeeper Robert Green made a mess of his goal-kick which led to Chelsea’s winner. Cesc Fabregas provided the finish after an exchange of passes between Eden Hazard and Oscar. Chelsea have a tough month ahead with games against Manchester United and Arsenal of great importance. QPR, on the other hand, remain in the relegation zone.
Matthew Philips (QPR) – was in exceptional form, and caused Chelsea all sorts of problems. His crossing ability is phenomenal, and he created several chances for his teammates. The winger almost scored but for a good save from Courtois.
Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea) – has had a rough couple of weeks with errors in matches against Hull City and Stoke recently, but he was in top form, denying QPR countless times.
Manchester United 4-2 Manchester City
Manchester City lose back-to-back Premier League games for the first time this season after being swept aside by city rivals Manchester United. City dominated the early proceedings with shots from Jesus Navas and Yaya Toure defended well by Man United before David Silva slipped in behind to set-up Sergio Aguero for the opener. However, seven minutes later, Man United were back in the match when Ashley Young equalised. Man United began to pass the ball with confidence, and they found themselves ahead after Maroune Fellaini met Young’s cross with a powerful header. Man City were left frustrated after conceding their lead, and Captain Vincent Kompany was lucky to escape with just a yellow-card after his rash challenge on Daley Blind. Man United began the second-half strong, and Joe Hart was forced into action saving a vicious Wayne Rooney free-kick before denying Michael Carrick from the follow-up. Juan Mata would eventually make it three for Man United, tucking his shot beneath Hart. Things got worse for Man city when Chris Smalling scored after escaping his marker from a free-kick. Aguero scored with three minutes remaining to ensure a nervy-finish, but Man United held on for all three points. Man City remain fourth after their defeat, and are surely now out of the title-race. Man United, meanwhile, solidify their hold on third-place, with a trip to Chelsea up next.
Ashley Young (Man United) – troubled the Man City defense with his pace and trickery. He was a constant threat and lit the game up with his opener before providing two assists to extend his side’s lead.
Sergio Aguero (Man City) – took his goals well on a night where his team let him down. The striker is not joint-top on the goal-scoring charts with 19 goals.
Liverpool 2-0 Newcastle United
The Reds bounce back after going two matches without a win. Raheem Sterling opened the scoring with a wonderful curling goal inside the first 10 minutes. Liverpool were dominant, and Alberto Moreno had a shot saved by Tim Krul moments later. Newcastle weren’t planning on sitting back though, and they threatened with Mehdi Abeid shooting straight at Simon Mignolet. Newcastle were pushed forward again, and Ayoze Perez was brought down in the box, but the referee didn’t award a penalty. Perez would come close minutes later with a headed effort that was tipped away by Mignolet. In the second-half, Liverpool pressed for a second-goal, but were unable to create any clear chances. Joe Allen scored with half-an-hour remaining to secure the victory for Liverpool. Newcastle finished the match with 10-men after Moussa Sissoko was sent off for a stamp on Lucas. Liverpool move to within four points of the top-four, while Newcastle continue their decline, losing five in a row.
Raheem Sterling (Liverpool) – has been in the media recently with reports suggesting that he’ll be leaving the Anfield club, but he was focused and played well today to silence his critics. The winger was involved throughout, and should have had a couple more goals.
Ayoze Perez (Newcastle) – did well to get himself into attacking positions, and should have been awarded a penalty after he was brought down unfairly inside the box. He nearly scored with a header moments after the penalty incident.