Culture of Hoops

Barclays Premier League Capsule: Gameweek 33

Image courtesy of Ingy The Wingy/Flickr.

Image courtesy of Ingy The Wingy/Flickr.

There were only seven matches in gameweek 33 of the Barclays Premier League, with Arsenal, Liverpool, and Aston Villa all involved in the FA Cup. It was nothing short of exciting though, as Chelsea moved closer to the Premier League title, and relegation-threatened Leicester City secured a third consecutive win to move off the bottom of the table. Here’s all the review, news, and opinion from an invigorating gameweek of the Premier League.

Crystal Palace 0-2 West Bromwich Albion

A goal in either half gave West Brom their first away win in the Premier League since November’s 1-0 victory at Leicester. West Brom got off to a flying start after James Morrison met Chris Brunt’s corner with his head, with just one minute played. West Brom continued to attack, and they felt that they should have been awarded a penalty after Victor Anichebe was brought down in the box. The referee was uninterested and play resumed. At the other end, Crystal Palace felt that they too should have been awarded a penalty after Wilfried Zaha was pushed off the ball. Again the referee waved play-on. Palace’s best chance of the first-half fell to the in-form Yannick Bolasie, but Boaz Myhill reacted well to parry the forward’s bicycle-kick attempt.

West Brom doubled their lead in the second-half from another corner-kick. This time, the ball was flicked on to Craig Gardner who, from 20-yards out, struck a perfect shot past the stretching Julian Speroni. Palace looked to make an immediate comeback, but Dwight Gayle’s header could only strike the crossbar on its way out. Bolasie had a shot blocked before Saido Berahino’s shot was saved by Speroni at the other end. With minutes remaining, Palace thought they had pulled a goal back, but Yaya Sanogo’s effort was ruled out for offside. Palace’s run of five consecutive victories comes to an end, as they miss their chance of breaking into the top 10. Palace remain 11th place while West Brom move to 13th.

Best Player:

Yannick Bolasie (Palace) – was in good form again, but failed to score. The speedy forward had a brilliant acrobatic attempt saved in the first-half, and was a nuisance throughout the second.

Chris Brunt (West Brom) – has now provided three assists in his last two matches, with two of them coming in this match. The midfielder has now registered eight assists this season.

Everton 1-0 Burnley

A single goal was enough for Everton to defeat 10-man Burnley and record their fourth win in their last five Premier League matches. Everton had the chance to take the lead inside the first 10 minutes when a foul on Aaron Lennon resulted in a penalty, but Ross Barkley’s shot was saved by Tom Heaton. Burnley will have felt that justice was done because David Jones’ foul on Lennon looked to be committed just outside the box. Lennon was involved again soon later, running through the Burnley midfield before sending his shot just wide of Heaton’s post. Everton continued to push forward, and Kevin Mirallas eventually scored from close range to give his side the lead. Burnley were reduced to 10-men just before the half-time whistle after Ashley Barnes was shown a second yellow card.

As expected, Everton started the second-half the stronger of the two sides, and nearly doubled their advantage but James McCarthy narrowly missed the goal after Lennon’s cut-back. Everton defender, Leighton Baines had a shot saved by Heaton before Lennon’s deflected effort was saved as well. Burnley’s best chance of the second-half fell to Danny Ings, but the club’s top scorer couldn’t keep his header down. The win moves Everton to within two points of the top 10, while Burnley are now bottom of the league.

Best Player:

Aaron Lennon (Everton) – was involved throughout the match, and really deserved a goal. He won the penalty for his side, and tested the Burnley keeper on several occasions. The pacey winger looks to be enjoying his football at the moment.

Tom Heaton (Burnley) – guessed the right way to save Barkley’s penalty, and was focused throughout, making a total of seven saves to give his side a chance.

Leicester City 2-0 Swansea City

The Foxes are on a formidable run, having now won their last three Premier League matches, moving off the bottom of the table. Leicester made a rapid start, with Jamie Vardy coming close inside the first minute before Leonardo Ulloa scored the opener on 15 minutes. Swansea looked intent on equalising immediately, with their best chance falling to Jonjo Shelvey who could only send his curling effort into the arms of Kasper Schmeichel.

Leicester looked to make a dominant start to the second-half, with Marc Albrighton coming close with an effort before Schmeichel was forced to make a save to deny Swansea an equaliser at the other end. Swansea began to enjoy more possession as they searched for an equaliser, but Leicester nearly doubled their advantage on the counter-attack with Lukas Fabianski forced into action to deny Riyad Mahrez on the break. Mahrez was involved again, sending a fierce shot towards goal that was saved well by Fabianski. Moments later, Mahrez was fouled outside the box resulting in a free-kick opportunity for Leicester. Esteban Cambiasso’s shot wasn’t dealt with convincingly by Fabianski who could only push the ball into the path of Andy King to slot home the second goal. Leicester are now 18th place and remain in the relegation zone on goal-difference. Swansea, meanwhile, remain eighth-place.

Best Player:

Leonardo Ulloa (Leicester) – scored the opener to take his tally for the season to eight goals. The striker started the season well, but hadn’t found the net since his side’s 2-1 loss to Tottenham on Boxing Day.

Lukas Fabianski (Swansea) – was called into action throughout the match as a determined Leicester looked to kill the game. The goalkeeper was focused, but fumbled late on to dent his side’s chances of a comeback.

Stoke City 2-1 Southampton

Two second-half goals helped Stoke comeback from behind to defeat an out-of-form Southampton and end a run of four games without a win. Southampton started the match stronger with Graziano Pellè hitting the side-netting before Morgan Schneiderlin opened the scoring with a tap-in at the back post. Stoke’s best chance of an equaliser fell to Steven Nzonzi, but the midfielder couldn’t connect, sending his shot wide of the post.

Stoke got right back into the game after the restart when Nzonzi’s cross came back off the crossbar and fell to Mame Biram Diouf who made no mistake with his shot. Southampton were left frustrated by Stoke’s luck and looked to regain their advantage, but Dusan Tadić’s shot was cleared off the line by Glenn Whelan before Asmir Begovic saved Tadić’s follow-up attempt. Stoke would take the lead eight minutes from full-time when Charlie Adam rocketed home from close range. Peter Crouch missed a chance to score a third late-on, as Stoke went on to win. Stoke move up to ninth-place while Southampton drop to seventh.

Best Player:

Charlie Adam (Stoke) – came on as a substitute in the second-half and hustled non-stop until he scored the winner for his side. The goal was his second in three matches after his screamer against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

Morgan Schneiderlin (Southampton) – bossed the midfield in the early stages of the match, and got on the end of a corner to give his side the lead. The midfielder has now scored one and assisted one in his last two starts.

Chelsea 1-0 Manchester United

The league leaders held on for a narrow victory at Stamford Bridge against a Man United side in top-form. Man United were the more dominant side, and Wayne Rooney thought he had given his team the lead inside the first four minutes, but his curling effort went just wide of the post. Ander Herrera and Patrick McNair both had attempts wide of Chelsea’s goal before Eden Hazard scored the opener for Chelsea after a back-heel from Oscar sent the Belgian through on goal. Hazard dribbled into the box before slotting his shot beneath David De Gea and into the net.

Chelsea almost made the perfect start to the second-half when Didier Drogba was sent through on goal, but the Ivorian’s shot was deflected to the back post where Hazard could only strike the crossbar with his effort. Man United began to dominate, as they did in the first-half, with impressive over-lapping runs by Luke Shaw causing Chelsea problems down the left. McNair had a shot saved by Thibaut Courtois before efforts from Rooney and Radamel Falcao were sent wide. Falcao was involved again, having his shot blocked by Gary Cahill before striking the post with another effort. Herrera was booked for diving late into stoppage time after the referee decided that the player wasn’t fouled by Cahill. Chelsea held on for the victory which moves them closer to the Premier League title, while Man United remain in third-place, one point ahead of rivals Manchester City.

Best Player:

Eden Hazard (Chelsea) – provided the magic spark that Chelsea needed, and scored clinically after running through on goal. The Belgian has now scored four goals in his last six Premier League matches, taking his tally to 13 league goals this season.

Wayne Rooney (Man United) – was the engine in his side’s attack, and always looked a threat when on the ball. The Captain deserved a goal after his performance, but was unable to hit the target with his attempts.

Manchester City 2-0 West Ham United

The Sky Blues got back to winning ways after their derby defeat to Manchester United last gameweek, beating a West Ham side who have only won one of their last 10 Premier League matches. Man City were the dominant side for the majority of the match, enjoying most of the possession. Sergio Aguero came close to opening the scoring just after the 10-minute mark, but goalkeeper Adrian was equal to his effort. Aleksandar Kolarov had a chance moments later with a vicious free-kick that curled just wide of the post. Man City continued to push forward, and they caught West Ham on the counter-atack when Jesus Navas sent in a cross that was flicked in by West Ham defender James Collins for the own goal. Man City scored a second after a swift counter-attack involving Aguero and Navas. Aguero passed the ball out wide to Navas, before the winger sent it back to the Argentinian to slot home.

Man City almost tripled their lead soon after the restart, but Carl Jenkinson made a brilliant defensive tackle to deny Aguero a second goal. West Ham contained City’s threat for the most part of the second-half, and nearly found a goal in the dying moments when Enner Valencia dribbled past a couple Man City defenders before fizzing his pass across the face of goal. Edin Dzeko missed a chance late on as Man City held on for all three points. The win moves Man City within one point of third-place, as they solidify their position in the top-four. West Ham, on the other hand, drop to 10th place.

Best Player:

Sergio Aguero (Man City) – looked lively throughout the match, and tested West Ham goalkeeper Adrian with a couple of shots before scoring his team’s second goal. Aguero is now joint-top on the goal scoring charts with 20 goals for the season.

(West Ham) – N/A

Newcastle United 1-3 Tottenham Hotspur

The Magpies’ poor form continues, having now only won once in their last 10 matches, losing six in a row in the process. After a slow start from both sides, it was Tottenham who took the lead when Nacer Chadli’s long-range strike beat Tim Krul in the Newcastle goal. Tottenham would go into half-time with a one-goal lead.

Newcastle improved in the second-half, and made an immediate impact after Jack Colback equalised moments after the restart. Newcastle were intent on another goal, but it was Tottenham who would find their second after Christian Eriksen’s free-kick confused Krul and found the back of the net. The dipping effort evaded a load of bodies before Krul could react to save it. Harry Kane added a third in stoppage time as Newcastle began to press higher up the pitch, to ensure Tottenham end a run of two consecutive games without a goal, and win. The victory moves Tottenham up to sixth-place while Newcastle drop to 14th.

Best Player:

(Newcastle) – N/A

Christian Eriksen (Tottenham) – took his tally for the season to 10 after his free-kick puzzled the goalkeeper and eventually won the game for his side. The midfielder hadn’t scored since the end of January, but will be hoping he can grab a few more goals before the season ends.

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