Culture of Hoops

Barclays Premier League Capsule: Gameweek 35

Image courtesy of Sonyds/Flickr.

Image courtesy of Sonyds/Flickr.

It’s over, Chelsea are champions with three games to spare. The Blues sealed their title victory at Stamford Bridge in front of their fans, but will lift the trophy when they play Sunderland at home on the last day of the season. Manchester City and Arsenal both record victories as they both look to seal automatic qualification into next season’s Champions League. The relegation battle continues with Queens Park Rangers and Burnley both on the brink of relegation. Here’s all the review from a sensational gameweek 35 of the Barclays Premier League.

Leicester City 3-0 Newcastle United

The Foxes bounced back from last weekend’s loss to Champions Chelsea to make it five wins from six matches. Leicester got off to the perfect start, winning a corner-kick which Leonardo Ulloa met with his head to put his side in the lead after just one minute. Moments later, the lively Ulloa had a header saved by Newcastle keeper Tim Krul. A cynical foul by Newcastle defender Daryl Janmaat led to a free-kick opportunity for Leicester. Wes Morgan tucked home the cross from the free-kick to double Leicester’s lead. Newcastle’s best chance of the half fell to Emmanuel Riviere, but the Frenchman couldn’t keep his balance, slipping before getting his shot away.

Leicester were awarded a penalty just after the restart, and Ulloa stepped up to emphatically score his second of the night. The striker had a chance to complete his hat-trick moments later, but Krul reacted well to tip over his header. Things got worse for Newcastle as they had Mike Williamson and Janmaat both sent off for fouls on Jamie Vardy to finish the match with nine men. Newcastle’s losing streak now extends to eight matches as the danger of relegation looms. Leicester move up to 16th place after their victory, one point behind Newcastle.

Best Player:

Leonardo Ulloa (Leicester) – looked alive from the first second and deservedly scored two goals to take his tally for the season to 10. The striker has found his form, and has scored three in his last two matches at home.

(Newcastle) – N/A

Aston Villa 3-2 Everton

Everton’s six game unbeaten run comes to an end after their loss away to Aston Villa. Villa were looking to bounce back after their controversial loss to Manchester City last gameweek, and looked eager with early pressure to win a corner. In-form Christian Benteke scored on 10 minutes, rising highest to meet Fabian Delph’s cross with a header, to give Villa the lead. Ron Vlaar missed a good chance to put Villa two up, but Benteke was on-hand to double Villa’s lead just before half-time.

Everton improved in the second-half, and Romelu Lukaku came close to scoring after a mazy run, but his shot was wide. Everton were given a chance to get back into the game after winning a penalty which Lukaku scored, but Villa regained their two-goal advantage five minutes later, latching onto a defense-splitting pass from Leandro Bacuna before firing home. Phil Jagielka scored an injury-time header to ensure a nervy finish, but Villa held on for all three points. Everton drop to 11th place while Villa are now 14th.

Best Player:

Christian Benteke (Villa) – takes his tally to 12 for the season, and 10 in his last eight matches. The Belgian has been in hot form, and doesn’t look finished yet with three matches remaining.

Romelu Lukaku (Everton) – was quiet in the first-half, but was much improved in the second, leading the line and helping his team get back into the match. The striker hasn’t quite hit the form of his Belgian teammate, but he has still managed to score nine goals this season.

Liverpool 2-1 Queens Park Rangers

The Reds secured a nervy win at home to secure a second win in five matches, and keep their top-four hopes alive. QPR had the ball in the back of the net first, but their goal was ruled out after replays showed the ball go out of bounds from the corner before coming back into play. Liverpool took the lead after 20 minutes when Philippe Coutinho met Rickie Lambert’s pass with a curling effort.

Raheem Sterling missed an early chance in the second-half to double Liverpool’s lead before Robert Green made a good save from Dejan Lovren’s header. Leroy Fer scored for QPR moments later with a well struck shot, meeting Joey Barton’s corner-kick. Liverpool were given the chance to restore their lead from the penalty spot, but Steven Gerrard’s spot-kick was saved by Green. QPR had Nedum Onuoha sent off for a second yellow-card after a bad challenge on Jordon Ibe. With three minutes of normal time remaining, Liverpool snatched the lead after Gerrard rose highest to beat Green with a powerful header. The win keeps Liverpool four points behind Manchester United in the race for fourth-place, while QPR remain in the relegation zone after their loss.

Best Player:

Steven Gerrard (Liverpool) – lead his team well, keeping his head up after missing his penalty. The Liverpool legend scored a late winner in front of the Kop End to send Reds fans mental, a goal that might be his last at Anfield.

Robert Green (QPR) – has been QPR’s best player this season even with some questionable moments. The keeper made a handful of impressive saves, including a good save to his left from Gerrard’s penalty.

Sunderland 2-1 Southampton

Sunderland improved their chances of Premier League survival after a win against Southampton who have only won one away match from their last six. Sunderland made an explosive start, with striker Danny Graham involved early-on. The striker was sent through on goal after just 30 seconds, blazing over, before winning his side a penalty later in the half. Jordi Gomez stepped up to take the penalty, and scored clinically past goalkeeper Kelvin Davis. Sunderland’s lead didn’t last long, and after a defensive mix-up Sadio Mane was on hand to score the equaliser after a minute. Sunderland didn’t let their heads drop, and Connor Wickham nearly scored, before he was involved again, sending a cross into the box that was eventually scrambled to safety by Southampton.

Southampton came out after the restart looking to take the lead, but Filip Djuricic couldn’t finish. Things got worse for Southampton when they had Jamie Ward-Prowse sent off for a foul on Jermaine Defoe. The foul was inside the box, and the referee awarded a second penalty to Sunderland. Gomez stepped up again and scored calmly to restore his side’s lead. Southampton had a late chance to equalise, but Costel Pantilimon had other ideas, keeping out a vicious shot from Toby Alderweireld. The loss hampers Southampton’s chances of a Champions League spot, but they can still qualify for the Europa league.

Best Player:

Jordi Gomez (Sunderland) – soaked the pressure well with a lot at stake, and scored both of his penalties decisively.

(Southampton) – N/A

Swansea City 2-0 Stoke City

After going two matches without a win, Swansea record back-to-back Premier League wins to keep the pressure on the teams ahead of them challenging for a European spot. After a slow start, Swansea were awarded the first chance to take the lead, but Nelson Oliveira couldn’t keep his shot on target. Stoke’s Steven Nzonzi had the best chance of the half, forcing Swansea keeper Lukasz Fabianski into a fine save to keep the scores level.

Swansea had the chance to take the lead just after the restart, but Gylfi Sigurdsson’s shot struck the crossbar, before the midfielder sent his header over the bar from close range moments later. Swansea eventually took the lead with 25 minutes remaining, when Jefferson Montero met Jonjo Shelvey’s cross with a diving header. Stoke’s chances of a comeback were dented after defender Marc Wilson was shown his second yellow-card of the match. Shelvey forced Jack Butland into an impressive save from the resulting free-kick. Stoke had a late chance to equalise, but striker Peter Crouch’s tame shot was held by Fabianski before substitute Ki Sung-Yueng sealed the three points in stoppage time with a clinical effort. Stoke drop to 10th place after their loss, missing out on a chance to overtake Swansea.

Best Player:

Jonjo Shelvey (Swansea) – was strong in midfield and worked hard to create several chances for his teammates. The midfielder did particularly well to keep the ball in play before crossing for Montero’s opener. He was involved again for the second, securing victory for his side with a good pass for the second.

(Stoke) – N/A

West Ham United 1-0 Burnley

Burnley remain bottom of the Premier League as their misery continues. The Clarets are now winless in their last six matches, scoring zero, and conceding six in the process. West Ham had an early chance to take the lead, but Enner Valencia could only fire over when through on goal. Burnley’s Danny Ings, who is without a goal since February, sent a header over the bar at the other end. West Ham continued to push forward, and were awarded a penalty for their efforts when Michael Duff fouled Cheikhou Kouyatè, receiving a red-card in the process. Mark Noble stepped up to score his side’s first penalty of the season. Burnley keeper, Tom Heaton made a brilliant point-blank save from a Valencia shot before Ashley Barnes saw his shot saved by Adrian at the other end.

Burnley nearly got themselves back in the match after the restart, but Adrian was equal to Matthew Taylor’s shot. Heaton was forced into action again as West Ham searched for the comfort of a second goal, denying Kevin Nolan a goal. West Ham had shouts for a penalty ignored after Stewart Downing appeared to be fouled in the box. The referee decided that Downing dove, and showed him a yellow-card. Burnley defender Jason Shackell cleared a late Kouyatè shot off the line with his head to prevent his side from losing by more than one goal. West Ham move back up to ninth-place, and will be focusing on remaining in the top-half of the table for the remainder of the season.

Best Player:

Cheikhou Kouyatè (West Ham) – was involved throughout the match, and did well to win his side a penalty. The midfielder was a thorn in Burnley’s backside, and nearly grabbed a second goal late on.

Tom Heaton (Burnley) – made five saves to deny West Ham from open play, including a brilliant reaction save to prevent Valencia from doubling West Ham’s lead early on.

Manchester United 0-1 West Bromwich Albion

The Red Devils lose three matches in a row for the first time in 14 years, having failed to score in all three of them. After a slow start, Man United’s first shot on target came from the returning Robin van Persie, but the Dutchman’s effort was saved by Boaz Myhill. Moments later, van Persie had another chance, missing narrowly from close range.

Man United looked the stronger side going into halftime, but it was West Brom who took the lead at in the second-half courtesy of a deflected Chris Brunt free-kick which left David De Gea rooted. West Brom were content to sit back and protect their lead from that moment on, as Man United began the onslaught. The Red Devils were awarded a penalty after 74 minutes when Saido Berahino was penalized for a hand-ball, but van Persie couldn’t beat Myhill who guessed the right way and saved the penalty. The impressive Myhill saved van Persie’s follow-up free-kick before Patrick McNair missed a free header moments later. Myhill did well to deny van Persie once again before acrobatically keeping out a late Angel Di Maria shot on goal. The win moves West Brom seven points clear of the relegation zone, while the race for fourth-spot is still wide open after Man United’s loss.

Best Player:

Robin van Persie (Man United) – was Man United’s most dangerous player, but couldn’t beat the fantastic Myhill. The striker will be disappointed that none of his shots were in the back of the net, but will be eager to bounce back having played his first 90 minutes since February’s defeat to Swansea.

Boaz Myhill (West Brom) – has been in fantastic form since replacing the injured Ben Foster and put in another brilliant display, making nine saves including one from a penalty.

Chelsea 1-0 Crystal Palace

After a nervy win at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea confirmed their status as Premier League Champions for the fourth time. Chelsea started cautiously, with Juan Cuadrado’s optimistic effort after 17 minutes, the first shot towards goal. However, six minutes later The Blues began to threaten Crystal Palace’s goal with Julian Speroni looking nervous, fumbling the ball and scrambling to save Nemanja Matic’s shot. The follow-up corner was fumbling again before Speroni eventually smothered the ball. A minute later, and Chelsea were awarded a free-kick, but Didier Drogba’s effort was saved by Speroni. Palace had a penalty claim denied just before the half-hour mark with replays showing Jason Puncheon’s shot striking John Terry’s arm. No penalty was given, and with one minute before half-time, Chelsea were awarded a penalty of their own for a foul on Eden Hazard. Hazard stepped up, and his weak penalty was saved by Speroni, but the Belgian reacted first to head home the rebound.

Chelsea came out into the second-half looking to up the tempo a bit, with Branislav Ivanovic and John Obi Mikel coming close to doubling their advantage. Puncheon threatened to equalise, but his shot was inches wide before Ivanovic blazed a shot over moments later. Drogba had a chance to seal the victory, but could only shoot wide. And with the clock running down, Thibaut Courtois was forced into his first save to deny Wilfried Zaha. Stamford Bridge erupted, as players fell on their knees after sounds of the final whistle. Chelsea were crowned Champions of England after a five year wait.

Best Player:

Branislav Ivanovic (Chelsea) – worked tirelessly down the right-flank to keep Yannick Bolasie and Zaha quiet all game. He threatened Palace’s goal on several occasions, but couldn’t keep his shots down. Ivanovic has been one of Chelsea’s outstanding players this season, no doubt.

Jason Puncheon (Palace) – looked the likeliest of his teammates to score, but couldn’t find that final ball.

Tottenham Hotspur 0-1 Manchester City

Tottenham’s poor form continues, winning only one of their last five matches. Manchester City, on the other hand, have won three consecutive Premier League matches for the first time since December, and look on course to finish in the top three. Tottenham started the stronger side, and the Man City defense had to be on their toes to prevent a Spurs opener. Aleksandar Kolarov made a good block before Tottenham’s Eric Dier sent his header wide of the goal. Harry Kane had a couple chances, but couldn’t finish, before Sergio Aguero had a penalty claim denied at the other end. Moments later, Man City took the lead, and it was Aguero who finished after being sent through on goal. Tottenham could have equalised before the end of the first-half, but Joe Hart rushed off his line to deny Ryan Mason from close range.

Tottenham had the better chances in the second-half with Kane coming close to an equaliser. Aguero had a chance to double Man City’s advantage after the hour-mark, rounding Hugo Lloris, but the Argentine couldn’t keep his balance, and instead shot wide. Tottenham’s Paulinho missed a headed opportunity from a free-kick before forcing Hart into a fantastic save moments later. Hart was called into action again late on in the match, pushing away an Erik Lamela shot. The loss keeps Tottenham seven points adrift of the top four, as a Champions League spot looks unlikely.

Best Player:

Harry Kane (Tottenham) – had most of Tottenham’s chances in the first-half, but couldn’t score. The striker was aware, and looked dangerous every time he got on the ball.

Sergio Aguero (Man City) – scored a brilliant one-time shot to take his tally to 22 goals for the season. The Argentine has now scored five goals in his last four matches, including three in his last two away games.

Hull City 1-3 Arsenal

The Gunners remain unbeaten in 10 matches as they secure Champions League football for the 18th consecutive season. Arsenal were patient in their build-up and eventually took the lead just before the half-hour mark when Alexis Sanchez scored curling free-kick. The Chilean’s shot took a deflection off of Hull defender Michael Dawson, leaving goalkeeper Steve Harper rooted. Five minutes later and Arsenal extended their lead through Aaron Ramsey. The Welshmen collected a brilliant pass from Santi Cazorla before turning his marker and shooting past the helpless Harper. Sanchez extended Arsenal’s lead in first-half stoppage time, rounding Harper before shooting low shot towards goal.

Arsenal were comfortable in the second-half, but Hull City did pull a goal back just after the restart when Stephen Quinn met Ahmed El Mohamady’s cross with his head. Despite their efforts, Hull couldn’t find a way back into the game. The Tigers are now one point away from the relegation zone having played one more game than Sunderland, who are below them. However, they will be a little relaxed knowing that Sunderland’s game in hand is against Arsenal.

Best Player:

(Hull) – N/A

Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal) – is Arsenal’s player of the season, and demonstrated why he deserves the plaudits after another good performance. The forward scored two important goals to ensure that his team had something to cheer about despite Chelsea’s title triumph.

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