Matchday 26 Review
Chelsea vs Swansea
We kicked the weekend off, with Conte’s Champions elect Chelsea moving 11 points clear at the top of the League with a convincing win over Swansea. It wasn’t a happy homecoming for Swansea manager Paul Clement as he saw his side lose 3-1 to the Premier League leaders. Cesc Fabregas opened the scoring in the 19th minute on what was his 300th Premier League appearance. Pedro’s pass allowed Cesc to slot the ball home in the far corner to make it 1-0. A lacklustre first half from Swansea ended on a high as another Spaniard got on the score sheet. This time it was Fernando Llorente who scored a brilliant header from a Gylfi Sigurdsson free-kick to send the sides in level 1-1. Chelsea didn’t let the late goal affect them as they came out attacking with Hazard forcing a great save from Fabianski. Fabregas was a constant threat with his late arrivals into the box completely unmarked causing the defence and goalkeeper a lot of problems. Chelsea survived a penalty scare when Sigurdsson’s flick hit Azpilicueta on the hand, with his arms out stretched, it would’ve been an easy decision to give.Chelsea finally found their way through again after some superb saves from Fabianski. Fabregas returned the favour to his fellow Spaniard as this time it was his pass that allowed Pedro to turn and curl one into the back of the net to restore the Chelsea lead at 2-1. Just 6 minutes from time, Diego Costa finally got his goal as he volleyed home from an Eden Hazard cross to finish the game 3-1. With Chelsea in sensational form, it’s hard to see them slipping up with a sizeable points gap. They will surely be lifting the trophy in May.
Crystal Palace vs Middlesborough
In what could definitely be called a relegation 6 pointer. Crystal Palace took on Middlesborough at Selhurst Park. With Zaha looking in great shape he was involved in the game all afternoon. He was seen to have been pushed by Boro defender Ayala in the 7th minute, however the referee played on. An early chance for Palace saw Benteke head straight into the hands of ‘keeper Victor Valdes. Another penalty shout this time from the crowd after Benteke goes does in the box under pressure from Bernardo. Only two minutes later, another shout from the Palace fans for a penalty as Zaha goes down again this time Zaha is booked as he clips his marker and the referee awards a Boro free-kick. Palace finally found the breakthrough that their display deserved after a messy goal from Patrick Van Aanholt. A shot from the edge of the box in the 34th minute finds it way through a mass of players before hitting the back of the net giving Palace a 1-0 lead. Palace dominated the rest of the half with Boro’s only chance being a volley from Negredo that sailed over the bar. Both teams exchanged chances in the second half, but nothing came of it as the game ended in a 1-0 to Crystal Palace. This result sees Palace draw level on points with Middlesborough however, Karanka’s men are above Allerdyce’s men only on goal difference. Palace move up to 18th and Middlesborough drop to 17th.
Everton vs Sunderland
David Moyes took his relegation threatened Sunderland side back to his old stomping ground with this tie against Everton at Goodison Park. Everton won this one comfortably with the game ending 2-0. The Toffees’ first goal came from Idrissa Gueye in the 40th minute to send the hosts into the break with a 1-0 lead. Sunderland barely threatened only having one shot on target all game, this came as Defoe’s effort hit the bar. However an almost immediate response from the hosts allowed Romelu Lukaku to score his 60th Premier League goal for Everton equalling the record set by Duncan Ferguson. The Belgian’s goal allowed Everton to see out the game at 2-0. The win for Everton keeps them in 7th chasing Europa League spots, however Sunderland remain firmly rooted at the bottom of the table.
Hull City vs Burnley
Marco Silva’s Hull welcomed Burnley to the KCOM Stadium, Burnley fresh off the FA Cup defeat to Lincoln City. It seemed as if Hull were about to heap more misery onto Sean Dyche’s men when Michael Keane was judged to have the handled the ball inside the box giving away a penalty. Tom Huddlestone stepped up for the hosts to convert the penalty in the 72nd minute to give his side a 1-0 lead. This lead didn’t last too long however, as Michael Keane was involved one again. This time in his opponents box as he managed to convert from a corner in the 76th minute to make the score level at 1-1. There was more late drama as Ashley Barnes was sent off in added time. The draw wasn’t ideal for Hull as it keeps them in the relegation zone. The point for Burnley edged them ever closer to a potential top half finish.
West Brom vs Bournemouth
Bournemouth travelled to the Hawthorns to take on West Brom. Bournemouth had an early chance to end their winless run as they got off on the right foot winning a penalty in the 5th minute. Josh King scored the penalty to give Eddie Howe’s side an early 1-0 lead. The lead barely lasted 5 minutes, in the 10th minute Craig Dawson pulled one back for the home side to level the game up 1-1. Following this, an absolute shocker from ‘keeper Boruc basically gave Gareth McAuley a goal and handed West Brom a 2-1 lead. The Baggies held on in the second half and had to rely a little bit on some super goalkeeping from Ben Foster to guarantee all 3 points. The failure to win has dragged Bournemouth slightly closer to a relegation fight one I’m sure they will be keen to avoid. However this result sees West Brom make it 5 games unbeaten leaving them 8th in the League.
Watford vs West Ham
Slavan Bilic’s West Ham side travelled to Vicarage Road to take on Watford. The home side gained an early advantage when striker and Captain Troy Deeney, scored a penalty awarded to his side in the 3rd minute. Watford almost doubled their league just 3 minutes later but Mbaye Niang’s shot went over the bar. Watford saw the first half out comfortably leading 1-0 at the break. Early in the second half, Cheikhou Kouyate was denied a penalty in the 50th minute. Andre Ayew managed to bring the game level at 1-1 in the 73rd minute. However Michail Antonio let his side down when he was sent off 4 minutes from time. The draw in this benefited both teams here as they both climbed up the Premier League. Watford climb upto 12th and West ham move up to 9th position.
Tottenham vs Stoke
Stoke made the journey down south to White Hart Lane, where a sensational first half display absolutely blew them away. Spurs won the game 4-0 in the end with all 4 goals coming in the first half, 3 of the 4 being a Harry Kane hat trick. Kane’s first goal on 14 minutes also made him a centurion in terms of goals scored for Tottenham. He followed up his 100th goal with goal 101 in the 32nd minute and goal 102 in the 37th minute. This was Kane’s 3rd hat trick in 9 games. The England international wasn’t finished just yet though as he was involved once again this time providing the assist for team mate Dele Alli to score Tottenham’s fourth and final goal of the afternoon. This win saw Tottenham close the gap slightly on Chelsea down to 10 points. Stoke remain 10th in the League.
Leicester vs Liverpool
The Foxes’ were at home for the first time since the shocking dismissal of former manager Claudio Ranieri. Ranieri’s assistant Craig Shakespeare took charge of this one for the defending champions. Leicester were a different team for this one, they seemed alot like the team we saw last season a bit more attacking, hard working and all round relentless. They backed this up with 2 first half goals to go into the break 2-0 up. The first goal came from the man who fired them to the title last season, Jamie Vardy making it 1-0 in the 28th minute. The home side followed up Vardy’s goal with a breathtaking finish on the volley from midfielder Danny Drinkwater on the 39th minute making it 2-0. Leicester hoped to add further misery onto a far below average Liverpool side as they went and made it 3-0 just on the hour mark through Jamie Vardy once again. 8 minutes later in the 68th minute, Phillipe Coutinho grabbed what only could be considered a consolation goal for Liverpool to end the game 3-1. This result sees Leicester climb to 15th in the League.