TheHardTackle looks at week 25 of the English Premier League season which saw Chelsea go to the top as City hit a bump while Manchester United continued to struggle. Arsenal were hit for five while there was movement at the foot of the table too.
With each passing gameweek, the games keep getting crucial for the teams at the top and bottom. Just 13 weeks until the Premier League finishes and we still do not have a clear front runner or clear on who will take the wooden spoon positions. With 6 points separating fourth from first and just 4 separating the bottom ten teams, this is sure to be a scintillating finish to the Premier League season. We now take a look at the games played over the weekend and how it affected the positions in the table.
Liverpool run riot against Arsenal
Some crucial matches were played over the course of the weekend, none more so than the Saturday lunchtime kickoff at Anfield. As one of the commentators of the game put it, the game was over by lunchtime with Liverpool going 4-0 up within 20 minutes of kickoff. They looked hungry, had desire and showed the world that they are yet in the title race. More than anything, it was the way they did it. The Reds did not allow Arsenal to hold possession of the ball with Mesut Ozil giving the ball away twice leading to 2 of the 4 goals. The Arsenal defence were no match to the pacy combination of Sterling and Sturridge. Martin Skrtel chipped in with two headers off corners within the opening 10 minutes literally leaving Mertescaker and Koscielny in the cold. Although it does not affect their league position, Liverpool will look at this as more than three points as it sends a message to the Premier League that the Merseysiders aren’t to be taken lightly, especially on their home turf.
Brendan Rodgers had this to say:
There’s many times we’ve scored many goals this season, so I’m not overly surprised but we’ve got big qualities so we can hurt teams. The players have been incredible and we just hope to continue with that development and just see where it takes us really.
Arsene Wenger called his side ‘passive and poor’ and thanked the travelling fans for their support.
Manchester United continue to struggle at home
In what is turning out to be a never ending nightmare for David Moyes, United continued to struggle and yet again, dropped points at home. With just 2 wins out of 8 in 2014, Manchester United are in danger of not even qualifying for Europe next season if this continues. This time, they were held 2-2 by bottom side Fulham with Darren Bent scoring a stoppage time goal to secure a crucial point for The Cottagers. Sidwell gave them the lead early in the first period, which was punctuated with scrappy play from the home side. The halftime teamtalk seemed to have an effect on the players as they came out all guns blazing and got the lead thanks to the returning van Persie and Carrick, However, they could not finish the game off, squandering away chance after chance. That ultimately resulted in Bent equalising in stoppage time off a parry from de Gea resulting from a counter attack by the away side.
Moyes seemed crestfallen in the post match interview in which he said:
Today was as bad as it gets. How we didn’t win, I have no idea. It’s goals that count. You can have as much possession as you like.
While his counterpart, former United first team coach Rene Meulensteen called the Reds’ tactics “quite straightforward”
Chelsea beat Newcastle as Manchester City struggle to find the net
Chelsea ran out comfortable 3-0 winners at Stamford Bridge thanks to a hattrick from Eden Hazard. The Belgian netted is 10th, 11th and 12th goal of the season against The Magpies securing an easy three points for Mourinho’s men. Newcastle started brightly creating chances and drawing saves from Cech but failed to cross the white line. Hazard and his team capitalized on the misses by scoring twice in the first half and putting away a penalty in the second to seal the points.
Meanwhile at Carrow Road, Manchester City could only manage a goalless draw. City had chances to put the game to bed but failed to capitalize on their chances. Norwich City, to their credit, put in a solid defensive performance to keep away the top scoring team in England. With Chelsea fans having half their attention on this game once Hazard put them 3-0 up, they were delighted with the result as it meant that Chelsea climbed to the top as a result of Arsenal and City both dropping points.
Jose Mourinho gave Eden Hazard a rousing eulogy saying:
His performance today was no different to the way he’s performed in other games, the only difference was that he scored a hat-trick for the first time. It was a very similar performance to the ones he had at Hull, Man City, at home against United and Liverpool, at Southampton. He’s playing the same way. He’s playing really well, he’s had a big evolution, he has consistency, ambition and it’s fantastic.
Manuel Pellegrini, on the other hand, lamented the dropped points blaming it on injuries to crucial players.
All teams at the top will drop points. I said that at the start of the season. There are five or six teams fighting for the title. The difference is two points, the same as last week, and there are 39 to play for and we will win as many of them as we can.
Around the grounds
In the Welsh derby played out at The Liberty Stadium, the Garry Monk-led Swansea beat their rivals 3-0 in what is sure to put a smile on the fans’ faces after a tumultuous week. The problems continue to mount for Solskjaer as they remain in 19th spot struggling to move away from the relegation zone.
Another significant result was this weekend was Crystal Palace’s 3-1 win over West Brom which meant that the latter dropped into the relegation zone while the former continued their recent upward trend jumping 3 places, climbing to relative safety. New signings Joe Ledley and Tom Ince scored for The Eagles.
West Ham also managed to climb out of the bottom three with a 2-0 win at Villa Park easing the pressure on Allardyce for now. Meanwhile, Sunderland coming of the back of their derby day win against Newcastle, slipped 2-0 at home to Hull City resulting in them dropping to 17th place in the Premier League table.
Tim Sherwood also continued to inspire his troops with a hard fought 1-0 victory at home against in form Everton. Adebayor continued his recent form scoring the only goal of the game.
The gameweek that saw significant movement both up and down the table, makes the Premier League even more interesting to watch in the coming weeks. With what is to be a fascinating ‘horse race’, the league certainly looks like it is headed to a photo finish!