BPL: Match Week 22 Review
Arsenal’s Barclays Premier League title charge remained on course after Santi Cazorla scored twice to secure a 2-0 home victory over Fulham on Saturday. The Spaniard broke Fulham’s resistance in the 57th minute as he finished off an intricate passing move from the Gunners. He then drove in a 20-yard strike to seal a 5th consecutive win for Arsene Wenger’s side. The Gunners remain at the summit of the table, albeit only one point ahead of second placed Manchester City, and have only dropped 4 points in 10 home league games since an opening day defeat to Aston Villa. Fulham sit in the perilous spot of 17th in the table, only one point above the dreaded relegation zone.
Manchester City continued to score at will as they saw off a determined Cardiff City in a 4-2 goalfest at the Etihad. Edin Dzeko’s early strike was cancelled out by Cardiff’s Craig Noone, but late goals from Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero preserved City’s 100 percent home record in the league this season. Manuel Pellegrini’s Blues are arguably the form team in the Barclay’s Premier League, and are hot on the heels of league leaders Arsenal. Cardiff City slipped to bottom of the table after suffering a second successive defeat under new manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
A Samuel Eto’o hat-trick helped Chelsea ease to a 3-1 victory over Manchester United at Stamford Bridge in Sunday’s marquee match-up. The veteran striker scored twice in the first half and completed his hat-trick just after the interval to maintain the pressure on the Premier League’s pacesetters Arsenal and Manchester City. United, who started the game brightly but were undone by defensive lapses, are now 14 points off the top and the defense of their title is in tatters. On the other hand, a real sense of momentum is building around Stamford Bridge as Jose Mourinho’s Blues are only two points behind leaders Arsenal, and are also unbeaten in their last ten matches.
Liverpool missed out on the chance to keep up with the leading pack as they were held to a 2-2 draw by Aston Villa at Anfield on Saturday. The Reds were fortunate to earn a point after Andreas Weimann and Christian Benteke gave the visitors a two goal cushion. Daniel Sturridge reduced the deficit on the brink of half time and Steven Gerrard levelled from the penalty spot early in the second half after Luis Suarez had been brought down by Brad Guzan. The result leaves Liverpool in fourth place and eight points behind Arsenal, while Villa move up to 10th.
Tottenham moved up to fifth in the table with a 3-1 away victory over Swansea City on Sunday. Emmanuel Adebayor continued his renaissance with two goals in each half to pile the pressure on Michael Laudrup’s Swans. The Togo international has been instrumental since being returned to the side by new manager Tim Sherwood, and has repaid the faith with six goals in eight appearances for. Under Sherwood, Spurs have won five out of their last six league matches and are level on 43 points with fourth placed Liverpool. Injury hit Swansea, who were without five first-team players, have now gone eight games without a win, and are 15th, only three points clear of the relegation zone.
Everton missed the opportunity to move into the top four after they were held to a 1-1 draw against West Bromich Albion on Monday. Diego Lugano’s second half header ensured new Albion boss Pepe Mel took a point from his first game at The Hawthorns. Kevin Mirallas had put Everton on course for the victory that would have moved them into the Champions League places just before half-time, but Roberto Martinez’s side were punished for a poor second-half display. Nicolas Anelka started for the Baggies despite the continued controversy surrounding the “quenelle” gesture he performed after scoring at West Ham United recently.
Elsewhere this weekend, Newcastle United returned to winning ways with a 3-1 away win over West Ham. The Magpies ended a run of three league losses with the win at Upton Park. While West Ham slip back into the drop zone. Adam Johnson’s fourth goal in two games helped Sunderland come from two goals down to earn a 2-2 draw against Southampton. Jason Puncheon scored the only goal of the game as Crystal Palace moved out of the relegation zone with a victory over Stoke. Finally, Norwich City recorded a vital 1-0 win over Hull to ease the pressure on manager Chris Hughton.
Premier League action returns Tuesday January 28th and Wednesday January 29th:
Man Utd v Cardiff City
Norwich v Newcastle
Southampton v Arsenal
Swansea v Fulham
Crystal Palace v Hull
Liverpool v Everton
Aston Villa v West Brom
Chelsea v West Ham
Sunderland v Stoke
Spurs v Man City
Sources: BBC Sport, sportsmole.co.uk