Chelsea 1-0 Manchester United
Who would have thought that you could win a match with just 30 percent possession and two shots on target? In a stereotypical José Mourinho performance, league leaders Chelsea did just enough to walk away with three points and inch closer and closer to the Premier League title. Going into the match, Manchester United would have been full of confidence having won their previous six league matches and playing their best soccer since Sir Alex Ferguson, but injuries to Michael Carrick, Daley Blind, Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo forced Louis Van Gaal to change the system that had secured those victories.
United nearly struck first less than five minutes in the match as Luke Shaw (who was starting his first match since coming off injured against Arsenal in the FA Cup) found Wayne Rooney at the edge of 18-yard box but the United captain fired just wide of the post. For the majority of the first half, the visitors looked in control. Despite the lack of chances for either side, the Red Devils were comfortable in possession and did a good job of containing Chelsea’s superstars. All of this possession was for nothing, however, as Eden Hazard dribbled past the United defense and slotted his shot (which happened to be Chelsea’s first shot on target) under De Gea to give the hosts the lead.
In the second half, United’s misery was almost doubled when Didier Drogba saw his shot go over an onrushing David De Gea and fall to Hazard on the goal line but the Belgian was unable to add to his earlier goal. The closest that the visitors would come to equalizing the match came in the 77th minute from Radamel Falcao. The Colombian forward beat Thibaut Courtois with his shot but not the post as his effort smacked against the outside of the woodwork. The result does not change the league table as Chelsea remain in first and United in third.
Leicester City 2-0 Swansea City
The team that has seemingly been at the bottom of the table the entire season has finally climbed to 18th in the table. The Foxes went into the match against Swansea having won their previous two matches, and a victory on Saturday would go a long way in securing the team’s place in the English top flight next season. Swansea, on the other hand, was unbeaten in their previous three matches and sat on the fringes of competing for a spot in the Europa League for 2015-16.
After a rather even start to the match, Leicester City finally broke the deadlock in the 15th minute. The Foxes knocked down a long looping ball from the backline into the Swansea’s penalty area and found Leonardo Ulloa (a last minute addition to the starting lineup) who made no mistake as he thumped home the first goal of the match. It wasn’t the prettiest of goals, but when you’re in a relegation battle all you care about is that the ball found its way into the back of the net. Ulloa’s effort was the only real highlight of the first 45 minutes and the sides went in with Leicester leading by one goal.
Swansea came close to equalizing less than ten minutes into the second half. Former Liverpool-midfielder Jonjo Shelvey nearly scored another one of his trademark long distance goals but Kasper Scmheichel (son of Manchester United legend Peter Schmeichel) stopped the curling effort with a magnificent diving effort. Leicester City put the match to bed in the final minute of the 90 when Andy King jumped on Lukasz Fabianski’s botched handling of a free kick to secure all three points for his side. The victory moves Leicester ever closer to staying the Premier League and the Foxes now sit tied with 17th place Hull City on points and only one goal behind in goal differential with a game in hand.
Manchester City 2-0 West Ham United
Few teams felt the pressure to win this weekend more than Manchester City. The reigning league champions were coming off of an embarrassing 4-2 defeat last weekend against their crosstown rivals Manchester United and to say they were experiencing a dip in form would be a massive understatement. The superstar-loaded club have struggled mightily in the past two months and have seen their chances of repeating as champions slip from their fingertips as they fell from second in the table to fourth and four points behind United.
Their performance on Sunday appeared to be a statement from the players that they aren’t quite ready to throw in the towel. From the first whistle, City dominated the match and imposed their will on a struggling West Ham side. Aleksander Kolarov almost gave the hosts the lead in the 16th minute with a curling free kick but the Serbian defender’s shot flew inches wide of Adrián’s post. Less than a minute later, however, City finally got the opener courtesy of….James Collins. The West Ham defender somehow managed to mishit his clearance and redirect Jesus Navas’ cross into his own net from nearly 18 yards out. The own goal seemed to zap what little energy West Ham had as the London side struggled to find a purpose to their passing and they never truly troubled the hosts in the first 45 minutes.
Given the lack of an attacking push from the visitors, Manchester City essentially put the match out of reach in the 36th minute. Again, it was the combination of Navas and Sergio Agüero (who was the intended target of the cross that Collins scored earlier) that paid off for City. The Spaniard was able to slot his pass into the Argentine’s path where he could easily pass the ball into the net to double City’s lead and record his 20th goal of the season. The match would end 2-0 and that score line was very generous to West Ham as they were clearly second best on the day. The victory moved City to within one point of United in third, but they may have lost a key cog in the midfield as David Silva suffered what is being reported as a possible broken cheek or collarbone after being hit in the face by a stray elbow. The Spaniard’s absence could prove a major obstacle in City’s attempts at a late season push up the table.