Manchester United 0-1 West Bromwich Albion
Wow. I can’t put into words the disappointment that was in my heart when the final whistle blew and for a third straight game United had failed to score a goal. A frontline that has the talent of Wayne Rooney, Robin Van Persie, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao should never go three straight games without scoring a goal. After going on arguably their best run of form in the last two years, a seemingly harmless loss to Chelsea has derailed United’s amazing form.
The first half saw former United midfielder Darren Fletcher and the rest of West Brom team pack all 11 players behind the ball. United dominated possession but not even the return of Van Persie could spark an offensive spark for the Red Devils. Despite dominating possession, Louis Van Gaal’s men were unable to find a breakthrough. Other than a narrowly missed Van Persie chance from an Ashley Young cross, neither team tested the keepers and the fans were left waiting for action.
West Brom’s unexpected breakthrough came in the 63rd minute. After a reckless Paddy McNair foul on Fletcher, the visitors had a freekick on the edge of David De Gea’s box. Chris Brunt promptly stepped up and hammered a free kick into the wall. A random deflection off of Jonas Olsson’s leg flew past a helpless De Gea and put the relegation-fighting side ahead. Less than 10 minutes later, Van Persie had an opportunity to level for the hosts from the spot but Boaz Myhill made a fantastic diving stop to prevent the Dutchman. Other than a volley from RvP and a long distance effort from Di Maria, United’s attack looked tepid at best. The result saw Liverpool close the gap on United to four points and essentially guaranteed West Brom Premier League competition next season.
Chelsea 1-0 Crystal Palace
It was only a matter of time until Chelsea claimed the title. The Blues have been the best team throughout this season and have found ways to eek out victories in tight games. This hard fought style of play came out against Crystal Palace on Sunday. Alan Pardew’s side, on the other hand, sat mid-table without any trophy aspirations left in the season when they traveled to Stamford Bridge.
From the start, Chelsea set the pace and dominated the play. Palace keeper Julian Speroni looked far from confident as he mishandled shots and crosses early on in the match. A botched catch from Speroni in the 22nd minute nearly saw the Blues take the lead when Nemanja Matic nearly hammered in his tight-angle effort. Less than five minutes later, Speroni again mishandled a shot, this time from a Didier Drogba free kick and the rebound almost fell to John Terry for an easy goal but Palace cleared the ball just before the England defender could hit it.
The all-important goal for Chelsea finally came in the final minutes of the first half. A seemingly weak penalty call against James McCarthur for his foul on Eden Hazard in the box gave the PFA Player of the Year the opportunity to score from the spot. The Palace keeper saved Hazard’s initial penalty effort, but the Belgian made no mistake in heading in the rebound and giving Chelsea the title-winning lead. Other than a long-distance effort from James Puncheon, Palace never really tested Courtois and Jose Mourinho’s side held on for the Premier League title.
Hull City 1-3 Arsenal
Other than Chelsea, no team seems to be in better form than Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal. Before Monday’s match against relegation-threatened Hull City, the Gunners had won nine straight games in the league and are also in the midst of another run to the FA Cup finals after knocking out a stubborn Reading side. The resurgence of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil in the midfield has sparked the London club to third in the league where they are level on points with Manchester City with a game in hand. Even at home, Hull City was no match for the streaking Gunners.
It took just 28 minutes for Sanchez to get on the score sheet. The Chilean’s free kick from just outside the box deflected off of a helpless Michael Dawson and left Steve Harper with no chance of stopping the drive giving Arsenal an early 1-0 lead. Less than five minutes later, Aaron Ramsey doubled Arsenal’s lead after receiving an inch-perfect through ball from Santi Carzola and smashing in another deflected effort past Harper. Hull nearly made it into the locker-room with just a two-goal deficit but a mesmerizing through ball from Ramsey to an onrushing Sanchez gave the former Barcelona winger his second goal of the match and put Arsenal up 3-0.
Ten minutes into the second half, Hull City saved some face after Stephen Quinn headed in a cross from Ahmed Elmohamady to make the scoreline 3-1. A comeback was not in the cards, however, as Arsenal pushed on to a tenth straight victory. The result kept Arsenal level on points with City and dropped Hull City to 17th place, just one point away from the drop zone.