Burnley 1-0 Manchester City
Burnley sat in 19th place before their matchup with Manchester City Saturday. Their last victory over the Citizens was way back in 1974. The stage appeared to be set for a dominant victory for Sergio Agüero and friends that would move them within two points of league leaders Chelsea. The relegation-threatened side held their own for the majority of the first half, only allowing one or two dangerous chances for Manuel Pellegrini’s men. Former Manchester United goalkeeper Tom Heaton’s only real test came after Edin Dzeko ran onto a through ball and fired a shot from a tight angle. The sides entered halftime scoreless.
Only five minutes into the second half, David Silva found himself with a partial breakaway only to put his lackluster attempt right at Heaton from another tight angle. George Boyd provided the only attacking chances for the hosts as his volley in the 55th minute flew just wide of the net. The breakthrough finally came in the 60th minute, but not from the favorites, as Boyd again found himself with an opportunity from outside the box. A poor Vincent Kompany clearance fell to the Scottish midfielder who coolly finessed his effort into the far side netting.
This goal sparked a fire under the visitors as they felt their title challenge slipping away. More and more opportunities fell to City, and more and more opportunities went wasted. The major talking point of the match came in the first minute of injury time as Pablo Zabaleta was brought down in the box by former City player Ben Mee, only to see the call go in Burnley’s favor instead. The victory for Sean Dyche’s men gave them a massive boost in their fight to stay in the top division, and even had one journalist ask about their “title fight”. City on the other hand have practically given the trophy to José Mourinho’s men and now face a challenge from Arsenal to stay second in the league.
Chelsea 1-1 Southampton
It was interesting to see how Chelsea would respond after getting knocked out of the Champions League by a 10-man PSG side, at home, midweek. Mourinho’s men sat five points ahead of their nearest title challengers with a game in hand going into Sunday’s matchup against Southampton, and with a victory, they could have moved eight points clear and pretty much started planning their championship parade in March. Southampton came into the match only winning two of their previous seven matches, sitting sixth in the table. Once thought to be contenders for the final Champions League qualifying spot, Ronald Koeman’s side are now trying to save a spot in the Europa League.
Things started out well for the Blues as Diego Costa increased his league-leading goal tally to 18 in just the 11th minute courtesy of a Branislav Ivanović cross. The lead was short-lived at Stamford Bridge as a penalty call against Nemanja Matíc gave Dušan Tadić the opportunity to equalize from 12 yards out. The Serbian was nearly denied by Thibault Courtois, but managed to power his shot down the middle. Tadić nearly found the net again in the 30th minute, but Courtois kept the sides level going into the second half.
Fraser Forster was definitely the busier of the two keepers for the last 45 minutes. A scramble in Southampton’s penalty area saw Diego Costa hit the post from inside the six-yard-box. In the 73rd minute, Foster was forced into two saves from a Willian cross, with the first effort coming from Oscar followed by Eden Hazard getting denied on the rebound. In the 90th minute, Chelsea again found themselves on the brink of scoring only to see January signing Juan Cuadrado’s initial effort saved by Forster and the following attempts wasted by John Terry. The result keeps Chelsea comfortably atop the table and moved the visitors into the final European spot ahead of Tottenham.
Manchester United 3-0 Tottenham
What is this emotion that I’m feeling? Is it joy? Sunday’s matchup at Old Trafford was arguably United’s best performance all season. Many, including myself, had lost faith in the Red Devils and expected Spurs to walk out of Old Trafford with three valuable points. Even without Angel Di Maria and Robin van Persie, this game was all Manchester United. The old signings that once seemed not good enough to don the famous red shirt shined this afternoon as Juan Mata anchored the midfield with his passing ability, Ashley Young ran at defenders without fear, and Marouane Fellaini continued his resurgence as a dominant force in the middle of the park.
It only took nine minutes for Fellaini to put United on top as he found himself on the end of a Michael Carrick through ball inside the 18-yard-box. The big Belgian was able to calmly slot the ball past Hugo Lloris and then followed it up with a very emphatic celebration for the home fans. Less than ten minutes later, former Tottenham man Michael Carrick was able to expertly place his header just inside the far post outside the reach of Lloris and put the hosts two goals up less than 20 minutes into the match. The icing on the cake came in the 34th minute as Wayne Rooney capitalized on a defensive slip up by Spurs to score his 11th goal of the season and put United three goals to the good. The goal was followed by, in my opinion, the greatest celebration ever, as the United captain made fun of a clip that showed him on the receiving end of a Phil Bardsley knockout blow while the two were hanging out.
The game was done and dusted after the first half as United led by three goals. The closest chance of the second 45 minutes came from Harry Kane in the 89th minute who put his shot right at David De Gea from a yard off the end line. The dominant result drops Tottenham down to seventh place, while keeping United’s Champions League hopes alive.
Crystal Palace 3-1 QPR
Arsenal 3-0 West Ham
Leicester City 0-0 Hull City
Sunderland 0-4 Aston Villa
West Brom 1-0 Stoke City
Everton 3-0 Newcastle United
Liverpool vs. Swansea (3/16 4pm EST)