Chelsea 3-1 Arsenal
The biggest matchup of the weekend had to be the London Derby between Chelsea and Arsenal at Stamford Bridge. The Gunners went into the match looking for a renewed sense of confidence, but Chelsea were having none of it. In this top-of-the-table clash, Antonio Conte’s side reminded everyone why they’re the odds-on favorite to win the title.
It took less than 15 minutes for Chelsea to take the lead. After Diego Costa’s headed effort from Pedro’s cross rattled the crossbar, Marcos Alonso bulldozed his way to the rebound, and put the ball past a sprawling Petr Cech. To make matters worse for Arsenal, Alonso looked to have knocked Hector Bellerin out cold on the play, and the fullback was forced off the pitch.
Arsenal ended the first half with a couple of great chances, but both Mesut Ozil’s and Gabriel Paulista’s efforts were easily dealt with by Thibault Courtois.
The Gunners’ lack of lethal touch came back to bite them in the 53rd minute. A vintage Eden Hazard run saw the Belgian midfielder take on the entire Arsenal defense before sliding his shot into the back of the net.
To add insult to injury for Arsenal, their once iconic midfielder Cesc Fabregas put the final nail in the coffin the 85th minute. A horrendous pass from Cech gave the Spanish midfielder an easy chance, and his looped shot capped off a three-goal day for the Blues.
Arsenal got some consolation in stoppage time with Olivier Giroud heading past Courtois, but in the end it didn’t really mean much. The win sees Chelsea remain nine points ahead of the pack, while Arsenal’s title challenge looks all but over.
Hull City 2-0 Liverpool
2017 has been somewhat of a nightmare for Jürgen Klopp and Liverpool. Through 10 matches, they’ve won just once (against Plymouth Argyle in an FA Cup replay). They’ve been eliminated from two cup competitions, and they’ve lost to Southampton (twice), Swansea City, and even Wolves. With fans quickly losing confidence in the German manager, a trip to relegation-threatened Hull City seemed like a perfect opportunity to pick up some momentum. The Tigers had other plans.
Liverpool, as expected, had the better of the chances through most of the first half, but they couldn’t find a finishing touch. A lapse of concentration in the 43rd minute, however, saw Hull win a corner kick. The Reds failed to deal with the corner, and Alfred N’Diaye was there to clean up the scraps and hammer the ball home to give the Tigers the lead on his debut.
Abel Hernandez had the chance to double Hull’s lead after being sprung through on goal by Kamil Grosicki in the 64th minute, but his first touch went too far and Simon Mignolet was able to smother the shot. Two minutes later, Philippe Coutinho looked set to score the equalizer only for his shot from six yards out to sail agonizingly wide of the far post.
Just like in the first half, Liverpool had the lion’s share of scoring chances, but it was Hull that found the back of the net. In the 84th minute, Andrea Ranocchia found Everton-loanee Oumar Niasse with an inch-perfect through ball. Niasse raced past Joel Matip before sliding his shot through Mignolet’s legs to seal a 2-0 victory for the Tigers.
Hull, who have spent a large chunk of this season at the bottom of the table, now find themselves in 18th and within just a single point of safety. Liverpool, on other hand, now find themselves 13 points off of Chelsea, and just a point ahead of Manchester United for a spot in the Europa League.
Manchester United 3-0 Leicester City
Forget the Super Bowl, this was my big game to watch on Sunday. After having some car trouble to kick off the day, I thought that United would compound my bad mood by once again dropping points to a relegation-threatened side. Thankfully, the Red Devils came to play as Leicester sunk even closer to the bottom three.
For the majority of the first half, both sides really struggled to impose themselves on the pitch, and neither goalie was under any real pressure. Marcus Rashford had United’s two best chances for United, but neither found a way past Kasper Schmeichel.
Any optimism that Leicester thought they were going to have going into the second half was erased in the final five minutes of the opening period of play. A flick from Chris Smalling found Henrikh Mkhitaryan, and the Armenian raced past Robert Huth and Wes Morgan before sending his shot into the back of the net.
Less than two minutes later, Antonio Valencia found Zlatan Ibrahimovic with a cross and Ibra promptly swept the ball past Schmeichel. The strike gave United a commanding two-goal lead and it also made Ibrahimovic the oldest player (35) in Premier League history to score 15 times in a season.
After the Red Devils’ second goal, Leicester’s intensity and execution crumbled. Riyad Mahrez, in particular, felt the ire of the crowd on a couple of occasions for his attitude on the pitch.
The match was well and truly sealed just three minutes into the second half. A neat give-and-go between Juan Mata, who was lucky not to get sent off earlier in the match, and Mkhitaryan saw the Spanish midfielder go one-on-one with Schmeichel. Mata easily slid the ball past the keeper to put United three goals to the good.
United kept pushing for a fourth, but they just couldn’t apply the finishing touch. Luckily, for the visitors, all they needed was three goals as the Foxes failed to find any type of breakthrough. Jose Mourinho and United are now within two points of the top four, and Zlatan told reporters that their chase for the Champions League is back in business.