Sunday, February 7, 2016

Super Sunday Premier League: Arsenal back on track, Chelsea draws late with United

AFC Bournemouth 0-2 Arsenal
To say Arsenal are in a slump would be an understatement. They hadn't won in four Premier League matches, or even scored in their last three, coming into this away game at Bournemouth. In fact, since the turn of the new year, Wayne Rooney has more goals on his own (five) than Arsenal has as a team (four). It took 22 minutes for the scoreless super to end. Mesut Ozil hammered home a volley from just outside the six yard box. The trouble was it came on their first sustained spell of possession in the match. It was only the start of their domination. A minute after that first goal, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain finished a great passing move to quickly double the lead. They calmed down after that explosive minute and a half to keep Bournemouth from truly threatening in the first half.

Bournemouth hadn't been poor in the first half. They had some sustained possession, some may argue their ability to hang onto the ball was even better than Arsenal's. They continued that in the second half as Arsenal were certainly more interested in keeping Bournemouth out of the net than mounting any real attack of their own. The Cherries picked up a couple of half chances in the waning moments of the match, but strong goalkeeping from Petr Cech prevented any damage.

Arsenal climb about Manchester City for third place and are behind Tottenham for second only on goal difference. Like their North London rivals, they are five points of the pace being set by Leicester City. Bournemouth stay in 15th place.

Chelsea 1-1 Manchester United
The pedigree of this matchup certainly comes before the quality of the two teams, but it was nonetheless something that commanded our attention. Chelsea were the better side at the start. They were able to make threatening runs with Diego Costa and Oscar getting behind the United back line. However, despite a few close calls, they only managed one shot on target to Manchester United's three in the first half.

The second half looked a lot like the first. Manchester United slowly took more control. The building action took a halt in the 55th minute when Kurt Zouma went up for a header and landed uncomfortable on his ankle. The injury looked quite serious and he had to be subbed off straight away. Minutes after the injury, the match saw its first goal. Jesse Lingard broke the scoreless tie at the hour mark with a gorgeous sliding shot just inside the penalty spot. His effort found the top corner despite his less than ideal shooting position.

After the goal, it looked like Manchester United would hang on for the win, but Diego Costa had other ideas. He equalized less than a minute into stoppage time, much to the delight of Stamford Bridge. They showed great life after the goal and looked like a threat to flip the script and win it themselves. Despite Costa having a fantastic chance in the dying seconds, David de Gea stepped up to rob him of the potential winner.

The points were shared after a thrilling second half and Chelsea remains in 13th place because of it. United were stuck in fifth regardless of this result.

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