Wednesday, March 2, 2016

More Midweek Premier League Madness: Arsenal ruins another chance to save title challenge

Arsenal 1-2 Swansea
Arsenal needed to look inspired and dominant against Swansea for anyone to think they had a shot at returning to the title race. It looked good for them at the beginning. Joel Campbell finished off a great move at the quarter hour to give them a much needed early lead. The unfortunate part came when they couldn't hang onto it. Amid cries of a foul against the Swans, Arsenal's back line got slow before allowing Wayne Routledge to get free down the middle for an easy slip past Petr Cech.

Arsenal had plenty left in their tank once the second half began, but they only found almost chances before conceding a huge goal. In the 75th minute, Ashley Williams was able to knock home a free kick courtesy of Gylfi Sigurdsson to put Swansea in front, and thrust Arsenal fans' heads in their hands. The Swansea defense was too difficult to crack afterwards. Arsenal's lack of movement off the ball created zero scoring chances as the game ticked treads its end.

Arsenal are now six back of first place Leicester, and three behind Spurs for second. Next on the schedule, a trip to White Hart Lane in a game that could eman the end of Arsenal's once very realistic title challenge.

Stoke City 1-0 Newcastle
Every point for Newcastle is crucial in their battle against relegation. On the road at hostile Stoke, a goalless first half suit them just fine. The second half was less satisfactory. Xherdan Shaqiri hammered home a gorgeous shot from well outside the penalty area in the 80th minute to break the deadlock and earn he home team full honors.

West Ham 1-0 Tottenham
Spurs had the opportunity to climb into first place thanks to Leicester's loss yesterday. They didn't get the start they needed when Michail Antonio scored in the seventh minute for West Ham. That goal would end up holding up against plenty of Tottenham pressure. That means Tottenham fail to go to the top of the pile here. Instead, they remain three back of Leicester and three ahead of Arsenal with the North London Derby looming on Saturday.

Liverpool 3-0 Manchester City
The Reds were seeking some instant revenge for their penalty shootout defeat in Sunday's Capital One Cup Final against Manchester City. A quick double for them in the tail end of the first half was a definite boost for them in that regard. First, Adam Lallana put them in front in the 34th. Then it was James Milner making it two six minutes later. The second half only brought more fortune the the Reds. Roberto Firmino made it three for Liverpool in the 54th minute. This means that Manchester City's title challenge is just about over. They are ten points back of first while even on points with their cross town rivals for fourth place, albeit with a game in hand.

Manchester United 0-1 Watford
Still reeling from injuries, Manchester United had plenty of momentum coming off their big win at home over Arsenal on Sunday. They couldn't translate that into anything int he first half of this one, however. They finally found a goal on an 83rf minute free kick from Juan Mata. This win is huge for both the United season and for the survival of Louis Van Gaal as their manager. They are level on points with Manchester City for a once unthinkable place in the top four. The Citizens do have a game in hand, however, which could give them the final boost they need to keep the Red Devils out of the Champions League next season.

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