Man United 2 Arsenal 1
In what was a crucial round of Premier League games, the standout fixture, Man United vs Arsenal, had a far more gentile feel than in years gone by. There have been plenty of dust-ups between the pair, but this was not a day for recrimination.
Arsene Wenger’s old foe Sir Alex Ferguson was in a generous mood as the Frenchman was rightly lauded at Old Trafford for all he has done for football. And while the Gunners won the title there in 2002, this time it was United triumphant 2-1 on the day.
Both teams have been eclipsed by ‘noisy neighbours’ Manchester City this season, United at least though had the opportunity to cement second place and claim the “best of the rest” prize.
Sir Alex was master of ceremonies in a pre-match presentation to Wenger who will leave Arsenal at the end of the season after 22 years as manager. The crowd applauded as Wenger received a silver vase and the pair embraced in what Wenger would later call a “classy” touch. It was a sign of the enduring respect the former rivals hold for one another.
When play got underway it was United who opened the scoring when a header from former Arsenal player Alexis Sanchez was knocked on to the post by Hector Bellerin, Paul Pogba then stabbed home the rebound.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan equalised, gifted plenty of space to weave and strike through the legs of Victor Lindelof.
But United had the last laugh with an injury-time winner from Marouane Fellaini. The bruising midfielder was a constant threat in the air as United bombarded the Arsenal penalty area, and the pressure finally paid off with two minutes remaining.
It felt almost like a testimonial game, with Arsenal playing mostly reserves, resting the first team ahead of the Europa League semi-final second leg.
West Ham 1 Man City 4
Manchester City’s Premier League victory celebrations continued with a comprehensive 4-1 demolition of West Ham.
And in the process, they hit another milestone – 100 Premier League goals for the season. History was also made, as they became only the second Premier League side to win 30 league games in a campaign.
The champions took the lead when Leroy Sane’s shot deflected off the head of Patrice Evra and wrong-footed Hammers goalkeeper Adrian.
A comedy of defensive errors culminated in a Pablo Zabaleta own goal for their second.
Aaron Cresswell pulled one back with a sumptuous free kick. However, not long after Gabriel Jesus and Fernandinho finished off the hopeless Hammers, who are still in danger of being dragged into a late relegation battle.
Liverpool 0 Stoke City 0
Following their great Champions League feats in the week, a tired-looking Liverpool could only manage a 0-0 draw against relegation-haunted Stoke at Anfield.
The Reds goal machine Mo Salah for once misfired in a rare off game for the PFA player of the year, while the Potters feeble attack line has been misfiring all season.
Swansea 0 Chelsea 1
Chelsea, hanging on the coattails of Tottenham in the race for a Champions League place next season, scraped a 1-0 victory away to Swansea.
In the process, Cesc Fabregas notched his 50th Premier League goal, a wonderfully improvised finish that turned out to be enough on the day, as Swansea failed to make their few chances count.
But troubled manager Antonio Conte admitted that the “situation is not in our hands”, as even if Chelsea manage to beat Liverpool next weekend, the Reds need only a win at home to Brighton to confirm Champions League football for another year.
Swansea meanwhile are back deep in the relegation mire.
Southampton 2 Bournemouth 1
Speaking of the relegation dogfight, Southampton triumphed in the South Coast derby against Bournemouth, who have already assured their Premier League status for another year.
A Dusan Tadic doubled inspired the Saints to a crucial victory, which leaves them just a point behind Swansea in 18th place.
Crystal Palace 5 Leicester 0
Palace meanwhile are all but safe after a stunning 5-0 victory over seemingly ‘on the beach’ Leicester. Wilfried Zaha was the catalyst, contributing a goal of his own early on, with MacArthur, Loftus-Cheek and Van Ahnholt compounding the misery.
A late penalty by Christian Benteke ended the Belgian’s long goal drought, to round off a thoroughly convincing win at Selhurst Park.
Huddersfield 0 Everton 2
Huddersfield might just be looking over their shoulder, as a home defeat to Everton leaves them on 35 points, just three above the drop zone.
Newcastle 0 West Brom 1
Many would have labelled Saturday’s encounter on Tyneside this weekend as a bit of damp squib but try telling that to Albion fans. A 1 -0 win at Newcastle courtesy of winger Matt Phillips, means they aren’t relegated – for now at least.
Burnley 0 Brighton 0
And finally, Europe chasing Burnley took on Brighton at Turf Moor, with the two sides playing out a 0-0 draw. It leaves Burnley still in the hunt for Europa League qualification, but the less said about this one, the better.
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