The Premier League “big guns” continue to stagger towards the finishing line like exhausted marathon runners.
Arsenal falter again as the race to secure the last Champions League spot goes down to the wire
Arsenal and Liverpool yet again threw points away, Chelsea picked it up but all too late, and Manchester City, now concentrating on the Champions League and Read Madrid, got a welcome easy victory as Stoke rolled over yet again.
Meanwhile Leicester march on, thrashing Swansea 4-0, proving they can play without Jamie Vardy who was suspended.
Sunderland battered Arsenal but couldn’t score and it ended 0-0.
The Gunners have to put away sides like Sunderland if they are ever to properly challenge for the title one more. But against a team desperate to escape relegation they didn’t fancy it.
Both sides had penalty appeals for handball denied and Patrick van Aanholt struck Arsenal’s post with a free-kick.
Jack Wilshere came on for a first game in 10 months, but the visitors relied on numerous Petr Cech saves to preserve a point.
The failure to win could prove costly for Arsenal, who occupy the final Champions League qualifying spot, but lie just five points ahead of Manchester United who have a game in hand.
3 – Arsenal have won just three of their last 12 PL away games (D6 L3), having won 10 of the 12 before that (D1 L1). Flaccid.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) 24 April 2016
Manchester City moved up to third and didn’t have to try very hard to beat an injury-ravaged Potters.
Fernando headed the hosts in front from a corner before a Sergio Aguero penalty – awarded for Ryan Shawcross’s foul on Kelechi Iheanacho – doubled the lead. Iheanacho, aged just 19, added the third from close range, then the teenager rounded the keeper to seal an emphatic win.
It was the third straight Premier League game that Stoke had conceded four. And they did it while resting a number of players, including captain Vincent Kompany and midfielder Kevin de Bruyne.
Hazard finally ends Premier League goal drought
Eden Hazard finally woke up and scored his first league goals of the season as Chelsea overcame Bournemouth on the south coast. Perhaps it is dawning on the Belgian that his performances this season have been so poor that no-one might want him in the next transfer window.
29 – Eden Hazard has ended a run of 29 Premier League games without a goal. Overdue.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) 23 April 2016
Cesc Fabregas provided Chelsea’s first three goals, teeing up Pedro and Hazard in the first half before releasing Willian for the third after the break. The Cherries had got back to 2-1 when Tommy Elphick’s header crept in before the interval. But Hazard, who netted 19 times last season, finished from Nemanja Matic’s pull-back in injury time.
Liverpool fail to finish the job as Rafa gets a point on his return to Anfield
Meanwhile Liverpool were in generous mood at Anfield as the fans gave former manager Rafa Benitez a mighty welcome in the clash with Newcastle United.
It seemed business as usual when the Reds shot into a 2-0 lead through Daniel Sturridge and Adam Lallana. But once again somehow Liverpool let it slip, perhaps still reeling from the news that defender Mamadou Sakho was being investigated by UEFA after a failed drugs test.
Papiss Cisse headed the Magpies back into contention early in the second half before Jack Colback pulled them level with a deflected shot.
Anfield used to be a fortress, but no longer.
Liverpool have got to re-learn how to be ruthless.
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