Chelsea v Stoke City
Chelsea weathered an extraordinary 65-yard goal by Charlie Adam to re-establish their seven-point lead at the Premier League summit with a 2-1 defeat of Stoke City on Saturday.
Arsenal had trimmed Chelsea’s lead to four points by blitzing Liverpool 4-1 and a twist appeared in store when Adam cancelled out Eden Hazard’s 39th-minute penalty in show-stopping fashion at Stamford Bridge.
A minute before half-time, the Scottish midfielder picked up a loose ball deep inside his own half and launched a raking shot with his left foot that Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois could only help into the net.
It was a goal that brought to mind David Beckham’s famous lob against Wimbledon in 1996 and Chelsea’s cause was further harmed when Diego Costa limped off with a hamstring injury 10 minutes after coming on at half-time.
But Loic Remy gave Chelsea victory in the 62nd minute, tapping home a pass from Hazard after Willian had intercepted Asmir Begovic’s throw, to leave Jose Mourinho’s side seven points clear with a game in hand.
“Every victory is one step ahead,” Mourinho told the BBC. “The others know they have to win every game. For us, we have to think about ourselves and forget about the others.”
Mourinho, who described Adam’s strike as a goal “every super player in the world would like to score”, said that Costa would be out for a “minimum” of two weeks.
Arsenal had earlier dealt Liverpool’s Champions League qualification hopes a massive blow with a stylish victory that lifted Arsene Wenger’s side to second place.
Arsenal scored three times in a dizzying eight-minute spell immediately prior to half-time at the Emirates Stadium, with Hector Bellerin, Mesut Ozil, from a direct free-kick, and Alexis Sanchez on target.
Jordan Henderson hit back with a 76th-minute penalty, but after Emre Can was sent off for two bookable offences, Olivier Giroud slammed home Arsenal’s fourth in stoppage time.
“It was a very great day,” said Arsenal manager Wenger. “It was an important game today. We had the chance to make a difference with Liverpool and we took the chance.”
Beaten 2-1 by Manchester United before the international break, Liverpool have now lost twice in succession and were left seven points below the top four after United beat Aston Villa 3-1.
Manchester United v Aston Villa
Manchester United climbed above their ‘noisy neighbours’ into third position thanks to a 3-1 win over Aston Villa which included a stunning strike from Wayne Rooney.
Ander Herrera’s first-half goal put United in front before Rooney doubled the hosts’ lead with a contender for goal of the month, if not the season.
Christian Benteke pulled one back for Aston Villa, but Herrera scored again late on to give United three vital points ahead of next week’s Manchester derby.
Everton v Southampton
Everton defender Phil Jagielka delivered a major blow to Southampton’s bid to qualify for the Champions League as his first-half goal secured a 1-0 win at Goodison Park on Saturday.
Ronald Koeman’s side needed a victory on Merseyside to keep in touch with the Premier League’s top four, but Jagielka’s strike left sixth placed Saints trailing fourth placed Manchester City by eight points with just seven games to play.
Southampton’s first defeat in four matches leaves them with a place in the Europa League their most likely route to continental competition next season.
For Everton, a third successive league win lifted them into the security of mid-table, with a 12-point gap to the bottom three, after they briefly looked in danger of being dragged into the relegation dogfight.
Swansea v Hull City
France international Bafetimbi Gomis’ double increased the pressure on relegation-threatened Hull on Saturday as Swansea eased to a 3-1 win in a game that their opponents finished with just 10 men.
Gomis’ brace and Korean Ki Sung-Yueng’s seventh of the season – Paul McShane briefly giving the visitors hope of getting something from the game early in the second-half – leaves Hull just three points above the drop zone and with an horrific series of matches to come against five of the top six.
For Swansea the win – only their second at home this year – edged them to within a point of their record in the Premier League of 47 set in the 2011/12 season.
West Brom v Queens Park Rangers
Queens Park Rangers handed themsleves a huge boost in their bid for Premier League survival with a 4-1 victory at West Brom.
Eduardo Vargas, Charlie Austin, and Bobby Zamora all scored in the first-half to hand QPR a big advantage.
Victor Anichebe pulled one back for the hosts only for Joey Barton to restore QPR’s three goal lead in the final stages of the game.
QPR remain in 18th in the table, although the gap on 17th place Sunderland - who face Newcastle on Sunday - is just one point.
Leicester City v West Ham
Leicester’s slim hopes of survival were given a much-needed jolt with a 2-1 victory against West Ham.
Esteban Cambiasso’s superb 20-yard strike handed Leicester the lead before Chiekhou Kouyate equalised for West Ham.
Substitute Andy King scored the winner four minutes from time.
Leicester remain rooted to the bottom of the table, but are now four points from safety.
FOLLOW US ON TWITTER @NatSportUAE