Three things we learned from Chelsea’s win vs. Manchester United

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LONDON — Chelsea took another tentative step towards securing the 2014-15 Premier League title on Saturday as they were out-played by Manchester United but secured a 1-0 win thanks to Eden Hazard’s first half strike.

[ RELATED: Van Gaal hails United’s “best match of season” ]

Injury-hit United can count themselves unlucky to have not got at least a point from the match, with Louis van Gaal’s side creating plenty of chances but they failed to break down a solid Chelsea outfit.

Here’s three things we learned from west London.

INJURY-HIT UNITED UNLUCKY

For most of the match United dominated the ball (they had 70 percent of possession) looked inventive going forward (had 15 shots to Chelsea’s seven) and without four first-choice defensive players, they held Chelsea at bay. But, they lost 1-0. The Red Devils did enough to win at Stamford Bridge but a combination of things conspired against them with lady luck failing to cut them a break. Well, expect for the moment David De Gea inexplicably handled outside the box to deny Hazard but got away with it. Louis van Gaal got his tactics spot on as a 4-1-4-1 saw them dictate play with Ander Herrera giving a commanding display and always wanting to get on the ball in the holding role in Michael Carrick’s absence. The one blot on Herrera’s copybook was his failure to track Hazard after Oscar’s fancy flick sit him free to score the winning goal. Wayne Rooney sprayed balls around in a deeper role and had numerous attempts which were either blocked or flew just wide.

Falcao had an effort superbly blocked by Gary Cahill in the 70th minute, smashed the woodwork moments later and the Colombian forward fired another wide after roughing up John Terry. He plugged the gaps in midfield with Kurt Zouma deployed alongside Nemanja Matic to try and quell United’s attacking threat. In a home game the league leaders played for a draw. That tells you how wary they were of an  under-strength United without the injured Diego Costa. United were up for the battle but they aren’t the first and won’t be the last team to be on the end of yet another defensive masterclass from Mourinho.

HAZARD IN A CLASS OF HIS OWN

Talking of class, Eden Hazard is in a class of his own. The Belgian winger provided the game winning moment as his sublime give and go with Oscar (hat tip to the Brazilian playmaker for a mesmerizing back heel) won the game for Chelsea. Hazard is the overwhelming favorite to win the PFA Player of the Year this season and his temperament has finally reached the levels were Chelsea knows they can rely on him in the big games.

Hazard has now scored in home wins against Arsenal, Tottenham and United, with the wing-wizard finally delivering consistent displays of true class. He was substituted late in the game to a standing ovation at the Bridge as his match-winning moment was the one moment of class Chelsea needed to beat United. The 24-year-old winger should, and will, be crowned the best player in the Premier League for the 2014-15 season. Has anyone got a problem with that?

source: Getty Images
Shaw’s superb display caught the eye.

SHAW BACK ON COURSE

Luke Shaw’s fitness was a huge issue when he first arrived at United as the “most expensive teenager in the world” last summer. The England international, 19, has been in and out of United’s team with various hamstring and muscle injuries in his debut season at Old Trafford but on Saturday, against the team he supported as a boy growing up in south west London, Shaw put in perhaps his most accomplished display in a United shirt. He hadn’t played a game in five weeks and was thrust into the lineup due to United’s severe injury problems in defense. Early on he surged forward down United’s left flank and caught out Oscar’s lack of defensive cover for Branislav Ivanovic along with Ashley Young. After three minutes Shaw surged forward and delivered a wonderful pull back to Rooney who curled the ball just wide. As the game wore on, he continued to get on the ball more and made those 30-45 yard runs which were his trademark at Saints.

In the 76th minute Shaw delivered a defense-splitting pass which found Radamel Falcao in the box. The weight of the pass was perfect and the Colombian forward turned on the ball and rattled the woodwork in one movement as United’s bad luck continue on the day. Shortly after Shaw was subbed off by LVG, but as he got to the bench his manager made a point of congratulating him on his performance. Shaw has had a season of struggle when it comes to injury and settling in at United, but his display on Saturday proved his mercurial talent is still intact and he’s back on the right track.

Farke, Tettey speak after Norwich City relegation

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Norwich City’s long road to relegation started to feel inevitable in recent weeks. It was punctuated by a 4-0 loss to Michail Antonio West Ham United on Saturday.

The club’s fifth Premier League tenure will end after just one season after the club’s typical defensive shortcoming were on full display at Carrow Road.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

“We are unbelievably disappointed,” said manager Daniel Farke, via the BBC. “When I came here we needed to develop young players and sell them to keep the club going. We were able to do this. Then the second season no-one expected anything but we were able to stage a miracle that no-one expected. We won the Championship title with a special brand of football. We were not able to add a third miracle in-a-row against all odds.

“I’m really disappointed for this and for all our supporters. We wanted to beat the odds again but when the dust settles the outcome is more or less what was expected. …  That’s what I expected.”

Farke hopes he can stay with the club and bring it back into the Premier League.

“Our situation as a club is quite comfortable because we don’t have any financial pressure at all and our young players are under long-term contracts. We can invest a bit more into the squad. Hopefully in the medium or long-term future we are an established Premier League club and we will need all our key players to do that.”

Norwich veteran Alexander Tettey found it difficult to label his emotions, even if the result was long coming to Carrow Road.

The Norwegian mainstay has been with the Canaries since 2012, enduring promotion and relegation with the club.

“It’s very hard for me to talk,” Tettey said. “That was a tough game for us. We came out trying to be positive but when we don’t do what we have to do on the pitch we are punished. … We’ve been in games sometimes but we don’t have the mentality or character to get those wins. It’s been a tough journey, it’s a young group but they will now have that experience.”

A bitter day at Carrow Road, even if it was long in front of the club.

Pair of Deeney penalties lead Watford comeback win

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Troy Deeney converted two penalties as Watford surged closer to Premier League safety with a 2-1 comeback win over Newcastle United at Vicarage Road.

Down 1-0 on a Dwight Gayle goal, the Hornets scored twice in the second half to move six points clear of 18th-place Bournemouth.

STREAM WATFORD – NEWCASTLE LIVE

Newcastle remains 13th with 44 points.


Three things we learned

1. (Of course) Deeney delivers: Watford captain Deeney has had a remarkable run at Vicarage Road and this season had plenty of storylines. But it was Deeney who had to go to the penalty spot twice to (possibly) seal his beloved club’s status in the Premier League. The two goals will feel good but not as good as another season in the top flight.

2. Magpies architect of own demise: The Magpies looked very good in the first half but their defending in the second half was abject, right down to two silly penalties. Matt Ritchie put himself in a bad spot to allow Kiko Femenia to win an early second half penalty and Javi Manquillo’s takedown of Ismaila Sarr 30 minutes later was laughable. The Magpies didn’t deserve the points based on the second half chances conceded anyway.

3. Newcastle worn out: Steve Bruce rested Miguel Almiron last match and Allan Saint-Maximin is probably looking upon that with greedy eyes. Newcastle’s best players have had to go and go again, and they just look a bit off it. A visit from Spurs on Wednesday is next.

Man of the Match

There were a few candidates for the Hornets, but we’ll go with the “Deeney of the defense” in Craig Dawson. He broke up a number of Newcastle opportunities.


Watford – Newcastle recap

Miguel Almiron came close to getting a leg on Allan Saint-Maximin’s fourth-minute cross.

A corner led to another Almiron shot, this one stopped well by Ben Foster.

Watford nearly had it 1-0 in the 17th. when Danny Welbeck’s shot was pushed off the near post by Martin Dubravka and saved off the line by Jamaal Lascelles.

Newcastle kept knocking, though, and took the lead through in-form Gayle, who showed up at the back post to poke in Federico Fernandez’s redirected corner kick.

Foster denied a breaking Saint-Maximin in the 35th minute as the Magpies looked good money for another goal.

That’s not to say Watford didn’t manufacture some chances, including a few quality set piece chances in the final few minutes of the first half.

The Magpies cleared an unholy goal mouth scramble off a 42nd-minute set piece and Almiron broke up the pressure with a long dribble into the Watford half.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Kiko Femenia hit the deck under Matt Ritchie’s challenge to win a 52nd-minute penalty, Deeney dispatching it past Dubravka to make it 1-1. His seventh goal is also his 130th in a Watford shirt.

Fernandez nearly gave the game to Watford with a miserable pass, but Dubravka stopped Deeney’s wasted direct shot.

Saint-Maximin forced an own goal out of Watford but the linesman’s flag was raised in the 67th.

The Magpies conceded the inevitable second goal when Manquillo wrapped up Sarr with a dozen minutes to play.

Norwich City relegated

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Norwich City’s fifth Premier League journey is a one-and-done.

The Canaries were well-beaten 4-0 by a Michail Antonio haul for West Ham United at Carrow Road on Saturday and will head to the Championship after one season.

[ MORE: Farke, Tettey react to relegation ]

Norwich’s 21 points are 10 back of 17th-place Watford with only three matches and nine points left for the Canaries.

The win conversely puts West Ham United on pretty safe footing, six points clear of the bottom three. The 16th place-Irons have a three-point edge on Watford.

WATCH. NORWICH CITY – WEST HAM FULL MATCH REPLAY


Three things we learned

1. Norwich’s tortured season unredeemable: So many injuries at the back end and too many unlucky moments to count combined to make the Canaries the first and least surprising of three relegated teams. Grant Hanley and Christoph Zimmerman missed 20-plus games over two stretches including the final weeks of the season, and Timm Klose has had to play nearly every minute since returning from a long-term injury.

Founding members of the Premier League in 1992, Norwich was first relegated in 1995 before rejoining the top flight a decade later. The club went back to the Championship after one year and sunk as low as League One in 2009-10.

This season was the Canaries’ third promotion of the decade and there were wonderful moments, many authored by Teemu Pukki and the electric Emiliano Buendia. Those two will join Todd Cantwell, Max Aarons, and Ben Godfrey as hotly-tracked transfer targets this summer.

2. The defense, fittingly, is the problem: Norwich City has been so bad at the back this year, some of it not their fault due to the injuries detailed above. The Canaries allowed six “big chances” according to SofaScore and it was just in the cards this season. The win over Man City feels ages ago.

3. Noble very good in return: West Ham’s captain returned to the starting lineup and was the proverbial straw that stirs the drink. He was economical in his challenges but won almost all of them and showed an array of passes while producing a terrific “hockey assist” to Fredericks on Antonio’s fourth.

Man of the Match:

Antonio — The hat trick hero has been out-working back line almost from the moment the Premier League returned to the pitch, and his goals were well-deserved. Mark Noble might be the club’s emotional guts, but Antonio’s been its heart and motor. Four goals? Come on. Antonio now has 36 career PL goals and is one away from his single-season best.


Norwich City – West Ham United recap

Tomas Soucek was lively early and drove a pass from Michail Antonio wide in the first eight minutes.

It was Antonio who put the Irons ahead with a firm back post finish of Issa Diop’s flicked corner.

Onel Hernandez clipped a Norwich chance wide but West Ham had most of the danger and Jarrod Bowen asked a big save of Tim Krul.

The Irons put Norwich effectively in the Championship when Antonio turned Mark Noble’s free kick home.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Krul stopped Antonio’s 54th-minute charge past Godfrey but Antonio leapt to head the rebound into the open net for 3-0.

The final goal came off a nice Noble ball to spring Ryan Fredericks into the right of the box, and the defender spotted Antonio for a slick backheeled finish.

Liverpool – Burnley stream: How to watch, start time, prediction, odds

Liverpool - Burnley stream
Photo by Alex Livesey - Danehouse/Getty Images
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Premier League champions Liverpool continue their pursuit of history with a visit from Europa League-chasing Burnley at Anfield on Saturday (Watch live at 10am ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

STREAM LIVERPOOL – BURNLEY LIVE

Liverpool looks for win No. 31 in 35 tries this league season, the hosts opening the day with 92 points and a 23-point lead on second-place Man City.

Burnley is in 10th with 49 points and can go eighth with a draw or seventh with a win.

Team news

Jurgen Klopp hands starts to youngsters Neco Williams and Curtis Jones.

Chris Wood is back in the lineup for Burnley, who moves Jay Brownhill inside to face the champions.

 

How to Watch Liverpool – Burnley

Start time: 10am ET
TV Channel: NBCSN
Stream Online: NBCSports.com