Race to the Finish: BPL Recap Match Day 26

By Kyle Basedow

I’m not going to say that this weekend was a wild one for the Barclays Premier League, but it certainly wasn’t a slow one either. Teams were moving up, others were moving down, and some didn’t move at all. I’m going to recap a couple games and try to provide some halfway-decent insight but I make no promises. That being said, lets get started.

Game with the biggest surprise/Most dramatic: Chelsea 1, Burnley 1  

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On paper, this should have been a blowout. I mean like why-did-they-even-show-up-to-play type blowout. First, Chelsea are currently at the top of the table (a fancy way for saying they’re the best team in the league), ahead of second place Manchester City by seven points heading into the game. Secondly, the Blues were playing at home where they have only lost one time under manager José Mourinho. Third, and probably most important, Chelsea is far and away a better team than Burnley. They have better players at every position and have significantly deeper pockets. In the most recent transfer window, Chelsea got winger Juan Cuadrado for over £30 million, more than Burnley’s starting XI combined.

So how did Chelsea not win? Well for starters, there were two instances where Chelsea should have been awarded a penalty, one where full-back Branislav Ivanovic’s shot hit the hand of a Burnley defender in the box, and another where striker Diego Costa was shoved down in the box by Burnley centerback Jason Shackell. Both those appeals fell on deaf ears and Chelsea carried a 1-0 advantage going into halftime thanks to a goal in 14th minute by Ivanovic.

However, the biggest spot of controversy in this match occurred in the 70th minute when Ashley Barnes, a forward for Burnley, made a terrible tackle on Chelsea defensive-midfielder Nemanja Matić.

Photo by SKY Sports
Photo by SKY Sports

These kinds of tackles usually break legs, so when Matić got up and threw Barnes to the ground like a rag doll, most people didn’t have a problem with his decision.

The head referee, Martin Atkinson, didn’t see it that way, showing Matić a straight red. What baffles me is not the decision to give Matić the red card, because I think he deserved it for reacting like he did, but the decision to not give Barnes a red card. I mean, that could have been a serious injury and the whole idea of red cards is to get rid of behavior that is harmful to the game or to other players.

Regardless, Matić was sent off and Chelsea continued to play with 10 men. Burnley went on to score off a corner in the 81st minute, something Matić’s six-foot four-inch frame might have helped prevent.

This was a big, big result for Burnley, who are currently struggling at the bottom of the table. For them to go into Stamford Bridge and grab a point could be huge for them in the long run.

For Chelsea, this won’t really hurt them in terms of the table, though Manchester City did make up ground to close the gap to five points, but it certainly hurts them that Matić will be suspended for two games, one of which is a League Cup final against Tottenham Hotspur, and the other being a BPL game against West Ham United.

Game with the most meaning: Southampton 0, Liverpool 2

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Another terrific match, though it lacked the drama of the Chelsea game. The Reds entered the game in 7th place and only one point back from Tottenham, while Southampton started in 4th with a one point lead over Arsenal.

This game got off to a quick start after Philippe Coutinho scored an absolute gem of a goal in the 3rd minute.

This came after Southampton was denied a penalty on a clear foul; however, they didn’t show much spark outside of that. The biggest in-game story came from Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren, and Rickie Lambert all returned to their former home, with Lallana and Lovren getting the start in midfield and defense respectively.

With the victory, Liverpool moves up to 6th in the standings and Southampton dropped to 4th due to an Arsenal win. Now only one point separates Southampton from Liverpool.

Now working on a 10+ game undefeated streak in the BPL, Liverpool may be a surprise contender for the final Champions League spot.

Game where one team totally blew it: Swansea 2, Manchester United 1

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Boy oh boy did Man. Utd. blow it. They got beat by Swansea. Let me repeat……SWANSEA.

The same Swansea who just sold their best player and goal-scoring machine, Wilfried Bony, in the transfer window.

They got beaten by goals from midfielder Ki Sung-Yeung and striker Bafetimbi Gomis, both of whom look lost in 90% of the games they play.

United started Angel Di Maria, Wayne Rooney, and Robin Van Persie, three of the best players in the entire Premier League, and they couldn’t get on the score sheet.

Ridiculous. Someone call Jürgen Klopp and see if he wants to coach Man. U next season.

Other important results:

 

Manchester City 5, Newcastle 0

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Man. City absolutely dismantled Newcastle and gained two points on league leaders Chelsea.

Crystal Palace 1, Arsenal 2

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Two timely goals helped Arsenal push past Palace and into third place, leap-frogging both Manchester United and Southampton.

Tottenham 2, West Ham 2

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West Ham blew a 2-0 lead in extra time as Harry Kane punched home another goal for the Spurs (after he missed a penalty) and savaged a valuable point from a game that at one point looked totally lost.

All stats and numbers via ESPNFC.com

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