Chelsea back on track for Premier League title
ABS-CBN Sports on Apr 06, 2017 10:49 AM
Chelsea's Gary Cahill, N'Golo Kante and team manager Antonio Conte, from left, celebrate at the end of the English Premier League soccer match between Chelsea and Manchester City at the Stamford Bridge stadium in London, Wednesday, April 5, 2017. Chelsea won 2-1. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
STEVE DOUGLAS, AP Sports Writer
Chelsea re-established its position as hot favorite to win the Premier League trophy on Wednesday, virtually eliminating Manchester City from the title race and leaving Tottenham as the only realistic challenger to the long-time leader.
On a night when the title race could have been thrown open, Chelsea pulled off one of its most significant results of the season by beating City 2-1 at Stamford Bridge to cement its seven-point lead with eight games remaining.
Tottenham is the only team inside 12 points of Chelsea — but only remained in sight of the leaders after a late comeback in a 3-1 win at Swansea. Down 1-0 going into the 88th minute, Spurs turned things around to keep alive their faint hopes of a first Premier League title.
Whether it turns into a two-team race depends on Chelsea holding its nerve, like it did against a City side that made the match tense right through to the final whistle. But with only one game left against a top-six team — at Manchester United on April 16 — there seems to be little chance of Chelsea throwing away enough points to give Tottenham an opening.
The surprise 2-1 loss to Crystal Palace on Saturday might have been the wake-up call Chelsea needed.
Here's a look at Wednesday's games:
CHELSEA 2, MANCHESTER CITY 1
Eden Hazard has spearheaded Chelsea's revival under Antonio Conte and the Belgium winger scored both goals to see off City.
On a night to forget for goalkeepers. Hazard put Chelsea ahead in the 10th minute when his deflected shot somehow evaded the grasp of City keeper Willy Caballero, who appeared to sink to his knees too early.
Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois let City back into the game, sending a clearance straight to David Silva. The Spain playmaker ran through and his shot was parried by Courtois straight into the path of Sergio Aguero, who tapped home in the 26th.
In the 35th, Fernandinho brought down Pedro Rodriguez and although Caballero saved Hazard's penalty, the winger slotted in the rebound.
Chelsea completed the double this season over City, which is fourth — four points above both Arsenal and Manchester United having played a game more.
SWANSEA 1, TOTTENHAM 3
Tottenham has won its last five games to stay in title contention — just about.
Former Spurs player Wayne Routledge put Swansea ahead in the 11th minute and the Welsh team held on until the 88th, when Dele Alli tapped in an equalizer. Son Heung-min and Christian Eriksen added further goals in stoppage time at Liberty Stadium.
Tottenham moved five points ahead of third-place Liverpool and has a game in hand. Swansea dropped into the relegation zone in place of Hull.
ARSENAL 3, WEST HAM 0
Arsenal's challenge for a Champions League qualification place is back on after just a second win in seven leagues games.
Mesut Ozil, Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud scored second-half goals to give temporary respite to long-serving Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who has been the subject of criticism from some fans as the team goes through a poor run of form and he weighs up whether to extend his contract.
Arsenal climbed into fifth place, above Manchester United on goal difference, and within four points of fourth-place Manchester City. Arsenal has a game in hand over City.
It was a fifth straight loss for West Ham, which is five points above the relegation zone.
LIVERPOOL 2, BOURNEMOUTH 2
Liverpool conceded an 87th-minute equalizer as its problems against the league's supposedly weaker sides resurfaced.
Liverpool remained in third place, and is now two points ahead of fourth-place Manchester City, but it has played more games than all of its rivals in the top six.
Bournemouth went ahead early through Benik Afobe and equalized late through Josh King, with Philippe Coutinho and Divock Origi scoring in between for Liverpool.
Liverpool didn't lose any of its 10 games against rivals in the current top six this season, but continues to struggle to put away other teams in the league.
Hull took full advantage of Swansea's loss, beating Middlesbrough 4-2 to move out of the relegation zone and maintain its improvement under Marco Silva since his arrival in January.
Hull has won five of its six home games under Silva, drawing the other.
In the other game, Crystal Palace's four-game winning run ended with a 3-1 loss at Southampton, plunging the team to within three points of the bottom three.
Steve Douglas is at www.twitter.com/sdouglas80