Chelsea survive Azpilicueta red card to beat Crystal Palace
Chelsea continued their charge atop the Premier League table, edging Crystal Palace 2-1 at Selhurst Park thanks to goals from Oscar and Cesc Fabregas. Frazier Campbell grabbed one back for Palace late, but by that point the game had been won. The result leaves Chelsea five points clear atop the league ahead of their Champions League tie against Maribor.
Both sides finished with ten men after an ugly scene saw Cesar Azpilicueta sent to an early bath, with Damien Delaney following him out shortly thereafter.
Oscar got the Blues off to a flying start, driving home a free-kick in the fifth minute, with a curling shot over the wall to beat Julian Speroni at the top corner. Cesc Fabregas would add the winner after the break, finishing off a flowing move that involved Eden Hazard and Oscar to beat Speroni near post.
Campbell would pull one back right at the death of the match, tapping home after Wilfried Zaha slotted calmly through traffic, but there was no way back for Neil Warnock’s man at that point. Palace remain hovering on the edge of the drop zone on eight points.
Across London, Arsenal came into this weekend’s game with a full eleven players out injured, and they looked like a shadow side today in a grim 2-2 home draw with Hull.
The Gunners got out of the blocks quickly at the Emirates, with Alexis Sanchez giving the Gunners the lead after only 13 minutes with a fine shot through Tom Huddlestone and past Steve Harper to the far post. But the ravaged Gunners could not hold on, and Mohamed Diame would level matters up four minutes later on a controversial play. Hauling Mathieu Flamini back, Diame stormed towards the goal to chip over Wojciech Szczesny with the Arsenal players furiously remonstrating with ref Roger East over the foul.
Then, after the break, Tom Huddlestone’s cross caught a tired-looking Per Mertseacker flat, allowing Abel Hernandez all the time in the world to nod home. That set up a deeply frustrating period for Arsenal that was finally snapped when Danny Welbeck’s deflected shot looped over sub keeper Eldin Jakupovic.
Things don’t get any easier for Arsenal as they travel to Belgium to face Anderlecht on Wednesday; they remain mired in 6th, a full 11 points off the lead. Hull, on the other hand are lurking a point behind them, and in the top ten to boot.
Southampton continued their charmed season, ripping Sunderland 8-0 in a game that devolved into comedy. Santiago Vergini scored one of the great own goals of all time. With Morgan Schneiderlin bearing down, Vergini turned and inexplicably sent a volley from 18 yards past his own keeper. Graziano Pelle and Jack Cork would then pad their advantage to send Sunderland tumbling towards the bottom of the table. After the break, Liam Bridcutt would score another own goal, and keeper Vito Mannone would gift Saido Mane and Pelle on an afternoon to forget for Gus Poyet. Sunderland sit 17th, helped by the fact that their arch-rivals, Newcastle, are that much more abject this season than they are.
Phil Jagielka headed home a cross from Leighton Baines to lead Everton to an eventual 3-0 win over Aston Villa. Brad Guzan allowed a soft goal from Romelu Lukaku and Seamus Coleman tapped home to round out a good day for Roberto Martinez. Struggling Everton rose to 13th, while Villa’s deflation continued as they sunk to 12th.
At Turf Moor, Burnley were rocked by goals from Diafra Sakho and Enner Valencia before finally crafting a reply through George Boyd en route to an eventual 3-1 loss. Carlton Cole would nod home the third header of the day for the Hammers to keep the Clarets next to last in the league.