Chelsea get back to the day job as top teams all win
05 March 2015, 08:08
London - After a Champagne Sunday, leaders Chelsea got back to the bread and butter of churning out Premier League points with Eden Hazard's header sealing a 1-0 victory at London rivals West Ham United on Wednesday.
Champions Manchester City, 2-0 winners over bottom club Leicester City, would have hoped Chelsea suffered a hangover from their League Cup final triumph over Tottenham Hotspur, but Jose Mourinho's side are made of sterner stuff.
Hazard was left unmarked after 22 minutes to score the only goal of the game and steadfast Chelsea weathered a physical battering by the hosts to reach 63 points, five clear of City with a game in hand.
David Silva and James Milner scored to keep City in touch, although Manuel Pellegrini's side were unimpressive against a Leicester side who have now lost 16 of their last 22 league matches.
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho knows the value of grinding out victories as the season reaches the home straight and was effusive in his praise of his players.
"My team were brothers on the pitch and that is important if you are to win the most difficult league in the world," the Portuguese told reporters.
(West Ham) are the best at the way they play. It is not just to play football, the pressure, the tension and the emotion, my players were fantastic. These three points are massive for us."
Below the duel for the title, the teams chasing third and fourth spot all won.
Olivier Giroud and Alexis Sanchez gave Arsenal a 2-1 win at Queens Park Rangers to keep them above Manchester United who beat Newcastle United 1-0 with an 89th-minute goal from Ashley Young after a terrible mistake by Newcastle keeper Tim Krul.
The Dutchman, who had made superb saves to keep out Marouane Fellaini and Young, kicked the ball straight to the former England winger who fired into an empty net.
Newcastle's Jonas Gutierrez made his first appearance since recovering from testicular cancer but the talking-point afterwards was the moment when United's Jonny Evans and Newcastle's Papiss Cisse appeared to spit at each other.
"I don't think Jonny Evans is a spitter. Maybe spitting on the floor but we are on the bench and you cannot see from there," United manager Louis van Gaal told BT Sport.
Arsenal have 54 points with United on 53 -- two ahead of in-form Liverpool for whom Jordan Henderson and Daniel Sturridge clinched a 2-0 win over Burnley at Anfield.
Liverpool have picked up 26 points from the last 30.
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Seventh-placed Tottenham (47 with a game in hand) rebounded from their Wembley woe to beat Swansea City 3-2 and stay in the hunt for a top-four finish, although the game was overshadowed by Swansea's Bafetimbi Gomis fainting in the first half.
The French forward was carried off the pitch but remained conscious after medical treatment.
"Bafetimbi Gomis is fine. He went to hospital as a precaution but he is fine. That's the main thing," Swansea manager Garry Monk told the BBC.
Chelsea extended their dominance over West Ham to one defeat in 18 but it was a tense night in east London.
Diego Costa nearly added to Hazard's goal but they had to dig deep to keep West Ham out with goalie Thibaut Courtois making fine saves from Diafra Sakho and Enner Valencia.
Manchester City returned to winning ways after damaging defeats by Barcelona in the Champions League and Liverpool in the league with Silva scoring his sixth goal in his last seven Premier League appearances at the Etihad.
The champions had started with skipper Vincent Kompany on the bench, dropped by Pellegrini.
"It was not a difficult decision -- I felt we needed to refresh the team tonight," the Chilean said.
Everton's worrying league form continued in a 2-0 defeat at Stoke City.