Chelsea moved 8 points clear at the top of the table, as all of the title chasing pack struggled to take advantage of each other’s slips. There was shock at the other end of the table, as Swansea moved off the bottom of the league, and there was a milestone achievement for Wayne Rooney, here is the round up of all the talking points from the Premier League this weekend
Swansea stun Liverpool
Swansea had the result of the weekend, as they went to Anfield and dealt Liverpool’s title hopes a major blow, by winning 3-2. Swansea who had led the game 2-0, thanks to a brace from Fernando Llorente, were pegged back by Liverpool who bombarded the Swansea goal with shot after shot, and would end the game with 74% possession, and as a result saw Firmino bag a brace.
However, Gylfi Sigurdsson scored from close range with 16 minutes left to give Paul Clement his first win as Swans boss and the club their first away league victory over Liverpool.
The result leaves Liverpool 10 points behind leaders Chelsea, and they may struggle to make up the ground. There next league game is at home to Chelsea, but Liverpool have yet to win in the league in this calendar year. For Swansea, the clinical gutsy performance showed that they shouldn’t be written off as relegation candidates just yet.
Wayne Rooney becomes Manchester United’s all-time top goal scorer
Wayne Rooney became Manchester United’s all-time top goal scorer, with his 250th strike for the Red devils. His sensational freekick in the 94th minute rescued a point for United, and took their unbeaten run to 17 games.
Part of the key to Wayne Rooney becoming Manchester United’s record scorer was exhibited in the seconds after he brought up his 250 in quite magnificent style. Rather than bask in the glory of a deeply meaningful personal moment, Rooney gave a brief clenched-fist celebration then turned and ran back to the centre circle.
His goal was spectacular, but it was only the equaliser in a contest United wanted to win. The result was United’s 8th draw of the season, level with Middlesbrough for most in the league, and they find themselves 4 points off of the minimum requirement of top 4. For stoke this was a sign of continued improvement, and was their 3rd game in the league in a row, they haven’t lost. They stood steadfast in the barrage of a United attack, and will be slightly disappointed to have only taken 1 point from the game.
However the day belonged to Rooney, who summed up how much the record meant to him:
“It means a hell of a lot. It is a great honour and I am very proud. It is difficult at the minute to be over-pleased because of the result, but in the grand scheme it is huge honour.
“It is not something I expected when I joined. I am proud and I hope there is more to come.
“The players who have played for this club have been world class.”
Crystal Palace remain without a win under Sam Allardyce
If Sam Allardyce wasn’t aware of the task that faced him at Crystal Palace, he is more than aware now, as they lost 1-0 to Everton. There was huge controversy attached to Everton’s late winner as Seamus Coleman struck while Palace winger Jeffrey Schlupp lay injured down the opposite end of the pitch. Palace were furious play was allowed to continue while Schlupp was left on the field clutching his calf.
Likewise, Allardyce believed Coleman was offside when he collected Tom Davies’ pass. It was this match’s pivotal moment; indeed Coleman’s goal arrived down the side Schlupp would have been guarding.
However, the fact remains that Everton were worthy winners, and cut the gap to 6th place by 5 points. Meanwhile Palace have not lost their last 4 games in a row, and find themselves 2 points off safety.
Manchester City and Tottenham play out thrilling draw at the Etihad
Pep Guardiola was left bitterly disappointed, as his side conceded a 2-0 lead to end up drawing with Spurs 2-2. City dominated this thrilling match, from the opening minute they unleashed wave, after wave of attack finishing the game with 17 shots on goal. It took a couple of errors from normally solid Spurs number 1, and captain, Hugo Lloris for City to find the break through
France international Lloris headed an attempted clearance straight at Leroy Sane four minutes after half-time to allow the City attacker a simple finish, he then dropped Raheem Sterling’s routine cross straight at Kevin De Bruyne’s feet five minutes later, and the Belgian put City 2 up.
City found one back from Dele Alli, and then in the 76th minute the game, had it gone as Pep Guardiola anticipated, his side, already 2-1 up, would have been awarded a penalty and surely seized an unassailable advantage.
As it turned out, though, referee Andre Marriner waved play on after Kyle Walker nudged Raheem Sterling in the back, and the striker scuffed his shot into the arms of Hugo Lloris. No penalty, no red card. Within seconds, Tottenham had raced upfield and, after a glorious exchange of passes, substitute Heung-min Son swept a drive past Claudio Bravo to keep them in the title conversation.
Guardiola had already conceded the title last week, but this result leaves them 2 points off the top 4. For Spurs there title challenge continues, and this could prove to be a massive point for them. They are 9 points behind Chelsea, and a result like this will give them the confidence to keep chipping away at Chelsea.
Leicester continue to sink
James Ward-Prowse, Jay Rodriguez and Dusan Tadic condemned Leicester to their 11th Premier League defeat of the season as Southampton triumphed 3-0 at St Mary’s. The reigning champions have now lost half their Premier League matches this term and sit just five points above the relegation zone.
Southampton eased to victory, with Claudio Ranieri’s Leicester looking short of ideas in attack and worryingly frail at the back.
Saints’ win was tempered by an ankle injury to captain Virgil van Dijk, leaving Claude Puel’s men short of centre-backs after Jose Fonte’s £8 million switch to West Ham in midweek. England under-21 international Jack Stephens filled the breach, but Saints will hope Van Dijk can recover in time for Wednesday’s EFL Cup semi-final second leg at Liverpool.
Leicester’s decline continued on the south coast as last year’s defensive linchpins Robert Huth and Wes Morgan were again exposed, and looked confused by Ranieri’s formational change. Leicester have only won 2 of their last 10 games, and have yet to win in the league this calendar year. Unless changes are made soon, they will find themselves in a relegation dog fight.
Arsene Wenger in shoving spat, as 10 man Arsenal keep title hopes alive
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has been charged by the FA for verbal abuse and pushing during Sunday’s game against Burnley as he pushed fourth official Anthony Taylor after being sent off in Sunday’s 2-1 Premier League win. Arsenal’s manager was livid when Burnley were awarded a stoppage-time penalty to equalise at the Emirates Stadium and it saw the 67-year-old sent off by referee Jon Moss.
Wenger then stood in the tunnel to watch the closing moments of the match but was told he had to leave by Taylor. The Frenchman shoved the fourth official twice as stewards stood between them. Although he apologised afterwards, Wenger could find himself facing a lengthy touchline ban.
Wenger’s sending off, was the start of frantic end to the game with Burnley. Arsenal had taken the lead after Shkodran Mustafi, with his first goal for the Gunners, powerful header had finally broken Burnley’s resistance. Arsenal then had Granit Xhaka shown a straight red for a foul on Steven Defour. Before conceding a penalty in the 93rd minute, although both manager and players alike were incensed, replays showed that it was the correct decision. Francis Coquelin had clearly fouled Ashley Barnes and Andre Gray converted from the spot to level.
Yet, there was a twist, and a cruel one on spirited, determined Burnley. Two minutes after Gray’s equaliser, Moss awarded another penalty, for Ben Mee’s high kick to the face of Laurent Koscielny. Alexis Sanchez, the coolest man in the stadium, sent Burnley goalkeeper Tom Heaton the wrong way. It was an amazing conclusion to a game that had previously been a grind.
Arsenal now sit second in the league, 8 points behind Chelsea, with a visit to Stamford Bridge to come on the 4th February. Dogged Burnley’s away day misery carries on and they have now lost 9 out of 10 away games.
Costa is back with a bang
Diego Costa returned to the Chelsea line up following speculation over his fitness and a rumoured approach from a Chinese club to acquire the striker. Conte brought Costa back into the fold against Hull City and the striker didn’t take long to respond.
He got the opening goal when he converted Victor Moses’ low cross from eight yards out in the seventh minute of first-half injury time. His goal was deep into a long stoppage time as a result of an injury to Hull midfielder Ryan Mason following a clash of heads with Chelsea defender Gary Cahill. The sad scenes saw Mason sent to hospital after being carried off on a stretcher wearing an oxygen mask, Hull later announced he had fractured his skull; we all wish him well and a speedy recovery.
Costa now has 15 league goals in 20 league games this season with a 63% shot accuracy. It hard to see him slowing down any time soon.
For Chelsea it means they are now 8 points clear at the top of the league as Liverpool and Tottenham dropped points and the league looking increasingly like Chelsea’s to lose, especially when you consider European football will be back on the agenda for most of the top 6 soon, another distraction Chelsea don’t have to worry about.
Premier League table:
By Rich Lee @RichLee2202