It has become Chelsea’s title to lose, as the champions elect moved 9 points clear of the title chasing pack. The race for the Champions League has tightened as 5 points separate 2nd and 6th. While at the other end of the table, the relegation battle has heated up with 2 points between 15th and 20th. Here is the roundup of this weekend’s Premier League talking points.
Chelsea steamroller Arsenal, to go 9 points clear
Just over 4 months ago, Arsenal absolutely outclassed Chelsea at the Emirates, it was considered a title winning performance, encompassing all that was good about Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal. On Saturday Chelsea’s title winning performance over Arsenal at Stamford Bridge, encompassed all that is wrong with Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal.
Wenger watched Saturday’s game at Stamford Bridge from the stand as part of a four-match touchline ban. He saw his side go behind to a Marcos Alonso header, before Eden Hazard’s solo run and finish doubled the Chelsea lead. An Olivier Giroud headed consolation came after former Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas lobbed Petr Cech.
Both Hazard’s goal and Fabregas goal could have been prevented, if the Arsenal players had turned up. A distinct lack of pressing allowed Eden Hazard to run through the Arsenal team with no challenges. While a mistake, from the increasingly error prone Petr Cech, allowed Fabregas to score against his old team.
Post match Wenger conceded the title was Chelsea’s and following the 2nd league loss in a week, Wenger must be wondering where to go from here.
For Antonio Conte’s Chelsea, it is hard to see who can stop them, they are 9 points clear of Tottenham, and it would take some major slip ups for Chelsea not to win the league. Chelsea once more looked the model of efficiency, although they conceded more chances than Conte would have liked, with N’Golo Kante a tireless midfield influence.
They have individuals who can produce game-defining moments like Hazard, it is almost impossible to see any way they will leave the door far enough ajar for any of their pursuers to squeeze through.
Everton beat Bournemouth in 9 goal thriller
In terms of pure entertainment the game between Everton and Bournemouth took game of the weekend. Everton raced to a 3-0 lead in the first half hour of the game. Romelu Lukaku showed the kind of form that resulted in a £65 million price tag put on his head.
However Bournemouth fought back in the second half and were able to get the game back to 3-2 with a brace from Joshua King. They had been knocking on the door of Ronald Koeman’s side from the second half kick off, and deserved their 2 goals. However, Lukaku struck again, he completed his hat-trick with a simple side-foot volley to kill off Bournemouth’s hopes of completing an unlikely comeback, while his 17th goal of the campaign followed just moments later.
Harry Arter added a third, before Ross Barkley wrapped up the game with Everton’s sixth of the day. Everton are now only 5 points off the top 6, and are now unbeaten in their last 7 games. While Bournemouth have not won in the league this calendar year, and find themselves only 6 points off 18th place, with a number of teams around them winning games, Bournemouth may find themselves sucked into a relegation battle.
Big Sam embarrassed by former club at Selhurst Park
It’s fair to say that Sam Allardyce’s appointment as Sunderland manager in October 2015, ensured that the Black Cats would be in the Premier League this season. Allardyce has a track record of never having been relegated from the Premiership, but his current Crystal Palace side are in danger of breaking that record.
Palace found themselves 4-0 down at half-time goals from Lamine Kone, Didier Ndong, and a brace from Jermaine Defoe, saw many Palace fans desert Selhurst Park before the ref had blown for the end of the first half. The players were subjected to a chant of “You’re not fit to wear the shirt” and on this occasion, they were right, as the players showed no desire or passion to try to win the game. Sunderland controlled the second half, and Palace showed no signs of wanting to get back into the game.
For Sunderland, this was their first away win in 6 games, and this result means they are on the same points as Palace, despite being bottom of the league on goal difference. They are also only 2 points away from 15th and a home fixture against Southampton next Saturday presents them with an opportunity to escape the relegation zone.
Hull end Liverpool’s title hopes
Liverpool’s winless league run in 2017 continued as they slipped to 5th in the league, while Hull City did their survival hopes a world of good with a 2-0 win over the reds at the KC Stadium. Despite the return of the influential Sadio Mane to the starting line-up, Liverpool failed to inspire a revival, with Simon Mignolet again at fault for debutant Alfred N’Diaye’s opener on the stroke of half-time.
The visitors, who did not register a shot on target in the first half, carried a greater threat after the interval, having 22 shots, but failing to convert any of their chances. They had 72 possession but as Klopp said afterwards: “Possession is only good when you create something from it.” Having recorded a 5-1 win over Hull in September, the contrast in the fortunes of Klopp’s side then and now was underlined by Niasse’s 84th-minute goal, his first in the Premier League.
For the Tigers, revitalised under Marco Silva, a fourth consecutive home win in all competitions has breathed new life into their flourishing survival bid. They were bottom of the table and 3 points from safety when Silva took over, there now 18th and 1 point from safety, having taken 7 points from a possible 12 during Silva’s reign.
Jesus is City’s saviour
Gabriel Jesus marked his full home league debut with a brace, to take Manchester City up to third in the league. City took the lead in the 11th minute as Jesus tapped in past Lucas Fabianski. Swansea had the better of the second half, and deserved to be on equal footing when Gylfi Sigurdsson made it 1-1 in the 81st minute.
But Jesus stuck again in the 92nd minute, as Swansea’s goal had spurred on City on. They picked up the pace again and Jesus was on hand to slide home a winner after his header was parried by Fabianski.
Post match City manager Pep Guardiola paid tribute to his new signing:
“Gabriel Jesus is strong, fast and has really good movement. He has arrived really, really, well. He is Gabriel Jesus. We are happy to have him.”
Leicester’s decent into relegation continues
Last season’s Premier League champions Leicester City find themselves in 16th place and 1 point off the relegation zone, as Manchester United left Leicester looking for their first league win and goal of the season, as they beat them 3-0.
United weren’t at their sparkling best to begin the game, as they lined up in a 4-4-2 formation in an effort to address recent results, having drawn the last 3 games in a row. However, Jose Mourinho recognised that Zlatan Ibrahimovic would be more effective as a lone striker, and he slotted Henrikh Mkhitaryan into the number 10 role.
The change immediately improved the visitors’ attacking strength as the pace of Mkhitaryan and Marcus Rashford, coupled with Juan Mata’s creativity, stretched Leicester’s defence and left gaps for Manchester United to exploit, which they did to full effect. On the cusp of half-time, and within the space of 2 minutes, both Mkhitaryan and Ibrahimovic had struck to effectively kill of the game.
Mata ensured there would be no fight back from the champions, as he played a 1-2 with Mkhitaryan and neatly finished past Kasper Schmeichel. Three different goalscorers and a convincing win will give Mourinho confidence his side can challenge for the top four, particularly with Liverpool and Arsenal’s own challenge faltering.
Leicester could find themselves the first defending champions to be relegated since Man City in 1938. The only thing keeping their heads above water is the home form, with 18 of the 21 they have coming at the King Power. Jamie Vardy’s lack of form is also mirroring his team’s struggles and he has failed to score in 18 out of 21 league games for the Foxes this season.
Premier League Table
By Rich Lee @RichLee2202