Chelsea are 8 points clear at the top of the table, and it’s become even tighter in the chasing pack behind them. As 2 points separate Tottenham in 3rd and Manchester United in 6th. Liverpool won their first game of 2017. Leicester’s decent into relegation continued, while Southampton hit Sunderland for four. Here is the roundup of this weekend’s Premier League talking points.
Despite controversy Arsenal, return to winning ways
Arsenal won their first league game in 2 games, as they beat Hull City 2-0 at the Emirates. However, this victory was not without controversy, and Arsenal had 2 decisions go their way. Arsenal had been dominate when the ball came off Alexis Sanchez’s hand and ended up in the net on 34 minutes
Hull failed to clear Kieran Gibbs’ low shot and as the ball ricocheted off goalkeeper Eldin Jakupovic on the ground it bounced off of Sanchez’s hand and into the net. After consultation with his assistant, referee Mark Clattenburg awarded the goal
Hull defender Andrew Robinson told Sky Sports after the game that Clattenburg had apologised to the Hull players at half-time, for giving the goal. Hull will also rue the fact that Gibbs wasn’t sent off for committing a foul on Lazar Markovic, when he was the last man
The Serb was barged down by Gibbs, who was the last defender, when he had a clear run through on goal from 30 yards. Clattenburg saw the incident and presented a yellow card. Hull would then have Sam Clucas sent off for handball in the 91st minute, and Sanchez would convert the resulting penalty, making him the top scorer in the Premier League with 17 goals.
Manchester United close the gap on the top 4
Manchester United closed the gap on the top 4 to one point, thanks to a 2-0 victory over Watford. They have seemingly been stuck in 6th place all season long, and while temporarily, they found themselves in fifth, they will go into their run of cup games off 2 wins in a row in the league.
United played some of their best football of the season, as they went 1-0 up thanks to a Juan Mata goal in 32nd minute. Mata hasn’t always started, but he has played 31 games for United this season, and scored nine goals. Anthony Martial, who set up Mata’s goal, also got himself on the score sheet, with a well taken strike in the 60th minute. It has been a tough season for Martial, who hasn’t always been in the good graces of Jose Mourinho. But he put in a man of the match performance, and Mourinho pleased with Martial at full time:
“Martial deserves the chance. He has worked harder than ever in the last two weeks in the way I like – silent but hard.”
Crystal Palace remain rooted in the relegation zone
Crystal Palace’s nosedive into the Championship continued as they lost 1-0 to Stoke on Saturday afternoon. Despite losing the game, Palace responded from the 4-0 drubbing they received at the hands of Sunderland last weekend. Following their drubbing by Sunderland last week, Big Sam’s men showed no fear and even took the game to Stoke on the break.
Mark Hughes’ outfit were the more composed and the more dangerous – but this performance showed that hope has returned for the Selhurst Park men. However, they still have a lot of work to do, as this was their 8th loss in their last 10 games, and Palace have only won seven of their last 46 league fixtures, losing 28. Stoke won the game thanks to Joe Allen’s sixth Premier League goal of the season. This result moved Stoke up to 9th in the league, and they look as if their on course to best their highest over points tally of 54 in the 2014-15 season.
Sunderland fail to capitalise on a chance to move out of the relegation zone
After a confidence boosting 4-0 hammering of Crystal Palace last weekend, Sunderland suffered a similar fate this weekend, as they were beaten 4-0 by Southampton. Sunderland were buoyed by their win last week but now must feel like they are back to square one.
David Moyes’ side started the game bottom but would have gone 16th with a victory after relegation rivals Crystal Palace and Hull City both lost. The Black Cats started relatively brightly in the game but had no answer when Southampton got into their stride.
Substitute Fabio Borini headed Sunderland’s best chance wide late on but the hosts failed to provide any service to top scorer Jermain Defoe, who did not have a shot in the 90 minutes. At full time David Moyes reiterated that Sunderland need to start winning if they are to retain their Premiership status.
“This is a game gone and the games are running out. We have to win some if we have a hope of staying up, simple as that.”
Liverpool tighten gap between the sides competing for top 4
Liverpool won their first league game of the calendar year, and damaged Tottenham slender Premier League title hopes as Sadio Mane struck both goals in a 2-0 victory at Anfield on Saturday evening. Second-placed Tottenham had the chance to cut Chelsea’s lead at the top to six points ahead of their trip to Burnley on Sunday, but they were swept aside before halftime by a vibrant Liverpool side. Mane, whose absence at the African Nations Cup coincided with Liverpool’s slump, scored in the 16th and 18th minutes and only Tottenham keeper Hugo Lloris prevented the Senegalese completing a first-half hat-trick as the visitors buckled.
Jurgen Klopp had called on his side to step up against Spurs, and they more than did this with their performance, which was highlighted by Mane’s brace:
“The reaction was perfect, it was an outstanding performance offensively in the first half and defensively in the second,”
Liverpool once again showed that against the top sides this season they are a match for anyone. In their matches against other members of the top six this season they have won four and drawn four.
Leicester now 1 point off relegation
Leicester are now 1 point off the relegation zone, and last year’s champions could find themselves becoming the first side since Manchester City in 1938, to be relegated after winning the league title. Leicester are still winless in the league this calendar year, and this 2-0 loss to Swansea means they have now gone 5 league games in a row without scoring a goal.
Alfie Mawson’s thumping volley and an incisive team goal finished by Martin Olsson gave the hosts a commanding 2-0 half-time lead, and Leicester never looked competitive in the 2nd half. Leicester attention now turns towards the Champions League and FA Cup, and following the loss Claudio Ranieri said he would be making sweeping changes to the team, to ensure that they would stay in the Premier League:
‘Every time I speak to the players and the players speak to me we are always confident we can change the situation. But now there are a few matches in front of us so we have to find a solution very, very soon.
‘There are two matches in front of us – one in the FA Cup and one in the Champions League. But our mind is on the Premier League.’
Manchester City go second:
Bournemouth and Manchester City completed this weeks’ Premier League action with City running out 2-0 winners. City got off to a good start with a goal from Raheem Sterling on the half an hour mark. Bournemouth struck back within the minute as Josh King finished, but was unluckily for them ruled out for a shirt pull on John Stones. A great spot by the ref.
Raheem Sterling, was scintillating down the left side and had a huge involvement in the second goal as his delivery was inadvertently put in the net by Tyrone Mings, an own goal that didn’t stop Aguero celebrating as if it was is. This was a huge 3 points for City who are now in 2nd place just 8 points behind Chelsea, taking full advantage of Chelsea’s draw against Burnley. It is a far cry from the City ‘crisis’ a few weeks back, but seems Pep has got City back on course. The only negative in the game was the inform Gabriel Jesus taken off injured, so the extent of that injury will need to be assessed, but having a replacement like Sergio Aguero isn’t too bad.
Premier League Table:
By Rich Lee @RichLee2202