By Niall Clarke
- Five lessons learned from match-week 20 of the Premier League season
- Full weekend results
The second half of the season kicked off with Chelsea’s record equaling winning run finally coming to an end. Here are five lessons learned from match-week 20.
Spurs end Chelsea’s winning run
It was an incredible run for Antonio Conte’s side. The Blues traveled to White Hart Lane on Wednesday as they attempted to be the first side to win 14 straight games in a single season in the history of the Premier league. Spurs however would spoil the party by defeating the Blues 2-0, thus becoming the first side since Arsenal in September to take a single point off the league leaders.
It was a fairly even game for the first half, but the complexion changed when Dele Alli put Spurs ahead in stoppage time with a well placed header. It was a goal on the stroke of half time that changed the reverse fixture at Stamford Bridge in which Chelsea won 2-1, and that would be the case in this match too.
Buoyant after taking the lead, Alli continued his good run of scoring form by adding another to double Spurs’ lead not long after the break. Chelsea pushed to get back into the match but could not break down the formidable Tottenham defence, and just like that Chelsea finally tasted defeated.
Nothing should be taken away from Antonio Conte and his side. It is a fantastic achievement in any league to win 13 games in a row, never mind the Premier League. it had to end sometime, it just a shame from their perspective it was right before they made history. The Blues remain eight points clear at the top however and are still favorites to win the title.
Spurs continue their good form and move into the top four ahead of their North London rivals. The dream for a first Premier League title continues with this fantastic victory.
Liverpool and Arsenal slipped up
With the Manchester clubs closing in and Tottenham beating Chelsea, there was pressure on Liverpool and Arsenal to deliver results away from home. However, both clubs could only manage a draw and a result lose to two points in their title bids.
Liverpool’s was the most surprising of the two as they were held by Sunderland at the Stadium of Light. Two Jermain Defoe penalties was enough for the North East club to seal an unexpected but potentially valuable point In their battle for survival. If any criticism and question of Liverpool’s title challenge is to be made, it is the their tendency to have results such as this. A team hoping to win the league should be finding ways to win these matches, but the Reds can often lose or draw these fixtures. How much that will affect their bid is yet to be seen, but this is undoubtedly two pints dropped, especially considering they had the lead.
Arsenal did not let a lead slip, in fact they had to come back from 3-0 down to earn a draw at Bournemouth. The Cherries were sensational for the first hour, going 3-0 up and looking like they could score a huge win over the Gunners. Arsenal fought back well and came back to gain a point in an entertaining 3-3 draw. You can make the argument that Arsenal did well and showed a lot of character to come back from such a big deficit, but many will question how they find themselves in that situation in the first place. Bournemouth are a good team but how Arsenal managed to find themselves 3-0 down to them is baffling. It is not a mark of champions to find yourself in that situation against a mid-table side.
Swansea win. SWANSEA WIN!
A new year, a new beginning for Swansea? It certainly appears to be the aim of the club who earned their first win in five Premier League games over fellow strugglers Crystal Palace.
Watched on by their newly appointed manager Paul Clement, The Welsh side took the lead just before half time through Alfie Mawson’s headed goal. Wilfried Zaha equalised for Palace just seven minutes from time, but substitute Angel Rangel collected Leroy Fer’s pass to net a late winner and lift Swansea off the foot of the table.
It is a very good result for a struggling Swansea side. Life at the club has started on a positive note for their new manager despite him not being on the touchline for the match. The Question is, can they keep it up?
That spot is now occupied by Hull City who lost 3-1 away at West Brom. The poor run of form has resulted in the sacking of Mike Phelan as head coach as the Tigers become the next team to look for a new direction in order to save their season.
Manchester United are back in the title picture
Sofiane Feghouli was controversially sent off 15 minutes into the match for his challenge on Phil Jones, lessening the match as a contest in the early goings. Despite being down to 10 men, the Hammers held on until the 63rd minute until Juan Mata finally put United into the lead. Zlatan Ibahimovic added a second to continue his good form. Many questioned if the Swede would adapt to the Premier League, but Zlatan has undoubtedly silenced the critics so far this season.
The win sees United close in on the top four. The gap to Chelsea is still large, but if they can keep on winning then that could potentially lessen as the season wears on. There are still plenty of fixtures yet to be played, and United are dead in form as we turn the corner to the second half of the season.
What else happened?
Manchester City went down to ten men but still managed a win at home to Burnley. It is a victory that sees them leapfrog Arsenal and recover from a disappointing performance against Liverpool on Saturday.
Leicester and Middlesbrough shared the spoils in a 0-0 draw that did neither side much favours. The two sides remain in the same position as they were at the start of the match-week when they would have fancied a chance of moving clearer of relegation.
Stoke piled more misery on an out of form Watford side with a 2-0 win at the Bet365 stadium. Everton impressively dispatched Southampton 3-0 to remain seventh.
Full Premier League results
Middlesbrough 0-0 Leicester
Everton 3-0 Southampton
Man City 2-1 Burnley
Sunderland 2-2 Liverpool
West Brom 3-1 Hull
West Ham 0-2 Man United
Bournemouth 3-3 Arsenal
Crystal Palace 1-2 Swansea
Stoke 2-0 Watford
Tottenham 2-0 Chelsea
The Premier League returns on Saturday 14th of January.
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