By Niall Clarke
- Five lessons learned from match-week 25 of the Premier League season
- Full weekend results
Another match-week means more twists and turns in the Premier League. Here are five things from match-week 25 of the Premier League season.
Arsenal and Liverpool bounce back
After a poor start to 2017, the pressure was on Arsenal and Liverpool to get the results they need in order to steady the ship and keep up with the chasing pack, and they delivered.
Two goals in as many minutes from the returning Sadio Mané helped Liverpool to a 2-0 win over a poor Tottenham side at Anfield. Spurs could never get into the game as the Reds pressed high and exposed the right flank where Danny Rose’s absence really took its toll. With Mané back, Liverpool looked more dynamic up top as proven by his two goals, and this is the result they need to turn their form around.
Arsenal had a tough match against Hull, but they also came out 2-0 winners thanks to a brace from Alexis Sanchez. The first was controversial as the ball appeared to strike the Chilean on the hand, but the goal was allowed to stand. Hull tried fighting back in the second half but ultimately could not break down the Arsenal defence. Sam Clucas handled late and saw red which allowed Sanchez to make it two from the penalty spot.
The results saw Arsenal move level on points with Spurs whilst Liverpool stay fifth. The battle for the top four is heating up, and every point is vital at this stage of the season.
Top four is on the horizon for Manchester United
2-0 seems to be the score-line of the week as another victory by that margin over Watford saw Manchester United extend their undefeated streak to 16 straight games.
The Red Devils took the lead through Juan Mata just after the half hour mark. Anthony Martial secured the three points by adding a second 60 minutes in. United stay sixth in the table but they are only two points off the top four positions.
This undefeated streak has shown that Jose Mourinho’s side is tough to beat. With teams around them losing games then top four is a real possibility after seeming unlikely only a few months a go. The only issue is getting over the line in tough matches. United have been criticised for drawing too many matches they should win, but they are slowly closing the gap between them and their rivals. Do not be shocked to see them finish the season inside the top four.
This will be the last we see of them in the Premier league until March however. Next week they turn their attention to the Europa league and the FA Cup before a meeting with Southampton in the EFL Cup final the following week.
Burnley could have exposed a chink in Chelsea’s armour.
Since September, Chelsea have looked almost invincible. Only one side has been able to get the better of them since the switch in formation, and that was Spurs in January.
Chelsea may already have the league won by now, but Burnley’s effort against them should be commended as they may have exposed a weakness In their set up. The Clarets have proved difficult to beat at home and it was no different for Chelsea who only managed a 1-1 draw at Turf Moor.
Burnley successfully exposed the right-hand flank that is often abandoned by the free roaming Eden Hazard. They would frequently send long balls to Andre Gray on that very wing and they had success getting forward on that side. The new system has allowed Hazard to have the creative freedom he needs to excel, but his tendency to come more central leaves Marcos Alonso exposed on the left side. The Spaniard also tends to bomb forward to join the attack, leaving that wing further exposed. Pedro and Victor Moses are much more disciplined in that regard and therefore their flank is harder to expose.
Chelsea stay top and Burnley remain in the mid-table region, but the Clarets may have opened the eyes of the rest of the Premier League to a potential weakness that can be exploited. Will anyone take advantage?
Swansea may have saved themselves from relegation
Their win may have condemned Leicester to that very fate. The Welsh side defeated the defending champions 2-0 (another one) at the Liberty stadium to move into 15th place and continue their resurgence under Paul Clement. Swansea now sit four points above the relegation zone, and in current form they could widen that gap. It is worrying times for Leicester fans as their club fall to 17th In the table and closer to relegation.
They are fortunate that all the bottom three clubs lost on Saturday. Hull lost away at Arsenal 2-0, whilst Crystal Palace were beaten 1-0 by Stoke City thanks to Joe Allen’s goal. Sunderland beat the Eagles 4-0 in match-week 24, however just a week later they suffered a defeat by that exact scoreline. Southampton dished out the trashing and kept Sunderland at the bottom of the table for at least another match-week.
The weekend’s results leave the relegation battle firmly poised. Three points separate Sunderland in 20th and Middlesbrough in 16th. However, Swansea may have just pulled themselves away from that scrap, they just need a few more good results and they may be safe.
What else happened?
Manchester City moved into second with a 2-0 (Yes, that score again) win over Bournemouth on Monday thanks to goals from Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero. The Argentine came on as a sub and proved he still has something to offer City amidst rumours of him leaving the club.
Middlesbrough and Everton played out a 0-0 draw that does neither side any favours. Boro still remain dangerous close to relegation whilst Everton’s Europa League hopes take a hit.
The most entertaining game came at the London stadium. West Brom took an early lead against West Ham through Nacer Chadli, but the Hammers turned it around in the second half and looked to have won the match five minutes from time, but a late Gareth McAuley goal secured a 2-2 draw. Slaven Bilic was sent to the stands after protesting the officiating during the match.
Full Premier League results
Arsenal 2-0 Hull
Man United 2-0 Watford
Middlesbrough 0-0 Everton
Stoke 1-0 Crystal Palace
Sunderland 0-4 Southampton
West Ham 2-2 West Brom
Liverpool 2-0 Tottenham
Burnley 1-1 Chelsea
Swansea 2-0 Leicester
Bournemouth 0-2 Man City
The Premier League returns on Saturday 25th of February.
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