By Niall Clarke
- Five lessons learned from match-week 30 of the Premier League season
- Full weekend results
The Premier League is back with a bang from the International break, providing us with one of the biggest upsets of the season. Here are five lessons we learned from match-week 30.
The title race just got a lot more interesting.
The biggest and most shocking result of the weekend came at Stamford Bridge as league leaders Chelsea slumped to a 2-1 defeat against Crystal Palace. It all looked good for the Blues early when Cesc Fabregas gave them the lead after four minutes. However, a quick fire double from Wilfried Zaha and Christian Benteke turned the contest around, much to the shock of the on-looking Chelsea supporters. Despite having 24 efforts on goal and over 70% of the ball, Antonio Conte’s side could not find an equaliser. An excellent defensive from the Eagles saw them win their fourth consecutive match and allow the gap at the top be closed to seven points.
Whilst Chelsea were dropping points, Tottenham were claiming three of their own by defeating Burnley 2-0 at Turf Moor. Goals from Dele Alli and Son Heung-Min secured a good victory for Mauricio Pochettino against one of the best home sides in the division.
Manchester City failed to take full advantage of Chelsea’s slip up as they only managed a 2-2 draw away at Arsenal. The Citizens went ahead early through Leroy Sane but were pegged by after Theo Walcott’s leveler. Sergio Aguero restored City’s lead before half time, but once again Arsenal came back, this time through Shkodran Mustafi’s header. City slip to fourth but have a game in hand on Liverpool in third.
Chelsea are still heavy favourites to take home the title, and barring a huge dip in form they should go and win it without many issues. This week has given title rivals hope though, the Blues can be beaten by lower table sides, and with a huge game against Manchester City in mid-week, the gap could be closed even further.
Liverpool are the kings of Merseyside
With Everton in good form and hot on the heels of the top six, Saturday’s Merseyside derby victory for Liverpool was not only important in the context of the race for the top four, it also showed that the Reds are still the best team in Merseyside.
Jurgen Klopp’s men ran out 3-1 winners at Anfield, securing the double over their neighbours and moving six points clear of Manchester United who have two games In hand. As usual, it was a hot tempered affair, but the difference came down to the effectiveness of their key players. Phillipe Coutinho and Sadio Mane were both excellent and scored crucial goals in the match. Everton’s star striker, Romelu Lukaku, was largely absent from the match and failed to make an impact.
It is a result that boosts the hopes of a top four finish for Liverpool and severely damages Everton’s outside chance of securing Champions League qualification. The Toffees have not won at Anfield since 1999, and despite going into the match in the better form of the two, they did little to break through that psychological barrier.
Sunderland are going down
Another week and another defeat for Sunderland leaves the Black Cats starring down the barrel of relegation to the Championship after they were defeated 1-0 at Watford. The result leaves David Moyes’ side seven points from safety, and not much hope of turning that around. With only one win in their last ten matches, it is difficult to see where they will pick up points in their last nine matches.
Above them there is still a heated battle to stay in the Premier League. Hull City boosted their hopes of survival with a come from behind 2-1 win at home to West Ham. The recent poor form of the Hammers leaves them dangerously close to peril. The same could be said for Burnley who are only five points from the drop zone themselves after a 2-0 loss to Tottenham. Middlesbrough and Swansea drew 0-0 at the Liberty stadium, a result that does neither side any favours.
Crystal Palace’s win over Chelsea could be the match that saves their Premier League status. They are now four points ahead of Hull in 17th and have won their last four games. Leicester continued their fine run of form under Craig Shakespeare with a 2-0 win at Stoke. Despite the criticism of the sacking of Claudio Ranieri, it is beginning to look like the right decision as they etch closer and closer towards mid-table.
Too many draws continues to be the problem at Man United
Manchester United missed the chance of boosting their Champions League hopes after being held to a 0-0 draw at home to West Brom.
With keys players missing such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paul Pogba and Juan Mata, the Red Devils struggled to break down a resolute West Brom defence. Jose Mourinho’s side have now drawn 11 games in the top flight – more than any other side and including eight at home. It has been a big question all season, where would they be if they had converted these draws into victories?
No matter how much you speculate, the fact is Manchester United now lie five points off the top four. They will not lose many games in the run in, but will these draws come back to haunt them at the end of the season?
Arsenal have a tall task to finish fourth
It was a step in the right direction on Sunday, but the underlying problems still remain for Arsene Wenger. The defence can be shaky, and the attack is not potent enough to make up for it consistently. Rumours are circulating that Wenger is signing another deal once his current one expires, will that be a mistake given the drop in confidence?
With Liverpool finding form, and Manchester United not losing, Arsenal may have to settle for the Europa League next season which will be an unusual setting for the club after consistently qualifying for the Champions League for the better part of two decades.
Full Premier League results
Liverpool 3-1 Everton
Burnley 0-2 Tottenham
Chelsea 1-2 Crystal Palace
Hull 2-1 West Ham
Leicester 2-0 Stoke
Man United 0-0 West Brom
Watford 1-0 Sunderland
Southampton 0-0 Bournemouth
Swansea 0-0 Middlesbrough
Arsenal vs Man City
The Premier League returns on Tuesday 4th of April.
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