By Niall Clarke
- Five lessons learned from match-week 16 of the Premier League season
- Full weekend results
The Christmas period began with some mid-week Premier League action. Here are five things we learned from the 16th round of fixtures.
Arsenal had not lost a league game since the opening weekend where they lost 4-3 in a great game against Liverpool. After going 14 weeks unbeaten in the Premier League, the Gunners have finally tasted defeat again after losing 2-1 to Everton on Tuesday.
Arsenal made a good start to the match and looked on their way to topping the Premier League table after Alexis Sanchez’s 12th goal of the season. Everton crucially equalised before the break through Seamus Coleman, a goal that proved pivotal in the momentum stakes.
The Toffees were the better team in the second half as Arsenal’s attack failed to create major chances. Encouraged by a vocal crowd, Everton grabbed the winner five minutes from time after Ashley Williams headed home. Phil Jagielka was sent off in a thrilling finish that saw Leighton Baines make a goal-line clearance and Everton miss an opportunity to go 3-1 up with Petr Cech off his line.
All in all it was a dent in Arsenal’s title charge. Everton on the other-hand have not been in good form recently, and this result could kick start some momentum as the Toffees aim to get back into European contention.
It is a perfect 10 for Chelsea
If there was any doubts on who the Premier League top dogs are at present, they have been silenced. It is incredible to think that just a switch in formation would turn a team around that much, but in regards to Chelsea it is certainly true. The Blues were struggling 11 games ago. They were getting crushed by Arsenal, and that was not long after drawing with Swansea and losing to Liverpool. Since the switch to 3-5-3, Chelsea have won 10 games on the bounce in a highly competitive Premier League- that is incredible form. In that time they have only conceded two goals, and they have defeated fellow title rivals Tottenham and Manchester City, and destroyed Manchester United 4-0.
They were hardly perfect against Sunderland, but Chelsea managed to find a way to win. It was not the usual source of Diego Costa this time either, Cesc Fabregas proved to be the match winner by finishing off a nice counter attacking move.
It is difficult to see where they lose next. They play Crystal Palace before hosting Stoke to close out the year, then it is an away trip to Tottenham to kick off 2017. By the time that comes around it could be 12 games on the bounce and an even bigger lead than the six they have now.
It will take something special or an incredible drop off for Chelsea to lose this momentum. Antonio Conte has figured out the formula to get the best out of his players and they look as formidable as ever.
Manchester City and Liverpool respond perfectly
In the past two weeks, Liverpool and Manchester City have fallen away from Chelsea in the title race after a series of poor results. The Reds lost a 3-1 lead against Bournemouth before getting held to a draw at home to West Ham. City on the other-hand are in a mini crisis. The magic of Pep Guardiola’s arrival has worn off and they came into a home match against Watford off the back of two straight defeats.
The Citizens defeated their in-form opponents 2-0 thanks to goals from Pablo Zabaleta and David Silva. The result shows they do have goals in them without Sergio Aguero, and it puts them in a much more positive mind-set heading into Sunday’s huge fixture against Arsenal.
Liverpool impressively dispatched Middlesbrough 3-0 at the Riverside to go level on points with Arsenal. Adam Lallana’s brace came either side of Divok Origi’s goal to bring Liverpool back into the win column heading into Monday’s Merseyside derby. Middlesbrough are a good defensive unit, and to stick three goals past them was impressive by Jurgen Klopp’s side.
The relegation battle takes more twists and turns
The Hammers’ 1-0 win over Burnley moved them four points clear of the relegation zone as it seems like they have somewhat turned a corner in their season. After getting a point at Liverpool, West Ham returned to their (un)happy home of the London successfully. Such is the unpredictable nature of the Premier League, they could find themselves back in the scrap in a few weeks, but West Ham seem like too good of a side to be facing relegation.
Middlesbrough’s loss has put them in real danger as they hover in 17th. Crystal Palace are 16th and are only ahead by goal difference. The bottom three failed to manage any result as they all lost on a day where they could have done with a win. Sunderland were defeated 1-0 by Chelsea, Hull lost 3-0 to Tottenham and West Brom continued their good run with a 3-1 win over Swansea.
Leicester’s resurgence lasted all of one match as they went back to losing ways on Tuesday. Bournemouth defeated the Foxes 1-0 to once against leave the Premier League champions in a precarious position.
What happened elsewhere?
Stoke and Southampton played out a 0-0 draw at the Bet 365 Stadium with the only highlight being Marko Arnautovic’s red card. Both sides will be hoping to possibly secure a Europa League finish at the end of the campaign.
The top four battle heated up with wins for Manchester United and Spurs. Paul Pogba scored again as he seems to be settling into life at Manchester United. Christian Eriksen stole the show at White Hart Lane in Spurs’ victory to keep his side fifth in the table. West Brom could potentially be contenders for a top four place if they keep up their rich vein of form. Solomon Rondon cemented himself as the MVP of the fixture with a hat-trick in their 3-1 win over Swansea.
Full Premier League results
Bournemouth 1-0 Leicester
Everton 2-1 Arsenal
Middlesbrough 0-3 Liverpool
Sunderland 0-1 Chelsea
West Ham 1-0 Burnley
Crystal Palace 1-2 Man United
Man City 2-0 Watford
Stoke 0-0 Southampton
Tottenham 3-0 Hull
West Brom 3-1 Swansea
The Premier League returns on the weekend of 17th-19th of December.
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