By Niall Clarke
- Five lessons learned from match-week 31 of the Premier League season
- Full results
The Premier League hit the home stretch with some exciting mid-week action. Here are five lessons learned from match-week 31.
Normal service resumes at Chelsea as they end City’s title challenge
Eden Hazard gave the Blues an early lead with a deflected effort, but Thibaut Courtois’ error allowed Sergio Aguero to level proceedings. Chelsea responded well however, winning a penalty only a few minutes after conceding when Pedro was tripped by Fernandinho. The spot kick from Hazard was saved, the Belgian turned in the rebound to once again put the home side in front. Despite the pressure exerted by Pep Guardiola’s side in the second half, Chelsea managed top hang on to return to winning ways and maintain their seven point lead at the top of the Premier League.
It was an important win for Antonio Conte. A second straight defeat would have opened the door for Spurs to mount a serious push for the title, but the three points keeps their rivals at a safe distance, trailing by seven points.
For City this defeat signals the end of their title challenge. This was a must win game for the Citizens, but now they must focus on securing Champions League football for next season.
Tottenham showed Champions mentality
Down 1-0 with just one minute of normal time left, Spurs were staring not only at defeat, but a ten point gap between themselves and Chelsea. Wayne Routledge’s 11th minute goal was looking like sealing a big win for struggling Swansea, but as all Championship winning sides do, Mauricio Pochettino’s side found a way to win.
Dele Alli started the comeback on the 89th minute, looking like he had rescued a point for the title challengers. However, Spurs were not done yet. Heung-Min Son incredibly put them into the lead in stoppage time, much to the relief of the Tottenham faithful. Christian Eriksen put the game beyond any doubt by adding a third and maintaining their title challenge.
Chelsea still look like they will go all the way to win the title, but unlike last year where they let the title slip to Leicester, Tottenham showed the mentality of Champions against Swansea. It may be too late this season, but if they show that fortitude next season then they could possibly go all the way.
Middlesbrough are heading back to the Championship
The weekend saw another nail added to Sunderland’s coffin, and now it seems like Middlesbrough will go down with them. In an unexpectedly high scoring game, Boro were defeated 4-2 by fellow strugglers Hull City at the KCOM stadium. Middlesbrough now sit seven points from safety, and with their struggle for goals it looks unlikely they will turn that around. They have won less matches than any side in the division because of that problem. Hull on the other hand take another step towards safety under Marco Silva, who has turned their fortunes around since joining the club.
The Tigers have leapfrogged Swansea City into 17th after the Welsh side lost 3-1 at home to Tottenham. It is a disappointing result for Paul Clement’s side as they were 1-0 up with just a minute of normal time left.
Crystal Palace’s winning form has come to an end after they were defeated 3-1 by Southampton. Like Swansea, the Eagles had the lead, but it was overturned by the Saints and Palace are now only three points above the relegation zone.
Another loss for West Ham has left them dangerously close to peril. The Hammers are only five points clear of the drop themselves, and with this poor form they could find themselves right in the thick of the battle very soon.
Arsenal are right back in the top four hunt
There have been plenty of criticism hurled at Arsene Wenger lately. The ‘Wenger Out’ signs even made its way over to Wrestlemania 33 at the weekend. However, the Frenchman was one of mid-week’s biggest winners.
In regards to their hunt for a Champions League spot, Arsenal could have not asked for a much better set of a results. Manchester United could only muster a 1-1 draw at home to Everton thanks to a last second Zlatan Ibrahimovic penalty. Liverpool also dropped points at home to Bournemouth in an entertaining 2-2 draw. The Gunners on the other hand soundly defeated West Ham 3-0 at the Emirates thanks to goals from Mesut Ozil, Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud.
The results mean Arsenal are four points off fourth place with a game in hand on Manchester City. They are six points behind third placed Liverpool with two games in hand and have leapfrogged Man United into fifth place.
If results can continue to go their way, then the Gunners might spring a late surprise by making the top four yet again
What else happened?
Leicester’s incredible form under Craig Shakespeare continued with a 2-0 win at home to Championship destined Sunderland. Watford scored a solid 2-0 win of their own over West Brom. Burnley continued their great home record with a 1-0 win over Stoke.
Full Premier League results
Burnley 1-0 Stoke
Leicester 2-0 Sunderland
Watford 2-0 West Brom
Man United 1-1 Everton
Arsenal 3-0 West Ham
Hull 4-2 Middlesbrough
Southampton 3-1 Crystal Palace
Swansea 1-3 Tottenham
Chelsea 2-1 Man City
Liverpool 2-2 Bournemouth
The Premier League returns on Saturday 8th of April.
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