By Niall Clarke
- Five lessons learned from match-week 33 of the Premier League season
- Full results
It was a momentous match-week 33 in the Premier League as Tottenham closed the gap to Chelsea to four points. That plus more in our five lessons learned from the weekend’s fixtures.
There is hope for Tottenham after-all
A month a go it looked almost impossible for Tottenham Hotspur to catch Chelsea at the top of the Premier League. But two defeats for the Blues in their last three games has seen Spurs close the gap to just four points with six games remaining. The title race is on.
With little pressure on their shoulders, fans at White Hart Lane have seen their team play their best football in a long time. Not many people doubted that they would sweep past Bournemouth on Saturday, and that they did with a 4-0 thumping. The game was put out of Bournemouth’s reach in a three minute period that saw Tottenham go 2-0 up thanks to Moussa Dembele and Son Heung-Min goals. Harry Kane marked his return to the starting 11 with a goal of his own to make it 3-0. Vincent Janssen added a fourth late on to complete the rout and send Spurs within four points of Chelsea.
It was crunch time for the Blues when they travelled to Old Trafford on Sunday. With Tottenham breathing down their neck, Chelsea could ill afford a defeat, and within seven minutes they were starring directly at it. Marcus Rashford gave Manchester United an early lead to set the tone for the match which saw the league leaders as second best. Jose Mourinho has suffered against his former club twice this season, so it was much relief to the Portuguese when Ander Herrera turned from provider to goal-scorer by adding a second that sealed the game for the Red Devils.
The odds are still firmly with Chelsea going all the way, but things have opened up for an unlikely fight back. Antonio Conte has now tasted defeat twice in four games, and one more run such as that could see them get leapfrogged by Spurs. Chelsea have the easier running with Everton away being the toughest game of the six remaining on paper. Spurs still have to welcome Manchester United and Arsenal to White Hart Lane, plus they have tough away trips to Leicester and Crystal Palace. It promises to be an exciting climax to the season.
Manchester United are still well in the top four hunt
Mourinho might have haunted his former side and opened the door for Spurs, but the 2-0 victory over Chelsea also meant a lot to United’s Champions League hopes.
Manchester City had previously scored a 3-0 win away at Southampton on Saturday to keep themselves in fourth place. After a goalless first half, City turned on the style in the second stanza and took the lead through Vincent Kompany’s header. Leroy Sane doubled their lead after a swift counter attack, before Sergio Aguero put the game to bed with a header ten minutes from time. It was a potential banana skin for Manchester City, so a 3-0 win at St.Mary’s is a very impressive result, and potentially an important one for their top four chances.
Liverpool survived a tough match themselves at West Brom. The Reds prevailed 1-0 thanks to Roberto Firmino’s first half injury time strike and as a result sit third in the table after match-week 33.
Man United sit four points off their neighbours with a game in hand, and six points off Liverpool with two games in hand. Win those games and United could go level on points with their rivals. The top four race continues to heat up week after week.
The Relegation picture is still unclear
The picture at the bottom of the Premier League did not change much as none of the relegation threatened teams were able to make any major inroads.
Sunderland remain bottom after an entertaining 2-2 draw with West Ham. Andre Ayew gave the Hammers the lead after just five minutes, prodding home after Andy Carroll’s scuffed volley. Sunderland broke their scoring duck in the most unusual way to equalise. Wahbi Khazri’s corner somehow found the back of the net in what was Sunderland’s first goal for 11-and-a-half hours of football. James Collins headed the visitors back in front, but Sunderland were able to rescue a point through a late Fabio Borini goal. David Moyes’ side remain bottom and Championship destined.
Middlesbrough still look set to join Sunderland in the second tier as they fell to another defeat at the hands of Arsenal. Alexis Sanchez gave the Gunners a first half lead, but a rare Middlesbrough goal through Alvaro Negredo got the relegation threatened side level. Mesut Ozil was able to restore the Gunners’ lead and send Boro one step closer to relegation.
Swansea missed the chance to leapfrog Hull into 17th as they fell to a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Watford. Etienne Capoue scored the only goal in the match to pretty much secure Watford’s Premier League status for next season whilst keeping Swansea inside the bottom three.
Hull’s poor away form haunted tem again as they lost 3-1 to Stoke. Marko Arnautovic’s strike gave the hosts an early lead. Harry Maguire bundled home an equaliser for the Tigers just six minutes after the interval, but a Peter Crouch header restored the Potters’ lead. Xherdan Shaqiri’s superb 30-yard effort was not only the goal of the weekend, it sealed the three points for Stoke and kept Hull dangerously close to the relegation zone.
Crystal Palace came from two goals down to earn a draw at home to Leicester and move above Bournemouth into 15th via goal difference. Both sides remain close to the relegation zone, but a few wins could change that scenario. Bournemouth fans will be worrying however as their side are slipping closer to peril.
The difference between home and away form can be staggering
You would think a few miles up and down the country would not affect form that much, but in some cases it does, drastically.
Burnley suffered another away defeat at Everton as they struggles away from Turf moor continued. The Clarets are the sixth best team in the league at home, ahead of both Manchester clubs. Away however, is a completely different story. Burnley have only taken four points on the road, the worst in the division. The contrast between their home and away form makes them the Jekyll and Hyde of the division. The same could be said for Hull, who have an excellent home record under Marco Silva, but they struggle to pick up points away.
Some teams are the opposite. Crystal Palace, for example, are the ninth best team away, but only sit 18th in the home form table. They were bottom as little as two weeks a go. Their poor home form has left them in the middle of a relegation battle. The same could be said for West Ham who also perform better away than at home.
The Golden Boot is a two horse race
Romelu Lukaku scored goal number 24 in the Premier League this season in his side’s 3-1 win at home to Burnley on Saturday. It has looked for a while that the Belgian will go on to finish the season as the top scorer in the division, but there is a certain English striker on his heels.
Kane scored goal number 20 to join an elite group of players to score 20 or more goals in three consecutive Premier League seasons. The 23-year-old is the fourth player after Alan Shearer, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Thierry Henry to achieve this.
With Spurs playing as well as they currently are, there will be plenty of chances for Kane to add to his growing goal tally. He is four behind Lukaku, who remain the favourite to claim the golden boot, but it is very much a two horse race from now on.
Full Premier League results
Tottenham 4-0 Bournemouth
Crystal Palace 2-2 Leicester
Everton 3-1 Burnley
Stoke 3-1 Hull
Sunderland 2-2 West Ham
Watford 1-0 Swansea
Southampton 0-3 Man City
West Brom 0-1 Liverpool
Man United 2-0 Chelsea
Middlesbrough 1-2 Arsenal
The Premier League returns on Saturday 22nd of April.
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