Only 3 things are inevitable in life – death, taxes, and Spurs winning their remaining fixtures.
That’s what Antonio Conte has impressed upon his Chelsea team, after they nixed Manchester City’s nascent title challenge at the Bridge last night.
It had all looked so promising for ten minutes, with the visitors pressing and passing with intent, before Eden Hazard gave Chelsea an early and undeserving lead. The Belgian’s second before just before half time effectively killed off the title-race, as well as any hopes from the challengers that we were about to witness an epic wobble from the champions elect.
Not that Spurs paid any notice. They were distinctly un-Spurs like in their 3-1 victory at Swansea, three goals in the last five minutes a just reward for a game they spent camped firmly in the opposing half. The result keeps their title hopes alive, but a second place finish remains the most likely outcome for a team going places under Mauricio Pocchetino.
His rival in North London will be equally relieved, Arsene Wenger triumphing over Slaven Bilic in the ‘Dead man’s Derby’ at the Emirates Stadium. A goal and an assist from Mesut Ozil – yes, you read that right – were enough to see off a limp challenge from West Ham, who will be busy this morning filling out the particulars of their manager’s P45. The win couldn’t have come at a better time for Wenger, whose Arsenal side were granted only their second win in the past seven Premier League games.
The result sees Arsenal nudge ahead of Manchester United on goal difference, who had the liability and all-round-bad-person Luke Shaw to thank for salvaging a 1-1 draw against Ronald Koeman’s Everton on Tuesday night. Mourinho’s men are unbeaten in 20 games, drawing almost half of those on the way to boring teams into submission with their anaemic playing style.
You’d have been forgiven for thinking that Middlesbrough’s trip to the KC Stadium was one to avoid, but a six-goal thriller saw Hull heave themselves from the relegation mire for the first time since October. In a crazy game, even the visitors managed to score a goal, Alvaro Negredo making us all feel nostalgic with the opener just five minutes in.
The result is a slap in the face for David Moyes, whose bad week got worse after a resurgent Leicester dominated visitors Sunderland. Jamie Vardy’s miraculous upturn in form has helped manager Craig Shakespeare stake a serious claim for the full-time position at the King Power Stadium . Sunderland,on 20 points and with no hope of a fightback, are a lead balloon and may as well just stay at home.
As should Burnley, whose awe-inspiring form at Turf Moor sees them on the brink of retaining their Premier League status. George Boyd’s strike was enough to see off an insipid challenge by Mark Hughes’ stoke side, who already to have one eye on the Summer break after a reassuringly-unevenful year.
Watford, meanwhile, were inspired by loan-signing M’Baye Niang as they triumphed over West Brom at Vicarage Road. Troy Deeney’s second capped a nervy evening for Walter Mazzari’s men, who sit seven points behind the visitors in 9th with a game in hand. Tony Pulis will be frowning under his cap at his side’s recent away form though, with just one win from their last ten games a growing cause for concern.
They face Southampton at home in their next game, who will be looking to build on their encouraging result against Sam Allardyce and Crystal Palace on Wednesday night. The Eagles’ revival has seen them soar above the relegation zone, but they can ill-afford another collapse after goals from Maya Yoshida and James Ward-Prowse sealed the result at St.Mary’s.
They will be heartened, however, by the consolation scored by Liverpool flop Christian Benteke. Jurgen Klopp could well have done with the brutish Belgian on Wednesday night, an erratic 2-2 draw against Bournemouth just the latest result in their topsy-turvy season.
Looking to build on their fantastic win and performance against Everton, Liverpool quickly reverted to type against Eddie Howe’s men, who have started performing just in time to stave off fears of an unseemly relegation. Their next game sees them welcome Chelsea to the Vitality Stadium, where the visitors could all but wrap up the league title with a victory.
On current form, a win for the Blues seems a certainty – a welcome change for a season in which nobody seems keen to put a run of form together.
We’ll be back on Sunday with analysis and reaction to that and all the other games from the Premier League.