Chelsea stay top after seeing off stubborn Baggies
Costa wins it late to make it 9 wins on the trot
It was another weekend of flip-flopping favourites in the English Premier League as Arsenal finished Saturday’s round of fixtures on top of the league, while Chelsea replaced them in pole by the final count on a competitive Sunday, with three of the four games ending in 1-0 home wins.
The Gunners continued their incredible recent run by hammering Stoke City 3-1, but they were made to work for their maximum pay-out. Wenger’s side fell behind inside 30-minutes when Charlie Adam rifled home a penalty after bad boy Granit Xhaka aimed an elbow at Joe Allen inside the box.
It took 13-minutes of pressing to get the equaliser which eventually came through Theo Walcott who ensured that the sides went into the break at 1-1, knocking in a cross from Hector Bellerin to delight home fans and see players breathe a sigh of relief. It was the perfect time to score and they built on it in the second-half, with Mesut Ozil and Alex Owobi making the points safe.
Beaming boss Arsene Wenger spoke to the press post-match about a busy fixture list beginning to take its toll on his crew. That, he believed, was behind a hesitant start, as they took time to get their rhythm. The gaffer didn’t agree with the penalty his side conceded but thought they scored an equaliser at exactly the right time, but took pride in his side’s consistency and are fighting at the top.
Gunners continue to fire
The latest round of fixtures has Arsenal as 4/1 second-favourites and that price is available with just about every firm out there at the minute. That shows odds compilers are beginning to take note of Arsenal’s progress. Not a moment too soon either.
Not to be upstaged by their London rivals Chelsea fired back on Sunday afternoon when seeing off West Brom at Stamford Bridge courtesy of a single goal from Diego Costa on 76-minutes. The attacker mopped up a spill from McAuley before placing the ball past Ben Foster in goal. Such a scoreline is rarely enough to earn a win, but Chelsea battled hard for their haul and were a deserving winner at the final whistle.
Blues boss Antonio Conte spoke of his relief after the match, telling the waiting press that it was a tough match, but one that they had prepared for properly. He gave credit to the opposition, describing them as a tough team who are hard to break down, and his men will take heart from having won the day.
Nine wins in-a-row was particularly pleasing but Chelsea still have it all to do if they are to shake-off the chasing pack, with Arsenal just three points behind and Liverpool six off the pace. The current league leaders do appear to have found their feet at exactly the right time however and if they can continue the winning run over the festive period then they will go into the New Year with every chance of holding their ground.
Traders certainly appear to be supporting the boys from Stamford Bridge and have them as hot-favourites to lift the title. There is currently no more than Sportingbet’s 21/20 doing the rounds, which is short enough, but represents a bit of value when put next to the odds-on quotes available with most of their competitors.
West Ham sink despite Anfield point
At the other end of proceedings and West Ham are dangerously close to the relegation zone, sitting only a point better off than the bottom-three. Since recording back-to-back wins over Crystal Palace and Sunderland in October the side from Stratford are winless in their last six, going down to Everton, Tottenham and Arsenal while drawing with Stoke, Man Utd and Liverpool.
Despite their current position, Ladbrokes offer 7/1 on them being relegated, which will catch the eye of value hunters out there, while manager Slaven Bilic is current favourite to be the first manager to leave his post. Bet Victor offer the best quote in this particular market, with 5/2 the current feeling.