Chelsea win yet again, Arsenal leave it late
No Costa, no problem. Chelsea march on as the top 6 all win
Chelsea fans were the big winners on the Boxing Day as their side racked up their 15th win of the season, getting the better of Bournemouth at Stamford Bridge courtesy of strikes from Pedro, Hazard and a Cook own-goal.
The round of fixtures were completed on Wednesday, leaving the London blues six-points clear at the top of the table, with Liverpool shaping as their nearest rivals. Monday’s cheer means that Chelsea have now set a club record 12 Premier League wins on the spin and although there’s plenty of football still to be played, the boys from the Bridge are looking every inch a comfortable winner of the 2016/17 title.
Despite missing both Diego Costa and N’Golo Kante, who were both serving suspensions, it made little difference to the destination of the points as manger Antonio Conte has the resources at his disposal to shuffle the pack and give quality fringe players their chance to shine.
Can Chelsea be stopped in 2017?
Big-money signing Michy Batshuayi was on the bench, meaning Chelsea started with no recognised striker, but Conte thought that they handled the situation perfectly and told the press at full-time that they had tinkered with the idea in training to good effect and that allowed him to leave Michy out as he adapts to the English game without pressure. The full-time result would certainly suggest he was on the money with that gamble.
Bookmakers have taken plenty of notice of Chelsea’s winning run and they want nothing to do with opposing the league leaders at the minute. Every firm has The Blues as favourites to hold their ground and go on to win the league, and punters looking to get involved and back them with hard-earned cash are best getting on with William Hill who offer a market best price 8/11 at the time of writing.
Arsenal late show denies Baggies
Arsenal got back to winning ways and saved their place in the Champions League slots with a narrow 1-0 victory over West Brom. The Gunners, who were second-favourites for the title recently, have not been without their problems of late and they needed every bit of luck to get over the line against The Baggies.
It looked like it was destined to be another one of those days at The Emirates where Arsenal controlled the ball and possession, but did little with it in terms of threatening to score. The locals found the opposing keeper in inspired form, but remained patient and eventually got the rewards for their efforts when Giroud scored with just minutes left on the clock.
Manager Arsene Wenger picked up on Giroud’s match-winning performance after the game, saying that it has been a difficult period for the player but it was interesting to see how he coped and the reaction from him was as good as anyone at the club would have hoped for. Despite that late winner, bookmakers don’t think that Arsenal have any chance of toppling Chelsea and taking the crown and are confident enough to offer 12/1 (Paddy Power) to anyone who disagrees.
Liverpool stroll to stay well in touch at the top
Liverpool weren’t out until Tuesday, but it was worth the wait for their fans who were afforded an extra day to enjoy the festivities before going back to the tricky business of supporting a reds side are scrambling to stick down a run of consistency.
Following a 4-3 loss to Bournemouth, and a draw vs West Ham, two very winnable matches, Klopp’s side returned to business with a hat-trick of wins over Middlesbrough, Everton and Stoke. Lallana, Firmino, Sturridge and an own-goal from Imbula got Liverpool the win in midweek and although Walters scored early to put Stoke ahead, the result was more than good enough to move the victors into second.
Liverpool now look forward to a home match with Manchester City on New Year’s Eve and if they were to continue their form and bag the spoils there, bookies will have no choice but to take their challenge seriously. Lovers of an outsider can fill their boots on the title with 5/1 at Paddy Power. A win on Saturday and you won’t see that price for dust.