Chelsea top the Premier League after stormy City clash
Sky Blues see red as Chelsea recover from own goal
Another week in the books and we are again talking about just how good Chelsea are looking this season. They blasted away their cash-rich chums from Manchester, beating the Citizens 3-1 in front of their own fans. That will take some getting over for manager Pep Guardiola.
Despite going behind on the stroke of half-time through a Gary Cahill own goal, The Londoners came out for the second period an inspired side. We don’t know exactly what was said to the boys in the changing room by manager Antonio Conte, but it had the desired effect and they took the game by the scruff of the neck, scoring through Diego Costa after an hour, Willian 10-minutes later and Hazard wrapped up the points when adding a bit of festive sparkle to the day with a third right at the death.
The game was marred by two red cards in stoppage-time for Aguero and Fernandinho. It was an ugly end to what had been a real advert for the English Premier League, so ugly in fact Guardiola was forced to speak to the press after the match of his regret for the brawl. He too thought it was a pity the afternoon ended in such a manner, but did defend Aguero, saying both players went in hard. The bosses at the FA didn’t agree.
The victors are now strong favourites in the outright betting to be crowned champions, with Coral’s 5/4 the general feeling at the time of writing. That is some turnaround considering they weren’t given the same respect in the antepost market. Man City to dust themselves down and come on from that defeat to win the league is 10/3 with Skybet. They are currently in fourth-place, but that price makes them second-favourites.
Gunners firing at will
Over in Stratford and Arsenal put in a performance of real quality, fans are beginning to believe the hype and dreaming of a return to the peak of English football. A devastating showing saw them dismantle West Ham 5-1 in what had the potential to be a tricky situation.
Goals from Ozil, Oxlade-Chamberlain and an incredible Sanchez hat-trick stole the show while The Hammers hit a reply from Carroll in one of their few flurries up the other end. The hosts actually edged possession in the overall stats but Arsenal used the ball better, scoring four of their goals in the second 45.
Experienced gaffer Arsene Wenger described it as a convincing performance and strong result. He took pleasure in the amount of chances created by his side, but did have a slight dig at the beaten club, saying that it is obvious they are not a confident team at home. Reserving special praise for Alexis Sanchez he said the attacker can always give you something special, and we certainly saw the proof on Saturday.
Arsenal are now second in the table but are a bulky 6/1 with Boylesports to go on and lift the crown. That is not the worst of betting predictions and I certainly wouldn’t talk anyone out of a punt on The Gunners to shoot down the opposition, especially at the price. West Ham, well they are also 6/1 with Boylesports to be relegated, and they certainly have the look of a team down in the dumps.
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At the opposite end of the rankings, Sunderland continued their mini-revival and David Moyes may not be as bad as we all thought, after all. The former Manchester United dud looked set for the sack but he’s pulled it back from the brink and has now put together a run of three wins from four starts.
Since being hammered 4-1 by Arsenal at the end of October, they have improved to better Bournemouth and Hull before going down to Liverpool. Each of those results would have been expected before the off but The Black Cats caught the eye on Saturday when beating last season’s champions Leicester City 2-1 at the Stadium of Light.
The hosts were a tad fortunate to go in front on 64-minutes when Huth piled the ball into his own net, but there was nothing lucky about the second when Defoe doubled their lead shortly after. A reply from Okazaki did little to change the course of the game.
Despite their recent form, Sunderland are still odds-on 5/6 with William Hill to be relegated, while Leicester City can be found in the same market at an appealing 9/1 with Ladbrokes. Can they follow up a title win with relegation, it sounds laughable, but is very possible.