Happy Christmas for the Blues, Chelsea win yet again
Arsenal win then draw, Giroud scores a stunner
Arsenal stole the show on New Year’s Day with an impressive 2-0 win over London rivals Crystal Palace at the Emirates. If the result was something to talk about then the opening goal from Olivier Giroud will, deservedly, go down in history and you won’t see a better strike during 2017, that’s for sure. As far as goal of the season is concerned, it’s weighed in. Arsenal and their French attacker are the winners, and by a country mile. Dubbed ‘the scorpion kick’, it really has to be seen to be believed, and appreciated, as he caught a Sanchez cross, which was delivered behind him, and guided it into the net off the underside of the bar.
That goal, and the three points that accompanied it, moved Arsenal to third in the Premier League on the day, but they again shot themselves in the foot when dropping points against Bournemouth in a six-goal thriller just two days later. The Cherries finished the match with 10-men, with Francis sent off on 82-minutes, after going 3-0 up thanks to goals from Daniels, Wilson and Fraser.
Title race relentless as top teams pile on the points
Staring down the barrel of defeat, the Londoners managed to rescue a point with Sanchez and Perez throwing them back into the mix before Giroud netted an equaliser on 92-minutes. Manager Arsene Wenger thought the hectic schedule took its toll on his players, and that showed early in the match. He did take heart from the way his side passed a physical test with flying colours and told the press that they are happy to play every day, as long as their opponents do too.
Arsenal are now as big as 16/1 with Betfair to go on and win the league this year, and that price is perfectly understandable, considering they are well off the pace, having won just two of their last five outings.
Chelsea unstoppable, tired Liverpool stumble
Table-toppers Chelsea saw nearest rivals Liverpool drop points in Monday’s round of fixtures also, ending 2-2 away to Sunderland. A brace for Jermain Defoe, both coming from the penalty spot, was cancelled out by goals for Daniel Sturridge and Sadio Mane, and The Reds only have themselves to blame for taking one point from a match that should’ve boosted their tally by three.
Twice Liverpool got their noses in front at the Stadium of Light, and twice they were the architects of their own downfall. Boss Jurgen Klopp, who has saw his team’s challenge falter with draws so far this season, was another gaffer who pointed the finger of blame at the schedule, saying that they are capable of playing much better than that, but not with a two-day break.
Football fans love this time of year, with matches going every day, but perhaps it’s time the bosses at Wembley took notice of the players’ views. Then again, some would say it’s about time that they earned their wages. Liverpool to win the league is 11/2 second-favourite at Paddy Power.
Mike is Phelan Blue, its tough at the bottom
(Sorry Mike, it had to be done!)
At the other end of the table and bottom-club Hull City won one race over the festive period, but it was the prize no one wanted to claim, the sack race. The Tigers terminated the contract of Mike Phelan on Tuesday, after he took charge following the departure of Steve Bruce. His job was only made permanent in October, meaning he had little time to get things right, and could probably have done with a transfer window to stamp his authority on the team, but results speak volumes in this game and just three points picked up in nine games is awful.
The Premier League strugglers will now begin the business of finding a replacement and Marco Silva is the early market leader in the betting, with 5/4 available at Bet Victor. Jaap Stam is another name that features prominently on that list and fans who’d love to see him take the hot-seat can have 12/1 courtesy of Paddy Power. Whoever takes over have a long road ahead on them if they are to confirm Hull’s place in the top-tier for another season, but it’ll be mission impossible as far as the odds compilers are concerned, with William Hill’s 1/5 the best you will find about them being relegated. That price pretty much tells you everything that you need to know on that one.