Premier League round up, January 24th 2017
Chelsea extend their lead as rivals stumble
Hull resistance eventually broken
Another week and yet another step closer to the Premier League title as Chelsea banked three points while their opponents looked incapable of mounting a credible challenge.
The London blues invited want-away striker Diego Costa back into the line-up and the Spanish attacker almost had the ball in the net inside 30-seconds, running on to a punted kick-off. That would have been something to talk about. As fate would have it, he was the man to break the deadlock, scoring just before half-time to put Chelsea ahead. Cahill added a second in the final 10-minutes of play and the result was never in doubt.
Antonio Conte spoke to the press after the match, giving credit to his hard-working opponents who made life difficult for the locals. Looking forward, he thought that, now they are in the second-half of the season, every game will be tough as teams look to crank up the pressure on the leaders, raising their game.
Title race done and dusted?
Bookies want nothing to do with opposing Chelsea at the minute and they are 4/11 favourite with most firms to hold their ground and go on and win what would be a historic title. Certainly a massive turnaround from last season’s 10th-place finish.
Arsenal leave it late, very late
Arsenal did keep their recent unbeaten record trotting on, but they didn’t half make hard work of it, beating Burnley with a 98-minute penalty. A horribly dull match, broken up only by a goal from Mustafi in the second-half, exploded to life when Gray hit an equaliser from the spot on 93-minutes, before the ref then gave another spot-kick, which Sanchez used to settle the deal.
Fans were the real winners that day, especially the neutrals, but one man who came out of it with no credit whatsoever was Gunners boss Arsene Wenger, who blew up. Sent to the stand when a penalty was awarded against his side, he stood in the tunnel like a big kid who had his sweets taken away, before pushing the fourth official. Now, if that was a man in the street shoving a member of the public, or a public servant, he would be punished to the max. Wenger must also be hit with the same kind of punishment, nothing in football requires you to be pushing a fellow professional. I’d hit him with a very lengthy touchline ban – but they won’t.
Swansea pull off shock Anfield win
Liverpool, who were also being talked about in terms of challenging for the title recently, dropped more points when losing 3-2 to relegation threatened Swansea City at Anfield. Goals from Sigurdsson and a Llorente double won the day, while Firmino hit a double of his own to make the game interesting.
That defeat was Liverpool’s third of the season and they are now winless in their last three, after drawing with Sunderland and Manchester United. Their title push looks to be dead and buried.
Down at the other end of the table and Hull look to be in all kinds of trouble after losing to Chelsea on Sunday, but matters got worse with the news that midfielder Ryan Mason suffered a fractured skull in the match, being stretchered off the park and straight to St Mary’s hospital.
Everyone with a love of sport will wish him a speedy recovery and it certainly won’t do his team much good, as they are now stuck fast in the relegation zone and showing the kind of form that will have them playing Championship football next season.