Premier League round up, February 2nd 2017
Chelsea further their advantage
Liverpool value for a draw but Chelsea will be happy, despite missed penalty
It was an important midweek in the English Premier League, as the winter transfer window slammed shut. There was also a full round of fixtures in the top flight as the race for the title gathers pace. Once again, Chelsea showed a steady-hand and remained in control.
The Blues did drop two points against Liverpool, ending 1-1 at Anfield but, as usual, none of the sides around them could punish that, meaning Chelsea are now nine points clear of Spurs in second-place. Even when they don’t win, they’re still winning.
Transfer window closes with a whimper
The January window passed and Diego Costa remained a Chelsea player, bringing an end to the long-running story of his supposed move to China. The player is still keen on a shift to the Super League, and its riches, but looks to have agreed to stay at the bridge and help his employers over the line. How did he thank the fans for their patience, support and understanding? By missing a match-winning penalty at Anfield.
David Luiz scored a fantastic free-kick to put Chelsea ahead on Tuesday night, but that was cancelled out by Wijnaldum on 57-minutes. The league-leaders were then awarded a penalty and the scene was set for Costa to be a hero, but he fluffed his lines, with a weak spot-kick saved by reds keeper Simon Mignolet. The Blues still go at a touch of value to win the league at 3/10 with Betfair. Surely punters could invest heavily on that without worry.
Spurs blunted by resolute Sunderland
Tottenham were expected to stiffen up their challenge with an away win over struggling Sunderland, but it didn’t amount to much and they had to settle for a 0-0 draw against David Moyes’ well-organised side, who were happy to sit in and frustrate.
Incredibly, the stats showed Spurs ended the match with 72 per cent of the overall possession, but managed just three shots on target all evening. The Black Cats packed the defence and welcomed their visitors on to them, but stood firm, and the favourites were met with a brick wall.
It gave hope to Sunderland that they may just retain their position in the league, but they are now winless in six and have five points to find to match the Swansea and safety. The point lifted Tottenham above rivals Arsenal into second on goal-difference. Spurs can be backed at 12/1 (Betfair) to win the league while Sunderland are nailed on 1/6 to be relegated.
Arsenal humbled at home by ruthless Watford
The reason for that – Arsenal were, once again, victims of an upset, going down to Watford at home. A quick-fire double from Kaboul and Deeney stole the show, with Arsenal hitting back through Iwobi on 58-minutes. That did give them plenty of time to go and get an equaliser, but it never came.
Wenger pointed the finger at his players, telling the press that they lost duels all over the park and weren’t sharp enough. He thought the problem with his squad was a mental one, rather than physical as they started slow and failed to recover.
The Gunners won’t be winning the league this year, that much is obvious, and they are as big as 20/1 if you’d like to take a punt on them pulling off the great escape. One team who are catching the eye on the fringes is Everton who got a draw with Stoke on Wednesday, but are now unbeaten in six and are only nine points off the Champions League places.
Everton this seasons dark horses?
The Toffees, filled with youth and ambition, have been making a bit of a name for themselves this season, beating Man City 4-0 at Goodison Park last month, and that was added to wins over Southampton and Crystal Palace.
They appear to have been dealt a good hand in February, facing a few of the division’s weaker sides, and if they can keep this run going, they’ll face Spurs in early March with a chance of pushing hard for the top-four, currently at 80/1 (bet365).