The race for the league’s top spot has granted Chelsea an extended lead following their big win over Manchester City, while Bournemouth finally beat Liverpool for the first time ever. The bottom half of the table saw minor changes, but just as the eventual top teams are not yet clear, it’s still too early to single out any relegation finalists. Arsenal gunned down West Ham, Sunderland won again, and Jose Mourinho continues to question his inner motives. These are just a few of the things we learned in the 10 matches of this weekend’s Premier League battles.
1) A Fab Performance
Chelsea can now add Manchester City to their list of recent casualties, as the West London club beat their title rivals 3-1 in Saturday’s early kickoff. Chelsea’s win was exactly what you look for from a champion, as they came back from 1-0 down to score three unanswered goals through Pep Guardiola’s awful defensive gaps. Yes, City owned the possession, and could’ve easily been up 2-0 at the half, but the difference came once again in how well prepared Antonio Conte is for each big match, no matter who the opponent is.
Willian, Diego Costa and Eden Hazard were the goal scorers on the day, but this Chelsea perfomance in the second half had team and attitude written all over it. Conte has converted Victor Moses from just an offensive threat to a winger who can also drop back to defend. The manager gave Cesc Fabregas the start with Nemanja Matic injured, and it paid off as Fabregas contributed quite possibly the assist of the season when Costa equalized.
Defensively, Chelsea struggled in certain points, but were more than able to keep Man City at bay. What Antonio Conte did was play immaculate counter attacking football, knowing that Guardiola’s defense would leave holes so big even Ron Jeremy would be impressed. You can’t win a league title with a mediocre backline. Yes, Chelsea are the real deal, and after back-to-back wins over top four contenders you can’t write off their hopes of lifting the title in May.
2) Alexis Sanchez Too Good For Arsenal
At some point Chilean midfielder, Alexis Sanchez, will tire of disappointing seasons at Arsenal with no league titles under his CV. The man was made to win everything football has to offer, and he showcased his world-class play against West Ham in a mesmerizing way. Sanchez assisted Mesut Ozil for Arsenal’s first goal before scoring a spectacular hat-trick in 14 minutes.
Sanchez is without doubt a world-class player, and the fact that he hasn’t re-signed could be the source of some worries for Arsene Wenger and the Arsenal faithful. If Arsenal go another season without winning the league, it could be hard to keep a player who could start for any club on any planet. Alexis Sanchez’s performance against West Ham was beyond impressive, but the most impressive part of this story will be if he commits himself long-term with a club happy enough finishing fourth on a consistent basis.
3) Scousers Handed A Cherry Popping
Liverpool have what it takes to be champions at the end of the season, even though Phillipe Coutinho may be out for six weeks. They have been impressive throughout the season, and have been right there with Manchester City and Chelsea for top accolades. Since the international break, however, Liverpool have been a different side with a different mentality, which has caused them to slip, AND SLIP BIG…..(No pun intended, Steven Gerrard.) Liverpool’s implosion in the final twenty minutes was nearly as bad as AC Milan’s that night in Istanbul. For Jurgen Klopp it was misery, but Eddie Howe found it to be nearly orgasmic.
A 3-1 lead heading down the final stretch of the match would be enough for most clubs to hold on to if they desired three points, but this Liverpool side on Sunday somehow allowed itself to believe that football is only played for 70 minutes and not 90. The key to this match was substitute Ryan Fraser, who single-handedly changed the tempo of the match like a conductor in a symphony. Fraser’s pure class showed as he had a hand in three of Bournemouth’s goals.
The injury time goal by Nathan Ake was the final push off the cliff for Liverpool, and history was made at the Vitality Stadium on Sunday afternoon. With the loss, Liverpool dropped to third place, and questions will be asked. As for Eddie Howe, he has proven that he is a rising star in the Premier League, and could one day make the big jump to one of England’s top clubs. Until then, there is no doubt that he will continue to rise with Bournemouth, and some genuine hope that he will leave them stable enough for his replacement.
4) Can West Brom Compete For Europe?
The question can be asked, but is it too early to say West Brom are impressive enough to fight for a Europa League spot? It’s not a likely outcome, considering who they’d have to fight to get there, but Tony Pulis is doing a fine job of at least keeping them in the conversation. The win against Watford put West Brom up to seventh place with Chelsea coming up next weekend, and the ship seems to be sailing at ease.
West Brom’s win made it three in four, and the momentum at The Hawthorns is residing on Pulis’ side despite his personal legal issues with former club Crystal Palace. Depth and a bit of inexperience could be the only thing in West Brom’s way, but if they can take points from their biggest challengers there is no reason they can’t make a run for a European spot. They might just be able to pull off upsets if they continue to score from corners. The Baggies lead the league with seven goals scored from corners after Johnny Evans’ goal over the weekend.
5) In Kane They Trust
There’s a reason Tottenham chariman Daniel Levy broke the code, and handed Harry Kane an improved wage packet. His brace and his overall performance against Swansea proved that, when fit, he is one of the league’s best. Given his seven goals for the season, Tottenham must hope that Kane doesn’t suffer another injury as he did earlier in the season, for it could be the difference in their top four run. This was a better Tottenham we saw than last week against Chelsea.
Swansea were never in the game, quite frankly, and Bob Bradley’s inexperience in the Premier League was exposed like a bare-breasted woman working the lunch shift at the Spearmint Rhino. It was ugly, saggy, and quite frankly sad to see. Swansea have cemented themselves at the bottom of the table, but there’s still plenty of football left to play. The inconsistencies, however, are what seem to hurt the Welsh club, and their hot/cold methods can be hurtful of their chances. Tottenham did well to rebound with a win, and their defense once again showed why they are in most ways the best there is. At White Hart Lane, In Kane They Trust, but how well do the North Londoners trust themselves to continue a push for the top four finish?
Thank you for reading
Jesus A. Martinez
Chelsea FC Contributor