We take a look back on the action over the last week as our writer St.John tells us who the winners and losers were of Game Week 23-24 in the Premier League 16/17 season.:
Chelsea, Hull City, Man City, Watford
At the end of the season, should Chelsea lift the title, most will look back at this week and say this was when it was won. Two games against title rivals and a haul of four points saw the side from West London pull nine points clear of the rest at the top of the league. A well-earned draw at Anfield and a fantastic performance against Arsenal mean the Blues take a giant leap towards the trophy.
When Marco Silva took over at the KCOM he will have seen this run of fixtures and sighed. Chelsea, Manchester United and then Liverpool are a daunting lot to face, let alone all in a row. Hull walked away with four points when the bookies would have said they should have got none. A brave performance against Chelsea and United set them up to take on a poor Reds side and they duly obliged. Survival is still something the Tigers fans can believe in.
The Jekyll and Hyde of the Premier League once again showcasing their split personality. A complete mauling of West Ham at the London Stadium was an obvious statement of what this side can do when they want to. They were imperious. A limp performance against Swansea however showed the faults that glare far too often for Pep’s side. Yet this time they won. Six points from six and dropped points all around mean City leap frog Arsenal and Liverpool into third.
No wins for seven games saw Walter Mazzarri’s side slip ever closer to the bottom three. A gutsy performance saw the Hornets dispose of a toothless Arsenal and a hard fought win against travel sick Burnley mean they have daylight between them and the drop once more. A healthy profit on Igahlo’s move to China will also put a smile on the Italian Boss’s face.
Liverpool, Arsenal, Southampton, Bournemouth
One win from ten is all you need to know about Jurgen Klopp’s side. Void of ideas and guts, the team not so long ago that was touted as a title challenger are now in danger of missing out on the top four. A quick fix is in dire need but with January having come and gone and no players in, I have no idea where they might find one.
The Gunners started this week as the closet side to table topping Chelsea. Two games later and they are sat precariously close to fifth spot. Wenger’s side have a knack of always finding enough to drag themselves across the line but as a team many thought would challenge for league honors that would be a poor return. A double defeat and a manager in the stands leaves the Gunner’s in a huge scrap to save anything from the season.
Perhaps the Saints are suffering from a very bad case of Wembley Blues. Having knocked out a much fancied Liverpool side to reach the League Cup Final, Claude Puel’s team have lost two on the bounce as well as being dumped out the FA Cup. The South Coast side are still well clear of the relegation dog fight but should they continue in such fashion they better get ready for a punch up come May.
Another team that a few weeks ago were sitting pretty in mid table. Some bad results and suddenly Eddie Howe’s men are only two losses away from the drop zone. Defensively they have been poor and are in need of a few clean sheets to steady the nerves. The next set of fixtures will be very important in Howe’s top flight career.
Last season some questioned whether the diminutive Belgian had what it takes to fulfill his vast potential. He is answering his critics now. Picking the ball up on the halfway line he blazed towards the Arsenal goal and nothing was going to stop him. Koschielny tried. Twice. Both times the winger left him for dead. The finish was not quite up to the same standard as the journey to goal and that, perhaps, means it won’t go down in history but it was splendid nonetheless.
The ball whistled off David Luiz’s boot and soared into the back of the net. That in itself is not surprising. The Brazilian has that in his locker. What was surprising, was the lack of goalkeeper to keep his effort out. The man with the gloves was nowhere to be found, wondering around the six-yard box, barking orders to defenders. He turned and watched helplessly as the ball settled in the ol’ onion bag before looking desperately at the referee who looked blankly back. He signaled that he hadn’t heard the whistle, which is strange because everyone else did. Luiz might feel a bit aggrieved that one of his best efforts had been wasted on an empty net.