Week 18 of the English Premier League sees Chelsea set a club record with a 12th consecutive win over Bournemouth; Man Utd win four in a row, and the bottom three all lose.
The last four times Chelsea has been at the top of the Premier League Christmas Tree they have gone all the way, and I can’t see this year being any different.
Antonio Conte’s men set a new club record of 12-straight Premier League victories after subjecting Bournemouth to their third loss in four at Stamford Bridge.
It’s an incredible turnaround for the Blues. This time last year they hovered three points above the relegation zone with the Player of the Year, Eden Hazard, playing his football in a straightjacket.
The diminutive Belgian is back to his scintillating best, proving what a difference a manager’s influence can make. Hazard, Willian and Pedro showed Chelsea could motor along without the likes of Diego Costa and N’Golo Kante – both suspended – as Chelsea attacked with pace and power.
Chelsea took the lead in the 24th minute after a one-touch goal straight out of the Arsenal copybook and finished with an exquisite lob by Pedro. It was two within five minutes of the restart after Hazard won and converted a penalty for his 50th Premier League goal. The game was settled in injury time when Steve Cook deflected Pedro’s shot into his own net.
The Manchester Clubs on Mini Runs
Chelsea’s return to form highlights the adverse effect Jose Mourinho had on the squad when he held the reins last year. But he seems to have turned a corner at his new club.
Man Utd’s comfortable home win against Sunderland was their fourth Premier League win in succession; fourth in all competitions and tenth unbeaten.
Daley Blind raced through the Sunderland side to get on the end of a Zlatan Ibrahimovic pull back to open the scoring in the 39th minute. But United had to wait until the last 10-minutes to put the game to bed. The giant Swede putting daylight between the two sides with his 50th Premier League goal of 2016 (only one behind Lionel Messi), before Henry Mkhitaryan scored an outrageous back heel scorpion kick with time running out.
It was David Moyes’s first return to Old Trafford after being shown the door, and defeat leaves his side in the bottom three, two points behind Crystal Palace.
And just over the road, Man City was also experiencing a mini-revival with a late show against Hull. Yaya Toure was holding the conductor’s baton in that one after his recent return to form. Raheem Sterling earned a penalty in the 72nd minute duly dispatched by Toure (his tenth successful Premier League penalty out of ten). Kelechi Iheanacho scored a tap in, six minutes later and a Curtis Davis own goal in injury time means City move into second with Hull remaining bottom on goal difference.
Quick Fire Round Up
Swansea will sack Bob Bradley sooner rather than later according to the bookmakers. It was a huge gamble from the Welsh side to bring in a man who was untested at the highest level and it seems to have backfired.
Bradley has only won two of his 11 games in charge, conceding 29 goals and losing seven. His most recent debacle was a 1-4 home defeat against a resurgent West Ham side who won their third consecutive game. Andre Ayew opened the scoring for West Ham against his old club. Winston Reid, Michail Antonio and Andy Carroll scored the other three. Fernando Llorente came off the bench to snatch a late consolation goal.
Sam Allardyce knows what it’s like to be shown the door. The one match England boss returned to action as the new manager of Crystal Palace after the sacking of Alan Pardew. In an exclusive interview with Geoff Shreeves, Allardyce said the job was right for him because of the Palace ‘players, club and ambition.’ It must have been a coincidence that he picked the first Premier League job that turned up then?
It looked like he would start with a win after Yohan Cabaye put Palace ahead after a great turn and run from Andros Townsend. Christian Benteke had the chance to extend that lead to two goals but fluffed his lines from the penalty spot. Troy Deeney showed him how it was done 20-minutes from time when he equalised from the spot to become only the fifth Watford player to score 100 league goals.
Allardyce later claimed his side should have had a late penalty after Wilfried Zaha was tripped in the box. The referee incorrectly booked Zaha for diving and Harry the Hornet (Watford’s club mascot) took the piss out of Zaha by diving in front of him at the end of the game resulting in Allardyce’s request that the FA carry out a full investigation into the giant Hornet’s behaviour.
Arsenal returned to winning ways after their two-game slump to keep in touching distance of the leaders. Olivier Giroud repaying his manager’s faith in him with a last-gasp goal in his first Premier League start of the season against West Brom. Everton piled more pressure on the champions Leicester with a 2-0 win at the King Power to move up to move into seventh spot. And Burnley continued their impressive home form (only Spurs & Chelsea have won more) with a 1-0 win over fellow new boys Middlesbrough.
Premier League Results (Week 18)
Watford 1 v 1 Crystal Palace
Arsenal 1 v 0 West Brom
Burnley 1 v 0 Middlesborough
Swansea 1 v 4 West Ham
Man Utd 3 v 1 Sunderland
Chelsea 3 v 0 Bournemouth
Leicester 0 v 2 Everton
Hull 0 v 3 Man City
To be Played (Tue, 27 Dec)
Liverpool v Stoke
To be Played (Wed, 28 Dec)
Southampton v Spurs
Premier League Table
- Chelsea – 46
- Man City – 39
- Liverpool – 37
- Arsenal – 37
- Spurs – 33
- Man Utd – 33
- Everton – 26
- Southampton – 24
- West Brom – 23
- Watford – 22
- West Ham – 22
- Stoke – 21
- Bournemouth – 21
- Burnley – 20
- Middlesbrough – 18
- Leicester – 17
- Crystal Palace – 16
- Sunderland – 14
- Swansea – 12
- Hull – 12
Premier League Title Odds (Courtesy of Bodog)
Man City +500
Man Utd +2000