Week 25 of the Premier League sees Leicester City destroy Man City at the Etihad to become joint favourites to win for the title for the first time this season; Norwich slide into the bottom three; Newcastle crawl out.
A few weeks ago, there were many people looking at the Premier League fixture list thinking Leicester City’s amazing run was going to come to a shuddering halt.
Man City (A)
Those three matches were as important as a wedding ring sitting inside a wooden box in a pawn shop. Finally, the Foxes would be found out. They didn’t belong there. They would lose all three games; catch fire and burn to death as the sparks from the City and Arsenal chariots laid them to waste.
They beat Liverpool.
They have just destroyed Man City.
Bring on Arsenal.
It was the best side home side in the division versus the best away side. It was the number one team in the land versus the number two. It was a team that cost £22.25m versus one that cost £223m. It was that was second favourite to win the title at the start of the season versus the 1,000/1 outsiders.
Man, I wish I had taken that bet.
City had all the ball and yet Leicester always looked the more menacing, the more methodical, and they mangled the team from Manchester. The big man from the back, Robert Huth, scoring in the third minute to put Leicester on their way to their greatest performance in recent memory.
Prior to this match, Manuel Pellegrini had won 65 of his 100 games in charge. Only Jose Mourinho has a better rate than that. The likelihood of that extending to 66 anytime soon was extinguished in a moment of brilliance by the Premier League’s player of the season, Riyah Mahrez. The Algerian making Martin Demichelis look like a mug before slamming the ball passed a rooted Joe Hart.
Two-nil, at the Etihad. It could not get better than this. It did. In the 60th minute, Robert Huth climbed higher than anyone else on the pitch to head home his second goal of the game, to hand Leicester a three-nil advantage. Sergio Aguero headed home a late consolation goal, but it wasn’t enough. Leicester had turned them over like dirt in the back yard.
Bring on Arsenal.
Leicester is now a serious contender. The bookmakers have made them joint favourites with Arsenal. The Gunners picked up a 2-0 win away at Bournemouth, but if they play that way at home to Leicester they will have their nuts well and truly roasted. Mesut Ozil (23) and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (24) stopping a rut that had seen the Gunners fail to win in the league since Jan 3. On their day, Arsenal can be scintillating. Every day, Arsenal give chance after chance to their opponents. It’s the sole reason they haven’t won the Premier League in so long.
Sandwiched in between Leicester and Arsenal are Spurs. Mauro Pochettino’s men hammered Watford at White Hart Lane, but only managed to win by the solitary goal. The game featured two of the Premier League’s hottest marksmen in Harry Kane and Odion Ighalo, but it was the Spurs full back Kieran Trippier who raced into the six-yard box to slot home after an inch perfect pass from Delle Alli. It was Alli’s 11th goal/assist in the past 14 Premier League games. Spurs have now won four games on the trot. It was a dominating performance from a team who are looking as likely as anyone as becoming champions in the most unlikeliest of seasons.
From winning the league to qualifying for the Champions League and Man Utd failed to grasp the opportunity to move closer to Man City in a frustrating game at Stamford Bridge. For large parts of the game United looked in complet control, despite Chelsea experienced large periods of fruitless possession. Jesse Lingard put United ahead in the 60th minute, but Chelsea always looked likely to nick one, and nick one they did. Diego Costa, playing United for the first time, putting the ball passed the excellent David de Gea in injury time. United are six points behind their neighours City who look solid in that fourth spot despite their defeat at Leicester.
At the other end of the table, Norwich has slipped into the bottom three after their sixth straight defeat. To make matters worse it was against Aston Villa. The Canaries have now lost seven of their last eight away games, and conceded 19 goals in their last six matches. Julian Lescott headed Villa into the lead in the 44th minute, before Gabriel Agbonlahor scored his first goal in an injury hit season to seal the points in the 51st minute, prompting Remi Garde to declare: “We still have a chance.” Villa are now seven points adrift from Newcastle who sit just above the drop zone.
For long periods of the season I have been saying that Newcastle would go down. A combination of Norwich’s woeful form and Steve McClaren’s wisdom in signing Jonjo Shelvey and Andros Townsend have made me change my mind. Newcastle played some wonderful stuff against West Brom, and Shelvey was at the heart of everything. It was his through ball that saw Aleksandar Mitrovic race through to put the ball past the onrushing Ben Foster to seal the one-nil win. West Brom look absolute garbage and I expect to see them drop further and further down the table.
Here are the latest odds and the rest of the results not covered in the write up.
Premier League Odds
According to Oddschecker, Leicester and Man City are joint favourites for the Premier League with most bookies unable to separate the pair at 9/4; Man City are third favourites at 10/3; Spurs (5/1) and Man Utd (33/1) are the outside bets.
At the other end of the table Aston Villa are changing some bookmakers minds rising to 1/33; Sunderland are 1/4; Norwich are now 8/11, and Newcastle (13/8), Swansea (9/2), West Brom (6/1) and Bournemouth (12/1) are the best of the rest.
Week 25 Results
Man City 1 v 0 Leicester
Swansea 1 v 1 Crystal Palace
Stoke 0 v 3 Everton
Liverpool 2 v 2 Sunderland
Spurs 1 v 0 Watford
Aston Villa 2 v 0 Norwich
Newcastle 1 v 0 West Brom
Southampton 1 v 0 West Ham
Bournemouth 0 v 2 Arsenal
Chelsea 1 v 1 Man Utd
Premier League Standings (After 25 Games)
1st. Leicester – 53 pts.
2nd. Spurs – 48 pts.
3rd. Arsenal – 48 pts.
4th. Man City – 47 pts.
5th. Man Utd – 41 pts.
6th. West Ham – 39 pts.
7th. Southampton – 37 pts.
8th. Everton – 35 pts.
9th. Liverpool – 35 pts.
10th. Watford – 33 pts.
11th. Stoke – 33 pts.
12th. Crystal Palace – 32 pts.
13th. Chelsea – 30 pts.
14th. West Brom – 29 pts.
15th. Bournemouth – 28 pts.
16th. Swansea – 27 pts.
17th. Newcastle – 24 pts.
18th. Norwich – 23 pts.
19th. Sunderland – 20 pts.
20th. Aston Villa – 16 pts.