Week 26 of the Premier League sees Arsenal deliver a blow to Leicester’s title chances; Spurs move into second after victory at Man City, and Liverpool trouncing Villa.
Leicester City fans were left choking on their Sunday roast after forgotten England star Danny Welbeck snatched a last minute winner at The Emirates.
Claudio Ranieri’s men came into this tie on the back of consecutive victories over Liverpool and Man City. They were on fire. And when Jamie Vardy put them ahead from the penalty spot, that run looked like it might lengthen.
Note to Premier League defenders: Jamie Vardy has won six penalties this season, more than all the other 19 Premier League teams combined.
Playing against Arsenal at home is tough. Trying to do it with 10-men is even tougher. That’s the task Leicester faced after Danny Simpson was given his marching orders in the 54th minute for a second bookable offence. 16-minutes later and Theo Walcott punished them in the worse possible way.
It was 1-1.
Could Leicester hold on?
They nearly did. Kasper Schmeichel looked ever inch a chip off the old man’s block. But as the match ebbed away, Welbeck, who was playing his first competitive game since April, headed home a last-gasp winner.
It was only Leicester’s third defeat of the season.
Spurs Getting There Quietly
Arsenal’s victory over Leicester handed them second spot. They didn’t hold on to it for long. Spurs headed to Man City in the final game of the weekend and walked out of the Etihad with all three points. It was good enough to overtake their fierce rivals on goal difference.
The incredible Leicester story has allowed Spurs to creep towards the top without undue fuss. It was Spurs fifth Premier League win on the trot.
And Man City?
They should have never announced the change of manager mid-season. City has since lost two consecutive home games in the league for the first time in seven years.
Hotshot Harry Kane scored his 15th Premier League goal in the last 17 games after scoring from the penalty spot. Raheem Sterling deemed rather unfairly to have handled the ball in the box.
Super-sub Kelechi Iheanacho had equalised before Christian Eriksen rammed home a last minute winner. City has only won one of their matches against top eight sides this season. Spurs are now second favourites for the title.
Champions League? You Are Having a Laugh
What are they waiting for?
Give Jose Mourinho an Old Trafford parking immediately.
Man City made the mistake of announcing their managerial change mid-season. There haven’t been any announcements at Old Trafford, but the same point stands.
Every United player will know that Louis Van Gaal is a goner. It will make a difference. It has made a difference. Sunderland beating United at home for the first time in 14 Premier League games. There has been a lot of ‘first times’ since Alex Ferguson left the club.
Wahbi Khazri gave the Dutchman a headache when he scored from a free kick as early as the third minute. United’s shining light, Anthony Martial, equalised, before a hash of a goalmouth clearance resulting in David de Gea being awarded an 82nd-minute own goal after a towering header from Lamine Kone squirmed off the Spaniard and into the back of the net.
It was a great performance by Sunderland and excellent timing. They were the only side in the bottom six to win this weekend. They have signed some hungry looking players. They have been looking good despite not getting bagging the points.
As for United?
Incidentally, United have never had this few points in any Premier League campaign.
And they thought David Moyes was bad.
Doomed, Doomed and Doomed
The only other side in the bottom six to pick up any points this weekend were Norwich, but they will be pulling their feathers out, after giving away a two-goal lead at home for the second time in the past month.
Robbie Brady and Wes Hoolahan had given the Canaries a two-goal lead with only 25-minutes of the game remaining. Slaven Bilic’s West Ham side are made of stern stuff these days, and Dmitri Payet and Mark Noble scored two minutes apart to level things before the end. In truth, they should have won it.
A nightmare for Norwich in their relegation battle, but it did end a five-win losing streak. West Ham continues to gain ground on Man Utd in the race for a Europa League place.
Newcastle slipped into the bottom three on goal difference after a hammering at Chelsea. You sensed Gus Hiddink’s men were due a performance like this. Diego Costa, Pedro and William were superb as Chelsea strolled around like the Kings of Stamford Bridge they once were. The Blues have now won four and drawn six of their previous 10-games. Nobody in the league has a better rate than that at the moment.
“I think they are the worst I’ve seen.”
That’s what Liverpool legend and Sky Sports pundit, Jamie Carragher, thinks of Aston Villa after his old club thrashed them 6-0. Six different players hit the back of the net, but it was the goal from the opener that would have pleased Liverpool fans the most.
Daniel Sturridge, overlooked by England Manager Roy Hodgson during his Match of the Day speech, scored on his first appearance since October. Liverpool looks an entirely different proposition with him and Philippe Coutinho in the side.
Villa came into this game with eight points in their last six games and renewed optimism that they could complete the great escape. To lose in this fashion was a disaster for Remi Garde and he remains 5/2 to be given the boot sometime shortly.
Here are the rest of the results and some odds to chew on.
Premier League Odds
Arsenal has the FA Cup and Champions League. Spurs have the FA Cup and Europa League. Leicester can just focus on the Premier League. That makes them the favourites for the title in my opinion. The bookies don’t agree.
Arsenal is the new favourites at 6/4, Spurs second favourites at 5/2, and Leicester drops down to 3/1. Man City’s two successive defeats see them move out to 13/2. Man United are now 100/1.
At the wrong end of the table, the bookies believe it’s Aston Villa (1/100), Sunderland (1/2) and Norwich (4/6) who are heading to the Championship. Newcastle (6/5), Swansea (11/4) and Bournemouth (7/1) are still there or thereabouts. I like West Brom at 16/1 as an outside bet.
Week 26 Results
Sunderland 2 v 1 Man Utd
Everton 0 v 1 West Brom
Norwich 2 v 2 West Ham
Swansea 0 v 1 Southampton
Bournemouth 1 v 3 Stoke
Crystal Palace 1 v 2 Watford
Chelsea 5 v 1 Newcastle
Arsenal 2 v 1 Leicester
Aston Villa 0 v 6 Liverpool
Man City 1 v 2 Spurs
Premier League Standings (After 26 Games)
1st. Leicester – 53 pts.
2nd. Spurs – 51 pts.
3rd. Arsenal – 51 pts.
4th. Man City – 47 pts.
5th. Man Utd – 41 pts.
6th. Southampton – 40 pts.
7th. West Ham – 40 pts.
8th. Liverpool – 38 pts.
9th. Watford – 36 pts.
10th. Stoke – 36 pts.
11th. Everton – 35 pts.
12th. Chelsea – 33 pts.
13th. Crystal Palace – 32 pts.
14th. West Brom – 32 pts.
15th. Bournemouth – 28 pts.
16th. Swansea – 27 pts.
17th. Norwich – 24 pts.
18th. Newcastle – 24 pts.
19th. Sunderland – 23 pts.
20th. Aston Villa – 16 pts.