Week 28 of the Premier League sees the Gods favour Leicester as a surprise home draw to West Brom is unpunishable by any of the three clubs involved in the title race.
If there is a God, then he is sitting high in the sky wearing the blue shirt of Leicester City. On Tuesday night, the lads from the King Power Stadium welcomed a West Brom side, who despite a decent run of results, aren’t much to worry about. The game was a draw. Spurs, Arsenal and Man City, should have been chomping at the bit. The following night they all played wearing a muzzle.It wasn’t that Leicester played poorly, or the pressure had started to tighten around the windpipe of the fairytale of Premier League fairytales. In truth, Leicester battered the Baggies, but for once they just couldn’t outscore their opponents.
Salomon Rondon spoiled the party when he barged Robert Huth aside to give the visitors an 11th-minute lead. Danny Drinkwater equalised after a wicked deflection saw the ball fly over the head of the hapless Ben Foster. And Leicester took the lead when N’Golo Kante’s replacement Andy King finished off a fine move in the 45th minute.
But when you have Craig Gardner on your team, and free kicks around the edge of the box, you are always in with a shot. Gardner curling a beauty in the 50th minute to ensure West Brom escaped with a point.
Leicester now faces a row of five games where they face opposition from the bottom half of the table.
It’s at this time of the season that the over-performing Leicester are supposed to tremble in their socks, lay down and die. So it’s rather interesting to see the exact opposite. Leicester is buoyant, and their rivals are the ones dying under the pressure.
Spurs could have gone to the top of the table for the first time in God knows when if they could have won at West Ham. It wasn’t an easy task. Slaven Bilic has got his team playing some exceptional football, and they haven’t lost a home game since August 2015. Spurs hadn’t lost an away game since the opening day of the season.
West Ham opened the scoring in the seventh minute with a smart front post header by Michail Antonio, and despite a short period of dominance in the second half from Spurs, they nullified their threat to good effect. Spurs had picked up 17 points from losing positions this season, more than any other team in the Premier League – not at this fortress.
So it was up to Arsenal to close the gap at the top to three points. At the start of the game they faced a Swansea side sitting three points clear of the drop zone, and an Italian manager hospitalised with an infection. However, the Welsh side have one of the better records at Arsenal having won two and drawn one in their past previous four visits.
Arsenal raced into the lead with a lovely finish from Joel Campbell in the 15th minute. Campbell was in the side as a replacement for the out of sorts Theo Walcott. Arsenal dominated from that point on with Alexis Sanchez and Olivier Giroud smacking shots into the woodwork before Wayne Routledge raced clear from the usually razor-sharp Hector Bellerin to slot the ball past the onrushing Petr Cech.
The warning signs were there for Arsenal after Gylfi Sigurdsson missed an open goal from an acute angle, but the Icelander picked himself up and supplied an inch-perfect cross for Swans captain Ashley Williams to bundle the ball home after a mistake by Cech. The Arsenal keeper picking up an injury that will now see him miss the North London derby on the weekend.
So the London boys couldn’t bridge the gap, what about the boys from the North?
“I told them we had to show that we were angry,” Said Jurgen Klopp after his Liverpool had enacted sweet revenge on Man City.
The previous encounter had seen City break Liverpool’s hearts to win the Capital One Cup. Revenge is a dish served with a three nil thrashing. Man City are now 10-points behind Leicester and are evidently fighting for a Champions League place at best.
Goals from Adam Lallana, James Milner and Firmino buried a City side who Manuel Pellegrini said were tired because of all the football they had recently played. Funny – I am sure Liverpool have played the same amount of minutes.
The only team to pick up all three points in the top five was Man Utd. It was 25-years to the day that Ryan Giggs made his Old Trafford debut. Once again, youth was the order of the day as United started the match with another lengthy list of casualties.
It was a tough game for United. Watford is a strong unit, and if Odion Ighalo were wearing his passing boots and not his greedy shooting boots, this game could have told a different tale. Instead, Juan Mata, captaining the side for the first time, rammed home a beautiful free kick to give United all three points allowing Louis Van Gaal to keep smiling just that little bit longer.
At the other end of the table, Norwich finally fell into the bottom three after their woeful form continued against a resurgent Chelsea. The Canaries have now gone ten matches without a win, picking up one point during that time. Chelsea, on the other hand, is finally showing the world what they can do.
20-year old full-back Kenedy opened the scoring after just 20-seconds. It was his first Premier League goal in only two starts. Chelsea’s second goal was a fortunate one. Diego Costa racing through on goal to chip one delightfully over the head of the Norwich keeper, but he was clearly offside. Nathan Redmond set up a grandstand finish when he pulled one back in the 68th minute, but Chelsea held on. They haven’t lost in the league since December.
Sunderland’s manager Sam Allardyce said his side needed four points from their games against Crystal Palace and Southampton. They will now have to go to St Mary’s and win if his goal is to be achieved.
The Black Cats played their get out of jail free card in this one. Only Norwich have had a worse run of results than Crystal Palace. They came into this game without a win in 10 but looked likely to end that streak after Connor Wickham slammed home two goals to give Palace a 2-1 lead with time running out. Allardyce threw Fabio Borini into the action, and he scored the goal of the night slamming one home from the edge of the box as the final seconds ticked away.
Sunderland and Norwich are now level on 24 points with Newcastle after Steve McClaren’s men continued their woeful away form with a defeat at Stoke. Before this one Newcastle had lost 16 of their previous 20 away games, saying quite a lot about the backbone of this team. Xherdan Shaqiri scoring his first goal at home in the 80th minute to seal the third win on the bounce for Mark Hughes’s on and off side.
Here are the rest of the results:
Premier League Odds Courtesy of Bodog
Premier League Outright Winner
Leicester City +165
Man City +700
Man Utd +2800
Aston Villa -2500
Week 28 Results
West Ham 1 v 0 Spurs
Arsenal 1 v 2 Swansea
Stoke 1 v 0 Newcastle
Man Utd 1 v 0 Watford
Liverpool 3 v 0 Man City
Sunderland 2 v 2 Crystal Palace
Norwich 1 v 2 Chelsea
Aston Villa 1 v 3 Everton
Bournemouth 2 v 0 Southampton
Leicester 2 v 2 West Brom
Premier League Standings (After 28 Games)
1st. Leicester – 57 pts.
2nd. Spurs – 54 pts.
3rd. Arsenal – 51 pts.
4th. Man City – 47 pts.
5th. Man Utd – 47 pts.
6th. West Ham – 46 pts.
7th. Stoke – 42 pts.
8th. Liverpool – 41 pts.
9th. Southampton – 40 pts.
10th. Chelsea – 39 pts.
11th. Everton – 38 pts.
12th. Watford – 37 pts.
13th. West Brom – 36 pts.
14th. Crystal Palace – 33 pts.
15th. Bournemouth – 32 pts.
16th. Swansea – 30 pts.
17th. Sunderland – 24 pts.
18th. Norwich – 24 pts.
19th. Newcastle – 24 pts.
20th. Aston Villa – 16 pts.