In this week’s Premier League review Mamadou Sakho is in hot water after failing a drugs test, Leicester shows that they’re not a one-man ‘Jamie Vardy’ band, and Sunderland climb out of the bottom three.
It will be the subject of Ted Talks, business seminars, and even Hollywood movies.
I don’t know all of the secrets, but I do know one. Claudio Ranieri, the man the English media christened ‘Tinkerman’ during his time at Chelsea, has hardly had to field a changed side.
All that went to pot this weekend after Jamie Vardy watched his team from the stands after being sent off in the draw at against West Ham.
Was Leicester City a one-man ‘Jamie Vardy’ band?
Leicester came into the tie knowing that a win would put them eight points clear of Spurs and place the pressure right back on the crew from White Hart Lane as they prepared to face West Brom on Monday night. There are only 12 points left to play for.
If Leicester City does win the Premier League, it will hit the British bookies for £10m. Betfred owner Fred Done has already paid out £1.1m in Leicester Premier League winning bets. Ladbrokes are looking down the barrel of a £3m pain in the head after 47 people thought Leicester were worth a shot at pre-season odds of 5,000-1. They are currently 1/5 at Bodog.
With Vardy requiring a pair of binoculars to watch this one, it was down to Leonardo Ulloa to fill in and fill in he did. The Argentine scored twice in the 30th and 60th minute, either side of a 10th minute Riyad Mahrez opener, and an 85th minute Marc Albrighton sealer.
The victory means Leicester are now guaranteed second place. But they aren’t going to be happy with that; not now. They have come too far. Four more games to go and the fairytale will be complete.
And, no, they are not a one man ‘Jamie Vardy’ band.
Sunderland Climb Out of the Bottom Three; Mamadou Sakho Fails Drugs Test
Having scored two goals in the past fortnight, you would have expected Mamadou Sakho to have been a dead cert to start their Premier League match against Newcastle.
He was nowhere to be seen.
With Liverpool preparing to face Villareal in a two-legged Europa League Semi-Final that will make or break Jurgen Klopp’s first season in charge, the last thing he needed was a scandal, but that’s what’s been dumped on his lap after the French centre-half failed a drugs test.
The 26-year old was tested by UEFA officials after Liverpool’s triumph over Man Utd in an earlier round of the Europa League on 17 March. His yellow stuff contained some naughty boy stuff. He has until Tuesday to complete a ‘B’ sample. BBC Radio 5 Live Senior Football Reporter Ian Dennis is quoted as saying that Sakho failed for a type of fat burner.
His Liverpool teammate Kolo Toure was handed a 10-month ban when playing for Man City after being found guilty of a similar mishap. If Sakho receives the same punishment, he won’t just miss that Europa League Semi Final but the Euro 2016 Championships.
After 30-minutes of their game against Newcastle, it didn’t look like they would miss the big Frenchman. Daniel Sturridge and Adam Lallana scoring one a piece to take Liverpool into the half time interval in a commanding position.
It wasn’t the return to Anfield that former boss Rafa Benitez was hoping for. And maybe the fire in his belly that comes with playing against a former club roared out of his mouth during the half-time team talk. Something changed. Newcastle, who were on a nine-match losing streak away from St James Park, managed to find goals through Papiss Cisse and Jack Colback to come away with another vital point. It was a draw that ended Liverpool’s run of four consecutive wins in all competitions.
With Newcastle drawing at Anfield, Sunderland knew that a point at Arsenal would be enough to see them clamber out of the bottom three on goal difference.
Big Sam Allardyce has never been relegated from the Premier League, and he knew victory in the remaining five games would ensure that sterling run would continue. They came into the match on a high after trouncing Norwich 3-0 but were acutely aware that it was their first victory in seven games despite some valiant performances.
In the end, a goalless draw will be viewed as a win for Big Sam and his Sunderland side. Arsenal may be stuttering, but they are still a formidable outfit. Jack Wilshere managed to get six minutes on the park, his first since last season’s FA Cup Final.
Champions League Watch
Man Utd now have Arsenal in their crosshairs after their neighbours Man City handed out a third four-goal hammering in a row for Mark Hughes’s Stoke side. The victory lifts them into third place on goal difference, five points clear of Man Utd (although the FA Cup finalists have a game in hand).
It was a time for youth to shine as Kelechi Iheanacho scored twice, and was the man hacked down by Ryan Shawcross in the box allowing Sergio Aguero to score his 23rd Premier League goal of the season. He is now one behind Harry Kane in the chase for the golden boot. Brazilian midfielder Fernando scored the other goal as Man City head into their Champions League clash against Real Madrid in fine form.
Here are the rest of the results:
Man City 4 v 0 Stoke
Aston Villa 2 v 4 Southampton
Bournemouth 1 v 4 Chelsea
Liverpool 2 v 2 Newcastle
Sunderland 0 v 0 Arsenal
Leicester 4 v 0 Swansea
To Be Played (Mon 25 Apr)
Spurs v West Brom
Premier League Title Winning Odds (Courtesy of Bodog)
Premier League Standings
1st. Leicester – 76 pts.
2nd. Spurs – 68 pts.
3rd. Man City – 64 pts.
4th. Arsenal – 64 pts.
5th. Man Utd – 59 pts.
6th. West Ham – 56 pts.
7th. Liverpool – 55 pts
8th. Southampton – 54 pts.
9th. Chelsea – 47 pts.
10th. Stoke – 47 pts.
11th. Everton – 41 pts.
12th. Watford – 41 pts.
13th. Bournemouth – 41 pts.
14th. West Brom – 40 pts.
15th. Swansea – 40 pts.
16th. Crystal Palace – 39 pts.
17th. Sunderland – 31 pts.
18th. Norwich – 31 pts.
19th. Newcastle – 30 pts.
20th. Aston Villa – 16 pts.