Week 23 of the English Premier League sees Chelsea extend their lead at the top to nine points after Liverpool, Arsenal, and Spurs all drop points.
With Liverpool going out of both cup competitions last week, they had to win this game if they were to maintain a glimmer of hope in the Premier League title race. A Chelsea victory would move them 13-points clear.
It was the best attack in the country versus the best defence, and it was the latter who opened the scoring first thanks to a moment of brilliance by David Luiz. Adam Lallana brought Eden Hazard tumbling to the floor outside the box, and as Simon Mignolet was still organising his defensive shield, Luiz came from nowhere to fire a bullet into the back of the net to give Chelsea the lead.
Liverpool came at Chelsea after the break. Firmino missed a glorious chance when he spiralled the ball over the stand from nine yards. And then Georginho Wijnaldum equalised with a header in the 57th minute. Chelsea – who had won seven of their last eight away games – were under the cosh for most of the second half but should have pinched all three points only for Mignolet to redeem himself with a penalty save against the usually assured Diego Costa.
It was a battling draw for Liverpool that ended a run of three straight defeats at home, but it’s not enough. The best they can hope for this season is a place in the Champions League. Chelsea is flying. They have 31-more points than they did this time last season, and for the second successive Premier League weekend, saw all of their main rivals drop points.
Arsenal & Spurs Lose Ground on Chelsea
Arsenal will be kicking themselves with a winkle picker this morning after failing to capitalise on Chelsea’s draw at Anfield. Arsene Wenger’s side put in their most dismal display of the season after losing to a Watford side who had not won in seven games.
Watford raced into a two-goal lead in the first 15-minutes. Spurs old boy Younes Kaboul opened the scoring in the 10th minute when his free kick deflected off Aaron Ramsey to give Petr Cech no chance. And they were 2-0 up three minutes later when Troy Deeney capitalised on an excellent run and shot by the outstanding Etienne Capoue.
Despite wiping the sleep from their eyes in the second half, Arsenal could not find one of their spirited comebacks. Alex Iwobi gave the London club a chance when he converted a brilliant chipped pass from Alexis Sanchez, but with 30-minutes remaining Watford dug in deep and Arsenal could not find a way past.
It was the first time Watford had ever won a game at the Emirates, and their first victory over Arsenal in any fashion since 1988.
Arsenal’s London side Spurs also failed to make the most of Chelsea’s draw by failing to beat Sunderland at the Stadium of Light. Despite the likes of Harry Kane (13), Dele Alli (11), and Son Heung-min (7) all starting for Mauricio Pochettino’s side, they couldn’t penetrate the Sunderland backline, thanks in part to a strong performance from Lamine Kone.
The goalless draw was a superb result for a Sunderland side who had lost their previous two games, but they have now failed to score in their last three.
The Best of the Rest
Swansea moved two points clear of the bottom three after a 2-1 home win over Southampton. The Welsh side opened the scoring in the 38th minute after Alfie Mawson thundered home a header at the near post after a pinpoint corner by Gylffi Sigurdsson. The Saints equalised in the 57th minute after Shane Long ghosted past the Swansea defence to get on the end of a Ryan Bertrand daisy cutter. But Swansea took all three points thanks to a moment of brilliance from their Icelandic star.
Sigurdsson picked up the ball at the edge of his penalty area after a Southampton corner had come to nothing. He released Luciano Narsingh. The debutant ran the full length of the pitch, but Sigurdsson kept pace. The Dutch star squared the ball, and it was a little behind Sigurdsson who arched his body to curl the ball into the back of the net. Sigurdsson has now been involved in half of the 28 goals his side has scored this season.
Crystal Palace also moved two points clear of Sunderland after Big Sam picked up his first Premier League win since taking over the reins just before Christmas. Scott Dann and Christian Benteke were on the scoresheet as Palace won their first away game in ten attempts. Bournemouth drops ominously lower down the table.
Leicester is now in a relegation cockfight after failing to win away from home again. The last time the champions won away was in April. Back then they were competing for the title. This season they will be lucky to avoid a return to the Championship. Burnley’s Sam Vokes came off the bench to score a controversial winner in the 87th minute when he clearly handled the ball before poking it home from close range. 28 of Burnley’s 29 points have come at Turfmoor. Leicester is now two points clear of the drop zone.
Middlesbrough is also in the relegation quagmire despite picking up a point at home to West Brom. The Baggies came into the game on the back of three wins in four, but Boro held out for a point. James Morrison gave West Brom the lead in the 6th minute. Alvaro Negredo equalised from the penalty spot in the 17th minute.
Premier League Results (Week 23)
Arsenal 1 v 2 Watford
Middlesbrough 1 v 1 West Brom
Swansea 2 v 1 Southampton
Bournemouth 0 v 2 Crystal Palace
Sunderland 0 v 0 Spurs
Burnley 1 v 0 Leicester
Liverpool 1 v 1 Chelsea
To Be Played Wed, 1 Feb
West Ham v Man City
Stoke v Everton
Man Utd v Hull
Premier League Table
- Chelsea – 56
- Spurs – 47
- Arsenal – 47
- Liverpool – 46
- Man City – 43
- Man Utd – 41
- Everton – 36
- West Brom – 33
- Burnley – 29
- Stoke – 28
- West Ham – 28
- Southampton – 28
- Watford – 27
- Bournemouth – 26
- Middlesbrough – 21
- Leicester – 21
- Swansea – 21
- Crystal Palace – 19
- Sunderland – 16
- Hull – 16
Premier League Title Odds (Courtesy of Bodog)
Man City +1400