Week 26 of the English Premier League sees Harry Kane scoring his third hat-trick of the season in a 4-0 win over Stoke, Cesc Fabregas putting in a fine performance in a 3-1 win over Swansea, and Bournemouth continues to act like a brick, losing against West Brom.
Chelsea took advantage of a barren weekend of Premier League fixtures by moving 10-points clear at the top thanks to a classy performance at home to Swansea City.
It was not a happy return to Stamford Bridge for Paul Clement and Claude Makelele, but something tells me the Swansea backroom staff didn’t have this one down as an away win.
Chelsea was on fire, and Cesc Fabregas was holding the Molotov Cocktail. The Spaniard was making his 300th appearance for the club and should have celebrated with the prize of the match ball.
The former Arsenal and Barcelona star has been a bit part player for Antonio Conte this season, but he opened the scoring after 19-minutes after some sumptuous tippy-tappy football in and around the box.
Chelsea dominated the first half, but Swansea went in at half time on an even keel after Fernando Llorente lost Victor Moses in the penalty area to head home a pinpoint Gylffi Sigurdsson free-kick in first-half injury time.
Fabregas could have made it 3-1 when he hit the bar and had another chance expertly saved by his former team-mate Lukasz Fabianski, and then the Pole made an uncharacteristic error failing to deal with a shot from Pedro at the edge of the box and just like that Chelsea were back in front.
Swansea looks a far more compact team under Clement’s stewardship, but Chelsea is lightning on the break as their third goal proved. Eden Hazard ghosting past a Swansea defender with ease before cutting the ball back for Diego Costa to volley home his 16th Premier League goal of the season and secure another vital win on their way to glory.
Spurs Move Into Second Spot; Everton Seeking European Place
With Man City getting the weekend off because of Man Utd’s involvement in the English Football League (EFL) Cup Final, it was left to Spurs to apply the pressure on the lads from the King’s Road with a stroll in the park against Stoke.
Harry Kane scored his third hat trick in the past nine games, and Dele Alli scored his 12th Premier League goal of the season in a first half rout at White Hart Lane. It doesn’t make up for their early exit in the Europa League, but it’s better than a wet kipper in the jaw.
After the match, Mauricio Pochettino called Harry Kane ‘world class’. The English striker has now scored 12 goals in his last 11 games and is smiling at the top of the Premier League Back of The Net charts with 17-goals alongside Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku.
Stoke remain in 10th spot despite that ballistic boot in the Ging Gang Goolies.
I was critical of Ronald Koeman for leaving Southampton to take on the reins of Everton. Club credibility and stature, I couldn’t see any difference, but it seems Koeman did.
Everton is the in-form team in the Premier League having won four and drawn two of their last six games, scoring 14 and conceding only 4. The Dutchman has unearthed some gems, and the future looks as bright as an Ian Poulter t-shirt. Mason Holgate and Tom Davies look special. Ademola Lookman may look eight years old but plays with an experience and assuredness that doesn’t make sense. Ross Barkley is living up to his promise, and he has a top class striker in Romelu Lukaku who can’t stop hitting the back of the net.
The Toffeemen were too good for a Sunderland side who now languish two points behind Hull and Leicester at the bottom of the table. Idrissa Gueye scored his first goal of the season, and Lukaku added a second in a comfortable 2-0 win, to take him to 60 career goals for Everton – equalling the club record set by Duncan Ferguson.
The Relegation Squabble
Bournemouth slid further down the greasy pole after losing by 2-1 at the Hawthorns despite taking an early lead. Josh King put the Seasiders ahead in the fifth minute after Allan Nyom had brought down Ryan Fraser in the box, but they were unable to secure their first win in eight games.
West Brom equalised inside ten minutes after Craig Dawson’s strike took a deflection to whizz past Artur Boruc. And then the Polish keeper came up with one of his bog standard cock-ups to hand West Brom all three points when his weak punch from a corner landed at the feet of Gareth McAuley who scored his seventh goal of the season in his 500th league game for the club. The centre-half is the club’s top scorer this season. Bournemouth has now lost six of their last sevens games, including four on the bounce, and have the league’s second leakiest defence behind Swansea.
Crystal Palace hop, skip and jump out the bottom three after a much-needed win at Selhurst Park against fellow strugglers Middlesbrough. Going into the game, Big Sam’s side had lost their previous five at home and had only picked up seven points in their cauldron all season.
It was never going to be a classic with Palace only winning once in eleven matches, and Boro only winning one in ten. Patrick van Aanholt decided things in the 34th minute. It was his first goal since his move from Sunderland in the summer.
And it says something about the progress that Hull had made under Marco Silva when he looked so disappointed after failing to secure all three points at home against Burnley. Sean Dyche’s side had only picked up one point on their travels all season. Hull took the lead with a Tom Huddlestone penalty after Michael Keane handled the ball in the box. Keane made up for it with the equaliser in the 76th minute. Ashley Barnes received his marching orders for two bookable offences.
Here are the rest of the results.
Premier League Results (Week 26)
Crystal Palace 1 v 0 Middlesbrough
Hull 1 v 1 Burnley
Everton 2 v 0 Sunderland
West Brom 2 v 1 Bournemouth
Chelsea 3 v 1 Swansea
Watford 1 v 1 West Ham
Spurs 4 v 0 Stoke
To be Played (Mon, 27 Feb)
Leicester v Liverpool
Premier League Table
1. Chelsea – 63
2. Spurs – 53
3. Man City – 52
4. Arsenal – 50
5. Liverpool – 49
6. Man Utd – 48
7. Everton – 44
8. West Brom – 40
9. West Ham – 33
10. Stoke – 32
11. Burnley – 31
12. Watford – 31
13. Southampton – 30
14. Bournemouth – 26
15. Swansea – 24
16. Middlesbrough – 22
17. Crystal Palace – 22
18. Leicester City – 21
19. Hull – 21
20. Sunderland – 19
Premier League Title Odds (Courtesy of Bodog)
Man City +1000
Man Utd +4000
To Be Relegated
Crystal Palace +120