Week 34 of the English Premier League is nearly over after a trio of 1-0 victories saw Spurs move within four points of Chelsea, Arsenal move within a point of Man Utd, and Middlesbrough pick up their first win of 2017.
Spurs might not know how to play at Wembley Stadium, but they do know how to turn it on when they face Crystal Palace. Mauricio Pochettino’s vibrant side arrived at Selhurst Park knowing that Chelsea had extended the gap to seven points at the top the Premier League. The magnifying glass was focused on the men in white. And they played like champions.
It wasn’t your usual run of the mill Spurs win with full backs raiding the wings like Vikings fresh onto a new shore. Instead, it was a mature dig deep, and it will come performance, and it did. If Spurs can learn to dig out these types of results, they will be a true force in the coming years.
Crystal Palace had lost their previous three ties against Spurs and their home form in London derbies, at home, is as bad as Spurs Wembley form having lost seven of their last eight. But in recent weeks they had found a way to beat Arsenal, Chelsea, and Liverpool.
Sam Allardyce’s side looked solid, but Spurs didn’t fluster. Pochettino made some tactical changes, withdrawing Victor Wanyama – who should have been sent off for two bookable offences – and sending Moussa Sissoko and Son Heung-min onto the pitch before changing to a back four.
And then came the breakthrough.
With 12-minutes left of normal time, Christian Eriksen found space 30-yards from goal and slammed an unstoppable low shot past Wayne Hennessey to send the away fans into rapture. It was his 14th successful strike from outside the box since joining Spurs in 2013, more than any other Premier League player.
The Dane had a slow start to the season, but has now scored five goals, and laid the ball onto a plate 11 times in the last 12 games. Hence the interest Barcelona is starting to show in the midfield genius.
The 1-0 win echoed London rivaled Arsenal of old when they used to win titles for fun. Spurs face their old foe on Sunday hoping to extend their winning streak in the Premier League to nine games in a row, and if they do, they will finish above Arsenal for the first time since the mid-90s.
The Run In
West Brom (A)
West Ham (A)
Man Utd (H)
Premier League Winning Odds (Courtesy of Bodog)
Chelsea – 1000
Arsenal Remain in Race For Champions League
Arsene Wenger will not have given up hopes of maintaining his proud record of qualifying for the Champions League in every season of his two-decade tenure after beating the Champions Leicester City at The Emirates by a goal to nil.
It was an unusual night with plenty of Arsenal fans choosing to stay at home instead of taking up their seats in the stands. There is still visible signs of unrest at the club, but Wenger may still finish the season with an FA Cup win and qualification into the Champions League.
Arsenal love playing against the Foxes having not lost to them in their previous 20 games, and they made it 21 when Nacho Monreal took a pot shot at goal, and it ended up in the back of the net courtesy of a wicked deflection off Robert Huth.
It was the first time Leicester had failed to score in Craig Shakespeare’s reign, but it was a decent performance from Leicester. Arsenal moved within a point of Man Utd, three behind Man City, and six behind Liverpool (with two games in hand over Klopp’s side).
Man Utd travels to Man City tonight in a crucial tie. The bookies currently have Man City as the -120 favourite to pick up the three points and end Man Utd’s long unbeaten run. United is +300, and the draw is +275.
Champions League Qualification Odds
Man City -1000
Man Utd +187
Middlesbrough Pick Up A Win
Sunderland will be playing Championship football next season if they fail to beat Bournemouth on Saturday and other results concerning Hull & Swansea don’t go according to the Black Cat’s plans.
The 1-0 defeat to Middlesbrough means Sunderland has only earned two points from a potential 27 when they should have been fighting for their lives. They simply aren’t good enough and have a manager with as much life as a dying tulip.
Marten de Roon’s early strike, Boro’s first shot on target, pulls them towards six points of Hull, who lie just above the drop zone. It was their first win of 2017, but before they get carried away, they still have to face Man City, Chelsea and Liverpool in their next five games.
Sunderland will go down if they lose to Bournemouth and Hull beat or draw against Southampton, or if Swansea beat Man Utd, or if they get the point against Bournemouth and Hull beat Southampton.
The bookies think the two North East sides are already dead. Not even O.J. Simpson could get out of this one.
Results in Full
Crystal Palace 0 v 1 Spurs
Arsenal 1 v 0 Leicester
Middlesbrough 1 v 0 Sunderland
To Be Played (Thu, 27 April)
Man City v Man Utd
Premier League Table
1. Chelsea – 78
2. Spurs – 75
3. Liverpool – 66
4. Man City – 64
5. Man Utd – 63
6. Arsenal – 60
7. Everton – 58
8. West Brom – 44
9. Southampton – 40
10. Watford – 40
11. Stoke – 39
12. Crystal Palace – 38
13. Bournemouth – 38
14. West Ham – 38
15. Leicester – 37
16. Burnley – 36
17. Hull – 33
18. Swansea – 31
19. Middlesbrough – 27
20. Sunderland – 21