Week of surprises stretches Chelsea’s lead as challengers fail to close the gap

By Phoebe Evans

Two of the big results to come out of Tuesday night were for Swansea City and Crystal Palace. Swansea have had strong Premier League form since the start of 2017, aside from their blip at Arsenal, with three wins from their last four games, and last time out was no exception,  winning 2-1 against Southampton. It is clear from his influence that Gylfi Sigurdsson is the spearhead to Swansea’s good form, with an assist and a goal in last night’s game helping to propel them out of the relegation zone, for now at least. Crystal Palace put up a good defence against a relentless Bournemouth attack, but came out on top with a 2-0 away win against the Cherries. Though Sam Allardyce came in to rescue Palace’s season, it does not appear to have paid off until Tuesday night, taking only one point from the last fifteen available, and winning only once in the eight games Allardyce has had at the helm. Palace, however, took advantage of the chances they had, with Scott Dann and Christian Benteke converting to put a dent in Bournemouth’s confidence.

At the other end of the table there were some surprising results which fell in Chelsea’s favour. Though Chelsea were unable to bag a win in a thrilling 1-1 draw at Anfield, this little mattered as Arsenal and Tottenham were also unable to grasp the wins they needed to close the gap on the Blues. Diego Costa was quiet for Chelsea, but David Luiz stepped up and converted a thundering free kick that caught Liverpool keeper Mignolet off guard. Liverpool shared the spoils, thanks to Gini Wijnaldum’s second half header, but the point suits Chelsea more than the Reds, who are without a Premier League win in 2017.

Arsenal put on a poor show against Watford, consequently losing 2-1 to The Hornets – the result of an extremely poor first-half showing. Alex Iwobi gave his side a lifeline midway through the second half but Arsenal’s persistence led to nothing, losing out on three valuable points in their attempt to catch Chelsea at the top.

Tottenham’s powerful attack was unable to break down Sunderland in their attempt to gain points to avoid relegation. Tottenham were nearly faultless in the way they conducted their attack, but after his return from the Africa Cup of Nations, Lamine Kone was a rock in Sunderland’s defence, completing fifteen clearances throughout the match. Though Tottenham will be disappointed that they were unable to convert some of the good chances they had, Sunderland will come away with confidence after their strong defensive display. Hull, however, were able to hold Manchester United with a 0-0 draw at Old Trafford, giving them the point they needed to bring them up from last position in the League, knocking Sunderland down in their former position.

In other matches, Burnley continued their solid home form with another win against reigning Champions Leicester City. Leicester may count themselves unlucky, however, with Vokes appearing to handle the ball in the build-up to his 87th minute winner, leaving Leicester little chance to make up for the injustice. Middlesbrough and West Bromwich Albion drew 1-1 at the Riverside Stadium, with goals coming from James Morrison and an Alvaro Negredo penalty. Manchester City thrashed West Ham United 4-0 in a match that saw the young Brazilian forward, Gabriel Jesus, score his first goal for City and left West Ham fans sore after another crushing home defeat by Guardiola’s side.

Wednesday night also granted Peter Crouch his 100th Premier League goal, which he celebrated with his infamous robot move. Stoke’s 1-1 draw with Everton has helped them to narrowly stay in the top half, though for Everton this has meant that the gap between themselves and Manchester United has grown bigger, and their chances of reaching the top five diminishing.

Though they still have some tough matches ahead, playing the likes of Arsenal, Manchester City and United, Chelsea appear unstoppable, tough to beat and edging ever closer to regaining the title they lost so emphatically last year.

Photograph: Wikimedia Commons

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