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Chelsea go seven points clear after 17 matches

Week 17 of the English Premier League saw Chelsea take a seven-point lead over Man City; Arsenal stumble to their second successive defeat, and Hull sunk to the foot of the table.

You can sense the belief growing in the squad as they add another scalp to their collection. And with Diego Costa back to his best they have a striker who can ensure it’s your ribbons tied onto the silverware. The fiery Spaniard rose higher than anyone else to head home the only goal of the game just before half time. The only grey cloud was his fifth booking of the season ruling him out of Chelsea’s next tie against Bournemouth. Costa is the Premier League top marksman with 13 goals.

It’s not the first time Chelsea has gone on such a run. In 2009, they also won 11 games on the spin, before going on to win the title.

Palace played well, but let’s not kid ourselves. It was their sixth home defeat of the season, and they have now won only six of the 36 matches in 2016. They sit one point above the bottom three and on this form it will be them, Sunderland or Burnley joining the inevitables: Swansea and Hull in the Championship next season. The bookmakers have priced Alan Pardew as 15/8 for the sack. Chelsea is now odds on to win the Premier League.

 

City Move Into Second; Arsenal Lose Two on The Spin

Man City move into second place after beating Arsenal at the Etihad despite going a goal down after only five minutes thanks to Theo Walcott’s 8th goal of the season. It was the first time City had won a Premier League game after going into the interval a goal down since 2012.

Pep Guardiola’s men have now won back-to-back Premier League ties since that humiliation at the hands of Leicester. Arsenal, on the other hand, has now slumped to two defeats on the trot after remaining undefeated in all competitions since the beginning of the season.

Leroy Sane drew City level not long after the restart, and Raheem Sterling bagged the winner fifteen minutes from time. Arsenal drifts nine points clear as those familiar voices start to rain down on their parade from supporters and the media alike.

 

Hull and Swansea Fall Deeper Into Trouble

Hull has finally fallen to the foot of the Premier League table, and I think that’s where they will stay until the curtain drops. Not only do they lack the skill to remain in the top tier of English football. Their 1-0 loss against West Ham showed they also have no luck.

Mike Phelan’s side hit the woodwork on three occasions as they peppered a West Ham side who looked out of sorts. But Hull has gone behind more than any other Premier League side (14 times), and when the referee gave West Ham the softest penalty you will see this season, for a push on Michail Antonio, you knew it was all over. Mark Noble stepped up to score his 15th penalty in his last 17 attempts to pinch the points.

West Ham has now taken seven points from their last three games and moves five points clear of the relegation zone. There are deep-rooted problems at West Ham. Slaven Bilic has a lot of work to do. But I don’t see them getting involved in a relegation fight. These past three games have proven they can win without playing particularly well. And they will start playing well before the end of the season.

Hull is 1/6 to go down with Mike Phelan 6/1 to lose his job. Slaven Bilic is a 5/1 shot also to end up unemployed by the end of the season.

The man who continues to lead that list of potential managers without a job is Bob Bradley. The Swansea coach looks out of his depth. Their 3-0 defeat away to Middlesbrough was spineless. An Alvaro Negredo brace and a third by Marten de Roon ensured that Swansea has now lost five of their last six away games. That’s 18 goals conceded in Swansea’s last six Premier League games. Bradley is 11/8 to leave his position after winning only 20% of his games in charge, the worst performance of a Swansea boss in their Premier League history.

 

The Best of the Rest

Man Utd is starting to put their chances away, and it’s making a difference to their points tally. The Red Devils 2-0 victory over in-form West Brom means they stretch their unbeaten run to 10 games in all competitions. Two goals from Zlatan Ibrahimovic sealed their third win on the trot. The giant Swede has now scored 11 Premier League goals and 152 in 170 league games. Jesse Lingard returned to the United set up to significant effect. West Brom rarely threatened at the other end.

Leicester showed more of the grit that won them the title with a battling 2-2 draw at The Britannia. Stoke raced into a 2-0 lead courtesy of a penalty from Bojan and a tap in for Joe Allen. Jamie Vardy was sent off for a two-footed tackle that deserved no more than a yellow card, and it looked like the Foxes were on the run.

And then Claudio Ranieri sent Demarai Gray and Leonardo Ulloa onto the pitch, and they combined to pull one back. Daniel Amartey headed home the equaliser with time running out. But the key to the match was the return of Kasper Schmeichel who made three world class saves to prevent Stoke from running away with it. Gray was also profoundly influential when he came on, and I am left scratching my head when I see him on the bench each week.

Sunderland moved two points clear of Swansea after beating Watford at the Stadium of Light. 21 of the 24 teams who are bottom at Christmas end up being relegated, so it was an apt moment for David Moyes’s men to step away from the trap door. Watford has now lost their last four games on their travels. Patrick van Aanholt got the winner in the 49th minute.

Spurs maintained their three-point advantage over Man Utd after beating Burnley 2-1 at White Hart Lane. It was their second consecutive win after losing to United at Old Trafford at the beginning of the month. Ashley Barnes gave Burnley a shock lead in the 21st minute before Delle Ali equalised five minutes later. Danny Rose scored the winner 20-minutes from time. Burnley is still without a win away from home all season.

Finally, Southampton moves into 7th spot after beating neighbours Bournemouth 3-1 at Dean Court. Nathan Ake headed the home side into the lead in the opening 10-minutes, but goals from Ryan Bertrand and a brace by Jay Rodriguez gave the Saints all three points in another fantastic season for the team who sells their entire squad and sacks the manager every year.

 

Premier League Results (Week 17)

Crystal Palace 0 v 1 Chelsea
Middlesbrough 3 v 0 Swansea
Stoke 2 v 2 Leicester
Sunderland 1 v 0 Watford
West Ham 1 v 0 Hull
West Brom 0 v 2 Man Utd
Bournemouth 1 v 3 Southampton
Man City 2 v 1 Arsenal
Spurs 2 v 1 Burnley

 

To be Played (Mon, 19 Dec)

Everton v Liverpool

 

Premier League Table

1. Chelsea – 43
2. Man City – 36
3. Liverpool – 34
4. Arsenal – 34
5. Spurs – 33
6. Man Utd – 30
7. Southampton – 24
8. West Brom – 23
9. Everton – 23
10. Bournemouth – 21
11. Stoke 21
12. Watford – 21
13. West Ham – 19
14. Middlesbrough – 18
15. Leicester – 17
16. Burnley – 17
17. Crystal Palace – 15
18. Sunderland – 14
19. Swansea – 12
20. Hull – 12

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