Out of the remaining five games heading into the weekend, the away trip to Everton was perceived to be the hardest for Chelsea in their bid for their second league title in three years.
It certainly looked that way in the early stages as Everton started well in a fast paced opening. Antonio Conte’s side had to be patient to get the first goal, and after Pedro’s long ranged effort found the back of the net after 66 minutes, the floodgates began to open. Gary Cahill added a second when Maarten Stekelenburg parried Eden Hazard’s free-kick onto the England International, before substitute Willian slotted home to put the game beyond any doubt.
With a run in that features three home games and an away trip to West Brom who are not fighting for anything, the ball is very much in Chelsea’s court. The Blues can afford to lose one of those games and still go on to lift the Premier League title for a sixth time.
The celebration after the game was one of triumph for Chelsea. They believe that they will go on to win the title from here on in, even with Spurs breathing down their neck on a ten match winning run. Add to that a potential FA Cup final win against Arsenal in May, Conte could finish his debut season in English football with a domestic double.
Chelsea’s 3-0 victory put pressure on Tottenham to match the league leaders’ result when they faced North London rivals Arsenal, and boy did they respond well.
Despite open goal chances going begging for Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen in the first half, Spurs took the lead through Alli in the second after Petr Cech’s save from an Eriksen effort. It was only a little over a minute later that they added a second through Harry Kane’s penalty after he was fouled by Gabriel Jesus. It could have been more if not for a fantastic performance from Cech in the Arsenal goal, but there is no question now that North London is white.
Not only did Tottenham make sure they remained within four points of Chelsea in the race for the title, they won the last North London derby to take place at White Hart Lane and confirmed they will finish above the Gunners for the first time in 22 years. For the first time in a long time they are the top club in North London, and that itself is an achievement in the minds of the Spurs faithful.
Chelsea’s victory and run in means that the Premier League title is likely out of their grasp, but if Tottenham can keep up their great winning form then they will no doubt keep pushing the league leaders to the end.
Sunderland became the first team to be officially relegated from the Premier League this season after suffering a 1-0 defeat at home to Bournemouth on Saturday. Joshua King’s goal means that the Black Cats can not mathematically overturn the 13 point deficit to 17th placed Hull City.
Sunderland needed to match the Tigers’ result to stay in the division for another week, and they were doing so until the 88th minute when King struck the blow that would end their ten year stay in the top flight. The result also puts serious doubts on the future of David Moyes who has not had the best return to English football. With the team going down to the Championship, there could also be a clear-out with plenty of players like Jermain Defoe still craving Premier League football.
Above the Black Cats, the three clubs battling for survival all gained credible draws but could not make any significant steps towards survival. Hull remain 17th after a 0-0 draw at Southampton. Swansea sit just two points behind after battling to a 1-1 draw against Manchester United. Middlesbrough came within minutes of defeating Manchester City at the Riverside, but a late goal ant it finished 2-2 and Boro are still six points from safety.
After a dull derby in mid-week, the two Manchester clubs had a chance to get back to winning ways on Sunday. However, relegation battling clubs Swansea and Middlesbrough provided stern competition and they had to settle for a point a piece.
The Theatre of Dreams is fast becoming the Theatre of Draws after another 1-1 tie at Old Trafford. Swansea outplayed United for a lot of their game on Sunday but fell behind thanks to a controversial penalty decision. Marcus Rashford was judged to have been brought down by Lukasz Fabianski but replays showed it was likely a dive. Wayne Rooney converted the spot kick on the stroke of half time to give the Red Devils the lead. Swansea continued to battle on and deservedly equalised thanks to Gylfi Sigurdsson’s free kick. It was a well earned draw for the Swans and a disappointing one for Jose Mourinho.
With United dropping points at home to Swansea, City had the chance to extend their gap above their neighbours to four points away at Middlesbrough. The Citizens were haunted by their former player as Alvaro Negredo gave Boro a shock lead before half time. Sergio Aguero equalised from the spot, but Calum Chambers re-established Middlesbrough’s lead 13 minutes from time. It looked like Pep Guardiola was to face a shock defeat to their relegation threatened opponents, but Gabriel Jesus’ divine intervention rescued a point and City’s blushes. They remain a point ahead Man United with four games remaining.
The door opened for Liverpool to go clear in third place and they took that oppertunity in some style. It was only a 1-0 win at Watford, but the goal from Emre Can will go down as one of the goals of the season. The German’s first half bicycle kick was enough to seal the three points and end a good weekend for Liverpool who are now favourites to claim third spot.
Saturday was one of the least entertaining days in Premier League history
Whilst Sunday delivered in terms of the entertainment we come to expect from the Premier League, Saturday was a stinker.
A total of four goals were scored in five matches with two coming from Burnley in their 2-0 win away at Crystal Palace. Leicester registered a 1-0 win against West Brom thanks to Jamie Vardy whilst Joshua King sent Sunderland packing to the Championship in the day’s only other goal. Southampton vs Hull and Stoke vs West Ham both finished scoreless.
To put into perspective how little action there was on Saturday, Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid both scored more goals each that very day than the entire Premier League fixture list. Bayern sealed the Bundesliga title with a 6-0 thrashing of Wolfsburg, meanwhile Atletico Madrid hammered Las Palmas 5-0.
It is a good thing that Sunday delivered, otherwise we could have been looking at the worst match-week of the season.
Full Premier League results
Southampton 0-0 Hull
Stoke 0-0 West Ham
Sunderland 0-1 Bournemouth
West Brom 0-1 Leicester
Crystal Palace 0-2 Burnley
Man United 1-1 Swansea
Everton 0-3 Chelsea
Middlesbrough 2-2 Man City
Tottenham 2-0 Arsenal
Watford 0-1 Liverpool
The Premier League returns on Friday May 5th
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