Many people are beginning to think that the race for the Premier League title is already over. Despite Southampton only being four points behind Chelsea (following their 2-0 home win against Leicester), The Saints are not genuine challengers, while Chelsea sit eight points ahead of the only team that most sane people recognise can realistically catch them.
What’s more, Chelsea have already played Everton, Man City, Man Utd and Liverpool away from home, and have a fearsome home record under Jose Mourinho. With a squad hungry for success, it’s hard to see how Chelsea will capitulate.
Indeed, against Liverpool, Chelsea confidently dismissed their opponents despite going behind to a deflected goal. Gary Cahill, who was lucky to get away with a clear handball in the box, equalised for the Blues and Diego Costa thrashed home the winner to heap more misery on Brendan Rodgers, who can’t seem to make a right decision at the moment.
Man City, meanwhile, dropped two points at QPR, and were lucky to even get that considering Sergio Aguero handled the ball in the lead up to his 32nd minute equaliser. Fortunately for him, he was surrounded by two defenders who obscured the vision of both the referee and linesman, but still, the little genius scored two mesmerising goals.
Newcastle’s remarkable turnaround continued with a 2-0 win away to West Brom, a highlight of which was Ayoze Perez’ instinctive flick shot – technically, as good as any goal you are likely to see in the Premier League this season. From being relegation candidates only a few weeks ago, Newcastle are now 8th, two points from a Champions League place.
At White Hart Lane, Spurs lost at home to Stoke. The fourth time they’ve lost following a Europa League match, Mauricio Pochettino’s men are too lightweight to cope with a heavy fixture list, and a season of optimism looks like being another miserable one for them. If so, disgruntled supporters might finally turn their anger towards Chairman Daniel Levy, whose running of the club is beginning to look inept.
At the top end of the table, West Ham could only draw at home to struggling Aston Villa who managed a rare clean sheet, although they were tested at the end by Andy Carroll. Back following a long-term injury, the talented front man is still only 25 and could yet take the club to new heights following his £15m move from Liverpool.
In two other close-fought games, Man Utd beat Crystal Palace 1-0 courtesy of Juan Mata, and Arsenal fell apart again having taken a 1-0 lead at Swansea. Tactically, Arsene Wenger sank to unprecedented new lows with absurd substitutions and an abject refusal to protect/remove rookie full back Callum Chambers, who was skinned by Jefferson Montero up to and including the cross that set up Bafetimbi Gomis to head the winner.
Final observation from the weekend centres around the referee’s vanishing spray pain marker. I can't be the only one to notice that players are already starting to shuffle forward and encroach past the white line at set pieces. Referees seem to feel their job is done by using the spray paint alone.
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