We’ve just been treated to another weekend of gripping Premier League action, as pressure begins to ratchet up on each and every club. With so much still to play for, here’s a look at the five things we learned from this weekend’s fixtures.
Chelsea’s top four hopes in real trouble
It seems a long time ago now, that Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea were being talked up as potential title challengers. After dropping frustrating points to Wolves and Southampton in recent weeks, Saturday night’s toothless display at Arsenal saw them yield yet more ground to The Gunners and Manchester United, in the race for a top four finish. Sarri cut a frustrated and exasperated figure, who publicly attacked his players after their display at the Emirates. It’s clear, all is not well there behind the scenes at Stamford Bridge.
Their recent performances have been flat and uninspiring, whilst growing frustration has been channelled towards Sarri for playing Hazard and Kante out of position too often. The reported deal to sign Gonzalo Higuain should help settle the issues they’ve had upfront so far this season. However, Chelsea supporters must be worried about how much damage has already been done to their top four hopes with their recent stuttering form.
Liverpool pass difficult Palace test
Crystal Palace have got previous when it comes to Liverpool and title races. The Eagles are something of a bogey side for the Reds, so when Andros Townsend fired his side ahead at Anfield, with their first real foray upfront, Liverpool fans must have been shuddering collectively as memories of 2014 came flooding back.
Klopp’s men rallied in the second-half though and almost did away with any notion of caution as they went on the hunt, knowing even a draw was not good enough for the title hopes. A second period display yielded something of a classic. Liverpool got ahead through Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino, but were pegged back by a James Tomkins header and then got back in front again via Sadio Mane, only for Palace to strike again at the death.
A frantic 4-3 win was far from what Liverpool wanted in terms of comfort and control, but on a chaotic afternoon of mad deflections, red cars, penalty shouts and diving accusations at Anfield, against a bloody determined Palace, they will be thrilled to have come away with all three points to stay ahead in the title race.
Wolves show their top ten qualities
There must have been something in the air on Saturday, as Molineux played host to a wonderful game of football between Wolves and Leicester City. Nuno Espirito Santo’s men were hungry for this one and it showed right from the off. Once again, their work off the ball was just as good on it, as they hounded Leicester and went at them with their trademark fierce tackling and relentless energy.
Diogo Jota was fantastic from the first minute and bagged a well deserved hat-trick for his side. Claude Puel’s men deserve some credit though for rallying and pegging their opponents back to 2-2 after a poor first half display. Wolves kept going though and a stoppage time winner was greeted with wild celebrations as the home side punished Leicester’s high line once again. They showed wonderful spirit and some genuine head turning quality to grab all three points as their impressive return to the top flight continues.
Everton’s away day blues continue
Everton endured yet another frustrating day on the road, as they were beaten 2-1 by a rejuvenated Southampton side. That’s just two away wins all season now for Marco Silva’s men who have been drawing ever increasing criticism from the terraces in recent weeks. A large summer outlay on new players has brought a new and expansive style of play, but not a great deal in of improvement in terms of results.
Southampton away, now promises to be a whole lot more taxing with Ralph Hassenhuttl in charge of the Saints. However, another limp performance from Everton will have their fans worried about which direction they are headed in this season.
Spurs edge their first test without dynamic duo
A few weeks ago, Fulham away would have been a breeze for an in form and fully firing Spurs. A few weeks is a long time in football though and this weekend, Spurs came to Craven Cottage on the back of a morale sapping home defeat to Manchester United, and with Harry Kane and Son Hueng-min missing through injury and international duty respectively. Lucas Moura is also on the treatment table just to compound Pochettino’s woes.
Their Sunday afternoon got off to the worst possible start when a flat footed Fernando Llorente shinned the ball into the back of his own goal from a corner. With a less mobile forward line, Spurs were not at their fluid best, but they do deserve immense credit for digging deep in this one. Delle Alli’s excellent header and Harry Wink’s last gasp winner from close range sent Spurs fans euphoric. It’s a result that keeps them seven points clear in the top four and will give their remaining players a huge boost as they look to keep their season alive without their big name stars.