I won’t get too many more opportunities to make fun of Sunderland as a Premier League team so, out of respect, they are opening today’s column. David Moyes said before the game that if his side won all their games then they would stay up. Seb Larssen obviously wasn’t too keen on that idea as he picked up a red card as Sunderland slipped to a 3-0 defeat to United. Following weeks of being battered by Jose, what better time for United’s strikers to face Sunderland and get their confidence back before the crucial game with Anderlecht on Thursday. As for Moyes, he is just weeks away from cementing his place at the same management level as Steve Bruce. Zlatan, well he is just Benjamin Button apparently.
Whoa there, Liverpool. You are supposed to grasp draws or defeats from the jaws of victory, not the other way round. Stoke led after Jon Walters was given the freedom of the Potteries. Liverpool were denied a penalty moments before, but it was worth it just to see the sarcastic laughter and applause from Klopp to the officials. Liverpool spun it around however, with Mignolet making amends for his season and Firmino scoring a stunner.
As for the champions elect, Conte claimed he was enjoying Spurs’ relentless pursuit, albeit it a pursuit in vain from a safe distance. Chelsea were given a game by Bournemouth, but the Cherries were killed off by a free kick by Marcos Alonso. What is it with left-footed free kicks? They are so much more pleasing on the eye than right-footed ones. Sorry Becks, it is true.
Tottenham’s pursuit continued with a 4-0 win at White Hart Lane over Watford, who never, ever win at White Hart Lane. Dele Alli continues to be the finest English player around, providing that thing “real football men” crave called “end product”. Is it possible he looks even better with Kane out of the way? I think, by now, I should be taking Spurs seriously as contenders for second place. They must know they are not going to win the title, therefore there will be no need for a last minute collapse allowing Arsenal to finish higher than them once more.
Manchester City eased by Hull, 3-1. My biggest learning point from the game was that Fabian Delph still played for City. Oh, and that there is no way City will win the league if they think Jesus Navas is a right back. Raheem Sterling looked quite good again, though. Not that the tabloids will report that.
West Ham beat Swansea and Bilic noted, “there is work still to be done”. Really, Slaven? Are you sure a 1-0 win against a relegation threatened side who were full of fear according to their manager doesn’t mean you are a finished article? I can see why you got that vote of confidence now. The win does ease the fear of West Ham going down, or the hope, depending on where you sit.
Boro and Burnley played out a 0-0 draw that you can only imagine if you are into self-harming. Still, it was nice for Steve Agnew to get at least one point before they bring in a proper manager for next season.
I don’t think even West Brom or Southampton care about what happens between now and the end of the season, hence my lack of interest in the outcome of their match. Southampton won 1-0 apparently, for the few of you that do read this purely for their respective results.
Finally, what a game Everton and Leicester delivered. Craig Shakespeare’s honeymoon is very much over and no doubt the rot will now kick on. What if the first six matches he won are the only six matches he gets to win? No, that won’t happen. We need a little bit of adversity for Craig now so we can see how he reacts to it. Leicester will no doubt be written off against Atletico as a result, and then revive themselves thrillingly on Wednesday with the winning goal being scored by journeyman Danny Simpson. Or something like that.
The league season has finished it’s dinner and is very much in the party game phase now, the music has temporarily stopped and who is sitting in what chair? Nothing like a totally mixed metaphor to end the column, right? Chelsea and Spurs must have the top two spots under lock and key, meaning Liverpool, City, United and, yes, maybe even Arsenal will claim the two remaining top four spots. Each week makes it look more likely that the top six will end in their current shape meaning doom and gloom for Arsene. At the bottom, it feels like Swansea and Hull City will play their own version of pass the parcel with that remaining relegation spot. It is too close to call, as ever.