Maybe Arsene should lose his voice and let Steve Bould do the team talk every week? Mind you, it was 0-0 at halftime and we don’t know if Arsene mimed angrily in the break. Let’s assume he did and, wow, it worked. Arsenal were a different team in the second half, even if they did need two penalties to get past Stoke City 3-0. I do have one bone to pick though, with Arsenal’s record signing Yo-Pierre. If you are a proper striker, you don’t let someone else take penalties when you are on a hat-trick. Don’t let me see you do that again.
Antonio Conte went into the big derby with Tottenham armed with a nice long list of ‘reasons” just in case they lost to their rivals at Stamford Bridge for the first since football began (sorry, sorry since the Premier League started).
Conte said Chelsea are “having the season they deserve” as he moaned about losing a load of experienced players and having to replace them with players like Olivier Giroud (almost a decade in the Premier League), Danny Drinkwater (Premier League winner), that lad from Juventus that nobody has seen and Ross Barkley (been in the Premier League a few years himself). Incredibly, Harry Kane was on the bench for Tottenham which is good going considering his season was over a fortnight ago. It turned out Conte had been wise to have the reasons on the table in advance as Chelsea’s hopes of finishing in the top four disappeared as quickly as the ball swerved over the head of Big Willy Caballero. Eriksen’s dipper cancelled out Morata’s opener and then it was the hopelessly out of form Dele Alli who scored twice in the second half to become the first Tottenham player to score a winner at Stamford Bridge since Gary Lineker back in 1990. That was six years before Alli was born if you want a useless bit of trivia. Conte will be gone in the summer and Chelsea will need to recruit well to get back into that top four elite.
Manchester City had 81% of possession against Everton. Actually, let’s spin that and have more of a giggle with it. Everton had 19% of possession against Manchester City. Now, that stat would be really impressive if it meant Everton had frustrated City, kept it tight and escaped with a point. Well, they didn’t. They trailed after just 4 minutes, by two after 12 but decided to persist with the plan of not getting their boots dirty by kicking that pesky ball. Fernandinho completed more passes on his own during the first half than the entire Everton team. Nice one Sham. Gabby Jesus scored the Easter goal all headline writers hoped for and City have set it up to win the title next weekend when they play, of course, Manchester United. Narratives ahoy!
Hang on! Isn’t that the kind of game Liverpool are supposed to lose? It was great to see that kind of penalty given even if Palace do win more than your average team. How often does a keeper maim a player and get away with it? Far more times than Wilf stumbles in the area, I can tell you. Anyway, Liverpool were supposed to lose before big Mama Sakho decided to do his old mates a favour and gift Liverpool a double. Who scored the winner? Do you even need to ask? Sadly for Adam Lallana, his hamstring injury looks like keeping him out of the World Cup but, on the flipside, Paul Scholes is sticking two fingers up to his heritage and taking a place on the coaching staff.
You couldn’t blame a few Manchester United fans casting their eyes Stateside on Saturday night and wishing Zlatan was still at Old Trafford. Zlatan did what Zlatan does, coming off the bench and turning a 3-0 deficit into to a 4-3 win for LA Galaxy over their new city rivals, LAFC. Naturally, there was a 40-yarder in there and an injury-time winner for the Lion of Los Angeles. Over at Old Trafford, United got an a-typical Jose Mourinho 2-0 win against Swansea City. Was it thrilling? No. Was it effective? Yes. Would you rather watch Zlatan? All day long. Most of the focus was on Paul Pogba, who continues to claim there is ‘no problem’ between him and Mourinho despite everyone knowing that is Pogz telling complete fibs. Pogba also said it was “too early to talk about a United departure” which kind of tells us he will be leaving Unite and will tell us later. Rumours were also abound that Anthony Martial (young and talented) might be binned to allow United to sign Gareth Bale (best years behind him, injury prone but, you know, a big name) from Real Madrid. Michael Carrick took his place on the coaching bench for the first time, it being not the first time he has adopted the same position at Old Trafford for 90 minutes. The win keeps United odds-on for second place ahead of Liverpool.
Everyone at West Ham’s Athletics Stadium can breathe a huge sigh of relief following a drama free 90 minutes against Southampton. I still think Stoke’s masterplan to sack Mark Hughes and send him to Southampton represented their best chance of survival as it took Hughes a mere 17 minutes to see his methodology firmly embedded at his new club. West Ham led 2-0 after 17 and Marko Arnautovic had scored the first of his double – boy does he like taking the mick out of Sparky as much as I do. Can we say Southampton are done, yet? Possibly, but their fans did want more trips to Wembley and I reckon they might get their wish next season in the Championship Playoff Final. West Ham posted a “thank you” to all their fans for turning up, not invading the pitch, fighting or throwing coins at people. Which is a bit like me saying thank you to the local village idiots for not stealing my car.
Hello Jermain Defoe! Where have you been hiding? On the Bournemouth bench all this time, you say? The pint-sized striker who looked like an “excellent signing” for Bournemouth at the start of the season hasn’t done much in all seriousness, but he did get a late equaliser against Watford which probably means Eddie Howe’s men are now safe. As are Watford, but they knew that when they downed tools in November.
Alan Pardew knows how to state the obvious, no? Pards said after his side lost, again, 2-1 to Burnley that WBA and its fans are “suffering”. Yes, yes they are Al. And it’s you picking the team. I have to say though, kudos for not being sacked yet. That takes some serious skill behind the scenes, I am sure.
Leicester City were a team that knew there was nothing left to play for this season and for 78 minutes they could not have been less interested in their trip to Brighton. The challenge for Chris Hughton’s men was to find a way to beat the former champions. So when Glenn Murray had a chance from the penalty spot it looked like a dead certain three points in the bank and another step towards survival. Ah. Maybe Murray has paid the legal bill and doesn’t need the goal bonus as badly? He missed, Leicester scored twice in the last seven minutes. That’s Premier League football for you.
Another late but equally crucial winner was scored at St James’ Park. Newcastle nicked it against Huddersfield thanks to a late winner from Ayoze Perez, assisted by Kenedy who probably shouldn’t have still been on the pitch. But, thems the breaks at the Geordies are not complaining (for once).
All that means that West Brom are still down. Stoke City and Southampton are looking to make a stripy trio though Palace and Huddersfield could end up in there too (but also wear stripes so that’s fine). In non-stripes but also in trouble are Swansea City and everyone above West Ham are probably safe. Alan Pardew, Mark Hughes (twice) and Paul Lambert are doing wonders for the reputation of the British manager. Top job lads!