And we’re back after the international break! You lot have already suffered enough over these past two weeks, so I’ll dispense with the preamble and jump straight into it.
Tottenham Hotspur: In the ongoing race for the Champions League places, Chelsea had been hanging on to Spurs’ coattails for a long time, hoping they would wilt under pressure. Well, on Sunday Spurs turned around and with one swing of their boot dispatched their pursuers into another realm. In doing so they also became the first Spurs side since 1990 to leave Stamford Bridge with more than just their dignity.
Dele Alli: All he needed to get back to scoring goals was an oil spill in front of the Chelsea goal and all their defenders slipping and sliding around in it.
Liverpool: Virtually assured of participation in next season’s Champions League, thanks to…
Mohamed Salah: The greatest value for money signing of the decade, perhaps? And a valuable lesson to anyone who passes on a player rejected by Mourinho.
Romelu Lukaku: Flat-track-bullied his way to a hundred goals in the Premier League. That’s one way to do it, I suppose.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: Two goals and one gesture of pity on the previous club record signing get him in our good books.
Arsenal: Thriving under the lack of any expectations from their season. The gap to Chelsea in fifth is now just 5 points. Watch them crumble from here on.
West Ham: Slowly dragging their mangled self away from the relegation zone every week. Still, there are no guarantees with Moyes still in-charge. And given their propensity for self-destruction, I would advise the bookies not to pay out just yet.
Marko Arnautovic: Will be part of David Moyes’ very short list of success stories during his time at West Ham.
Newcastle United: Despite having an owner stingier than Scrooge, the Magpies are well on their way to safety on a budget. It’s not a template more clubs should follow, that’s for sure.
Ashley Barnes: Get him on the plane to Russia, Gareth!
Jamie Vardy: The guy who already has a seat number allotted and has his packs of skittles and a crate of vodka ready for the trip.
Chelsea: Despite Antonio Conte’s mediocre efforts to avert yet another Jose Mourinho season, Chelsea find themselves in a very similar position. Eight points separate them and fourth-placed Spurs and even their North London rivals could not possibly spur it up from here.
Antonio Conte: Dead man walking and he knows it. He joins Alan Pardew in the departures lounge.
Southampton: They’re almost guaranteed to go down now. On the flip side, Liverpool might stay away from their players for the next few years. Silver linings.
Mark Hughes: That record of having never been relegated looks under serious threat. The only way to save it is if Hughes quits before the Saints are mathematically doomed.
West Brom: Just found out that WBA stands for “Why Bother Anymore?”
Alan Pardew: Just quit already. It’s over, go home.
Huddersfield: Squeaky bum time for the promoted side, who must be feeling the heat now that they’re so close to the drop zone.
Crystal Palace: At least you tried.
Stoke City: Undone by a moment of blindness by the referee who awarded a penalty despite the defender getting the ball. It would be harsh to call it an Indi-vidual mistake.
Everton and Sam Allardyce: A marriage made in hell edging towards a foregone conclusion.
Tottenham’s Tackling: it would be churlish to blame the referee for Chelsea losing to Spurs, but at the same time the referee must take some of the blame for missing so many ugly tackles from the Spurs henchmen/players. One particularly nasty boot to the shin from Vertonghen almost broke his compatriot Eden Hazard into two, leaving the watching Belgium manager, Roberto Martinez, on the verge of tears. You could add Erik Lamela’s multiple transgressions to it, such as stepping on Fabregas’ shin, tackling from behind and other assorted thuggery. If only there was some mechanism to take a look at such events during the course of the game and punish the guilty party…