Prem Talking Points: Battling West Brom, Saints’ collapse & more
While it seemed only a matter of time before Manchester City would be crowned Premier League champions, their fate was confirmed in unlikely style.
Nearest challengers Manchester United lost at home to rock-bottom West Bromwich Albion on Sunday. That capped off a dramatic weekend of action, which also saw club records broken and a late comeback secured.
We take a look at the weekend’s talking points…
Does Old Trafford triumph give Baggies a chance?
The table suggests that West Brom require a minor miracle to survive this term. But after a dire run of results, the Baggies produced a disciplined, tenacious and clinical display at Old Trafford to inflict United’s first home league defeat in nine games.
It was far from pretty, of course. The visitors sat deep, produced a series of last-gasp blocks and meaty challenges and won it with a header from a corner. But victory and a clean sheet against Jose Mourinho’s second-placed side is no mean feat.
If they show the same level of organisation and effort against Liverpool next weekend, another positive result is far from impossible. Especially so with the Reds gearing up for a crucial Champions League tie three days later.
It’s 8/5 for Double Chance: West Brom or Draw as Jurgen Klopp’s men visit The Hawthorns, with 11/2 for a Baggies victory.
Fragile Saints shoot themselves in the foot again
Southampton seemed to be heading for a vital win in their relegation dogfight on Saturday. Mark Hughes’ side were 2-0 up at home to Chelsea with just 21 minutes left on the clock. Less than 10 minutes later, they were 3-2 down.
Despite producing plenty of chances and pressuring the Blues for much of the game, the hosts collapsed as soon as the visitors got their first goal back. A poor clearance and a failure to close players down gifted Eden Hazard the visitors’ equaliser.
The Blues’ winner saw a catalogue of defensive errors. A clumsy foul by Oriel Romeo led two a free-kick where Hazard was left entirely unmarked. His ball eventually made its way to Olivier Giroud, who duly netted.
Once again, Southampton’s attacking prowess has been undermined by defensive disaster. They’ve now conceded three goals in each of their last four league games – losing all of them.
Wilf’s wizardry gives Palace a priceless victory
Crystal Palace gave themselves an enormous boost in the battle against relegation on Saturday. As if that wasn’t enough, it came in the form of a 3-2 victory against fierce rivals Brighton & Hove Albion.
Once again, Eagles fans had Wilfried Zaha to thank for their side’s crucial victory. The England international netted twice – his second a terrific header – but those goals tell just part of the story.
He created multiple chances for his team-mates and also threw himself into challenges in a combative, feisty derby. Next up for Palace is a trip to Watford on Saturday. It’s 31/20 for the Eagles to win the third meeting in succession.
Gunners’ away-day woes continue as Clarets close in
While Arsenal’s struggles this season have been widely covered, it’s worth noting just how bad they’ve been on the road. Arsene Wenger’s side have managed a miserable 13 points from 16 away games, losing each of the last five.
For the third time in those five, they took the lead and lost on Sunday – this time at Newcastle United. Shkodran Mustafi was caught cold for Ayoze Perez’s equaliser, before another defensive mishap gave Matt Ritchie the chance to make it 2-1.
The visitors pressed hard late on, but once again lacked the cutting edge and composure to make that pressure count.
With the attacking riches of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Danny Welbeck at his disposal, much of the criticism must lie with Wenger.
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