5. Swansea, Palace hit rock bottom
Paul Clement led his new Swansea side out of the tunnel on Saturday, with hopes for a better story having taking on the challenge of helping Swansea out of the hole days earlier following the sacking of American Bob Bradley and with burden of expectations lying on his shoulders, considering their position on the table, the former assistant to Carlo Ancelloti at Real Madrid didn’t expect what greeted him.
Often touted as the likeliest successor to Arsene Wenger at Arsenal, Paul Clement endured a torrid afternoon as everything went against his script. Two own goals sandwiched by fine strikes from Giroud and Sanchez proved too hard a blow for the debutant.
You can lose to Arsenal and be understood, how about you collapsing to a team as weakened as Westham? Come on Palace what are you on about? The Eagles offered little resistance as Sofiane Feghouli, Andy Carrol with some special goal and Manuel Lanzini ran riot to the dismay of helpless Big Sam. Liverpool is next up for Swansea, almost hopeless and Everton, slayer of the Citizens up next for Palace… it will take something special to rescue any of the two.
4. Chelsea fine without Costa?
Following the backlash from the Chinese offer for Diego Costa, the Spanish striker was dropped for the trip to the King Power stadium but Chelsea went ahead to dismiss the champions in emphatic fashion. With such display and result, is it safe to listen to Conte and scream “go to China Diego”? The staggering offer from the Asian business capital seems to have unsettled the league top scorer but he’s expected to lead the line against Hull next weekend.
Some thoughts for the sparingly used MitchyBatshuayi, the Belgian would keep asking questions on why he’s never trusted even when Diego is injured or suspended as Conte prefers to switch to a false 9 tactics with Pedro, Willian and Hazard roaming upfront. If Costa indeed moves in the summer, which looks the likelier ahead of the current window, Chelsea would more than be fine with options from within and a few names elsewhere.
3. Is Tottenham the real deal?
Westbrom is never easy for anyone to negotiate, play it anywhere. The convincing manner in which Tottenham dislodged the baggies shows grit, precision and hunger, something a true champion must possess. From the blast of the whistle, Spurs were everywhere, ramming early goals past Foster and forced the ever assured Mcauley into conceding an own goal. Credits to sensational British talent Harry kane for his positioning, mental alertness and confidence.
The Spurs defense is solid, the best in the league so far, and the power midfield seems to be working, if they don’t capitulate like they did at the tail end of last season, Chelsea may have to watch their backs as Spurs look the parts in the title race.
2. Arsenal, Sanchez and other stories
The sights of the Chilean sitting on the floor as the clock winds down in the sunshine of the Liberty stadium on Saturday sent lots of messages to observers; naturally, Alexis Sanchez hates to be substituted, except he’s completely dead, the pint sized forward likes to play, he likes to be involved, but since the contract row started, he’s been cutting a frustrated figure on and off the pitch and the earlier the situation is fixed the best for Arsenal’s title push.
Mesut Ozil, in a similar contract situation with Alexis had an average afternoon at Swansea, not yet his best but isn’t far away from what he can really look like, the entire midfield looks jaded, with Santi Carzola expected out for longer and Elneny away in Gabon, Arsenal has to make do with the sometimes frustrating Ramsey and Xhaka, but for now, four goals past Fabianski, a clean sheet and Welbeck back, it’s not all gloom and doom for the gunners.
1. Game over for the Manchester clubs in the title race?
Manchester city were looking to put behind them the horror of the first leg encounter against Everton in early November when they lost two penalties before a late Iheanacho goal earned them a share of the spoils, it wasn’t to be as Everton ran riot and hit the Citizens four odd times without replies. No excuses for the Citizens, they were awful and couldn’t keep up, one must agree with Pep Guardiola that it’s over when the topic is championship success.
For their neighbors, Manchester United looked like they would run away with victory over Liverpool considering a few factors but in the end, they needed their veteran striker, Zlatan Ibrahimovic to deliver a late goal that ended it all squared for the second time in the season having played to a goalless draw in the first leg at Anfield. United stay sixth, for the umpteenth time and further far behind the log leaders, for the race for fourth, it’s looking increasingly difficult for the duo to establish themselves but it’s a marathon with twists expected, whatever happens, it would be easier for Swansea to finish in the top half than either of the Manchester clubs finishing tops come May.