Manchester City were the big losers of week 22 in the Premier League. The Citizen’s were the only team in the top eight that failed to win, and apparently no one told them that losing at home to Arsenal is long out of fashion.
No journalist, pundit or armchair-fan could have foreseen what unfolded at the Etihad. Arriving from London was a pragmatic Arsenal side that, for once, rid themselves of their footballing-principles, and instead chose to sit back, keep it tight and take their chances as they came. The Gunners attained just 35% possession throughout (their lowest since records began) and still walked away with a 2-0 win. Santi Cazorla was different class – he opened the scoring from the spot, before teeing up Olivier Giroud for Arsenal’s second. The Spaniard also provided the must-see moment of the weekend with his solo celebration after Giroud’s goal (see clip below*). City’s unbeaten run comes to an end after thirteen games, and they’ve lost yet more ground in the title-race.
That brings us nicely on to league leaders Chelsea – it’s high-fives all around for Jose Mourinho’s side. A five star display saw them stick five goals passed Swansea – a result that put them five points clear at the top. It was the kind of performance that had “champions” written all over it. Two goals each for Oscar and Diego Costa put the blues 4-0 up inside forty minutes. Substitute Andre Shurrle added a fifth near the end as Swansea suffered their heaviest defeat of the season. Roman Abramovic surely gave his manager some DW-40 as a Secret Santa gift because, after their minor blip over the festive period, Mourinho’s machine is back in business.
Manchester United and Liverpool both recorded 2-0 wins over QPR and Aston Villa respectively, but neither game was as straightforward as the score line suggests. United were made to wait until the second half to make their breakthrough. Two substitutes made the difference as Maroune Fellaini put them ahead, and youngster James Wilson made the game safe late on. Lucky for Liverpool, Villa are the lowest scoring team across all divisions of the English football ladder. Paul Lambert’s side missed multiple chances to get something from the game before Rickie Lambert punished their wastefulness in the dying minutes.
Speaking of late goals – Tottenham are becoming the kings of last-gasp victories. After doing it against Hull and Swansea already this season, Christian Eriksen provided the last minute heroics as Spurs downed Sunderland 2-1. This match also featured the goal of the weekend: a stunning free kick from Sebastian Larsson which even the mighty Hugo Lloris couldn’t get a fingertip to.
The big game at the other end of table saw Crystal Palace come from two goals down to beat relegation rivals Burnley in a thriller at Turf Moor. After winning only three of their first twenty games, Alan Pardew has won two in a row at the start of his tenure. For the second week running, Jason Punchon and Dwight Gayle sparked the Palace revival, as the pair combined for all three goals. The Eagles were the big winners this week jumping from fifteenth to thirteenth in the table – and doing it against Burnley in a proverbial “six-pointer” – gives them some real breathing room in their fight to avoid the drop.
Chelsea 5 – 0 Swansea
QPR 0 – 2 Manchester United
Aston Villa 0 – 2 Liverpool
Tottenham 2 – 1 Sunderland
Burnley 2 – 3 Crystal Palace
Leicester 0 – 1 Stoke
Newcastle 1- 2 Southampton
West Ham 3 – 0 Hull
Manchester City 0 – 2 Arsenal
West Brom vs Everton (TUE AM)
GOAL OF THE WEEK:
– (31’) SEBASTIAN LARSSON (Sunderland) vs Tottenham
WORTH A MENTION (OUTSIDE OF THE EPL):
East-Midlands Madness in the Championship:
Derby against Nottingham Forest is always feisty, but it reached a whole new level on Saturday. The real fun began after Forest stunned title-chasing Derby with a last minute winner. A Derby fan invaded the pitch and attacked Forest’s Kevin Wilson while, outside the ground, Forest Chairman Fawaz Al Hasawi’s car was ransacked. Classy.
*See the Santi Cazorla clip below: