With only 11 fixtures left after this weekend’s action the battle for points is getting more and more intense and we enter the business end of the closest Barclays Premier League season ever.
Still up for grabs is the title, arguably a four horse race at this point, the race for the last Champions League place, four sides fighting it out for that one, and the relegation battle which could see any three of ten sides leaving the top flight of English football.
So what are the big talking points of this weekend?
Chelsea leave it late
The weekend’s action got under way with Saturday’s early kick off at Stamford Bridge where top of the table Chelsea faced Champions League contenders Everton.
Everton were desperate to get their challenge for fourth place in the league after disappointing defeats to fellow challengers Tottenham and Liverpool in recent weeks. Meanwhile Chelsea were looking to bounce back from last weekend’s FA Cup exit against Manchester City and a disappointing draw against West Brom in their last Premier League outing.
Saturday’s game was one of few chances, a disciplined Everton side frustrated the home side and it looked as though the points would be shared. However, deep into stoppage time at the end of the second half Chelsea captain John Terry slid in to put the Frank Lampard’s cross past Tim Howard giving his side the crucial three points.
It’s another frustrating loss for Everton who have been down on their luck in the League in recent weeks and have come away with very little from a series of good performances in that time. For Jose Mourinho’s side it keeps fellow title challengers City, Arsenal and outsiders Liverpool at bay for now and keeps them top of the table.
Arsenal cruise past Sunderland
After a 2-0 defeat at home in the Champions League against holders Bayern Munich Arsenal were looking to bounce back this weekend against Sunderland. After Chelsea’s win three points against the Mackems would take the Gooners to just one point behind the league leaders and keep them in the hunt for the title.
In the end it was all too easy for easy for Arsene Wengers men as Olivier Giroud, who has been making headlines for all the wrong reasons recently, scored twice in the first half. Tomas Rosicky added a beautifully crafted team goal before halftime to give the home side a convincing 3-0 lead at the break.
Laurent Koscielny added a fourth after the break before Sunderland notched a consolation goal late on through Emanuele Giaccherini’s driven volley.
Business as usual for Arsenal at the Emirates, for Sunderland? Gus Poyet’s men will have to do better as they hover precariously over the relegation zone. They will certainly hope for better next weekend when they travel to London again for the League Cup final against Man City.
Stunning Sturridge slays the swans
Anfield is buzzing. The home side hasn’t seen their side play like this for generations. This season it looks like, at very least, they will claim fourth place and return to the coveted stage of Champions League football next year. At most? They could be lifting the League title.
This weekend it started so well against Swansea when the home side took the lead in the third minute through Daniel Sturridge. That goal means that the England striker has scored in his last eight consecutive Premier League appearances equalling Ruud Van Nistelrooy’s record.
Jordan Henderson added a stunning second on the 20th minute to put to home side to goals to the good. But football is a funny old game, especially in the Premier League. Swansea snatched a goal back through former Liverpool man Jonjo Shelvey and were level just seven minutes after going two goals down through Wilfried Bony.
But despite the four goals the first half scoring was not complete, Daniel Sturridge added his second of the day before the break to put the home side back into a 3-2 lead.
Could the second half live up to the breakneck drama of the first? It certainly started like it would when Liverpool gave away a penalty and Swansea were level after just two minutes of the second period.
Brendan Rodgers side were not to be denied their win tough, Henderson added this second of the game to give the home side a deserved three points.
While Liverpool boast 70 goals this season, more than any other side in the league, only four sides have kept fewer clean sheets in the league and only Newcastle in the top half of the table have conceded more than Liverpool’s 35.
Norwich claim vital win against Spurs
Going into Sunday afternoon’s game Tottenham boasted the best away record in the league and had thrashed Newcastle 4-0 away from home in their last game while Norwich had only one win in their last 11 league games. On paper it looked like an easy win for Tim Sherwood’s men but seldom are games won on paper
When the full time whistle came it was the canaries who were celebrating a vital three points in their quest to stay in the Premier League as Robert Snodgrass scored the only goal of the game.
John Ruddy made a series of impressive stops in the Norwich goal to keep the points safe for the home side who were impressive on the day. Second half substitute Roberto Soldado continued his poor run of form passing up two good opportunities to equalise for Spurs.
The result leaves Norwich four points clear of the drop zone and dents Tottenham’s hopes of playing Champions League football next season, they are now six points behind Liverpool in fourth.
Rooney starts to pay it back
In case you hadn’t heard Wayne Rooney signed a new contract with Manchester United this week which will makes him the highest paid player in Premier League history. The England striker now earns a reported £300,000 a week.
So what does such a substantial wage bill get you? Well, a goal for this week at least. Wayne Rooney added Man United’s second of the game away at Crystal Palace after Robin Van Persie gave the Champions the lead with a penalty.