The changing hierarchy at the top of the Premier League could hardly have been better illustrated than by Tottenham Hotspur’s 3-0 demolition of fallen god, Manchester United.
Spurs and Leicester City have smashed the Big Four cartel to pieces in a remarkable season. Jamie Vardy scored twice away at Sunderland to move the Foxes within three victories of their first top-flight title.
Tottenham maintained their challenge, scoring three goals in six second-half minutes to stay seven points adrift. Dele Alli slotted in from inside the area and Toby Alderweireld headed home, before Erik Lamela’s sweet strike.
8 – No English midfielder has scored more Premier League goals this season than Dele Alli (8 – level with Ross Barkley). Exuberance.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) 10 April 2016
Anthony Martial drove straight at Hugo Lloris after a weaving run, to register the away side’s only shot on target.
Says it all. The once gloriously attacking, risk taking, devil may care United are just a pale shadow of their former selves. It now seems unlikely the Old Trafford side will claim a Champions League spot – disaster by their standards.
Arsenal and West Ham play out six-goal thriller in London Derby
Arsenal will ponder what might have been after being gifted such a fabulous opportunity to win the Premier League given Chelsea’s woes and the insipid performances of United and the no longer noisy neighbours across the way, Manchester City.
West Ham will be dreaming of what still might be given they remain well in the fight for a Champions League place. West Ham versus Arsenal was a pulsating game and a wonderful advert for the English style of football.
End to end excitement, both sides battling for every ball, rough and tumble and six goals, three apiece.
Both could have had players sent off but praise to referee Craig Pawson who allowed the cut and thrust while stepping in when things threatened to boil over. Arsenal 2-0 up, West Ham 3-2 ahead after a wonderful Andy Carroll hat-trick and then the Gunners fighting back for a deserved draw.
Yet it dealt another blow to their already slim hopes. Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez converted Alex Iwobi passes but then Carroll netted twice in 160 seconds to bring his side level by half-time.
A far-post header completed Carroll’s treble, before Laurent Koscielny hooked in the equaliser from 10 yards. Manuel Lanzini blocked an Arsenal shot on the line.
Carroll was booked early for a malicious late tackle on Koscielny and then could have gone when he clashed with Gabriel in the air, catching the centre-back with his arm.
Two yellows would have been harsh and he stayed on the field to give a brilliant bustling performance, constantly putting pressure on Arsenal defenders and making a right nuisance of himself. In fact all that is alien to Arsene Wenger’s cultured poets of the turf.
There are times to dig in and win ugly – very much against the manager’s philosophy.
Chelsea lose their first Premier League game under Gus Hiddink
Swansea City claimed an impressive first Premier League win against Chelsea to all but secure their top-flight survival. Another Gylfi Sigurdsson goal sealed a 1-0 victory.
It was Chelsea’s first league defeat under manager Guus Hiddink. Poor in the first half; a little better in the second.
Clearly their minds are on other things given the imminent arrival of new manager Antonio Conte and the questionmarks over the futures of so many of the players.
The club are in such disarray one fears it might even take another season to get them in shape to challenge again.
Chelsea now seem set to end this disappointing campaign in experimental mode with Asmir Begovich in goal, Matt Miazga being given game time in defence, Ruben Loftus-Cheek in midfield and perhaps others yet to be tried out.
Hiddink summed it up afterwards: “Every defeat hurts but everyone knows the situation we are in, so there’s a positive side to bringing in youngsters and seeing what they can do. We defended poorly and gave Sigurdsson a very free chance. We were attacking, attacking, but in the final third we were not sharp enough.”
They haven’t been all season.
Liverpool destroy Stoke City at Anfield
Substitute Divock Origi scored twice as Liverpool hammered Stoke 4-1 at Anfield to leapfrog their opponents.
2 – Divock Origi has scored his first ever Premier League brace. Flourish.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) 10 April 2016
Now eighth and with a game, or in some cases two games, in hand on their rivals a top six place looks still in reach though Champions League seems beyond the Reds.
A long-range shot from Alberto Moreno put them ahead before Bojan escaped his marker to nod in Stoke’s equaliser. Daniel Sturridge put away Sheyi Ojo’s cross to regain the lead before Origi headed in and saw an attempted cross drift in after the break.
A great week for Liverpool and a great week for Origi after his strike earned them an away draw at Borussia Dortmund in the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final tie.
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