Here’s what happened in the Premier this weekend, in case you missed it…
WATCH MATCH HIGHLIGHTS::
Swansea City 0, Leicester City 3 || Stoke City 2, Manchester City 0 || Southampton 1, Aston Villa 1 || West Bromwich Albion 1, Tottenham 1 || Chelsea 0, Bournemouth 1 || Arsenal 3, Sunderland 1 || Watford 2, Norwich City 0 || Manchester United 0, West Ham United 0 || Newcastle United 2, Liverpool 0
WHAT STOOD OUT
Leicester continues brilliant run
Will Chelsea avoid relegation?
It seems like a silly question to ask, especially as we haven’t even reached the halfway point of the season. No doubt, the reigning English champions have stumbled through the first four months of the schedule by losing eight (yes, eight!) of 15 matches. Sitting 15th in the table and 14 points out a top four spot, Chelsea looks like a long-shot for Champions League football next season. But relegation? Surely they’ll avoid the drop, no?
If this season has told us anything it’s that we shouldn’t take anything for granted. Look at the top of the table—did anybody expect Leicester City to be sitting in first? Or Manchester City and Manchester United fighting it out for third and fourth? Or West Ham United and Tottenham knocking on the door of the top four? The surprises continued this weekend with Stoke’s amazing win over Man City, Newcastle stunning Liverpool at home and, most of all, newly-promoted Bournemouth beating Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
Despite having a squad littered with top talent, Jose Mourinho’s side sits just two points above the relegation zone in the first week of December. That’s not a blip—it’s a dreadful run, and they deserve to be where they are right now. Aston Villa, with six points, looks certain to go down, but based on current form you can’t dismiss the possibility of the other teams below Chelsea (Sunderland, Newcastle, Bournemouth, Norwich City and Swansea City) overtaking them.
The bottom line is this: no team can take safety for granted, especially this season. The idea that Chelsea is too talented and “too big of a club” to go down is absurd. Newcastle was another big club that felt the same way a few years ago before they dropped down to the Championship. If Chelsea doesn’t get its act together, it could easily find itself mired in a serious relegation battle during the second half of the season.
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A sweeping move by Manchester United down the right side in the 60th minute saw Anthony Martial play a lovely give-and go with Jesse Lingard before cutting it back into the middle for Marouane Fellaini. The Belgian should have buried it but West Ham goalkeeper Adrian made a superb stop from point-blank range.
Stoke City’s upset win over Manchester City was not only a surprise but it was also damn entertaining. The Potters were absolutely flying in the first half, spurred on by the deadly attacking duo of Marko Arnautovic and Xherdan Shaqiri.
When Jamie Vardy passed to Riyad Mahrez on the Algerian’s third goal. Vardy could have been selfish and tried to shoot on goal in an effort to keep his scoring streak alive. Instead, he recognized Mahrez was in a better position to score and gave him the ball.
“It must rank as the best individual result in the club’s history.” — Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe.
SIX PACK OF STATS
• Riyad Mahrez is the third Leicester City player to score a Premier League hat-trick after Ian Marshall and Stan Collymore.
• Olivier Giroud is the first Arsenal player since Thomas Vermaelen in November 2011 to score a goal and an own goal in the same Premier League game.
• Watford’s Odion Ighalo has scored more goals (25) than any other player in the top four tiers of English football in 2015.
• Tottenham is unbeaten in 14 league games (six wins, eight draws)—their best run in the top-flight since March 1985.
• After 15 games last season, Chelsea was 26 points ahead of Leicester City. After 15 games this season, they find themselves 17 points behind Leicester.
• Liverpool’s Martin Skrtel has now scored seven own goals in the Premier League. Only Richard Dunne (10) has more.
Stats courtesy of Opta
1) Riyad Mahrez: The Algerian was a one-man wrecking crew for Leicester as he bagged a hat-trick away to Swansea City to send the Foxes to the top of the table.
2) Marko Arnautovic: Scored a brace in the first half for Stoke vs. Manchester City, and he could have easily had four goal by the break.
3) Xherdan Shaqiri: Was absolutely brilliant in setting up both of Arnautovic’s goals with a pair of sublime passes.