As we head in to the most decisive part of the season for the majority of Clubs in the Premier League, this weekend threw up several eyebrow raising results. Who starred for their teams? Which clubs impressed? I’ve listed the winners and losers here…
Crystal Palace & Sam Allardyce
Following their impressive 3-0 dismantling of Arsenal at Selhurst Park tonight, the club from North London have now made it 5 wins in their last 6 Premier League games turning them from relegation certainties to being 1 or 2 wins away from securing survival for yet another year. The signings of Sakho and Luka Milivojević have provided a reliable, solid spine for Allardyce to build on and they have been pivotal in the club’s amazing upturn in form. Credit must also go to Allardyce, who has rebuilt his career following the England debacle and proved what a miracle worker he is by saving yet another club in relegation crisis.
Following their shock defeat to Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge last weekend, the gap to 2nd placed Spurs has been cut to 7 points and a tricky looking away game at Bournemouth this weekend was sure to test their character again. However, their 3-1 win on Saturday evening showed they have the bottle to see this title challenge over the line and with Eden Hazard and Diego Costa a class above anyone else on the pitch, they have the personnel and experience to ensure the current gap to Spurs isn’t shortened any further between now and the end of the season.
With a run of 5 consecutive defeats in the Premier League, the Hammers’ home game against fellow relegation candidates Swansea this weekend was the biggest game of the season for both teams so far. A win for either team would significantly boost their survival hopes, whereas a defeat would have a massive impact on how the rest of the season would play out. Played in front of a very nervy Olympic Stadum, the home side ground out a crucial 1-0 win to see them go 8 points clear of the drop zone. Whilst the result has not seen the Bilic doubters go away, it is now very, very unlikely that their worst nightmare of getting relegated in their first year of being in the new stadium will come true.
Whilst few believe that they will now catch Chelsea, there can be little doubt that the Pochettino era at Tottenham is now reaching a stage where challenging for the major honours is very much achievable. With an English core of supremely talented players such as Dele Alli, Harry Kane, Toby Alderwiereld, Kyle Walker, Moussa Dembele and many more, few can argue that the current crop of Players and manager at White Hart Lane is potentially the best they have had in the last 25 years. Unbeaten at home in the Premier League this season, they made the 4-0 win over Watford look like a training session and with an FA Cup Semi-Final against Chelsea on the horizon and a new 61,000 seater stadium due for completion in 2018, there is no better time to be a Tottenham Hotspur supporter.
At the time of writing this, Crystal Palace have just beaten Arsenal 3-0 in what was another extremely disappointing away day for the side from North London – in fact, it was their 4th away defeat in a row – they have also conceded 3 goals in all 4 of those games as well, just to make things worse. The result against Palace will only cast more doubt over the future of Arsene Wenger, who surely has no way of coming back from the utter failure experienced this season. Chants of “you’re not fit to wear the shirt” echoed from the away end, pundit Jamie Carragher was practically red in the face from being so angry at some of Arsenal’s defending and ArsenalFanTV will hit record figures yet again. Where on earth do they go from here?
No hope of staying up, losing every week, fans booing the players at every opportunity and a manager who looks as though he was resigned to relegation at Christmas. The best thing that can happen to Sunderland is that they go down, clear out the deadwood, rebuild and go again in the Championship next season – similar to what Aston Villa have done,
With the Potters sitting 13th in the Premier League and following a 2-1 home defeat to Liverpool on Saturday after being 1-0 up, Stoke fans are now starting to voice their dissent at boss Mark Hughes and are wandering if he has taken them as far as he can. Whilst they are not expected to challenge the top 4 every season, they are now an established Premier League side with many years of experience behind them and should be at least competing for a top 8 finish every season – not looking over their shoulders at the relegation battle, worried in case they are dragged in to it with other teams such as West Ham. Whilst they will surely avoid relegation, a very big summer awaits Hughes and Stoke.
If you feel anyone else should be included in this Winners/Losers article, please let me know.