Manchester United were able to enjoy their League Cup Final victory yesterday already knowing how some of their rivals performed in the league. The teams around them who played this weekend all won and so winning their game in hand will be vital if they are to maintain their challenge for the top places.
Liverpool sit just one point ahead of United in 5th and play away at Leicester City tonight. Anything but a win for the Reds could leave the door open for United to leap frog them into the European places. Arsenal also missed their fixture this weekend courtesy of Southampton’s involvement in the Cup final and remain in 4th but are now 13 points from the top. Man City, who were due to play United, drop down into 3rd.
Chelsea extended their lead at the top of the table with a comfortable win over Swansea City. The away side did draw level making it four games without a clean sheet for Chelsea. The league’s top side did however go on to win 3-1 and move a step closer to their second title in three years. Due to Manchester City not playing this weekend, Chelsea’s lead now stands at 10 points. Swansea stay 15th, three points above relegation but Leicester City can move closer tonight.
Tottenham put in a clinical first half performance at home to Stoke City, leading 4-0 by the break. That’s how the game would finish, moving Spurs up to second place, 10 points from the summit. It is a welcome return of league form for Spurs, bringing only their second win in the last five. With their rivals for the European places still to play, getting points on the board in this game was vital. The defeat did not change Stoke’s league position too much, although the damage to morale may have been more significant. The Potters drop to 10th and have now picked up just four points from the teams above them all season.
Everton picked up their fourth home win in a row and remain unbeaten since October courtesy of their 2-0 win over bottom side Sunderland. It is now three home clean sheets in four for the leagues 7th place side who close the gap on the European places. They now sit just six points off the top four. Sunderland on the other hand lost more ground on 17th and safety. Three points and a big swing in goal difference now stands between the Black Cats and another season of Premier League football. They have failed to score in four of their last five games and conceded 20 in the previous nine.
West Brom remain 8th in the league after coming from behind to beat Bournemouth 2-1. It is their fourth straight win at the Hawthorns and keeps them comfortably in the top half. Bournemouth remain 14th, five points above relegation, but have picked up just five points in their last 10 games.
West Ham move up one place into 9th courtesy of a 1-1 draw with Watford at Vicarage Road. The Hammers went behind early on but battled back to gain their eleventh point from the last six games. It is an impressive run of away form which has seen them lose only one of the last seven on the road. Watford move themselves up in to 12th place and only one team outside the top four have beaten them at home this season.
Burnley gained only their second point away from home of the season following the 1-1 draw at Hull City. They now find themselves in 11th position and just one point off a place in the top half. Hull drop down into 19th and remain a point from safety. They have lost just three in the seven games since the start of 2017.
Crystal Palace had the biggest gain this weekend following their 1-0 home win against Middlesbrough. It’s is only the Eagles’ third win in 11 home games this season and one which moves them out of the relegation zone. Middlesbrough are now only ahead of Palace on goal difference in 16th, one point above the drop and is the third straight game without scoring. They have in fact failed to score in almost half their matches this season, blanking in 12 of 26.
Man United’s fixture list will become busy in the latter stages of the season and they will need to keep the winning mentality until May if they are to stand a chance of breaking back into the top four. There is good momentum at the moment however and United have already added silverware to a promising season.