Friday 20 October 2017

A boring draw, the Tottenham score and much much more from a day of Premier League intrigue

By Max McLean

The Premier League season ends next month, and the tension is mounting.

With both ends of the Premier League table hotting up, there was plenty of drama across the division’s Saturday games.

Four goals in the early kick-off, tense games at three o’clock, and a potentially huge title game at the end of the day – so what happened?

Results

Tottenham 4-0 Watford

Manchester City 3-1 Hull City

Middlesbrough 0-0 Burnley

Stoke City 1-2 Liverpool

West Brom 0-1 Southampton

West Ham United 1-0 Swansea City

Bournemouth 1-3 Chelsea

Tottenham piled the pressure on…

Tottenham won ‘team of the day’ hands down with a fine exhibition of attacking football in the spring sun.

Were Watford on the beach already? No, they were clearly on the pitch, but little good it did them – after a Dele Alli wonder goal, the floodgates opened and Spurs took a 3-0 advantage into the half-time break.

It was 4-0 shortly afterwards, thanks to a second goal from Son Heung-min, and that was that. Harry Kane made his return from injury, and all was rosy for Spurs.

Chelsea responded like champions

Does this team feel nerves?

Having responded to a shock defeat against Crystal Palace that brought Spurs back into the title question, the Blues hosted Manchester City in midweek and triumphed 2-1.

And now, having watched Tottenham win 4-0 in the early kick-off, Chelsea withstood pressure from an energetic Bournemouth side to emerge 3-1 winners on the South Coast and keep Spurs at bay. Seven games to go, seven points the lead…

The most predictable 0-0 of all time

Goals, eh? Who needs them?

Well, Middlesbrough actually. A 0-0 stalemate suited Burnley just fine, but Boro are in need of a couple of wins if they’re to entertain the country’s best football teams at the Riverside next season.

An absolute dream for any shrewd fantasy football managers however – Tom Heaton is a particularly unmissable bargain right now.

You’ll win nothing with kids

Jurgen Klopp went for youth against Stoke, starting 18-year-old Trent Alexander-Arnold and 17-year-old Ben Woodburn at the Britannia. It did not work.

A goal down at the break, Klopp replaced the teenagers with 14 years more experience – that sounds a lot, but Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino are just 24 and 25 respectively. It made the difference, however.

Both Klopp’s subs scored the goals that won the game for Liverpool, coming just two minutes apart as the Reds moved a little closer to a top-four finish.

West Ham’s relegation six-pointer

Relegation isn’t always an obvious threat – in West Ham’s case, it sneaked up on them quietly.

Having lost five games in a row, the Hammers’ game against Swansea all of a sudden became a relegation six-pointer, and should they retain their Premier League status, they will look back on this win as a turning point.

A solitary goal from Cheikhou Kouyate was all it took to seal the points – they could have been just three points above the drop zone afterwards, but as it is, Slaven Bilic’s side have an eight-point cushion.

The Premier League’s best Brazilian?

And finally we turn to the stats, which this week confirm that Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho is the Premier League’s greatest Brazilian goal-scoring footballer, thanks to his goal at Stoke.

Is he the best Brazilian footballer to have graced these shores? Gilberto Silva, Juninho and Ramires might have something to say about that.

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