There’s nothing quite like floodlight football in the Premier League and tonight’s midweek installment refused to disappoint in that regard.
Indeed, Premier League fans were treated to five enticing fixtures, including a heated London derby between Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham, a tiki-taka contest between Arsenal and Swansea City and a grudge match between Liverpool and Manchester City – who faced each other in the Capital One Cup final just a matter of days ago.
But you may have unfortunately missed tonight’s action. Perhaps you were binge-watching Downton Abbey with your significant other because you’re under the thumb, perhaps you were working late like us at Football Fancast Towers or perhaps you completely forgot. After all, the Premier League is usually weekend business.
But fear not, for Football Fancast is here to help! Whether it’s a League Two derby or a World Cup final, we at FFC believe there is something to be learned from every football match. So here’s your chance to get clued up on tonight’s key results and events as we discuss the FIVE things we learned.
— Europcar Sport (@EuropcarSport) February 28, 2016
Despite seemingly coming off the boil during their 2-2 draw with West Bromwich Albion yesterday evening, Leicester City have somehow ended the midweek fixtures a further point ahead of their Premier League title rivals.
Indeed, despite being amid one of the most unpredictable and incredible title races in living memory, it appears no side actually wants to claim the Premier League crown this term – apart from the miraculously overachieving Foxes.
Arsenal bottled once again against Swansea City (once again) in a 2-1 defeat at the Emirates, Manchester City were still recovering from the Capital One Cup after-party as Liverpool hit them for three at Anfield and Tottenham Hotspur produced arguably their worst performance of the season at Upton Park, coming away empty handed.
It appears none of the Premier League’s leading clubs can hold their nerve at the moment and the pressure will only further grow after an impressive evening from those below them in the table, which brings us onto…
Whilst those involved in the title race unexpectedly buckled under the pressure this evening, the sides chasing down the top four spot refused to disappoint in the same manner.
Indeed, Manchester United reverted back to type against Watford, recording a 1-0 win via a late goal from Juan Mata, whilst West Ham came out on top in their heated London derby with second-placed Tottenham Hotspur courtesy of an early header from Michail Antonio.
Miraculously, that leaves United level on points with fourth-placed Manchester City and the Hammers following on just another point behind in 6th.
And with everybody above them in the table seemingly capitulating at the moment, the race for Champions League qualification is suddenly wide open once again. United and West Ham seem the likeliest to stage a last-minute bid for fourth spot, but Stoke and Liverpool, ranked seventh and eighth respectively, won tonight as well.
It always seemed inevitable Swansea City would revive their fortunes to avoid the drop and tonight’s result has almost cemented their top-flight status for next season.
Not for the first time, the Welsh outfit caused an upset at the Emirates, coming back from a Joel Campbell strike to claim a 2-1 victory over the out-of-sorts north Londoners. Of course, there are no guarantees in the Premier League but Swansea now have ten games left to claim ten points and reach that all-important 40 point mark, so it would take a rather epic muck-up for them to be relegated from this position.
For Newcastle, however, it was another disappointing step backwards this evening. This Magpies side clearly possesses enough quality to survive in the top flight but they just can’t seem to find consistency or mentality and have now lost seven of their last ten following a 1-0 defeat to Stoke City.
Cue another epic rant from Alan Shearer on Match of the Day, but we’re now in the business end of the season and the situation is getting serious for Newcastle. Although others could be dragged into it, the relegation race seems to be a three-horse affair between Newcastle, Sunderland and Norwich right now.
It would be wrong to suggest Liverpool were abysmal in the Capital One Cup final on Sunday, taking Manchester City to the end of extra time before losing in the penalty shootout.
But Reds fans will be scratching their heads after tonight’s 3-0 thumping of the Citizens at Anfield, wondering why the Merseysiders couldn’t provide that same level of performance just three days earlier.
Adam Lallana opened the scoring after half an hour, later followed by James Milner just before half-time and Roberto Firmino on the 57-minute mark in a rather emphatic victory and incredibly convincing display.
Perhaps Liverpool were exercising some demons following their disappointment on Sunday but nonetheless, the Reds now boast a 7-1 aggregate scoreline from their two league encounters this term with a City side who are meant to be title favourites.
So why can’t Jurgen Klopp’s side produce that kind of brilliance week in, week out?
Chelsea did their business yesterday evening, recording a 2-1 win over Norwich City.
But tonight’s results highlighted the incredible inconsistency in the Premier League this season, with City, Arsenal and Spurs all losing to theoretically inferior opposition, and regardless of how they started the campaign, Chelsea are emerging as the division’s only truly consistent side.
Indeed, the Blues are yet to lose in the Premier League under manager Guus Hiddink and are now second in the form guide amid a three-game winning run.
Now in the top half and just eight points away from a Champions League spot, suddenly anything seems possible for the west London club – especially if the rest of the Premier League’s big contenders continue to bottle the big occasions.
Unquestionably possessing an incredibly talented side, Chelsea are certainly worth keeping an eye on during the campaign’s final run in. There could be life in the old dog yet!