Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United won at Middlesbrough and finally moved out of sixth place, but what did we learn from the weekend’s action?
Sergio Aguero grabbed an equaliser as Manchester City held on to third place in the Premier League with a 1-1 draw with Liverpool.
A James Milner penalty, awarded after Gael Clichy’s clumsy challenge on Roberto Firmino, looked to have put Liverpool on course to climb above the hosts.
But Aguero tucked in a superb cross from Kevin De Bruyne to snatch a draw, although City are now two points behind Tottenham and 12 adrift of leaders Chelsea.
Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli proved there is life after Harry Kane as Spurs secured a battling 2-1 victory over Southampton.
Kane’s absence with an ankle injury meant Son Heung-min led the line but it was Spurs’ attacking midfielders who filled the void, with Eriksen breaking the deadlock before Alli won and then converted a penalty.
James Ward-Prowse cut the deficit for Southampton after half-time to spark hopes of a comeback but Tottenham held on.
Chelsea’s march towards the title shows no sign of slowing, but victory pulled Mauricio Pochettino’s men seven points clear of Manchester United in fifth and nine points ahead of Arsenal, albeit having played a game more than both clubs.
United climbed above the Gunners courtesy of a 3-1 win at Middlesbrough, playing their first game since sacking manager Aitor Karanka.
For Arsenal, though, the poor run continued after they were hammered 3-1 by West Brom.
Here is what we learned from this weekend’s Premier League action…
1. Arsenal fans love a banner
Irrespective of the outcome, much of the talk at The Hawthorns, and among the live TV audience, was of two different banners being flown over the ground.
The first slogan was: “NO CONTRACT #WENGER OUT”.
Then when the score was 1-1 , a rival camp of fans organised a plane which buzzed by with “IN ARSENE WE TRUST. #RESPECTAW”
2. Free Khazri
It’s now 14 months since Sam Allardyce elected to splash out on Tunisian playmaker Wahbi Khazri, the attacking midfielder who impressed and offered much needed creativity in their push to safety last season.
This year, Khazri struggles for game time. He’s not started since October and has been a bit-part player from the bench since 2017 began.
“He is the type of player that I need to either score me a goal or make me a goal. And the games where I have put him in, he hasn’t done that for me,” explained Moyes earlier this week.
Certainly Khazri hasn’t done the business this year, failing to score so far. But he has the ability to create something out of nothing and get Sunderland much needed points.
Unless Moyes starts to harness hisdetermines to roll the dice, then the Black Cats look set to drop with a whimper.
3. Diego Costa needs to calm down
Playing on the edge is all part of Costa’s game, but he let himself be wound up too easily. The Stoke fans booed his every touch and he was soon throwing himself to the ground every time Bruno Martins Indi challenged him.
This annoyed Stoke and their supporters even more and Phil Bardsley clobbered him to earn himself a yellow card. Costa contributed little to Chelsea with the red mist down and was booked for dissent for letting rip at referee Anthony Taylor.
4. Deeney messes up England audition
There were one or two eyebrows raised when regular Premier League scorer Troy Deeney was not included in the England squad, with Wayne Rooney, Harry Kane and Daniel Sturridge not involved.
But he hardly got a touch in this game before unluckily crashing Yohan Cabaye’s free-kick past his own goalkeeper. It is fair to say no points were made on the selection front.
5. Davies a huge prospect
Everton have benefitted massively from the injection of energy their young players have given them in recent weeks, and Davies in particular has deserved his place in the side ahead of more experienced players like McCarthy and Barry.
He has a willingness to run forward, but also a canny brain when he gets there, as his fine assist for Calvert-Lewin showed.
6. Bilic needs a new defence, not a new hip
West Ham manager Slaven Bilic will be hors de combat for a month during the close season while he undergoes a hip replacement.
But on the evidence of the Hammers’ first-half defensive apocalypse – against a team who had struggled to hit a barn door with a muckspreader on their travels – he needs major surgery at the back, too.
Goalkeeper Darren Randolph’s confidence looks shot to pieces and defensively Bilic’s dunces were all over the place: Shipping two goals in the opening seven minutes is rarely a basis for negotiation in the Premier League.
7. Jack Wilshere’s future increasingly uncertain
His Arsenal contract is up next summer and talks are yet to start on a new one and now he has fallen down the pecking order at loan club Bournemouth.
BT pundit Rio Ferdinand said: “I think there’s an element of embarrassment, coming from Arsenal and an England regular and then being sub at Bournemouth – no disrespect but it’s not the same playing field as Arsenal.
“If you put yourself in his shoes you’ll be thinking I might as well get myself back to Arsenal. He’ll be thinking if I’m going to be sub here then I might as well be sub at Arsenal.”
8. Karanka gone, can new boss Agnew keep Boro up?
Chairman Steve Gibson said before the match he wants Steve Agnew to stay in charge for a year or two.
Having got rid of Aitor Karanka, Gibson wants Agnew to make the job his own after stepping up from being No2.
But what can he do to stop the rot? He admits there isn’t much he and Karanka could have missed during their winless run from mid-December.
They played with more freedom but still lacked confidence in the final third, although Rudy Gestede netted their first in 8hrs and 30 minutes of league action, which is a small step forward.
9. Spurs are NOT a one-man team
Injured Harry Kane has scored 24 goals this season – but Dele Alli is fast catching up. The England midfielder won the first-half penalty and netted his 17th of the season for his club – and for the fourth game in a row. Christian Eriksen scored his 10th of the campaign while Son Heung-min worked tirelessly up front.
When the Korean was replaced after 74 minutes, Alli was pushed forward into the striking role – leaving £17m summer signing Vincent Janssen on the bench until the 86th minute.
Spurs will need to conintue this team effort until Kane, who damaged his ankle against Millwall last week, returns next month.
10. City fans booing Milner
Having won two Premier League titles, one FA Cup and one League Cup at City over five years, James Milner, one of the most diligent and hard-working players around, should have been immune from abuse at his former club, particularly as he left for Liverpool because he was out of contract and wanted regular football. But City fans chose to boo Milner whenever he was on the ball, although he had the last laugh, scoring from the penalty spot.