Race For The Premier League Crown Intensifies

With five fixtures left before the end of the season, the race at the top of the Premier League table was in full swing this weekend. Manchester City and Liverpool continued their personal two-team race to the title with Tottenham, Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United jockeying for the last two Champions League spots.

The biggest matchup of the weekend was the clash between the leader Liverpool and then fourth place Chelsea at Anfield on Sunday. The Reds came into the match unbeaten at Anfield with 14 wins and only two draws at home.  

Despite their formidable run, Liverpool needed the win to remain atop the table, after Manchester City easily handled business with a 3-1 away win against Crystal Palace. Chelsea also badly needed a win to remain in a qualifying position for next year’s Champions League group stage. Both clubs had their moments during the first half, but neither side was able to break the deadlock. 

Liverpool came out firing on all cylinders during the second half with quick passes involving their attacking trio of Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mané and Mohamed Salah. In one of those passing exchanges, Salah played a one-two with Firmino that was cut by the Chelsea defense. However, the ball spilled over to the Red’s captain Jordan Henderson. He took advantage of the Chelsea miscue and crossed to a wide-open Mané who headed it home for a 1-0 lead. 

The Blues still tried to recompose and mount a comeback in the game. However, minutes later, Salah shot a stunner from way behind the right side of the box that had Chelsea’s keeper looking back to the net unable to reach the ball. Salah’s score was enough for Liverpool to secure the 2-0 win and go up to 85 points, two ahead of City. 

Chelsea now has a tough stretch to secure a Champions League spot moving forward. After the loss, the Blues fell to fifth place. To makes matters worse, Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester United all have a game in hand in comparison to Chelsea. 

Tottenham took care of business at home in what became a 4-0 blowout win at their new stadium. Winger Lucas Moura had a great outing, scoring the first hat-trick in Tottenham Hotspur Stadium’s history and the second of his career (both playing for Spurs). 

The Red Devils also secured a win, albeit not as easily, against West Ham. United opened the scoring with a Paul Pogba penalty kick. Their lead did not last long, as West Ham leveled with a Felipe Anderson shot down the right post. Manchester winger Anthony Martial was knocked down inside the box in a one-on-one situation, which gave the Red Devils their second PK attempt of the afternoon. Pogba once again converted, giving Manchester United a much-needed 2-1 win.

Arsenal traveled to Watford and mustered a 1-0 win in a defensive struggle. The Gunners found a goal early in the game after a bad backward pass to the goalkeeper left striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang face-to-face with the goalie, who did not stand a chance against the Gabonese attacker. After taking the lead, Arsenal seemed happy to sit back and let Watford take the offensive initiative, which ultimately panned out for the visiting team. 

Now, Tottenham sits at the third spot with 67 points, one ahead of Chelsea and Arsenal who round out the top five. Manchester United is right behind, sitting at sixth place with 64 points. 

The matchup to watch this week will be the clash between Tottenham and Manchester City at Etihad Stadium on Saturday. City has had only one loss at home this whole season, and Spurs have lost four out of their last five matchups as the visiting team. The game is schedule to kick-off at 7:30 a.m. and will be broadcast by NBC Sports.