Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Top PL Storylines: Chelsea looks to hold off Spurs in title race

1 Comment

The Premier League is heading down to the home stretch with just over a month and a half remaining, and both ends of the table continue to feature intriguing matchups.

[ MORE: Prince-Wright’s PL picks — Week 32 ]

Will Chelsea hold off Spurs for the title? Do any of the three current relegation sides have a shot at climbing out the league’s cellar? Check out the weekend’s most intriguing matches below:


Spurs hope to keep title hopes alive

Tottenham vs. Watford — 7:30 a.m. EDT Saturday online via NBCSports.com

With the season winding down, Spurs are going to need some help from Chelsea if they are to capture the PL title. Mauricio Pochettino‘s side will receive a massive lift over the weekend as Harry Kane is expected to return after missing the last three matches, however, starting goalkeeper Hugo Lloris remains sidelined and backup Michel Vorm could also be in doubt.

Meanwhile, Watford is sitting comfortably in 10th place heading into Saturday’s clash, but history isn’t on their side as they travel to White Hart Lane. The Hornets haven’t beaten Spurs in a league match since 1985, although they’ve only met seven times in the PL.

The Hornets have won two straight league matches while Spurs enter Saturday winners of five consecutive fixtures as they attempt to challenge at the top of the table.

Foxes push for top half finish, while Koeman aims for top five

Everton vs. Leicester City — 11:00 a.m. EDT Sunday online via NBCSports.com

Although the Foxes won’t be repeating as PL winners in 2016/17, Craig Shakespeare’s story continues to grow since replacing Claudio Ranieri back in February. Leicester is still unbeaten since Shakespeare took over, and a top 10 finish is very much in sight for the Foxes in addition to their UEFA Champions League aspirations.

Everton has enjoyed plenty of success this season, but with the continued rumors surrounding striker Romelu Lukaku, it’s a wonder as to how long the Toffees will be able to keep their prized possession. The Toffees enter the weekend in seventh place, and although a top five position is just three points away, both Arsenal and Manchester United currently hold two matches in hand just above Ronald Koeman and co.

Relegation battle heats up

West Ham vs. Swansea City — 10 a.m. EDT Saturday online via NBCSports.com

The Swans aren’t dead in the water just yet with their eight wins on the season, but they surely need at least a point on Saturday to boost their fortunes with seven matches remaining. Fernando Llorente and Kyle Naughton may not be able to go for the visitors, while goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski is also a question mark for the Swans.

West Ham hovers just five points above the bottom three, and a loss on Saturday would drastically change the club’s standing with about a month and a half remaining. The Hammers have lost five straight PL matches, so it could be a very opportune time for Swansea to come to town.

Eight matches remain for Blues

Bournemouth vs. Chelsea — 12:30 p.m. EDT Saturday online via NBCSports.com

The Blues are eight matches away from hoisting the PL title once again, and the return of Victor Moses could lift an already dangerous Chelsea attack on Saturday. Otherwise, Chelsea remains quite healthy heading into the home stretch, and after the club’s midweek victory over Manchester City, the PL crown seems more and more within reach.

Seven points separate the Cherries from 18th spot meaning Bournemouth will likely be in the clear the rest of the way. Bournemouth’s only home win over Chelsea came all the way back in 1988, making Saturday’s test a difficult one. This is especially the case as the Blues have lost just once all season to a team outside of the top six.

Guardiola lauds Man City after record 15th straight win

Leave a comment

Pep Guardiola is breaking records pretty much every time Manchester City step onto the pitch right now.

[ RECAP – City hammer Swansea ]

On Wednesday they set a new Premier League and English top-flight record for the most consecutive wins in history, with City winning 4-0 away at Swansea to seal their 15th-straight win and stay 11 points clear of the table.

City beat Arsenal’s previous record of 14-straight wins in the Premier League from February to August 2002, and now they remain unbeaten with 17 games of the season gone.

Guardiola now holds the record for most consecutive wins in the top-flight of Spanish, German and English soccer with Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Man City respectively. He’s a machine and he’s turned Man City into one.

Speaking to the BBC after beat Swansea, Guardiola was delighted with the win, especially coming so soon after the energy-sapping Manchester derby win at Manchester United on Sunday.

“Considering we have a lot of games in our legs, a demanding game at Old Trafford three days ago, we were solid, we were serious and we made a good performance,” Guardiola said. “You suffer and enjoy, like a manager you see many things. When the team play good we are happy. Our feeling – we understand what we want to do. We play good inside, outside. I’m so happy for David (Silva), we cannot disguise his quality but in the past he didn’t score too much goals. He’s sharp, he’s in an amazing condition.”

Man City’s manager rightly pointed towards David Silva‘s brilliance as the Spanish playmaker scored twice at Swansea and he’s now scored four times in his last three games, including a late winner against West Ham and setting City on their way to a win at United on Sunday.

With the record now in hand and Man City also stretching their club-record unbeaten run in the top-flight to 25 games, is there a risk his side will be complacent as the bookmakers have slashed their PL title odds to 1/25?

“That is not going to happen. We are so demanding for our players. We can lose, we can drop points but complacency, never happened in the past, the present or the future,” Guardiola said. “Winning 15 games in a row gives us a lot of confidence. If people are happy watching us that is the best gift.”

Ahead of the festive season, Man City are the gift which keep on giving and they have to be up their with the best teams English soccer has ever seen.

Less than halfway through the 2017-18 season they show no signs of slowing down and the Premier League title is simply theirs to lose.

More records will fall this season as an imperious, attacking unit has been fine-tuned by Guardiola. We are watching history being made in beautiful fashion.

Tottenham 2-0 Brighton and Hove Albion: Spurs back into Top Four

Leave a comment
  • Spurs outshoot Gulls 25-7
  • Earn 10 corners to Gulls’ 2
  • Aurier, Son score
  • Spurs back into Top Four

Serge Aurier‘s sailing cross and Heung-Min Son‘s late insurance goal led Spurs to a 2-0 win over Brighton and Hove Albion at Wembley Stadium on Wednesday.

Tottenham is back in the Top Four with the win on 31 points, while Brighton is 13th. The Gulls are now just three points clear of the drop zone.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Spurs had a pair of early possibilities, and Heung-min Son was blocked by Shane Duffy just after the latter got enough of the ball to avoid a penalty for going to ground.

Harry Kane then had two chances, one cleared off the line and another blocked by the Gulls.

It took a drifting cross to put Spurs on the board, as Aurier’s effort sailed over Mat Ryan and into the upper 90.

The second half didn’t have much pep, though Hugo Lloris was called upon to stop Tomer Hemed.

Kane blasted the bar with a free kick in a bid to make it 2-0 in the 70th, and Spurs found that second goal through Son’s redirection of a Christian Eriksen free kick.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Manchester United 1-0 Bournemouth: Lukaku nets winner

Leave a comment
  • Early Lukaku goal stands up
  • Cherries outshoot hosts 14-9
  • United three clear of Chelsea

Manchester United remains second in the Premier League following a 1-0 win over Bournemouth at Old Trafford on Wednesday.

Romelu Lukaku headed home in the 25th minute to move United to 38 points, 11 behind Man City and three ahead of Chelsea.

Bournemouth remains 14th with 16 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

A bit of sloppiness plagued United, who was well in control of the early proceedings apart from the less than ideal passes.

Anthony Martial tried a clever cross from outside the 18 that missed both Romelu Lukaku and Juan Mata at the back post.

At the other end, Phil Jones cut out a Callum Wilson left-footed rip for a throw. David De Gea then made two interventions including a stop on Charlie Daniels.

You’d think Lukaku was a former Cherry the way he mildly celebrated his opener, nodding a Mata cross past Asmir Begovic.

De Gea managed typical heroics when he got went low to stop a slippery bounding Wilson should through traffic.

Martial missed a sitter as the second half wore on, with Lukaku’s cut back going for naught.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

West Ham 0-0 Arsenal: Cagey Irons snare point

AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth
Leave a comment
  • Arnautovic everywhere
  • Wilshere stars in rare start
  • Gunners 70 percent possession
  • Arsenal 22-6 edge in shots

Another dominant Arsenal display was missing the final product, as West Ham held the Gunners to a 0-0 draw at the London Stadium on Wednesday.

The Gunners sit seventh with 30 points ahead of a visit from lowly Newcastle on Saturday, while 19th place West Ham is one of three teams with 14 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

A slow start in London had Arsenal passing the ball around a packed-in West Ham formation.

Yet it was Marko Arnautovic and West Ham who appeared to be going in front only to see a flag raised in offside.

Jack Wilshere made his first Arsenal start in league play since May 2016, and set-up Alexis Sanchez for a decent chance only for the Chilean blazed over the bar.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Arnautovic chopped a leaping volley over Cech, but also the cross bar, as the second half picked up the pace.

Olivier Giroud turned a cross toward the far post which was deflected out for a corner than turned into another.

Cech’s poor punch of a West Ham free kick had Arnautovic shooting toward goal again, but Nacho Monreal cleared the effort off the line.

Wilshere saw a chance go for nothing moments later.

Substitute striker Javier Hernandez cranked a shot off the bar in the 90th minute.