Ben Chilwell

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Chelsea 0-0 Leicester City: Foxes frustrate Blues

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  • Vardy, Okazaki go close
  • Chilwell sent off in second half
  • Chelsea’s fourth-straight draw in all competitions

Chelsea were held at Stamford Bridge by 10-man Leicester City on Saturday, with the Foxes having the better chances and looking more dangerous throughout.

Antonio Conte‘s Chelsea looked sluggish and didn’t get going, while Leicester could have scored two or three in the first half alone but lost some steam in the second half as Ben Chilwell was sent off for two yellow cards in quick succession.

With the point, Chelsea missed a chance to close the gap on the two Manchester clubs ahead of them, while the Foxes stay in eighth place.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Leicester had the first big chance of the game as Ben Chilwell skipped into the box on the left and picked out Shinji Okazaki but the Japanese forward failed to get the right connection on his finish.

Moments later Jamie Vardy flicked just wide from Chilwell’s cross and Leicester kept pouring forward as Wilfried Ndidi had a header clawed away brilliantly by Thibaut Courtois as Chelsea’s defense were all other the place.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Riyad Mahrez ripped Chelsea’s midfield apart time and time again in the first half as the home side struggled to get going.

Cesc Fabregas did force Kasper Schmeichel into a fine stop but Conte’s boys were sluggish in the opening 45 minutes.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ] 

In the second half Leicester pressed forward and Mahrez went down in the box under a challenge from Andreas Christensen but no penalty kick was given as it looked like the Algerian took a dive.

Mahrez had a shot which deflected just wide moments later as the Foxes did all of the pressing.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

The Foxes were reduced to 10-men late on as Chilwell was given a yellow card for late tackles on Willian and Victor Moses within the space of four minutes, but the Foxes were worthy of getting a least a point.

Playback: What is going on in the Premier League?

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CITY UNSTOPPABLE

15 wins on the spin in the Premier League. 52 goals scored in 17 games. Unbeaten so far this season with 16 wins from 17.

This record-breaking Manchester City side shows no signs of slowing down as they made English top-flight history on Wednesday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Pep Guardiola‘s side sealed 15 consecutive wins by beating Swansea City to do what no other team had done in English top-flight history. With an 11-point lead over second-place Manchester United, the focus is now switching to when City will win the league rather than if.

And rightly so. Pep believes complacency will not set in and says he takes great joy from others appreciating his team play. Swansea’s fans routinely applauded City on Wednesday such was their sterling play in attack and on the ball.

Will City get complacent?

“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.”

The Spanish coach now holds the record for most consecutive league wins in the Spanish, German and English top flights. He is not someone who will allow his team to get complacent and seeing the embarrassment of riches he has, he can switch his starting lineup whenever he believes someone isn’t pulling their weight.

In Guardiola’s second season in England he has improved every single player who is still around from their third-place finish in 2016-17 and has tweaked his team to perfection.

David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne set the tempo of the team in central areas together, while Kyle Walker has been a revelation at right back and Ederson a rock in goal with City having the joint-best defensive record in the PL. Guardiola is proving all of his doubters wrong after many believed his soccer philosophy would not be possible to replicate in the hustle and bustle of the PL.

Yes, they’ve been pushed close in recent 2-1 wins late on against Huddersfield, Southampton and West Ham, but Guardiola has pointed to their mental ability to drag themselves through and win games even when they’re not at their best.

Even when City aren’t quite at their best they’re still superior to every other team in the PL.

Their toughest challenge was supposed to be away at Man United last weekend in the Manchester derby but Pep’s boys cantered past their crosstown rivals and opened up what now looks like an unassailable lead atop the PL table.

This weekend they face Tottenham Hotspur at home and if Spurs are at their best and City’s levels drop, they could well be the first PL team to beat City this season. But, in all honesty, this City team looks unbeatable right now and unless something changes drastically they look set to match Arsenal’s “Invincibles” who went the entire 2003-04 Premier League season undefeated.

Saying that after 17 games of the season may be a bold statement but for anyone who has watched Man City this season, it isn’t.

Looking at their remaining schedule, City still have to travel to Tottenham, Arsenal and Liverpool in what look like their


TOP FOUR RACE WIDE-OPEN

With Man City running away with the title, it appears the top four race will be the main talking point this season.

Arsenal and Liverpool both dropped points in midweek, while Tottenham, Manchester United and Chelsea all picked up wins to solidify their top four ambitions.

There are just five points behind third-place Chelsea and seventh-place Arsenal, with Burnley’s incredible start to the season seeing them nestled into sixth in the table as things stand. Sean Dyche‘s men will surely drop off in the second half of the campaign and that would then leave a similar scenario to last season where the final two top four spots went down to the wire.

United currently sit seven points above fourth-place Tottenham and Jose Mourinho’s men are looking set for a top four finish, at least, even if their title hopes seem to be fading drastically.

When it comes to the rest, Arsenal and Liverpool look the most vulnerable when it comes to finishing in the top four, but both Chelsea and Tottenham haven’t been short of their issues this season.

Spurs went four games without a win in the PL but have won two-straight against Stoke and Brighton, with Mauricio Pochettino hoping a big win away at Man City could spark new life into Tottenham’s season. Chelsea keep plodding along and, like Spurs, they will have one eye on the UEFA Champions League last 16 with both clubs handing tough tests against Barcelona and Juventus respectively.

That could play into the hands of Liverpool (who face FC Porto in the UCL last 16) and Arsenal (who will play a weakened team in their Europa League knockout exploits). That said, two draws on the spin for Liverpool and Arsenal in the past few days have very damaging and Arsene Wenger and Jurgen Klopp look agitated and frustrated as their title hopes are not only over but they now realize that they’ll likely be the outsiders in the top four race.

This top four race will go down to the wire this season, once again, and there seems to be plenty of slip ups left in the quartet of Chelsea, Tottenham, Liverpool and Arsenal.


‘TIS THE SEASON FOR RE-INVIGORATION

Leicester City is leading the pack of reinvigorated Premier League teams.

Since Claude Puel took charge of the Foxes in October they have only lost to Manchester City and they’ve won four-straight PL games to rise to eighth in the table and are five points off the top four.

Riyad Mahrez has led the charge up the table and some would argue this Leicester squad is deeper and more talented than the team which won the title in 2015-16. Yes, they’ve lose N'Golo Kante and Danny Drinkwater to Chelsea but they have a younger core to this squad with Ben Chilwell, Harry Maguire and Demarai Gray all impressing.

Puel will have enjoyed Leicester’s 4-1 win at his former club Southampton on Wednesday, as Saints’ decision to fire the Frenchman after just one season in charge continues to look like on of the biggest managerial blunders in recent years.

Many believed David Moyes‘ appointment at West Ham United would also be a big blunder but in recent weeks it has worked out pretty well for the Hammers.

They pushed Man City all the way, then beat Chelsea at the weekend and they drew with Arsenal on Wednesday and could’ve easily made it two big London derby wins on the spin. With a more favorable schedule coming up, it appears Moyes’ men could climb out of the bottom three very soon. The West Ham players have a clear idea of what they’re doing and now seem tougher to break down and dangerous on the break with Marko Arnautovic and Michail Antonio in attack. It appears Moyes has the defensive structure Slaven Bilic‘s approach lacked and it makes the Hammers look like a completely different team.

As well as the resurgence of Leicester and West Ham, Roy Hodgson is also turning around the ship at Crystal Palace.

The Eagles have scored late goals in each of their last two home games and beat Watford 2-1 on Tuesday thanks to two late goals when they trailed 1-0. Hodgson’s men have quietly gone six games unbeaten and have drawn four of those encounters. Palace have now given themselves a chance of survival after seven-straight defeats to start the season.

And the tide is also turning at Everton with three wins in their last four Premier League games since Sam Allardyce arrived and the Toffees looking to Wayne Rooney to deliver with the Englishman scoring five goals in his last four PL appearances. The latest was a gutsy 1-0 win away at Newcastle, a few days after they fought back to draw at Liverpool in the Merseyside derby. Big Sam is working his magic and Everton are now primed for a push for seventh place.

With just four points separating West Ham in 19th place and Southampton in 11th, there will be an almighty scrap to stay out of the bottom three this season. The relegation picture may look a lot less hectic when the festive season is over and the four aforementioned in-form teams will be hoping to make the most of the busy period ahead.


ANOTHER BUSY WEEKEND PROMISES PLENTY

There’s no doubting that Manchester City against Tottenham Hotspur is the big game this weekend in the Premier League but more than the individual matchups this weekend it is all about setting the tone for the festive season on the horizon.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]  

In the next two weeks we have four PL matchdays coming up and this time of year can really make or break a season.

With two midweek slates of games already in the tank in recent weeks, plus seven PL teams also in European action, rotating squads will be key if teams are to navigate the festive period successfully.

Expected the unexpected. Oh, and Happy Holidays!


Premier League Playback comes out every week as PST’s Lead Writer and Editor takes an alternative look at all the action from the weekend. Read the full archive, here

Newcastle United 2-3 Leicester City: An own goal divides them

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  • Joselu scores early
  • Mahrez levels, 20′
  • WATCH: First two goals
  • Gray, Gayle trade goals
  • Ayoze own goal the difference

An 87th minute own goal doomed the hosts as Leicester City’s fine form continued with a 3-2 win over Newcastle United at St. James’ Park on Saturday.

Riyad Mahrez and Demarai Gray scored after Leicester had gone down 1-0, and Leicester is on 23 points after the win.

Joselu and Dwight Gayle scored for Newcastle, which is now just two points clear of the drop zone.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Matt Ritchie won a free kick in the first minute with a darting dribble, and the dangerous midfielder lorded over a chance from the right. Ben Chilwell headed it out for a corner, and Ritchie’s offer from the right was cleared by Leicester.

Dwight Gayle led Newcastle in front with a well-timed run down the left complete with a cutback for Joselu. The Spaniard didn’t have much to do but finish: 1-0.

Wilfried Ndidi and Demarai Gray both speculated in the first 20 minutes, but neither found the Newcastle frame.

Mahrez scored a fantastic goal to make it 1-1 in the 20th minute, walking past Isaac Hayden and ripping a left-footed effort beyond Darlow’s grasp.

Jamie Vardy believed he’d done enough to win a penalty from DeAndre Yedlin, but Neil Swarbrick was unmoved by the 28th minute plea.

Leicester controlled the the match until a horrific giveaway allowed Jacob Murphy a chance from the catbird seat. Kasper Schmeichel poked the ball out for a corner, and Leicester dealt with the set piece.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Joselu headed a corner kick wide of the frame in the 52nd minute as Newcastle looked to retake control.

It was Leicester who’d next seize the lead, as Gray ripped a shot off Florian Lejeune‘s rear end and into the upper 90. 2-1 visitors, 60’.

Darlow stopped Mahrez’s 66th minute bid to expand Leicester’s lead.

Gayle made it 2-2 after a ping-ponging corner fell for him at the right. The 23-goal Championship man saw his right-footed rip deflect past Schmeichel.

The scorer nearly sent SJP into bedlam when he dragged a shot just wide of the far post in the 78th.

Substitute attacker Ayoze Perez put the ball in his own goal in a bid to break up a 4v2 from Leicester.

Leicester City 2-0 Everton: Puel wins debut

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  • Puel wins first PL start
  • Gray boasts MOTM performance
  • Vardy scores

Jamie Vardy‘s counter attack goal led the way as new Leicester City boss Claude Puel oversaw a 2-0 win in his debut at King Power Stadium on Sunday.

Demarai Gray also scored with big help from Everton’s Jonjoe Kenny as Leicester rose 11th with 12 points, keeping Everton in the drop zone on goal differential.

Everton caretaker boss David Unsworth kept Gylfi Sigurdsson and Morgan Schneiderlin out of the Starting XI, only using the Icelandic star as a 74th minute substitute.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Leicester won an early corner, and another when Ashley Williams blocked Wes Morgan‘s back post effort.

Demarai Gray then cut back from the end line for Ben Chilwell inside the 18, but a difficult shot couldn’t be kept under the bar.

The Foxes deservedly went ahead with a goal hearkening back to the glory days of 2016-17. Puel watched his new charges counter a free kick through Gray, who cued up a classic Riyad Mahrez to Vardy connection. 1-0, 19′.

Vardy mishit an effort to return the favor three minutes later, and Everton nearly found an equalizer when Wayne Rooney and Aaron Lennon cued up a chance that Dominic Calvert-Lewin flubbed.

Jonjoe Kenny helped make it 2-0 when he making a mess of Gray’s cross to defy the reach of Jordan Pickford. For some reason, it was not ruled an own goal.

The Toffees were denied a sure penalty when Christian Fuchs chopped down Lennon inside the 18, but no call came from Andre Marriner nor his linesman.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Rooney should’ve had a second assist when his delightful ball found Oumar Niasse, but a poor touch helped Kasper Schmeichel collect.

Calvert-Lewin produced an inviting ball in the 65th minute, but Wes Morgan popped it over his own bar.

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Leicester 1-6 Spurs: Kane, Son increase record points total

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  • PL goals no. 23, 24, 25 and 26 for Kane
  • Son’s 20th and 21st goals (all competitions)
  • Spurs locked into 2nd, obliterate record points total

The key to life is remembering to enjoy the good times, because the possibility always exists that this is as good as it’ll ever be.

Tottenham Hotspur fans, no one knows this better than you, but a quick reminder never hurt anyone. Look no further than the last 18 months of emotions experienced by Leicester City supporters for an example of how quickly those good times can vanish.

[ WATCH: Kane scores 4 to take charge in Golden Boot race ]

Thursday’s clash between the two sides at the King Power Stadium, where just 12 months ago Leicester lifted the Premier League trophy, so perfectly contrasted clubs with fortunes currently headed in polar opposite directions. Tottenham, spearheaded by Harry Kane and Son Heung-min, had to do little more than turn up for kickoff before returning south to London with a 6-1 victory.

Son’s showing started off poorly, as the South Korean international raced in on goal in the 15th minute, one on one with Kasper Schmeichel, before blazing his right-footed shot well over the bar without a single defender applying pressure. It was an inexcusable effort to not test the goalkeeper.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

10 minutes later, streaking through the penalty area in a similar situation, Son opted to cut the ball back into traffic for Kane, who was flanked by defenders on either side. It made no different, though, as the 23-year-old put his trailing right foot through the ball and redirected just inside the far post for a 1-0 lead (his 23rd PL goal this season).

11 minutes after that, Son made the most of a scoring chance of far greater difficulty. Dele Alli chipped the ball over a pair of defenders and found Son not far from the penalty spot. With a defender bearing down on him, Son wasted no time and fired first-time. Schmeichel couldn’t get down and to his right quick enough.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Spurs’ only blemish on the night came in the 59th minute, when Hugo Lloris charged out of his penalty area and failed to clear the ball out of play. After a frantic scramble of failed shots and passed, Ben Chilwell ended up with the ball atop the 18-yard box and fired low and through traffic to halve the Foxes’ deficit.

The 2-1 scoreline lasted all of four minutes, as Kane moved level with Lukaku on 24 goals. Toby Aldeweireld floated a cross to the back post, where Victor Wanyama headed the ball back across the face of goal and Kane found himself largely unmarked two yards off the goal line. England’s leading man applied the finish with his head, and the score was 3-1.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Son scored Spurs’ style points on his second of the game, his side’s fourth, in the 71st minute. Moussa Sissoko picked out Kane in the center of the field, and Kane played the ball forward to Son. The 24-year-old created a half-yard of space by cutting inside and onto his favored right foot, and hit an inch-perfect strike into the bottom right corner for 4-1.

Son exited the game without completing the hat trick in the 78th minute, while Kane remained on the field long enough to bag his 25th and 26th PL goals of the season, in the 89th and 93rd minutes. Having played seven fewer PL games this season due to injuries, Kane now leads Lukaku by two.

Mauricio Pochettino‘s side’s record points total rises to 83 (the previous high was 72, in 2012-13) — two more than Leicester won the title with last season — already assured of a second-place finish. Meanwhile, Craig Shakespeare‘s side remain 11th in the league table. A win on the final day of the season, Sunday, could see them rise as high as 8th or fall as low as 15th.