WAS Dominic Solanke hustling the entire Premier League in an audacious move that will ultimately save Bournemouth from relegation? Will Liverpool ever be able to recover from not winning a league game at Anfield for the first time in 18 months? And who's worse – Shkodran Mustafi or David Luiz? These and more vital questions in the first of this week's Premier League tips.
Victory over Sheff Utd would have left Chelsea within a win of sealing a top four spot, however, defeat leaves them a point ahead of Leicester and Man Utd. And what's worse the 3-0 mauling Chris Wilder's side handed out will not be easy to bounce back from especia– oh, hang on, just remembered they're playing Norwich.
The Canaries need a positive result in this match to avoid setting two unwanted club records: eight straight league defeats and 25 league defeats all season. That would make 25 defeats in the league in total this season, yet another unwelcome club record. Scoring has become a major problem for a side whose attacking approach drew plaudits early on in the season. Michael Antonio managed more goals at Carrow Road on Saturday (4) than Norwich have scored since February (3), with Teemu Pukki not finding goal since January 22.
The Sheff Utd defeat was only the second time in 12 matches that Chelsea had failed to score at least two, so it's unlikely Frank Lampard will lose too much sleep about the shutout. And with one more often than not being enough against Norwich, Chelsea can settle in and enjoy this one.
Man City come into this game on the back of two consecutive 5-0 victories as they bid to become the first English team to win three straight matches by five or more goals since… Man City in 2017 (honourable mention to Chelsea (2010) and Aston Villa (1899) who also achieved this). There's more historical significance in the offing too as the Citizens have the chance to win five straight home games without conceding a goal for the first time since 1902.
However, that's by no means a four-gone conclusion. Bournemouth did after all go from 1-0 down to 4-1 up in 21 minutes against Leicester, with Dominic Solanke finally bagging his first goal for the club… and then another. With David Brooks, Junior Stanislas and Callum Wilson also putting in much more effective displays, Eddie Howe will hope his side have, at long last, rediscovered their mojo.
Ultimately however, you've got to back City here, and you've got to back them to get a few goals. Expect Raheem Sterling to keep his fine record against Bournemouth going. Sterling has scored in all but one of his eight games against the Cherries (nine goals in total) and has racked up seven goals in his last seven games, including a hat-trick last time out.
Sunday's North London Derby defeat summed up Mikel Arteta's Arsenal – take the lead, fail to convert dominance into an unassailable lead, concede late on, drop points. In fact, the 15 points the Gunners have lost from winning positions since Arteta took over are a league high. The more Arsenal struggle to finish their chances, the bigger impact Shkodran Mustafi and David Luiz's constant errors are.
Liverpool have actually dropped more points since lockdown (7) than they did in the whole season before it (5). It has been a slight wobble for the Reds of late, but an understandable one given the competitive aspect of their league campaign was over months ago. But Jurgen Klopp has never lost to Arsenal as Liverpool manager, winning five and drawing four.
Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino are particularly fond of facing the Gunners. Salah has six goals and two assists in six matches against Arsenal, while Firmino has eight goals and three assists in 11. The question is can Mustafi and Luiz put their woeful form/ Arsenal careers behind them and shut the Reds out? Only joking, of course not.
Leicester's capitulation at Bournemouth was mind-boggling. 1-0 up and cruising with just one long-range shot conceded in the first hour, then BOOM! 4-1 down after 87 minutes. Given Man City's successful appeal of their UEFA ban means only the top four will qualify for the Champions League, it was difficult few days for Leicester that was at least slightly mitigated by Michael Obafemi's late equaliser at Old Trafford. Leicester remain fourth, but they have it all to do.
Chris Wilder has his side firmly back on track after a recent blip. The Blades' highly impressive 3-0 win over Chelsea at the weekend took their total to 10 points from the last 12 available – no mean feat with all opponents in that run being top-half sides. Only four promoted sides in the history of the Premier League have outperformed Sheff Utd this season, and with Europe still a distinct possibility, expect Utd to go out all guns blazing here.
Despite their post-lockdown struggles, Leicester have not conceded at home in the league since February, but all those matches featured Çağlar Söyüncü who will of course miss out after his ludicrous/ hilarious red card against Bournemouth. That's not ideal for Brendan Rodgers who is clearly struggling to rally the troops just now. The draw looks good value here.
Rumours suggests Crystal Palace are looking to replace Roy Hodgson with a younger, more dynamic coach this summer, and if you look at recent results, you can see why. Hodgson, who was brought to Selhurst Park following a run of five straight defeats under Frank De Boer, has himself overseen five straight defeats, and with Man Utd desperate to get their top four bid back on track, he could eclipse his predecessor in the most unwanted way.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believed Man Utd got what they deserved against Southampton, but there's no shame in drawing with one of the best sides since the restart. With three games to play, Man Utd and Leicester are level on points, a point behind Chelsea, with two winnable games each before incredibly facing each other on the last day. Chelsea might fall away to pave way for both, but either way, Utd have no need to worry.
They have the best fixtures, the best squad, and the most productive attack, and the most well-functioning team overall. Here Bruno Fernandes could become the first Man Utd player to score in five consecutive away games since Zlatan Ibrahimovic in 2017, and the fourth overall, while Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial – dead level on goals in the league and in all competitions – will each seek to forge ahead in their personal battle. This should be a comfortable Utd win.
Since the restart, Michael Antonio has scored six and assisted one of West Ham's nine goals. If the Hammers beat the drop, no player can hold his head higher than Antonio whose combination of relentless hard work and regular goals is just what the doctor ordered for David Moyes. Antonio also doubled his Premier League tally from four to eight in his last match, so Watford would do well to pay close attention here.
The Hornets have given themselves a great chance of beating the drop with their last two performances. In both games, Watford conceded the first goal but won 2-1 – two results which speak volumes about their belief and optimism, and which took on even greater significance as Bournemouth beat Leicester. Nigel Pearson's side remain three points clear of the drop zone, in all likelihood, another win should keep them up.
David Moyes has really stumbled on the right formula recently. After going three games without a goal, West Ham have scored nine in their last four. Even the one game in that run they failed to score in – a 0-1 defeat to Burnley – involved the most shots (21) in any game for the Hammers all season. The signs are good, and like Watford, one more win will do it. For that reason, I expect an edgy encounter, and the draw looks good value.