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Three Things we have learned from the Premier League : Week 33

Wednesday 13th April 2016
With the relegation fight and race for the title getting increasingly tighter, we look at the key talking points from the action over the weekend.

Sweet Carroll Nine

West Ham 3 - Arsenal 3

The early kick-off at the Boleyn Ground was a game that both sides had to win, if West Ham wanted to maintain their faint top four hopes, and if Arsenal wanted to exert some form of pressure on leaders Leicester City. It was the visitors who started the brightest in the opening exchanges, and that dominance was rewarded with two goals. Youngster Alex Iwobi was the provider on both occasions, with the Nigerian setting up both Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez to give Arsene Wenger's men the lead in the London derby. After just 35 minutes, the game appeared out of reach for the hosts, which would have brought an end to West Ham's thirteen game unbeaten run.

In the latter stages of the first half, the hosts started to gain more confidence, and were passing the ball around with more intensity. They also has the option to utilise their target man in Andy Carroll. It transpired that Carroll was indeed the catalyst to unlock the Arsenal backline, after the England international powered a header from an Aaron Cresswell delivery past Aaron Creswell. Minutes later, and just before the end of the first half, the former Newcastle and Liverpool man exploited the visitors defence to strike the ball beyond David Ospina. Wenger's choice to play Ospina over Petr Cech appeared not to be paying by dividends, as did his decision to leave out the aerial threat of Per Mertesacker. This error of judgement was confirmed at the start of the second-half, when he out leaped the hosts timid defence to put West Ham in the lead. Wenger brought on Olivier Giroud and Aaron Ramsey in order to change the game, but it was a Laurent Koscielny strike from inside the area which allowed the visitors to gain parity. Whilst a draw will not benefit either side, Slaven Bilic will be by far the happier manager after gaining a point from a seemingly lost cause. As for Wenger and Arsenal, the mentality of his players must be called into question yet again.

Foxes still clear of the chasing pack

Sunderland 0 - Leicester 2

This Sunday lunchtime fixture had the potential to effect both ends of the table, with a resolute Sunderland needing to turn draws into wins, and Leicester seven points clear of nearest rivals Spurs prior to kick-off.

Sam Allardyce opted for an attacking line-up, with both Fabio Borini and Jermaine Defoe starting up front. Leicester fielded the same starting eleven as they now do each week, and they failed to convert a string of early chances. The first half petered out into a goalless stalemate, and it appeared that Leicester may not get that elusive win they need, with pundits even tipping the Foxes to come away with a point from the north-east prior to kick-off.

With the visitors racking up the pressure, a breakthrough did appear to be an eventuality, and that was the case when Danny Drinkwater perfectly place a long ranged pass for Jamie Vardy to round the keeper and finish. A string of excellent saves from Leicester keeper Kasper Schmeichel prevented Sunderland from gaining parity, and it was the hosts going forward which allowed Leicester and that man Vardy to grab a second.

The first half was relatively promising from Sunderland's point of view, but their next fixture against Norwich looks so critical now. As for Leicester, this result once again showed the mentality that the team and manager Claudio Ranieri possess. The Italian was as composed and pragmatic as ever in his post-match interview, "the fans must continue to dream but we must continue to be concentrated and focused. Now we have two tough matches at home, the Champions League is on the table and we have to keep it. We haven't achieved anything yet."

Spurs still in two horse race

Tottenham 3 - Manchester United 0

After North London rivals Arsenal dropped points the previous day, Spurs had an opportunity to move well clear of Arsene Wenger's side. The game was delayed by half an hour as a result of Manchester United's coach being delayed in traffic. The Red Devils did not show signs of lapsing in the opening exchanges, they were straight out of the blocks and pressing in the way that Mauricio Pochettino's team does. Marcus Rashford was given another start, with Anthony Martial playing in behind him. A positive result in this game was not just beneficial to the hosts, but also opposition, given that they still remained in the hunt for a Champions League spot.

After a spell of United domination, Spurs appeared to be back to their best and peppered David de Gea with a plethora of shots on goal. The Spaniard was in fine form, but his goal was breached on seventy minutes when Deli Alli finished within the area after a well-worked move. Within five minutes, they were 3-0 up, after a superb Toby Alderweireld header got the better of de Gea and Eric Lamela atoned for an earlier sitter.

This result all but ended Manchester United's top four hopes and gave Spurs further momentum in their title bid. Despite being seven points behind Leicester, either team would be a deserved title winner. Pochettino claimed that a "performance like today, and the result like today, showed that this team believes." They certainly do believe, and will be ready to pounce should Leicester slip up.

Other results:

Watford 1 - Everton 1

Crystal Palace 1 - Norwich 0

Aston Villa 1 - Bournemouth 2

Southampton 3 - Newcastle 1

Swansea 1 - Chelsea 0

Manchester City 2 - West Brom 1

Liverpool 4 - Stoke City 1
Chris Baily

From Liverpool, I am also a life-long Reds supporter. I enjoy watching, writing and participating in football. As well as watching the Premier League, I also keep a keen eye on leagues across Europe, such as the Bundesliga, La Liga and Serie A.

Total articles: 20

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