Arsenal cemented their place at the top of the Premier League table after Chelsea beat Manchester City on Monday night at the Etihad, leaving Arsenal two points clear from their nearest rivals as we head into Week 25.
Branislav Ivanovic’s thunderous strike—his second Premier League goal of the season, per ESPN—has opened up the title race, with both Chelsea and City on 53 points, whilst Arsenal remain on 55 points.
Without further ado, let's check out how the table pans out following the fixtures on Matchday 24, along with a list of the results as we head into a juicy set of fixtures in Matchday 25:
Here are the results from Matchday 24:
|Date||Home Club||Road Club||Result|
|Feb 1||West Ham||Swansea||2-0|
|Feb 1||Everton||Aston Villa||2-1|
|Feb 1||Stoke||Manchester United||2-1|
|Feb 1||West Brom||Liverpool||1-1|
|Feb 1||Arsenal||Crystal Palace||2-0|
|Feb 1||Manchester City||Chelsea||0-1|
At the top of the table the title race is hotting up. There is no doubt Chelsea and Arsenal were the weekend's biggest winners. For the Blues, a defeat would have left them six points behind high-flying Manchester City, and five behind Arsenal.
Mourinho: 'We lost points this season & we're in evolution but this result helps us grow up. Tactically & mentally it was fantastic.' #CFC— Chelsea FC (@chelseafc) February 3, 2014
But Jose Mourinho got his tactics spot on. Spotting the threat of Yaya Toure early on, Mourinho placed the energetic Willian on him throughout the match, and the Brazilian’s dogged performance in midfield nullified the threat of the big Ivory Coast international.
Martin Demichelis By Numbers: 90% pass accuracy, 1 interception, 2 clearances, but just 5 out of 15 tackles won. pic.twitter.com/Kjmb5EZ3Ob— Squawka Football (@Squawka) February 3, 2014
Toure has been immense this season for City, scoring 12 goals in 23 games from midfield, per ESPN stats, but on Monday night he struggled as Chelsea’s midfield overran Toure and his partner Martin Demichelis.
The Argentinian, normally deployed at centre-back, was outnumbered every time Chelsea broke, with Willian, Hazard and Ramires isolating him on numerous occasions.
Chelsea could have won by more than one goal, when they hit the woodwork three times whilst Manchester City, despite having the majority of possession and 25 shots at goal, only managed three shots on target, per BBC.
The defeat will leave City wondering what could have been whilst for Chelsea, the victory and the tactical masterclass in which they won the match, will be a huge psychological boost for Mourinho’s men.
As Jamie Jackson in the Guardian reports, this was the first time City had failed to score in 62 home league matches, a run stretching back to a 0-0 draw with Birmingham City on 13 November 2010.
City play away at relegation threatened Norwich whilst Chelsea play Newcastle United at home.
As for Arsenal, City’s defeat meant they stayed top of the table, after they brushed aside Crystal Palace 2-0 on Sunday at the Emirates. The result was a significant one after they drew in their last game away to Southampton.
England international Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain got a brace as Arsene Wenger’s men—who have seen the injuries pile up to key players—stay two points clear as they enter the most crucial period in their title challenge.
The Gunners go to Anfield next to play free-scoring Liverpool in Saturday’s lunchtime kick-off. The Reds will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing 1-1 draw away to struggling West Brom.
The result left Liverpool six points behind Chelsea and Manchester City, and eight points behind leaders Arsenal. Wenger will be hoping to further dent Liverpool’s charge up the table, with a victory at Anfield leaving the Merseysiders a possible 11 points behind the Gunners.
Everton put their 4-0 defeat to Liverpool behind them with a win at home to Aston Villa. Despite a string of injuries, Roberto Martinez's men put in a professional performance against Paul Lambert's Villa side.
The result leaves Everton just two points behind Liverpool and two points clear of Tottenham. Everton go to Spurs next Sunday in a crucial clash in the chase for Champions League places. Tim Sherwood’s men will be hoping to bounce back after drawing at Hull City and losing to Manchester City in Week 23.
Manchester United manager David Moyes will be feeling the pressure now after he saw his team go down to a 2-1 defeat to Stoke City. A fantastic brace from Charlie Adam pushed Stoke toward the middle of the table, leaving them three points above the relegation zone.
Despite fielding Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie and Juan Mata, United struggled all afternoon. Rooney and van Persie were clearly on different wavelengths, with the two strikers passing to one another just three times throughout the whole match, according to StatsZone:
Moyes will be hoping United can bounce back against struggling Fulham who will arrive at Old Trafford with a host of new signings on the back of a 0-3 home defeat to Southampton. United are seven points off the Champions League places and with a tough game against Arsenal in Week 26, Moyes will be hoping United can turn it on against Rene Meulensteen's struggling Cottagers.
Sunderland continued their fine form with an important victory against rivals Newcastle at St James' Park. Gus Poyet's men have managed to get 10 points out of a possible 12 and have risen out of the relegation places to lie in 14th place, with a home game against Hull City in Matchday 25.
Meanwhile fellow strugglers West Ham, on the back of their impressive away draw to Chelsea, beat Swansea at home but still remain in the relegation zone. Two goals from captain Kevin Nolan have boosted the club and they will hope to continue that form when they face Aston Villa at Villa Park. But they may find the game difficult without Andy Carroll, who was sent-off for lashing out against Swansea's Chico Flores. West Ham have appealed the decision.
Meanwhile, Cardiff showed some promise as they came from behind and beat Norwich 2-1. Goals from Craig Bellamy and new signing Kenwyne Jones gave the Welsh side an important victory and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's first win as Cardiff manager.
Cardiff play Swansea in the Welsh derby in Saturday's evening kick-off, and both sides will be searching for the three points as the relegation battle heats up.