Chelsea extended their lead at the top of the Premier League to 11 points after beating Swansea City 3-1 at Stamford Bridge on Saturday. The Blues took advantage of title rivals Manchester City and Arsenal not being in action thanks to Sunday's 2017 EFL Cup final between Manchester United and Southampton.
At the other end of the table, Crystal Palace climbed out of the drop zone after beating Middlesbrough 1-0 at home. The result not only took the Eagles clear of immediate danger, it also put defending champions Leicester City into the bottom three.
Here are the final scores from Saturday's matches:
|EPL 2016/17 Results Week 26: Saturday Scores|
|West Bromwich Albion||2-1||Bournemouth|
|Watford||1-1||West Ham United|
Here's what those results mean for the table:
|Premier League 2016/17 Week 26 Table: Saturday Standings|
|8||West Bromwich Albion||26||11||7||8||4||40|
|9||West Ham United||26||9||6||11||-9||33|
Chelsea boss Antonio Conte handed a rare start to Spanish playmaker Cesc Fabregas, a move vindicated when Fabregas opened the scoring inside 20 minutes. The former Arsenal man dictated the tempo early on, roaming between the lines and often being one pass away from unlocking the Swans' defence.
Yet neither Fabregas nor his team-mates found another way through before half-time. In fact, the Blues found themselves shockingly pegged back by the break when Fernando Llorente planted a superb header into the Chelsea net.
Llorente, who played for Conte in Juventus, is in fine form for the Swans lately, per OptaJoe:
Chelsea still struggled to break Swansea down once the second half got under way. The visitors were helped by a superb performance from goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski, with the ex-Gunners stopper making a string of fine saves.
However, Fabianski did all his good work on the eve of the final 20 minutes when he let a tame shot from Pedro squirm underneath his body and in.
As WhoScored.com detailed, Spanish forward Pedro has become prolific in England's top flight:
Fabianski's blunder meant Pedro got lucky, but the goal also set a landmark for Fabregas, the man who had played his compatriot in:
Diego Costa put the game out of Swansea's reach six minutes from time to give Chelsea an ominous, double-digit lead at the top.
While Chelsea were increasing their lead, Everton were taking advantage of United not being action to strengthen their bid for a European place. It meant the Toffees had to see off Sunderland and old boss David Moyes at Goodison Park.
Gols from Idrissa Gueye and Romelu Lukaku ensured Everton got the points they needed. Lukaku's goal also equalled a piece of club history, per Squawka Football:
Sunderland remain rooted to the foot of the table on a day when Crystal Palace climbed out of the bottom three by beating Middlesbrough at Selhurst Park. Left-back Patrick van Aanholt got the game's only goal 11 minutes before half-time after receiving a pass from midfield schemer Yohan Cabaye.
Palace have made their move out of the drop zone, but a Middlesbrough side shy of goals must start fearing the drop.
While Palace took a step forward, Hull City couldn't do the same after being pegged back at home by Burnley. A Tom Huddlestone penalty looked like giving the Tigers three precious points, but centre-back Michael Keane drew the Clarets level with less than 15 minutes to go.
Not even a red card for Ashley Barnes in stoppage time could prevent Burnley from sealing a vital away point. Yet the stalemate is damaging for a Hull side still mired in trouble.
Bournemouth jumped into a quick lead away to West Bromwich Albion when Josh King netted from the penalty spot. However, the Baggies didn't take long to equalise, although defender Craig Dawson's thunderbolt shot probably surprised the home supporters as much as it shocked the Cherries.
West Brom took the lead just after 20 minutes thanks to a familiar source, when centre-back Gareth McAuley headed home from a Chris Brunt free-kick.
McAuley has become a prolific source of goals for the Baggies, according to BBC Match of the Day:
Bournemouth are now being dragged dangerously close to the Premier League's trapdoor.
The day's last fixture proved an eventful one, as West Ham United battled back to earn a point against Watford at Vicarage Road. A Troy Deeny penalty put the hosts in front after three minutes, but Andre Ayew equalised with less than 20 minutes to go.
Ayew tapped into an empty net after a fierce shot from Michail Antonio had struck the inside of both posts.
In between, a serious-looking injury to Watford forward Mauro Zarate marred the first half. Later, Antonio set an unwanted career first when he was shown a red card with four minutes to go, per Squawka:
Watford may have taken full advantage had a magnificent tackle on the goal-line by Hammers centre-back Winston Reid not denied Isaac Success a winning goal.
The draw was still good enough to see both teams move up a place in the standings, with West Ham now within the top 10.
Chelsea have strengthened what was an already an iron grip over the title race. A double-digit lead is likely to prove insurmountable for their rivals, even though the chasing pack now each have a game in hand.
As for Leicester, the champions may soon rue sacking manager Claudio Ranieri as they are dragged closer and closer to the unthinkable.