The wild season of the English Premier League we are currently in the midst of continued with a weekend that kept the intrigue and drama coming.
As things tend to happen in the Prem, we saw a little bit of everything. Highlighted by a massive derby that gave us crazy pre-match drama, rabona goal-red card mash-up from the same player, there were lots of storylines to cover. With less than 10 matches to play, we may look back at this matchday as a particularly important set of results.
Manchester City resumed regular scheduled programming with a relatively smooth 3-0 victory over Fulham and extended its lead atop the Premier League table to 14 points. As noted last week, it will take a miracle to depose them as champions elect. The race for the Champions League includes the next seven clubs and some strong statements were made. At the bottom? Not so much.
Let’s start this week’s Winners and Losers in North London.
Winner: Mikel Arteta, Arsenal
A first win in the famed Arsenal-Tottenham tussle for Arteta on Sunday in what was an engrossing 90 minutes at the Emirates. The match deserved 60,000 locals in the stands to cheer the action but we will continue to be patient there.
Pegged back initially by one of the most absurd rabona goals you’ll ever see from Erik Lamela, Arsenal battled its way back into the match. Even after the jarring news prior to kickoff that captain and leading scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang would start on the bench due to a disciplinary issue. Another powerful goal from the ever-promising Martin Odegaard and a converted penalty by Alexandre Lacazatte handed Arteta and Gunners fans everywhere the 2-1 win.
Still in the extremely painful position of 10th in the table, the win was a huge boost for the red side of London-town and should give the club a good dose of confidence to close out the season on a good run.
Loser: Harry Kane, Tottenham
On the flip side of Arteta’s jubilation was poor Harry Kane. Shackled for most of the match against one of the most curious defenses in the top half (and in part by his own manager), Kane had very little involvement in the Derby until some later chances that he couldn’t convert.
This is coming from the player who is the derby’s all-time leading goalscorer and who has been on a tear lately with a resurgent Gareth Bale and his best buddy Hueng-min Son. Yes, there were some tactical questions but when the moment was there for the taking, Kane couldn’t couldn’t push his club over the line. Three of the next four include both Manchester clubs and Everton so the pressure will be on to bounce back against even trickier opposition.
Winner: Leicester’s City’s Forwards
We’ve all been thinking about it. We’ve all been hoping it isn’t true. That it couldn’t possibly be what is happening. The fact of the matter is, our beloved Jamie Vardy, the rags-to-riches story that no football fan can truly disapprove of may...just may...be slowing down. Even after 12 goals this season, the 34-year-old has looked a little off-color in the penalty area of late, something you could rarely say before.
No worries though, says that Red Bull-guzzling scamp...he’ll just start providing the goals instead. Two assists for Vardy is a rarity but he’ll be more than happy to share the spotlight with the reborn Kelechi Iheanacho who netted a wonderful hat-trick in Leicester’s 5-0 trouncing of hapless Sheffield United.
Not a bad day at the office up front for the Foxes.
Loser: The Rest of London
Sure, Crystal Palace managed an awe-inspiring 1-0 victory over bottom-feeding West Brom and the aforementioned North London Derby went the way of the red...but outside of that, it wasn't the best weekend in England’s capital.
Chelsea remained stingy as ever under Thomas Tuchel, but couldn’t get ahead of Leeds in a match that ended 0-0. West Ham? Blanked by Manchester United. Fulham? Blanked by Manchester City. Between the six London sides currently in the Prem, they only managed to score four times. Not ideal by any stretch.
Winner: Brighton & Hove Albion
One bright spot at the bottom end of the table was the massive 2-1 win picked up by Brighton against Southampton. Managed by the likeable and magically-named Graham Potter, the Seagulls took advantage of a spiralling Southampton side and eked out the victory that featured a lovely team goal by Leandro Trossard for the winner.
Currently in a very dicey 16th place, only three points above the drop zone, victories like this will be vital if we’re to see them in the top flight again next season. A massive relegation 6-pointer vs. 17th-placed Newcastle is up next.
Loser: The Bottom Three (Fulham, West Brom, Sheffield United)
While Brighton was picking up a massive win to provide a bit of breathing room, the teams that needed results most couldn’t have been further from tasting victory.
A combined nine goals against and exactly zero scored for the three clubs currently facing the drop just won’t do it in the ever-challenging world of the Premier League. While it appears as though Sheffield and West Brom are destined to go down with lifeless performances like this weekend’s, you have to think that Fulham still has a chance as they sit only two points from safety.
Shane Evans manages B/R Football content within the Bleacher Report App. For more, follow him on Twitter at @shanevans.