Monday certainly produced some stellar football as Everton and Stoke threw caution (and defense) to the wind and produced the match of the week. 7 goals split between two electric halves with Stoke seeming to just shade the contest after not letting their heads drop each time Everton mounted a comeback. This is truly shaping to be the most exciting Premier League season in recent memory.
Manchester United saved some face with an electric display against a lack luster Chelsea. Denied by the woodwork on multiple occasions, LvG could feel hard done, but his players seemed to respond to the pressure. Even though the result stayed 0-0, this was the type of relentless attacking force United fans have been missing. It remains to be seen if the Red Devils can continue with this fire, or if this was just a stop-gap performance.
Norwich recorded a solid victory over Aston Villa to help push them 3pts clear of the relegation zone. As for Aston Villa, what more can we say, 1 win all season, they are the new Derby.
Arsenal banished the nightmare that was the Gunner's 4-0 thrashing on Boxing Day to run out comfortable 2-0 victors over Bournemouth. Mesut Ozil added another assist to his impressive tally and even chipped in with a peach of a goal. Now top of the table, the Gunner faithful will have all eye's on the Leicester City v Manchester City match. Best outcome? Probably a draw.
Swansea City still face major problems but can come away with the draw at Crystal Palace with the positives that they didn't concede, which can start building them in the right direction. Crystal Palace missed a big opportunity to keep pressure on the bigger teams in the top half. Are they Top 4 quality? It remains to be seen if they can sustain this push for the second half of the season. United, West Ham, Watford (???) and Stoke are all clipping at the Eagles heels.
Spurs managed to pull out an impressive away victory to the other surprise team of the season, Watford. Odion Ighalo simply continues to be a force and I would bet has a few admirers looking to prize him away from the Hornets. Spurs surely have established themselves in the mix for the title and have secured another 3pts in a difficult match, which is what title contenders do.
Southampton started out the brighter side but ultimately fell to an Andy Carroll as he gifted the Hammers all 3pts from the bench. West Ham fit into a long list of clubs punching well above their usual weight, only adding to the excitement to the league this season. One could argue the Saints were the first of recent times to do this, and whether other teams took note, it has certainly taken hold.
West Brom got the job done and Newcastle's upward momentum shot further back down to earth after their second consecutive 1-0 loss. Still in the relegation zone, the Magpies have all to do in the second half of the season.
Our remaining fixtures leave us with an exciting top of the table clash with Leicester City facing off against title rivals Manchester City. The Foxes had an uncharacteristic slip-up against an up and down Liverpool, losing 1-0 thanks to a lone goal from Christian Benteke. However, Leciester retained much of the spirit and cuttign edge play during that loss that has seen them rocket to the top reaches of the Premier League table. Multiple times Liverpool invited Mahrez and co on the counter when pressing forward and nearly got stung. With only their second loss, the Foxes should be re-grouped and ready to face the Sky Blues backed by their fervent home support. If Sunderland can manage a goal on City then the Foxes chances look good. This one should be a thrilling encounter.
Wednesday wraps up Week 19 as Sunderland host Liverpool. Jurgen Klopp will be relishing the chance to build off the recent win over Leicester and look to push Liverpool forward in what is an exciting race for 4th. Sunderland have been dreadful and Liverpool would be foolish to sit back. The Reds will have to use the mentality and ferociousness from their travels to Manchester City and Chelsea earlier in the season to put the match to bed quickly. If not, Sunderland may well indeed grow into the game and start to cause Liverpool problems.
Editors note: Sorry my fault for this article not being published yesterday, I hope you can enjoy for Wednesday's match.
How have your teams done so far? Who do you have left to play?