Right from the outset Saturday, this looked like the Chelsea of old: players were crowding the penalty area and attacking the net, putting their game against Sunderland out of sight early. But the chants from the fans and the boos from the crowd told the real story: it was clear that some of Chelsea’s players simply quit on their ex-manager in an effort to get him sacked. They won – for now. The real question is this: what did the club lose by caving in to player power?
AFP/Getty ImagesGLYN KIRK
… and just how long will the Special One be out of work?
Watching Manchester United slink to another home loss – this against bottom-feeders Norwich – one wonders how long Louis van Gaal can hang on at Old Trafford. His team looks completely off-key, unable to control the pace of the game and woeful up top. With Mourinho available, might the Glazers be making a hasty phone call? Don’t bet against it: as it stands, United are at real risk of missing European football with displays such as Saturday’s.
Man Utd via Getty ImagesMatthew Peters
High-flying Foxes are for real
All winter, Claudio Ranieri and his players have insisted their target was safety: “forty points”. It’s time to set a new target. With another dazzling display, this time at the expense of Everton, Leicester are setting a marker as the team to beat this season. It is true that resources and injuries will play a major role for the Foxes down the stretch. That said, Leicester actually look like a team that wants to win a title. And given that five out of the past six teams that led the league at Christmas have …
AFP/Getty ImagesPAUL ELLIS
Liverpool’s keepers hit the skids
Thought Simon Mignolet was bad, Reds’ fans? Well, Adam Bogdan was worse, gifting Nathan Ake a third-minute opener by simply dropping the ball and setting up Watford for a big win over Jurgen Klopp’s flops. Languishing mid-table, Liverpool have shown promise in fits and starts, but little consistency. With both keepers making clangers regularly, it could be some time for Klopp to get what has been a poor defense sorted out.
Getty ImagesRichard Heathcote
Bournemouth’s big charge
The Cherries have now won three games on the trot, and against a pretty good list of teams: West Bromwich Albion, Chelsea and Manchester United. They have not lost a game in five and have hauled themselves out of the drop zone with a series of gritty performances that signal Eddie Howe’s team is finally adjusting to life among the big boys. Make no mistake: their target is still mere survival, but this looks a team playing an organized, flowing style of football. If they can keep it up, they’ll stay up for sure.