Pre-game, several pundits wondered if Mark Hughes would play an all-out attacking front four against this depleted City side, still reeling from the absence of Vincent Kompany. Hughes did, and his Potters came away with a fully deserved 2-0 win on the night. Xherdan Shaqiri showed his skill and vision, combining twice with Marko Arnautovic early to lead his club to victory. City looked nervous every time the Swiss got his foot on the ball, and rightly so: they were ripped apart today and now must recover midweek.
Getty ImagesAlex Livesey
Manchester United’s lack of bite costing them dearly
The stats from United’s 0-0 draw against West Ham were damning: 21 shots, just a single one on frame. United have now racked up five goalless draws in their past nine games. It could be argued, however, that they have at least added a new facet to their game: now, they are not only unwatchable and boring, but reliably impotent. How is a team with this much pace and power this sterile? Look at the manager.
AFP/Getty ImagesOLI SCARFF
Vardy's streak ends, Mahrez's begins?
Vardy missed his chances Saturday to make more history, but Riyad Mahrez, one of the league’s players of the season to date, made up the difference. Netting a hat-trick against a Swansea side now in deep trouble, Leicester are showing they are more than just a fluke. Belief is a powerful thing, and even if Claudio Ranieri says publicly that forty points (and survival) remains his team’s goal, you have to feel that this team is something special. There are a lot of games left to play – but the Foxes are showing they are a team to beat.
AFP/Getty ImagesGEOFF CADDICK
Limping Gunners fire just enough
If Arsenal are to make a run at the title, they’re going to have to find some reinforcements. With ten players injured – several seriously – it’s unthinkable that they can keep winning games through a packed winter schedule. But they are showing resilience: in a poor performance against a rising Sunderland side, Arsenal overcame the loss of vital playmaker Santi Cazorla to win out 3-1. The game was not as close as the scoreline suggests, but it is also fair to note that Sunderland scored no goals on the night, benefitting from an Olivier Giroud own goal. A better team might have put the limping Londoners to the sword; better teams still may.
Getty ImagesShaun Botterill
Chelsea stunned, again
There’s something about a relegation six-pointer that really gets the juices flowing. While it is odd to use the words “Chelsea” and “relegation” in the same sentence, the facts are plain: this was a well-deserved win by the Cherries, who clambered out of the drop zone with the result. Chelsea are now just two points clear of the rookies, and only three points above the shaft. Chelsea may have a more expensive lineup and possibly more talent – but they have lost their fear factor. Think Chelsea can’t go down? Think again.