Premier League winners and losers: Arsenal, Costa and more
Jamie Vardy breaks Ruud van Nistelrooy's Premier League record, Arsenal lose Alexis Sanchez to injury
Jamie Vardy. Ruud van Nistelrooy was among the first to wish Jamie Vardy congratulations on his new Premier League record on Saturday evening. The Leicester City striker became the first player to score in 11 successive Premier League games. It was made all the sweeter that the historic goal came against Van Nistelrooy’s former employers Manchester United and kept the Foxes top of the Premier League table alongside Manchester City. Vardy can equal the top-flight’s record for scoring in successive games if he manages to beat Swansea goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski next weekend. Who’d bet against him doing it? Certainly not this football fan who lost this bet.
Alan Pardew. Crystal Palace had seen their impressive start to the season come to a shuddering halt in recent months after a run of one win in five Premier League games. But the visit of Alan Pardew’s former club Newcastle United was always going to give the manager extra motivation to mastermind a victory over the Magpies. It wasn’t just a victory, though, it was a landslide win as the Eagles put five past Steve McClaren’s side. Yannick Bolasie continued his rich vein of form with two goals in the 5-1 win which should keep his suitors interested with the January transfer window around the corner. Palace have the chance to get an unlikely Europa League push back in full swing with games against their mid-table rivals (and the visit of defending champions Chelsea on 3 January) before a trip to Manchester City on 16 January.
Arsene Wenger. Arsene Wenger must be blessing the unpredictable nature of this season’s Premier League under his breath after Arsenal dropped points at Norwich City but remained a mere two points behind joint leaders Leicester and Man City. However, the Gunners have really missed an excellent chance to lay down a marker in the title race. If the Gunners had lived up to their billing as the Premier League most-effective club at beating the bottom 12 with victories over West Brom and Norwich, Arsenal would be three points clear at the top. Instead, the Gunners are still playing catching and won’t be able to call upon Alexis Sanchez to help barring a miracle. The Chile international was an injury doubt before the Carrow Road clash but Wenger opted to take a calculated risk on the £35m signing. Sanchez lasted 60 minutes before Arsenal suffered their “big blow”. With Laurent Koscielny also succumbing to injury, Arsenal could be out of the title race by the end of January if the Gunners should lose Koscielny and Sanchez for an extended period. After all, Wenger’s side face Manchester City, Southampton (away), Liverpool (away), Chelsea and Southampton (home) in their next nine Premier League games.
Diego Costa. It is hard to have sympathy with Diego Costa at the best of times. The Chelsea striker is one of the Premier League’s more cantankerous characters, but after scoring 21 goals in 26 games to fire the Blues to the Premier League title in his first season at Stamford Bridge last season, he is probably within his right to feel a bit miffed about his treatment by Jose Mourinho at times this season. It hasn’t been exclusive to Costa, though. Mourinho has been frosty with a number of his first-teamers after a slow start to the season, including John Terry. But Costa’s languid warm-up at White Hart Lane after being dropped from the starting line-up was unprofessional, particularly given it was London derby day. However, his behaviour after being told that his services weren’t required in the final minutes of Chelsea’s 1-1 draw at Tottenham Hotspur was simply childish. Costa threw off his bib which fortuitously or disappointingly (depending on whether you’re Costa, Mourinho or a netural) landed centre metres from the Chelsea boss. Paul Scholes’s punditry has ironically been criticised over the past week for being too critical, but his assessment of Mourinho’s handling of Costa was spot on.
Honourable mentions: Bournemouth (winners), Sunderland (winners), Jurgen Klopp (winners), Wayne Rooney and Louis van Gaal (losers).