Premier League winners and losers: Arsenal, Jose Mourinho and more
Arsenal underline their Premier League title potential and Jose Mourinho leaves Chelsea after a spectacular collapse
Arsenal. Arsene Wenger probably won’t have a better shot at a fourth Premier League title than the Gunners have this season. The north London side are two points behind surprise Premier League leaders Leicester City after a 2-1 win against Manchester City at The Emirates. If there are still any Arsenal sceptics, then Monday night’s win should help to eradicate any lingering doubts. The home side’s 15-minute spell before half-time had Manuel Pellegrini’s side on the ropes as Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud beat City goalkeeper Joe Hart. While Wenger’s side didn’t see out the game with care as Yaya Toure’s 81st-minute wonder strike ensured a nervy final nine minutes. The Arsenal of old might have collapsed amid the palpable tension at The Emirates, but with Petr Cech breeding confidence in goal, the Gunners avoided conceding a catastrophic second. While Leicester are still two points clear of Arsenal, the Foxes face Liverpool at Anfield and City at the King Power Stadium in their next two games. The Gunners could well be top of the table heading into 2016 ahead of City and Tottenham Hotspur and even further clear of struggling Manchester United and Liverpool.
Leicester City. While Bournemouth and Watford deserve honourable mentions after continuing their recent winning runs at the weekend, Leicester City were the biggest winners as they cemented their place at the top of the table. A trip to Goodison Park was a potential banana skin fixture for Leicester, but Claudio Ranieri’s side matched Everton toe-for-toe as Riyad Mahrez was once again their key man. The Algeria international has been the player of the 2015/16 season so far alongside team-mate Jamie Vardy and Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil. Even when Romelu Lukaku equalised and Kevin Mirallas beat Kasper Schmeichel, a Leicester victory never seemed in doubt. Given the inconsistency of all the top teams this season, Leicester are title contenders but for now, will want another three points against Liverpool at Anfield to esclipse Ranieri’s magic 40-point target.
Liverpool. Turning to the Reds, Jurgen Klopp is facing an ever-growing challenge at Anfield. The 48-year-old initially had a positive impact at the Merseyside outfit as Liverpool lost once in 11 games in all competitions. However, their emphatic 3-0 loss to Watford prompted Robbie Savage to suggest the Reds should have stuck with Brendan Rodgers. Whilst there is little difference between the two manager’s stats in charge of Liverpool this season, a dark cloud has ascended from Anfield thanks to Klopp’s bright, positive manner. Naturally, a some positive results including victories at Chelsea and Manchester City prompted talk of an unlikely title challenge, a season of rebuilding seems the more realistic prospect with an outside chance of a top-four finish. After all, Sunday’s conquerors Watford are four points clear of ninth-placed Liverpool.
Jose Mourinho. Is Jose Mourinho the real specialist in failure? Well, when it comes to third seasons at Stamford Bridge, the Portuguese coach is. The axed Chelsea manager’s astounding attack on rival Wenger was one of the most memorable moments of his second reign at Stamford Bridge. But the Frenchman still has the same number of Premier League titles as Mourinho and has built three different title-winning squads during his 19-year reign. Could the latest crop be his fourth? For all his past glories, Mourinho hasn’t been able to emulate Sir Alex Ferguson and Wenger by securing sustained success at a club and constantly improve his squad. Yes, Wenger hasn’t won the Premier League since 2004, but as Steven Gerrard points out in his autobiography, Liverpool (and Arsenal) would have more than likely secured further title glory but for the emergence of cash-rich Chelsea and Manchester City. Mourinho is a winner, no doubt. But he still has something to prove given this Chelsea disaster.