May 9, 2017

FREE KICKS: That’s so Spursy!

by Dan Bilicki In: Soccer

The week after we thought it was no longer the same old Spurs, we got the same old Spurs.

After doing away with North London rival Arsenal last week, ending the tradition of St. Totteringham Day, Spurs couldn’t crack East London’s West Ham United.

The loss to the Irons – who have been pretty underwhelming this season after showing so much promise in 2015-16 – the title race has been all but given to Chelsea.

With the Blues’ win over Middlesbrough on Monday, Chelsea is three points away from clinching the title. Any combination of three points gained by the league leaders and three points lost by Spurs and that’s it for the title race.

Given how well Chelsea has been playing, this thing is as good as dead.

This whole thing is typical Spurs, though. Just when we figured that Tottenham could keep up this title race and really pressure the Blues down the home stretch, it falls apart against a team it should easily do away with. The attack force of Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen shouldn’t have had much trouble breaking down an average-at-best Hammers defence.

Well, the title race was good while it lasted, but we think it’s finally safe to say that the Blues are champions once again.


With eight saves, including one on a penalty, a clean sheet against one of the top scoring teams in the league and one more game still to come this week on Wednesday, Fraser Forster gets the nod from us as top performer.

The Southampton keeper was solid as ever in picking up his 13th clean sheet of the season against Liverpool on Sunday at Anfield. That’s fourth best in the Premier League and ties his career best from two seasons ago. And, considering how many top players have been sold by the Saints in recent windows, the fact that the defence remains a strength like this is pretty impressive.


Congratulations to N’Golo Kante on being named the Football Writers Association player of the year. It’s always good to see a hard-working midfielder that doesn’t score or assist an incredible amount of goals get rewarded like this. Kante’s tremendous defensive ability really helps make Chelsea what it has been this season … Cesc Fabregas filled in for Kante – who has a minor injury – on Monday and put on a passing clinic. Some of his through balls to Marcos Alonso were incredible. And he picked up an assist, making Fabregas the first in Premier League history to record at least 10 assists in six EPL seasons … Speaking of firsts, Blackburn Rovers were relegated to League One on Sunday, making them the first Premier League champions to fall to the third tier of English football. It’s really sad what Venkys’ ownership has done to this once-proud club … Once again, Manchester City proved it doesn’t need Sergio Aguero to really put on a show. And, don’t look now, but that supposed shaky defence kept its 11th clean sheet of the season … Whatever happened to Kelechi Iheanacho? He seems pretty dispensable now with Gabriel Jesus back from injury, but showed so much promise at the beginning of the season … How incredible has Josh King been for Bournemouth? Since losing to Hull on Jan. 14, King has at least a goal or assist in 11 of 14 games. How’s that for a run of form? … With Boro’s loss to Chelsea, it has officially been relegated back to League Championship. We have a feeling that we might be seeing them again soon, though … Now, who will be joining Middlesbrough and Sunderland in the Championship? Hull is looking like the safe bet after losing to the Black Cats on Saturday while Swansea picked up three points. And how about that, watching already-relegated Sunderland drag down the Tigers with them? It’s always fun when you see teams suddenly start trying harder after their fates have been sealed.


What is more fitting than this: After losing last week to rival Spurs, clinching the first season in 25 years that Arsenal would finish below Tottenham in the table, the Gunners come back this week and give Arsene Wenger his first managerial victory over Jose Mourinho.

Even more, it ended Manchester United’s 25-game unbeaten run in Premier League play.

Sure, with 12 of those 25 games ending in draws, the run itself wasn’t THAT impressive, but it was 25 games without a loss, no less.

But this was it, Wenger finally did it!

After years of struggling against any team that Mourinho managed, after years of being taunted in the media and on the sidelines by his Portuguese rival, Wenger finally got the upper hand. And, the Gunners have now regained some hope of getting back into a Champions League spot before season’s end.

Mourinho and United, on the other hand, have put all of their eggs in the Europa League basket. The Red Devils gave debuts to two youngsters on Sunday while resting some regulars ahead of Thursday’s second leg against Celta Vigo. It’s pretty ironic that the competition that the Special One once showed so much distain for is likely the only way that United will be Champions League next season.

Follow me on Twitter @danbilicki

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