Talking points from gameweek 25 of the Premier League

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Talking points from gameweek 25 of the Premier League

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Faizan Qadiri

02/13/2017

Arsenal were a part of a controversial win against Hull while United and Liverpool kept pace with the Gunners with comfortable 2-0 wins. Chelsea were held to a draw at Burnley but they have a massive 8-point lead over the chasing pack but Leicester are now just a point clear of the drop zone.

Here are the five major talking points from the gameweek's action

Arsenal "handed" yet another win 

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After succumbing to back-to-back defeats for a second time this season, Arsenal needed a win against high-flying Hull City, who had managed four points against Manchester United and Liverpool in their previous two games. Early on in the season, Arsenal were able to beat a resolute Burnley side thanks to an injury time "goal" by Laurent Koscielny. The Frenchman put the ball in the back of the net with the one part of his body that is not allowed - his hand.

Against Hull, Lady luck was on Arsenal's side yet again as Alexis Sanchez put the ball in the back of the net using the "Koscielny" technique. To be fair, he did not know too much about it, but his hand was extended and hardly in a natural position. The referee had his view blocked by the host of players in the Hull box, but how the linesman missed the final contact with the hand is difficult to comprehend. If Arsenal fans have any doubt about whether the goal was legitimate or not, referee Mark Clattenburg apologized to the Hull players after the game claiming that he had not seen the handball. 

Arsenal have not had a convincing win in the league since their victory over Swansea City a month ago. With the chasing pack right behind them, it doesn't look inconceivable anymore that Arsenal could drop out of the top-4.

Mane's return sees Liverpool regain their mojo

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It was like a re-run of any one of the games from the first half of the season. Liverpool hammered Tottenham into submission in the first 20 odd minutes and as the first game went in, the latter never looked like they were in contention for even a point. For Liverpool, it was the return of Sadio Mane, who has been absent due to international commitments, and his brace secured the Merseyside club's first win in the league since the turn of the year.

The absence of Danny Rose and slow pace of Ben Davies, who was up against Mane, played right into Liverpool's hands. Mauricio Pochettino didn't help as well setting his team up with a high line without two of their regular back four missing with injury. A bad day at the office for Victor Wanyama compounded the problems for Spurs as he failed to bring any sort of control into Spurs' game. 

Having said that, Liverpool were exceptional on the day as they fought tooth and nail for every ball and Mane's two goals were extremely well finished off. For the first time in almost two months, Liverpool were given a full week's rest and they showed what a fatigue-less team looked like. They have already been knocked out of all other competitions so fans can expect a similar style of play for the remainder of the campaign.

Chelsea should now be declared "Champions elect"

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Even though they dropped two points against Burnley, it is high time that we accept the fact that Chelsea are uncatchable now. They have to play just one game a week due to their absence in Europe and a squad big and talented enough to get them past the finish line. In all honesty, Chelsea have just three "difficult" games left this season - games against the two Manchester clubs and Everton. 

They have conceded just 18 goals this season and it would be surprising if they end up with more than 30 in the against column this season. Even when he is not scoring, Diego Costa's work rate is something that every Premier League club dream of having in their team and in Hazard, they have the x-factor that most of the major teams in the league are lacking. Almost the entire squad, along with the manager, has been in this position before and it is highly unlikely that an Italian manager would struggle to close the deal. 

The only concern for Conte would be the lack of chances created in the Burnley game, where they had just two shots on target in 90 minutes and failed to register a single shot goalbound after their goal in the seventh minute of the game. However, after the season they have had so far, the game can be dismissed as a bad day at the office.

Is Martial Mourinho's next Mkhitaryan?

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In recent weeks, if social media was to be believed, Manchester United fans have not been upset with Jose Mourinho about the way he has treated Anthony Martial. The Frenchman was rested for three games in a row and it proved to be a decision that the United fans did not agree with at all. However, this is not the first time this season that a player has not been included in the starting XI even though the fans were desperate for it. 

United spent a massive £26.3 million on Henrikh Mkhitaryan to prize him away from Borussia Dortmund. However, the Armenian played just 133 minutes in the first 13 games of the season - not featuring in 8 league games in a row. Since then he has been a regular feature in the team and is considered to be one of the players who have inspired this United comeback. 

Against Watford, Martial showed a similar sort of drive and innovation that was missing from his game earlier in the season. It's not just what the fans could see, numbers paint a pretty picture as well. Not only did he create the opener for Juan Mata, he capped off the evening with a goal of his own as well. He took on players whenever he could and even tracked back to help out Blind as well. United fans would hope to see the same Martial who created a buzz in the Premier League when he signed from Monaco in 2015.

Leicester City are well and truly in the relegation dogfight

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The Leicester story is truly a fairytale - not the ones that we read nowadays but the Brothers Grimm one. After the highs of last season, thank you for that again, we have seen the most abject display on a football pitch by a team for quite a while. The last time Leicester City scored a Premier League goal, Barack Obama, and not Donald Trump, was the President of the United States and we were still getting ready to celebrate the new year. 

They have conceded 12 goals without reply since the turn of the year and the idea that the Champions could get relegated does not look unbelievable anymore. They are just one point clear of the relegation zone and appear to be sinking even further. All the teams around them have enough games to play against each other to have a chance of some sort of recovery. Leicester City, on the other hand, have Liverpool (H), Hull City (H), Arsenal (A), and West Ham (A) in the next four weeks. It is going to be a long couple of months for the Champions but the advantage for them is they have been here before and know exactly what is needed to dig themselves out of the hole they find themselves in.

One more shocking incident that most people might have missed was that the post-match interview with Claudio Ranieri. The reporter asked the 65-year-old if "he knew what was needed" in these testing times. The reporter was "kind enough" to add no offense at the end while addressing a manager who has beaten the biggest odds in sporting history to lead a team of nobodys to success.

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