London, United Kingdom | AFP | Chelsea maintained their relentless march towards the Premier League title, Arsene Wenger endured another day to forget and Manchester City were frustrated by Liverpool.
Here are five things we learned in the Premier League this weekend:
Cahill proves title mettle
Received wisdom in the Premier League has it that any title contender must prove their mettle by grinding out victory at Stoke’s inhospitable Britannia Stadium. With a howling wind, hostile crowd and tenacious players to conquer, Stoke has become the litmus test for showing character in adversity, so Chelsea boss Antonio Conte was understandably delighted with his side’s hard-fought 2-1 win in the Potteries on Saturday. When Gary Cahill gave away the penalty that Jon Walters converted to cancel out Willian’s opener, Chelsea were up against it, but Cahill responded by nicking the 87th minute winner that kept his team firmly on course for the title in Conte’s first season.
Scoring the winner… ? pic.twitter.com/JXFphwdxKi
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) March 19, 2017
Arsenal need Wenger to end uncertainty
Staying? Going? Arsene Wenger gave no clues as to whether he will stay on as Arsenal manager beyond the end of the season, but he did reveal he will make his intentions known “very soon”. Saturday’s abject 3-1 defeat at West Bromwich Albion showed that as far as the general health of the club is concerned, the sooner Wenger reveals his next step, the better. On the pitch, Arsenal were dreadful, conceding two soft headed goals to Craig Dawson and mustering just two shots on target. Off the pitch, enmity between the pro- and anti-Wenger factions within Arsenal’s support deepened, the two camps each chartering planes to fly banners over the stadium – one backing him, the other imploring him to go.
— ArsenalFanTV (@ArsenalFanTV) March 19, 2017
James Milner remains Mr Dependable
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp could not watch as James Milner placed the ball on the spot against Manchester City, ostentatiously turning away from the pitch with his arms folded, but he needn’t have worried. Milner nervelessly placed the ball in the bottom-left corner to score his seventh penalty from seven attempts this season. Sergio Aguero’s equaliser earned City a 1-1 draw at Eastlands, but Milner’s record of never having lost a Premier League game in which he has scored now stands at a staggering 47 matches. The 31-year-old was booed on his return to his former club, but it did not seem to disturb him and while he was given a torrid afternoon by Raheem Sterling, City held firm to extend their unbeaten run against the other teams in the top six to 10 games.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) March 19, 2017
No Kane, no problem
When Harry Kane was last sidelined with an ankle injury, Tottenham suffered badly and won just three of nine league games without the England striker. On the evidence of Sunday’s 2-1 win over Southampton at White Hart Lane, Mauricio Pochettino’s side are now better equipped to cope without Kane, who has 24 goals in all competitions this season. Christian Eriksen put Spurs ahead with a typically elegant finish and Dele Alli won and then converted the penalty that doubled Tottenham’s lead. Kane won’t be back for several weeks, so, although James Ward-Prowse got one back to set up a tense finish, Pochettino must take heart from the way second placed Tottenham held on to close the gap on Chelsea to 10 points.
Leicester’s away-day blues are no more
When Leicester sauntered off the pitch following a 2-0 win at Sunderland on a sunny April day last year, it would have been inconceivable that they would have to wait 11 months for their next away victory. When they lost 2-0 at Swansea last month, it seemed almost equally inconceivable that they might ever win away from home again. But Craig Shakespeare has blown the cobwebs away since succeeding Claudio Ranieri as manager and following successive home wins over Liverpool, Hull and Sevilla, Leicester ended their away hoodoo with a narrow 3-2 win at West Ham. Now six points above the relegation zone and with home games against Stoke and Sunderland to come, they could be all but safe by the time they travel to Everton on April 9.