All comments for this piece were written by Sam
Arsenal 1-2 Watford
It’s games like Tuesday night why I hate being an Arsenal fan. It was an ideal opportunity for Arsenal to close the gap on Chelsea, but once again the Gunners bottled it. While I don’t think it’s fair to fully blame the manager for the defeat, as none of the players showed up for the Gunners during the first hour, Arsène Wenger’s team selection was rather baffling in places. The returning Hector Bellerín from injury played 90 minutes on the weekend in the cup win at Southampton, and Theo Walcott scored a hat trick, but both ended up on the bench in midweek, meaning the restorations Olivier Giroud and Gabriel to the line-up both of whom were very flat during the Watford game. It was bad management from the Arsenal boss, as it gives off the impression that no matter how well the ‘second XI’ did in the cup, the XI than scraped past Burnley a fortnight ago have nothing to fear when it comes to their places in the side. Credit to Watford though, they stepped up and were stronger than Arsenal in every area on the pitch. The league isn’t over yet for the Gunners, but anything less than a win at Stamford Bridge on Saturday and it’s all over.
Liverpool 1-1 Chelsea
This was a strange game, as before the match Chelsea would have been a little disappointed with a draw, but considering the way Arsenal and Spurs both dropped points, and also the way Liverpool dominated the game, their fans were very happy with a point at the final whistle. It was a bit harsh on Liverpool that they went 1-0 down, especially with the manner in which David Luiz scored for Chelsea, but they showed good resilience after a very poor week for them. Either side could have taken all three points, a very enjoyable game.
Happy retirement Frank Lampard
I’m not sure we’ll see a player like Frank Lampard again in football. His goal-scoring record for a midfielder was baffling and the way he kept a cool head when the ball came to him on the edge of the box was awe-inspiring. I actually met him once – well when I say met him I was shouting abuse at all the Chelsea players as they were entering Griffin Park for their FA Cup tie against Brentford in 2013 – but got a cheer from the home fans as he walked down into the dressing room. That shows a lot about the respect he had in English football (he is, indeed, the only thing related to Chelsea that I actually like, despite regularly netting against Arsenal). He is a proper football man; he knows what it means to the fans. I was surprised that he retired when he did, especially after hearing that Swansea offered him a contract, the team he joined on loan to kick-start his career. But I hope that we see more of him in football, and if he has success in a potential managerial career like he did in his playing career, then we’re in for a real treat.
One of the big surprises in the midweek fixtures was the fact that the bottom four teams in the Premier League (Sunderland, Hull, Crystal Palace and Swansea) failed to lose, which not only gives said teams a chance, but also forces the teams above them to look over their shoulders at this mini-resurgence. I thought Swansea and Hull were goners with regards to survival, but the Welsh side have won two on the bounce, and Hull are getting their character back, despite losing their key player Robert Snodgrass to West Ham. Meanwhile, Sunderland are now propping up the table, and after an uninspiring January transfer window, they now look like the team doomed for relegation. Crystal Palace got their first league win under Sam Allardyce, so where will that take them? The race for survival is looking more and more tense now.
Peter Crouch: 100 Premier League goals
What a man, and he completely deserves this milestone and the recognition for it. Despite the fact he used to play for Spurs, I’m a huge admirer of ‘Big Pete’. If you look at his playing days over the past 15 years, for a player not considered as world-class he’s had quite a career. Playing in the Champions League for Liverpool and Spurs, an FA Cup winner and a century of goals in the world’s best division is no easy feat. I always felt he was harshly underrated when he played for England. 22 goals in 42 caps is an excellent goal to game ratio, and he was a huge asset that most international teams couldn’t deal with. It’s good to see him on a bit of form even now as he completely deserves it. Keep it up Crouchy!