Weblog: The football punter
Five things we learned from the weekend
1 Poor defence putting Chelsea’s top-four hopes at risk
Chelsea were one of the three main title contenders at the start of the season but in the wake of Saturday’s 3-0 loss at Arsenal they are 11-10 to finish in the top four.
Chelsea were credited with a 50 per cent share of possession and nine shots to paint a picture of a fairly even contest. It was nothing of the sort.
Arsenal carved open the Blues at regular intervals and could have secured a bigger margin of victory.
Chelsea’s desire to play out from the back was exposed by Arsenal’s high press and future opponents of the Blues are sure to try to replicate the tactics.
Offensively, Chelsea are more effective than last season but defensively nothing seems to have changed.
The Blues were ranked 13th for their defensive record last season and they remain too easy to play against.
No team in the top half have conceded more goals and Antonio Conte’s side have managed just one clean sheet – at home to struggling Burnley.
Chelsea looked more comfortable after switching to a back three in the second half at the Emirates but there are serious questions for Conte and his side to answer in the coming weeks.
2 Cherries can consolidate
Ronald Koeman said Bournemouth are unlikely to be fighting against relegation after watching his Everton lose 1-0 on the south coast on Saturday and it is hard to disagree.
The Cherries were under pressure after a 4-0 loss at Manchester City in the league was followed by a shock 3-2 extra-time loss at home to Sky Bet Championship side Preston in the EFL Cup.
But they produced their best performance of the season against the Toffees to remind everyone of their qualities.
Some of Bournemouth’s performances have lacked the intensity displayed last term.
However, they played with bundles of energy against Everton and showed that they remain hungry to improve on the astonishing progress they have made in recent years.
3Villa can make top six
One win from nine games is the stuff of nightmares for a team recently relegated from the Premier League but Aston Villa may soon be on the rise after coming from behind to draw 1-1 at home to Sky Bet Championship title favourites Newcastle on Saturday.
Villa have struggled to get going and there have been signs of mental weakness with goals being conceded after 80 minutes in five of their nine matches this season.
However, it was Villa who grabbed a late goal against Newcastle with Aaron Tshibola’s 88th-minute equaliser, and there is still plenty of time for a high-quality Villa squad to work their way into top-six contention.
4 Don’t write off the Seagulls
Newcastle and Norwich are 4-11 and 4-6 to win promotion but don’t be surprised if Brighton give them a run for their money.
The Sky Bet Championship is all about consistency and the Seagulls, who have banked 62 points from 31 games in 2016, look value at 13-2 to go up.
5 Dons big value in wide-open title race
Wigan won Sky Bet League One last season despite a slow start and MK Dons could do something similar.
Like Wigan, the Dons have taken time to shrug off the disappointment of relegation but Saturday’s 4-1 win at Fleetwood was a timely boost.
They have lots of potential with Ryan Colclough, Dean Bowditch, Kieran Agard and Nicky Maynard all goal threats and the Dons are overpriced 20-1 shots to win a wide-open division.