It was a pertinent Premier League gameweek for a variety of different reasons, with Manchester City strengthening their grip on the title by opening up an eight-point gap, and their Mancunian rivals United fluffing their lines as yet another ‘pretender to the throne’ audition passed them by.
At the other end of the table, West Ham’s abject performance in the 1-4 defeat against Liverpool has cost Slaven Bilic his job, while David Unsworth appears to have been black-balled from the Everton job on a full time basis after overseeing another inept- yet ultimately winning – performance from his side.
So who are this week’s biggest winners and losers?
Winner: Antonio Conte
The Sky Sports commentator described Conte as a man who is ‘swimming against the tide’, and while you sort of know what he meant by that it is perhaps a bit premature to be writing off Chelsea just yet.
They are frustratingly inconsistent from their perspective, playing well one week and their preposterously badly the next – the 0-3 defeat at Roma being the perfect case in point.
But Conte was not unduly perturbed, and was confident enough to make a massive call in dropping David Luiz for the huge contest with Manchester United on Sunday.
The Italian’s players responded magnificently to whatever words of wisdom he dished out, and while the scoreline of 1-0 does not appear mind-blowing it was a particularly comprehensive victory.
Conte can now put his feet up over the international break, and so knowing he once again got one over on his old foe Jose Mourinho….
Loser: Jose Mourinho
There is no love lost between Conte and Mourinho, and for a manager it must be exasperating when you lose to a bitter rival.
The Manchester United boss did not even serve Conte the dignity of a handshake after his side’s 0-1 defeat, and after suffering three straight defeats at Stamford Bridge since becoming United boss you could forgive the ‘Special One’ for wanting to get down the tunnel as quickly as possible.
The Chelsea result is endemic of Mourinho’s failings in big matches away from home. In eleven outings on the road against the ‘big six’, United have failed to win under the Portuguese manager and, worst still, have scored just four goals.
With the club’s owners demanding that the Red Devils challenge for the Premier League title, something must change otherwise Mourinho will be driving that parked bus he so loves down to the Job Centre.
Winner: Crystal Palace
It might seem strange to call a team that lost their last game 0-1 a ‘winner’ in any context, but the improvement in Crystal Palace this past fortnight has been so marked that their supporters can expect good things to happen after the international break.
The Eagles dominated West Ham last week and were unlucky to only draw, and Roy Hodgson’s men took the same verve and tenacity to Wembley on Saturday.
And they matched Tottenham for more than an hour before Son’s goal, and in truth they did not look a side clamped to the bottom of the Premier League table. They recorded more shots on target than Spurs, won just one corner fewer and created enough chances to walk away from the game with something.
The international break comes at an annoying time for Hodgson and his troops, completely halting their momentum, but at least there is some positivity to take into the festive period.
Loser: Slaven Bilic
There has been a spate of Premier League sackings of late, and former West Ham boss Slaven Bilic is the latest to join the dole queue after failing to convince the Hammers’ owners that he was the right long term option.
It had all started so well for the Croatian too after he guided the Iron to a top-ten finish via some swashbuckling football courtesy of Dimitri Payet and co.
But the club’s fortunes have faded dramatically since, and make no mistake they are in a serious relegation battle right now. The new manager will need to hit upon a winning formula….and fast.
Winner: Peter Crouch
You know you must be doing something right – or your country is doing something very wrong – when you are tipped for an international recall at the age of 36, but either way it is fair to say that Peter Crouch is playing some of the best football of his career at present.
It’s easy to root for the beanpole striker, who is as quick to make fun of his own ungainliness as he is to get into a good position when the ball is in wide areas of the pitch.
And the 6ft 7in frontman did the business again for Mark Hughes, coming on as a sub to net the equaliser in the 2-2 draw with Leicester.
Could the strains of ‘Crouchy for England’ get even louder heading into next year’s World Cup?