What an eventful set of games we saw in last weekend’s Premier League. England teammates, Joe Gomez and Raheem Sterling got into a bust up on the pitch at Anfield, with the game also resulting in Liverpool storming eight-points clear at the top. Chelsea left Stamford Bridge with a clean slate against Crystal Palace, Leicester City cemented themselves in a second-place position, Spurs got a draw and Manchester United bagged a 3-1 victory over Brighton to sit a point outside the top six.
The gap widens between Man City and Liverpool
Manchester City moved into fourth place following Sunday’s loss to The Reds, who have extended their lead against their Northern rivals by nine points. It was a thrilling victory for Klopp’s men who secured a 3-1 win at Anfield, with Man City’s only goal coming very late in the game.
Fabinho put the Reds in front, scoring a sublime goal in the 6th minute, though it came after a handball controversary against Trent Alexander-Arnold. Bernardo Silva sent a cross towards Sergio Aguero which struck Alexander-Arnold’s arm and though City raised objections, the referee shut them down.
Alexander-Arnold defended himself by stating it came off Silva’s arm first but fans and even some pundits have protested in City’s favour. Ex-City captain Kompany, also commented, saying that Bernardo’s hand was in a natural position and Alexander-Arnold’s was not. He then went on to say that either way play should have been stopped regardless of the final ruling.
Mo Salah was next on the scoring sheet, driving a header into the bottom corner to double Liverpool’s lead. It was a lovely ball from Andy Robertson who ran down the left flank after receiving a wonderful cross from Alexander-Arnold. The Reds soon tripled their lead when Sadio Mane put one past back-up keeper Claudio Bravo, leaving Pep Guardiola fretting.
City managed to slip one past Alisson in the 78th minute. Bernardo Silva fired a low strike at the near the post but it wasn’t enough to make a real difference. In absence of Aymeric Laporte and Ederson, Man City are really struggling this season. There’s no denying that Pep’s men are an attacking threat but the cracks in their defence are deepening and it’s costing them.
Can the January transfer window save them or have Liverpool dismissed Manchester City as Premier League title contenders?
Chelsea’s young stars continue to rise
Frank Lampard’s tactical plan against Crystal Palace worked to full effect last Saturday as the Blues left Stamford Bridge with three points and a clean sheet, to mark their sixth win in a row.
Chelsea dominated in a frustrating first-half which saw a number of near misses and blocked efforts for the Blues. Palace goalkeeper, Vicente Guaita did well to deny some of the shots from Lampard’s men. American international, Christian Pulisic attempted first and did brilliantly to divert Joel Ward before firing the shot into the arms of Guaita and Willian’s efforts went wide after he recovered a ball that had been for Tammy Abraham.
Crystal Palace’s head coach, Roy Hodgson entered Stamford Bridge in trepidation, using a 4-5-1 formation which can be assumed was in hopes that a tight midfield and defensive line would be able to keep the likes of Mason Mount, Pulisic and Abraham out. Though that obviously didn’t work out too well for him.
Chelsea broke through in the second-half and Abraham was the first to go down on the score sheet. The goal started with Kovacic, who shifted through a pool of Palace players before laying off to Willian. He neatly flicked the ball into Abraham’s path and the Chelsea striker wasted no time to drive it into the bottom corner of the net.
Later, Pulisic had another go, dancing past a few players before curling it towards the goal but Gauita managed to get his fingers on the ball and deny him. Pulisic’s a phenomenal player when he’s in his rhythm and can become extremely dangerous, looking almost unstoppable on the ball. He got his chance later in the game, doubling Chelsea’s lead after picking up a deflected ball from Gary Cahill who had blocked Michy Batshuayi’s attempt.
Chelsea continue to edge closer to the top, eight points behind current leaders Liverpool but have tough competition next when they head to the Etihad.
Leicester City put pressure on Unai Emery’s Arsenal
Leicester City are having an excellent run this season and are on track to finish way ahead of their ninth-place position during the 2018/19 campaign. At King Power Stadium it comes at no surprise that it was Jamie Vardy creating a ruckus for the Gunners.
The first-half was a dry half – if you don’t factor in the fact it was tipping it down with rain – and both sides were displaying a resilience to concede. VAR denied Leicester City a penalty when Mattéo Guendouzi roughed up Çağlar Söyüncü and by 15 minutes, Arsenal should have been ahead when a link up series ended with Lacazette who sent the ball wide.
Ayoze Perez had a near miss too. He fired through an open Arsenal defence but sent his efforts flying over the crossbar. The Gunners and The Foxes were energetic in the first-half and neither seemed too disappointed with themselves when the half-time whistle blew but the second-half changed the game.
Leicester had a new bout of energy and were strong on the attack, making quick, clinical and tactical advances. In fact, it could have been 3-0 had Ndidi not been so unlucky. He received a wonderfully controlled cross from Pereira and side footed it towards the Arsenal goal for it to connect with the crossbar and bounce back towards him – very unlucky.
But the Foxes soon got a breakthrough and in the 68th minute, Youri Tielemans tees up Vardy, who drives a low-ball past Bernd Leno to put Leicester ahead. James Maddison is next down on the scoresheet, sending a sublime one home to seal Arsenal fate at King Power Stadium.
Man United demand attention after 3-1 victory over Brighton & Hove Albion
There’s no denying that Manchester United have struggled in the Premier League this season and are clinging on to a top ten position, never mind a top six. Of the twelve Premier League games they’ve played this season, they have only won two though the win at Brighton was certainly one to boast about.
There were entertaining and promising displays from Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Andreas Pereira, as well as Brandon Williams who made his full Premier League debut and Fred who was simply incredible for the Red Devils.
Ole Gunnar Solskjær was thrilled with the result, claiming it to be Manchester United’s “best performance of the season” and you can understand why. The Red Devils were forcing Mat Ryan to make some key saves during the game, the first coming from a tee up between Martial and Rashford. Martial was soon back at it again, laying off a ball for Pereira who, after a quick shuffle of the feet made it Red Devils 1, Seagulls 0.
Two minutes later United added a second. Harry Maguire and Brighton’s, Lewis Dunk were fighting for the ball in the air which ended up falling at the feet of Davy Pröpper, who toe-poked it into his own net being under pressure from Scott McTominay.
Lewis Dunk slotted one home for Brighton to make it 2-1 and close United’s comfy lead but Rashford soon cancelled out all hope for the Seagulls to make a comeback. Just two minutes later he restored United’s two-goal cushion by driving home an effort from 12-yards. The England international could’ve made it 4-1 too if he hadn’t sent an easy goal wide.
Manchester United have a long way to go but with determination and improvement, they may be able to challenge a top four position this season.
VAR disallow Sheffield United goal in Spurs clash
Sheffield United left Spurs New Stadium more than a little frustrated on Saturday evening having been denied the opportunity to walk away with three points thanks to VAR.
The decision took more than four minutes to make but on-pitch referee, Dermott Gallagher said the right call was made as the Blades midfielder, John Lundstram was marginally offside. The decision caused a bit of uproar amongst Sheffield United fans, with some calling out VAR officials for being biased.
But Chris Wilder’s men, who currently sit fifth in the league table behind Manchester City played extremely well. They were fearless in attack and resilient in defence against last year’s Champions League runners-up who are also challenging for a top four finish.
Spurs showed fleeting displays of excellence in the game, which doesn’t serve as testimony to their outstanding mid-week performance. Heung-Min Son opened the scoring for Tottenham, firing the ball through the legs of Dean Henderson to put the Lilywhites ahead. Twenty minutes later Sheffield United equalised when George Baldock’s cross fired into the back of the net.
Spurs continued to push but Sheffield United were a tough opponent and created chances that caused Mauricio Pochettino’s men some problems but no doubt Tottenham Hotspur will continue to work hard.
After the international break will there be more shocks and surprises in the Premier League?