All eyes this weekend were focused on the classic match between Liverpool and Manchester City. The current leader of the Premier League was finally facing to face against the holders and second-placed side managed by Pep Guardiola.
For Liverpool, it was like battling their own demons, especially after losing an 8 point lead and missing the trophy last season for 2 points. The victory smiled at the Reds, but there was controversy and a very angry Pep on the other side.
Meanwhile, Chelsea and Leicester took off and climbed over Manchester City, being now 1 point above Guardiola’s men. Is the title race closed and how long will Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool keep their ‘unbeaten’ record?
Liverpool 3 x 1 Manchester City
It was a matchpoint for Liverpool when they hosted Manchester City this weekend. If it is true they had a 6 point lead, losing this game would send a message that Liverpool was still a team that ‘choked’ on crucial moments.
However, Klopp’s men showed they are on a rampant form and they humbled Manchester City, showing efficience and cold blood in the vital moments.
The game had its dose of controversy earlier in the game. Trent Alexander Arnold allegedly controlled the ball with its hand and City players protested a penalty. In the aftermath, the referee did not blow the whistle and Fabinho scored a ‘worldie‘ in the other end.
Guardiola was left protesting, but it seems by the replay he is not right since the ball seems to have come out of Bernardo Silva’s hand.
They were still complaining when 5 minutes later Robertson sent a lobbed place into the area that Mohamed Salah picked with a diving header. Anfield burst into joy as the Reds were 2×0 up with just a quarter of the game played.
The remaining minutes of first-half had the goalkeepers as protagonists. Alisson made a fine stop to deny Aguero’s goal and later Claudio Bravo, who got into the lineup after Ederson’s injury midweek, blocked Firmino’s effort and postponed the 3rd.
More goals and more complaints
In the second half, Claudio Bravo was beaten again, as he was surprised by an unmarked Sadio Mane at the second post. Fullback Angelino, starting a league game for the first time, showed slightly his inexperience.
Later on, Bernardo Silva netted a consolation goal for Manchester City who had 10 minutes to make a miracle. And they could got another one if the referee had answered another penalty call, once again from Alexander-Arnold handball.
Guardiola gestured furiously to the game judge Michael Oliver, but the ref decided that it was not a reason to point to the spot. He considered Liverpool’s fullback had the arms close to his body.
In the end, a quite passive-aggressive Pep directed a sarcastic ‘Thank you’ to Oliver and his assistants. The manager saw his team get further from revalidating the title and they are now 4th as Chelsea and Leicester won their respective matches.
Meanwhile, Liverpool goes into matchday 12 with 11 wins and 1 draw and continue their unbeaten run. Will they end the season as Invincibles?
Chelsea 2 x 0 Crystal Palace
After an epic midweek comeback in the Champions League, Chelsea returned to the Premier with a victory. They hosted and defeated Crystal Palace, making it their 6th win in a row and taking them to the 2nd place.
This was the reencounter of Gary Cahill with his former team since the defender traded Chelsea for Palace this Summer.
During an eventless first half, the clearest chance was when Willian wasted a sitter after Guaita defended the ball to his feet.
However, Chelsea broke the deadlock, with Willian redeeming himself by assisting Tammy Abraham. The Englishman scored his 10th goal of the Premier League season.
Captain America Christian Pulisic was close to making the second as he dazzled past Palace’s defense, but Guaita had a perfect stop to deny him the goal.
Unfortunately for Guaita, Pulisic is on fire and he had to put his name on the scoresheet. The American enjoyed a loose ball after Batshuayi missed the chance and with a prompt header made it 2×0.
It was his first goal in Stamford Bridge and Frank Lampard reign continues to show that people were wrong in demising the Blues’ from the title race.
Leicester City 2 x 0 Arsenal
The ‘Foxes’ continue their crusade, sticking to the top 4 and maintaining a safe distance to the 5th place. This weekend they had the mission to host Arsenal and they succeeded, demonstrating why there is such a gap between the two sides.
The goal only dropped in the second half, firstly with a team combination between Ricardo Pereira, Demaray Gray, Barnes, Tielemans and finally Vardy. A beautiful play concluded by the English striker who is the top scorer of the Premier League table with 11 goals in 12 games.
The second goal was almost a replay. This time Ndidi had most of the work and the Nigerian found Ricardo Pereira who passed it straight to Vardy. Instead of trying to score a brace, Vardy quickly passed to James Maddison who completed the 2×0 result.
Arsenal is now 4 games without a win in the Premier League and they lost the 5th place to Sheffield United. Meanwhile, Leicester has overcome Manchester City, yet they keep tied in points with Chelsea.
They have the best defense in the league and due to goal difference, they are 2nd behind Liverpool.
Tottenham 1 x 1 Sheffield United
Sheffield United continued their tremendous season start with a draw in London against Tottenham. The ‘Blades’ are now 5th and they are 6 games unbeaten, having lost the last one in September against Liverpool.
In an uninspired afternoon for Spurs, the most enlighted player was Son Heung Min, who scored a brace midweek in the Champions League too. The South Korean forward took advantage of a bad pass of Sheffield and sent the ball through the legs of Dean Henderson.
However, Sheffield leveled almost immediately, through McGoldrick, only for the goal to be revoked by VAR. An alleged millimetric offside from the player who delivered the cross and Spurs were once again quite lucky to have the VAR on their side.
Still, Wilder’s men would equalize anyway through George Baldock, who redirected a false cross that betrayed Gazzaniga.
Spurs looked poor throughout the game and they are further from the top 4. They have not won in the last 5 league fixtures and they are 14th, 11 points behind 4th placed Manchester City.
Manchester United 3 x 1 Brighton & Hove Albion
It has been a series of ups and downs for Manchester United this season. Although they are indeed underwhelming, the team has already qualified to the next stage of Europa League with 2 matches to go and they eliminated Chelsea from the Carabao Cup.
Besides, they were the only team who was able to take points from 3 of the top 4 teams, with wins over Leicester and Chelsea and a draw against Liverpool. However, they seem to struggle especially to defeat the ‘smaller’ teams and their 4 defeats so far came against teams who they were ‘supposed’ to dominate.
That is why the match against Brighton & Hove Albion had to be faced with caution by Manchester United supporters. This time they had the job done, even though Brighton was quite unfortunate.
In Old Trafford, Andreas Pereira opened the score with a deflected shot that betrayed Brighton’s goalie. Just 2 minutes late, a chaotic mess in the area resulted in Propper scoring into his own net.
The Seagulls got back into the game with Lewis Dunk’s header in the second half, but Rashford put the ‘Red Devils’ advantage back on level terms instants after. The English striker could have made it a 4th one if he had not failed an open goal chance after a golden plate pass from Daniel James.
Manchester United move to 7th, but they are just 1 point away from Sheffield and Arsenal in 5th and 6th.
Southampton 1 x 2 Everton
Everton has come from a series of unlucky events. After a couple of defeats and being in the relegation zone, their manager Marco Silva has the head on the line. Furthermore, they saw one of their key players, Andre Gomes, being ruled out for the rest of the season following a horrific injury last weekend.
A victory over Southampton, who are also struggling this season, would bring back the morale necessary. The Toffees had to sweat but they achieved the 3 points late in the game.
Tom Davies opened the scoreline earlier with a header and put Everton in front. But, Danny Ings equalized in the second half.
In the last quarter of the game, Richarlison came for the rescue as he answered to a cross from Sidibe perfectly. The Brazilian forward took all 3 points to Goodison Park and Everton moves a bit clearer away from the danger zone.
Meanwhile, Southampton is in 19th place and Ralph Hasenhüttl might get the sack soon if the team keeps underperforming. ‘Saints’ fans still remember that 9×0 scoreline and it is a miracle that the coach continues at St. Mary’s.
Wolverhampton 2 x 1 Aston Villa
Wolves are finally getting the hang of it and after a trembling start, they improved their defense and are looking like the side they were last season. Following a win on Thursday that almost secured their ticket to Europa League’s last 16, they got 3 points on their league fixture with Aston Villa.
Before the halftime whistle, they broke the deadlock, with a signature move between Joao Moutinho and Ruben Neves. Moutinho squared the ball to Neves in the edge of the box and the fellow Portuguese midfielder scored one of his usual ‘bangers’.
It’s the second goal for Neves in the Premier League and the other one was also a similar strike against Manchester United.
In the second half, Adama Traore hit the woodwork, but the winger, who pledged alliance to the National Team of Mali this week, would have his chance to shine later on.
A blistering run that probably left Douglas Luiz dizzy, ended with Traore assisting Jimenez. The Mexican scored his 5th goal in 12 games.
Aston Villa had a late glimpse of hope when Trezeguet scored, but the 3 points stayed at the Moulinex. Villa is dangerously close to the relegation zone and will have to focus to get out of there.
Burnley 3 x 0 West Ham
The Clarets had lost the previous 3 games, suffering 9 goals in total and they were looking to finally get into winning routes. On the visitor side, there was West Ham, who had also not won a game since September (surprisingly, against Manchester United).
A series of defensive mistakes cost 3 goals to the Hammers. First Ashley Barnes completely unmarked during a corner. Balbuena failing to intercept an easy ball as Tarkowski was left with a wide wing to run deeply and square into Chris Wood.
Finally, in the second half, West Ham Summer signing Roberto Jimenez deflected a corner into his own net. The goalkeeper came off the goal in an amateur way and ended up punching the ball the wrong way.
Burnley move to 10th, West Ham are 16th.
Newcastle 2 x 1 Bournemouth
Following a victory in Dorset over Manchester United, Bournemouth was expected to win the game against Newcastle. Steve Bruce’s men, however, had come from an encouraging 2-3 win over West Ham and were motivated to have 2 on the bounce.
Bournemouth put themselves in front early in the game, as Harry Wilson completed after a well-reharsed corner kick routine.
Saint-Maximin had a glaring chance to equalize, but his effort hit the bar. However, the winger would redeem itself when he found De Andre Yedlin on the area, as the American fullback dived to score the leveler.
The Magpies turned it in during the second half, as yet another defender got on the scoresheet. This time was Ciaran Clark who finished, as the Irish center back got his second goal of the season.
Newcastle moves to 13th and Bournemouth drop to 9th.
Norwich City 0 x 2 Watford
A battle between strugglers opposed Norwich City to Watford and the victory smiled to the latter. Quique Flores got his first win in charge for the Hornets, which was also Watford’s first win of the season (in the 12th matchday!).
Norwich can’t get themselves back up ever since they won against Manchester City and they got behind with just 2 minutes on the clock. Gerard Deulofeu took advantage of Norwich clumsy defense and made it 1×0.
In the second half, Deulofeu designed the goal again as he found Andre Gray in the box. Gray with a cheeky backheel touch defined the 2×0 result.
Watford would hold on to their lead, despite ending the game with 10 men due to Kabasele receiving marching orders. Still, they got the 3 points and trade places with Norwich, who is now bottom of the Premier League table.