Double Game Week Increases Pressure After International Break
The Premier League returned following the recent international break with two match weeks in the space of five days.
The title race took a new turn last weekend when Crystal Palace beat Chelsea 2-1 at Stamford Bridge. The shock result was completed within the first quarter of an hour as two excellent goals from Wilfried Zaha and Christian Benteke cancelled out Cesc Fabregas’ early opener.
The result gave Tottenham Hotspur the opportunity to move within seven points of the league leaders and they duly obliged, overcoming Burnley 2-0 away from home. The Lilywhites left it late, however, missing several chances before Eric Dier and Heung-min Son finally gave Mauricio Pochettino’s side three points.
Liverpool won the Merseyside derby for the second time this season courtesy of a 3-1 victory at Anfield. Sadio Mane’s wonderful solo effort was pegged back when Matthew Pennington scored his first Everton goal. However, the hosts outclassed their local rivals after the equaliser and scored a further two goals either side of half-time, first from Philippe Coutinho and then Divock Origi.
The Reds moved into third thanks to Manchester City’s stumble at Arsenal. The Citizens seemed destined to beat the struggling Gunners early on when Leroy Sane rounded David Ospina to score just five minutes into the game. Theo Walcott then equalised for Arsenal only for Sergio Aguero to put City in front two minutes later. Arsene Wenger’s side then equalised for the second time when Shkodran Mustafi headed home Mesut Ozil’s corner.
Leicester City continued their resurgence under Craig Shakespeare as they beat Stoke City 2-0. Wilfred Ndidi’s Goal of the Month contender had the Foxes in front before Jamie Vardy volleyed home to secure their fourth consecutive league win.
Hull City’s hopes of staying up were given a huge boost as they beat West Ham United 2-1. Andy Carroll opened the scoring for the Hammers but two second half goals from Andrew Robertson and Andrea Ranocchia ensured a vital victory.
Watford’s four-game winless run came to an end as they defeated seemingly relegated Sunderland. Miguel Britos headed home the only goal of the game and the Black Cats are now ten points from safety.
Amazingly, there were three goalless draws across the weekend’s fixtures. Manchester United’s poor home form continued as they drew a blank against West Bromwich Albion, while the South Coast derby between Southampton and Bournemouth also went by without a goal. Swansea City and Middlesbrough also earned a point each in their fight to stay up when they drew at the Liberty Stadium.
During the midweek fixtures played on Tuesday and Wednesday, Chelsea recovered from their defeat to Palace with a 2-1 win against Manchester City. Eden Hazard scored either side of an Aguero strike as the goals once again came in the first half at Stamford Bridge. Tottenham Hotspur also left it late to maintain the seven point gap as they scored three goals in the final six minutes to beat Swansea City 3-1.
Meanwhile, Liverpool slipped up at Anfield as they drew 2-2 against Bournemouth. Goals from Coutinho and Origi cancelled out Benik Afobe’s opener, only for Josh King to score a late equaliser. The Reds are now five points behind second-placed Spurs.
Arsenal’s off-field issues were finally put to one side as they resoundingly overcame West Ham United by three goals to nil. Ozil, Walcott and Olivier Giroud each scored to condemn Slaven Bilic’s side to their fifth consecutive defeat.
Manchester United failed to secure three points at home once again as they drew 1-1 with Everton. Phil Jagielka scored the opening goal of the game and it looked like the Toffees would see out the memorable victory until Ashley Williams handled Luke Shaw’s goal bound shot four minutes into added time. Zlatan Ibrahimovic converted the penalty on his return from suspension to hand Mourinho’s side another point.
Hull City’s good week continued as they beat relegation rivals Middlesbrough 4-2. Alvaro Negredo opened the scoring for Boro, but Lazar Markovic, Oumar Niasse and Abel Hernandez put the Tigers into a 3-1 lead. Marten de Roon scored just before half-time to set up an exciting second period, only for Hull’s Harry Maguire to secure the home side’s win midway through the half.
Leicester City followed up their 2-0 win on Saturday with a victory over Sunderland by the same score line. Islam Slimani and Jamie Vardy each scored second half goals to deter any slim chance of the Foxes being pulled back into the relegation fight.
Watford also ensured their chances of going down are extremely minimal as they beat West Bromwich Albion 2-0. M’Baye Niang and Troy Deeney scored, although the Hornets had Saturday’s goal scorer, Britos, sent off late on for a second yellow card.
Southampton came from behind to beat Crystal Palace 3-1. Benteke finished off a neat passing move by the Eagles to score the opening goal, only for Nathan Redmond to equalise on the stroke of half-time. Late goals from Maya Yoshida and James Ward-Prowse condemned the Eagles to their first defeat in five games.
Finally, Burnley returned from their weekend defeat to Spurs with a 1-0 win against Stoke City. Midfielder George Boyd’s second goal of the season was enough to give Sean Dyche’s side all three points.