Premier League week 6 round-up: Reds take roundabout route to overdue victory

Premier League Review Liverpool

It was suitably chaotic but, in the end, Liverpool got the job done. A month which began with such optimism had turned sour and many fans understandably feared a fourth consecutive defeat at the King Power Stadium on Saturday evening, but Leicester’s attack-minded setup played into Liverpool’s hands. Mohamed Salah missed an early sitter but atoned for it almost immediately, heading to the net from Philippe Coutinho’s cross, and the Brazilian soon netted his first goal of the season with a sumptuous free kick. The Reds looked set to go in at half-time with a commanding two-goal lead, but a misjudgement by Simon Mignolet from a Leicester corner allowed Shinji Okazaki to bundle the ball home and halve Liverpool’s lead. The visitors restored their two-goal advantage midway through the second half through Jordan Henderson, whose industrious performance deserved a goal, but yet another lapse in concentration at the back left Jamie Vardy with a simple finish to make it 3-2 a minute later. The Leicester marksman then won a penalty when floored by Mignolet, but the Liverpool goalkeeper got the better of Vardy from the spot and Jurgen Klopp’s side clung on for a hugely satisfying if somewhat flawed victory. It wasn’t the stuff of dreams, but victory any way, any how was the only brief.

Manchester United also recorded a hard-fought one-goal away win on Saturday, getting the better of a Southampton team who, if they had any genuine goal threats, would most likely have earned a result at St Mary’s. The home side started the better but Romelu Lukaku was in the right place at the right time to dispatch to the net after Fraser Forster’s initial save, the Belgian netting for a sixth league game in a row. United then took over until half-time but looked disjointed and uneasy in possession after the interval. Southampton had most of the play in the second half but despite throwing on Manolo Gabbiadini and Charlie Austin in search of an equaliser, were held scoreless for the fourth time in six league matches. Jose Mourinho was sent to the stands in added time for encroaching onto the pitch, a harsh punishment for a trivial act that had zero bearing on the final result. It was United’s poorest performance of the season thus far, but it’s the type of win which title winners produce at various intervals throughout a campaign.

While one Manchester club laboured to victory, the other eased their way to three points as Manchester City put five past beleaguered Crystal Palace, for whom it’s now six defeats on the spin without even a goal to show for it. The Eagles were on course to get to half-time on level terms but a superb finish by Leroy Sane broke the deadlock just before the interval and the home side were in complete control thereafter. Raheem Sterling netted twice and Sergio Aguero added number four, but the pick of the goals arrived late on from one of City’s forgotten men, Fabian Delph serving a reminder to Pep Guardiola that he still has something to offer to the team. The league leaders have now hit a scarcely comprehensible 16 goals in their last three Premier League outings and, while their sternest tests have yet to come, they are casting an ominous shadow over the rest of the division.

Most pundits have spoken of a potential title scrap between the in-form Manchester duo, but Chelsea underlined their credentials to retain the trophy by hammering Stoke 4-0 at the bet365 Stadium on Saturday. In the week that Diego Costa’s departure from Stamford Bridge was confirmed, Spain team-mate Alvaro Morata showed that he is more than capable of picking up where Costa left off by helping himself to a hat-trick. There was a real sense of olé, olé amongst Blues supporters on the day as another Spaniard, Pedro, also found the net as Stoke were brushed aside with ease. Having beaten Arsenal and drawn with Manchester United in recent weeks, the Potters’ fortunes have nosedived of late and they find themselves uncomfortably close to the bottom three. Chelsea, meanwhile, could be in this title race for the long haul judging by Saturday’s performance.

Tottenham have come under fire for their poor results at Wembley, but their away record continues to be flawless after they beat West Ham 3-2, a score which does not accurately reflect how superior Spurs were at London Stadium. The Hammers had kept their opponents at bay for just over half an hour but then a quickfire double from Harry Kane suddenly put Mauricio Pochettino’s men in firm control. The result seemed done when Christian Eriksen rifled home Tottenham’s third early in the second half, but a typical goal-poacher’s header from Javier Hernandez gave West Ham hope that intensified when Serge Aurier was shown a second yellow card for a reckless tackle from behind. A powerful header from Cheikhou Kouyate ensured a grandstand finish, but anything less than three points would have been undeserved for Spurs, although they could have done with seeing it out comfortably prior to their trip to Cyprus for Tuesday’s Champions League tie at APOEL Nicosia.

This time last year, Everton manager Ronald Koeman made it public knowledge that he was looking to offload misfit striker Oumar Niasse. On Saturday, the much-derided Senegal marksman may just have kept his under-pressure boss in a job. The Toffees were shot of confidence coming into the game at home to Bournemouth and an abysmal first half did nothing to placate the natives. The mood was threatening to turn mutinous after the interval when Joshua King put the Cherries in front, but Everton’s flagging season was rescued by the unlikeliest of sources as Niasse scored the goals that turned an awful afternoon into a badly-needed victory. The manner in which he took his two goals did not indicate a striker who had previously struggled so hopelessly at Goodison Park.

Liverpool go to Newcastle next week and the Geordies’ run of three consecutive wins came to an end on Sunday as they went down 1-0 against Brighton, who issued a measure of revenge for blowing the Championship title to Rafael Benitez’s side in the tail end of last season. There were chances for both teams in a lively opening 15 minutes before the match entered a prolonged lull. Five minutes after half-time, Tomer Hemed scooped the ball home from close range for what proved to be the game’s only goal. Substitute Jonjo Shelvey came closest to equalising when his effort struck the post, but ultimately the smiles belonged to Chris Hughton as he finally got one over on the club that so rashly sacked him in 2010.

Prior to Saturday’s meeting of Swansea and Watford at the Liberty Stadium, the former had yet to gain a point at home and the latter had two wins from two on the road. Both of those records were preserved as the Hornets snuck a 2-1 victory in the dying stages. Watford opened the scoring in the first half through Andre Gray, the striker netting his first goal since leaving Burnley in August. Swansea equalised after half-time through substitute Tammy Abraham and had looked set for a point before, in the final minute of normal time, slackness from Roque Mesa in losing the ball and a pitiful attempt at a challenge from the normally reliable Alfie Mawson allowed Richarlison to lash the ball beyond Lukasz Fabianski for the winning goal, one which gets Watford back in business after their 0-6 home drubbing by Manchester City.

Burnley and Huddersfield have both picked up some very impressive early season results and both remain in the top half, although both seemed content with a point in a dull goalless draw at Turf Moor on Saturday. The only lasting memory from the game was a shameful penalty box dive from Terriers midfielder Morgan van la Parra, one which rightly earned a yellow card from referee Chris Kavanagh and a post-match rebuke from Burnley boss Sean Dyche. Still, Huddersfield have kept clean sheets in four of their first six Premier League matches, an outstanding feat from David Wagner’s men.

The Terriers have conceded two goals in their first three away Premier League games this season while Liverpool have shipped 10 on the road already. It’s a painful statistic for Klopp’s team, but at least by ending the mini-crisis with a win at Leicester on Saturday, the Reds move on to 11 points and are up to fifth, which is the ballpark territory that they expect to occupy at the very least come the season’s close.

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