In the end, a 3-0 win over Huddersfield was comfortable for Liverpool, but for long spells on Saturday it seemed as if this would be another classic case of a team arriving at Anfield to set up defensively and frustrate the impotent hosts. Deprived of the services of Philippe Coutinho and Sadio Mane, there was very little creativity or penetration from Liverpool in the first half and when Mohamed Salah’s penalty was saved by Jonas Lossl just before the break, it seemed as if it was going to be another day of torment for the Reds. Once the breakthrough came courtesy of Daniel Sturridge’s deft finish early in the second half, though, it was a job well done thereafter. Roberto Firmino’s glanced header on the hour mark effectively sealed the points and Georginio Wijnaldum made absolutely sure of the win with 15 minutes to go as Liverpool picked up a first home win since the end of August. This was a day where patience paid off for Jurgen Klopp’s men and the clean sheet will no doubt have pleased the manager. Indeed, as brittle as Liverpool’s defence undoubtedly is, they have shipped just one goal in five home league matches thus far.
That’s still one more than Manchester United have conceded in their quintet of league games at Old Trafford this term, a 1-0 win over Tottenham preserving their 100% home record and pulling them three points clear of Saturday’s opponents. Spurs clearly missed the considerable threat of Harry Kane and it was the home side who largely had the better of proceedings. Indeed, United spurned some very good chances before finally edging in front on 81 minutes when Anthony Martial capitalised on slack Spurs defending to score. Jesse Lingard will feel he should have added a second in the final minutes, but this was a very satisfying win for Jose Mourinho after some shaky performances of late from his team. After two defeats in a week for Tottenham, their momentum has slightly stalled without the presence of their leading marksman.
Manchester City’s lead had been cut to two points following that result but they pushed it back out to five after an eighth consecutive league victory on Saturday against West Brom. A frenzied opening 15 minutes saw Leroy Sane put the leaders in front, Jay Rodriguez equalising and Fernandinho’s deflected shot restoring City’s lead. The visitors unsurprisingly dominated possession and a third goal seemed inevitable. It came from Raheem Sterling midway through the second half and the job was effectively done. Matt Phillips’ stoppage time goal came too late to threaten a comeback, although Pep Guardiola will no doubt have mentioned it in the dressing room afterwards. Still, it was another fence jumped by the league leaders, who have 28 points from a possible 30.
Chelsea also took maximum points from a potentially tricky away assignment on Saturday, defeating Bournemouth 1-0 at the Vitality Stadium. Alvaro Morata missed a gaping chance in the first half but otherwise the Cherries defence held firm relatively comfortably. They were left exposed early in the second half, though, and allowed Eden Hazard to drill a shot past Asmir Begovic and into the net, although the ex-Chelsea goalkeeper should not have been beaten at his near post. Bournemouth remained in the contest without really threatening to equalise and again it was a case of a decent performance yielding no points. The champions remain in the top four and have put two satisfying if not scintillating wins together.
Arsenal were beaten at Watford two weeks ago despite taking the lead; that scenario was reversed in their 2-1 win over Swansea on Saturday. The Gunners were on top throughout but were caught by a sucker punch from Sam Clucas on 21 minutes, the ex-Hull midfielder finishing to the net from Tammy Abraham’s superb through ball. The home side trailed at half-time but drew level shortly after the interval through Sead Kolasinac. The turnaround was completed in the 58th minute when Aaron Ramsey neatly rounded off a slick passage of play and even though Swansea had the ball in the net a second time, the goal was correctly ruled out for offside. Arsenal maintain their perfect home record in this season’s Premier League, albeit by taking the roundabout route to victory.
West Ham came from 2-0 down to beat Tottenham in the Carabao Cup last week, but on Saturday it was Slaven Bilic’s side who blew a two-goal lead against Crystal Palace. The match had been rather dull prior to the opening goal from Javier Hernandez on the half-hour mark and when Andre Ayew doubled the Hammers’ lead two minutes before half-time, the Eagles seemed to be in real trouble. They got themselves back into it shortly after the interval with a Luka Milivojevic penalty and would easily have been level only for some excellent saves from Joe Hart. However, there would be a twist in the seventh minute of stoppage time when one last surge upfield ended with Wilfried Zaha firing past Hart for a precious equaliser for Palace, whose gutsy display deserved at least a point.
Everton’s woes continued as they were beaten 2-0 at Leicester in Claude Puel’s first match in charge of the Foxes. The home side struck first on 18 minutes when a swift breakaway from the superb Demarai Gray ended with Jamie Vardy finishing to the net with the type of poacher’s finish that we saw so often in that title-winning season. Everton’s plight worsened when, in attempting to clear a cross, young defender Jonjoe Kenny could only divert it into his own net. The Toffees were denied what seemed a stonewall penalty later in the first half but this was another sorry display from them and they remain in the relegation zone. It certainly wasn’t the start that David Unsworth would have wanted as caretaker manager.
Watford have had a fine start to the season but they were disappointing in Saturday’s 0-1 defeat at home to a struggling Stoke outfit. The only goal came on 16 minutes when Darren Fletcher’s drive from outside the penalty area found the net and, in a game where chances were few and far between, that proved sufficient for victory. His team-mate and fellow Scotsman Charlie Adam fluffed a glorious chance to score in the closing minutes, with Richarlison twice going close for Watford in the second half. On a bad day for the Hornets, Troy Deeney was lucky not to have been sent off for grabbing Joe Allen around the throat. It was a much-needed win for Mark Hughes and one for which his Stoke side were good value.
Brighton and Southampton would have been reasonably content with a point apiece from their meeting at the Amex Stadium on Sunday. The Saints took an early lead when James Ward-Prowse’s free kick struck the post and the ball fell to Steven Davis to finish to the net. Brighton threatened an equaliser on a couple of occasions in the first half and drew level on 51 minutes with Glenn Murray’s close-range header. They should probably have been down to 10 men later on when Gaetan Bong scythed down Shane Long from behind but escaped with a yellow card.
Liverpool’s first Premier League win since late September was a vital one, with the other teams around them also recording victories at the weekend, and the result keeps them within striking distance of the top four. If they can find some consistency, get key players back from injury and shore up some bit at the back, the Reds should be able to strengthen their Champions League push as the winter months approach.