Premier League week 9 round-up: Liverpool self-inflict capital punishment

Premier League Review Liverpool

Anyone who has watched Tottenham over the last couple of years will know that they have some formidable attacking players who don’t require the charity of an insipid defence to help them score. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what they got from a hapless Liverpool outfit on Sunday as Spurs cruised to a second Wembley win in nine days. An all-round systems failure involving defenders and goalkeeper allowed Harry Kane to open the scoring in the first five minutes and then the Reds allowed their opponents the freedom of London to make it 2-0 through Son Heung-min. Liverpool improved after Mohamed Salah pulled a goal back but, on the stroke of half-time, a failure to defend the second ball allowed Dele Alli to restore Tottenham’s two-goal advantage. More disastrous goalkeeping from Simon Mignolet gifted Kane his second of the day as the game was well and truly put beyond Liverpool from early in the second half. Hugo Lloris produced a couple of great saves to deny the visitors, but the final score was a fair reflection of how this miserable match was played out. It was a damning indictment of Dejan Lovren’s afternoon that he was hauled off after half an hour despite not being injured, but the Croatian centre-back had possibly his worst outing in a red shirt yesterday.

Sunday was a day where north London truly pulverised Merseyside, with Arsenal inflicting a similarly harrowing defeat on Everton at Goodison Park. The ailing Toffees actually struck first through Wayne Rooney, but once Nacho Monreal drew the Gunners level, they toyed with their opponents and deservedly took the lead after half-time through Mesut Ozil’s deft header. Alexandre Lacazette and Aaron Ramsey administered further punishment, with Idrissa Gueye not helping matters by getting sent off, before a horrendous stoppage time mix-up presented a consolation goal on a plate to Oumar Niasse. There was still time for Alexis Sanchez to plunder another goal as Arsenal cantered to their first away win of the Premier League season. It hasn’t been all that long since Ronald Koeman was being touted as a potential Barcelona manager, but that gig seems a million miles away now given his struggles at Everton.

The north-west’s misery extended to the red half of Manchester as United crashed to their first defeat of the season at Huddersfield. The form book indicated that this would be a routine away win at the John Smith’s Stadium, but the Terriers terrorised their high-profile opponents and were good value for the lead given to them by Aaron Mooy. You could be forgiven for expecting that to be the cue for a United onslaught, but the next goal was also a Huddersfield one as a long kick from Jonas Lossl was badly misjudged by Victor Lindelof, allowing Laurent Depoitre through on goal to double the home side’s lead. Jose Mourinho’s men owned the ball in the second half and threatened a late comeback after Marcus Rashford found the net with 15 minutes to go, but ultimately Huddersfield held firm for a fully merited and famous victory, their first in two months.

Manchester City took full advantage of that shock result to extend their lead at the top of the table to five points, although their 3-0 win over Burnley was not always as comfortable as the final score would suggest. Indeed, they were very fortunate to get the penalty from which Sergio Aguero opened the scoring to become the club’s joint all-time top scorer, as Bernardo Silva went to ground very readily in the box. Unlike many others who have been battered into submission by City, though, Burnley remained in the contest until the final 20 minutes, when quick-fire goals from Nicolas Otamendi and Leroy Sane sealed a seventh league win on the bounce, and 11 in a row in all competitions, for Pep Guardiola’s fearsome Manchester City outfit.

Stamford Bridge hosted a six-goal match for the second time in four days on Saturday as Chelsea came from behind to beat Watford 4-2 with a couple of late goals. An outstanding strike from Pedro gave the champions an early lead which they maintained until just before the interval, when Abdoulaye Doucoure pounced on slack defending to equalise. Watford hit the front soon after half-time through Roberto Pereyra and Richarlison missed two gilt-edged chances to put the game beyond Chelsea. The Blues levelled through Michy Batshuayi and retook the lead in the closing minutes when a pinpoint Davide Zappacosta delivery was finished off by Cesar Azpilicueta. Batshuayi added the insurance goal in stoppage time to get the champions’ flagging title defence somewhat back on track and ease some of the pressure that had been growing on Antonio Conte.

There was no such respite for Slaven Bilic, though, whose departure from West Ham seems imminent following their 0-3 collapse at home to Brighton on Friday night. Some laughable set piece defending left Glenn Murray with the simplest of headers to put the Seagulls in front early on and it was 2-0 just before half-time when Joe Hart failed to keep out a powerful drive from Jose Izquierdo. The Hammers’ misery was completed 15 minutes from time when James Collins’ frustration boiled over and he conceded a penalty which Murray dispatched to the net to trigger a mass exodus from most of London Stadium. The following day, West Ham announced that Bilic’s future was ‘being discussed’, the type of rhetoric that tends to immediately precede the issuing of a P45.

Over at Stoke, Mark Hughes might not be frequenting the last chance saloon just yet but he is quickly descending upon it following Saturday’s 1-2 loss at home to second from bottom Bournemouth. Two goals in as many minutes just after the quarter-hour from Andrew Surman and a Junior Stanislas penalty left the Potters with a real uphill battle and while Mame Biram Diouf pulled a goal back on 63 minutes, it wasn’t enough to stave off a depressing defeat for Stoke. That said, a few decisions did not go their way, with a legitimate penalty claim turned down, but refereeing quibbles cannot mask the problems that exist in Hughes’ team at the moment.

Just as Craig Shakespeare won his first game in caretaker charge of Leicester eight months ago, Michael Appleton emerged victorious in similar circumstances on Saturday as the Foxes beat Swansea 2-1 for their first away win of the season and first since mid-August. Leicester hit the front on 25 minutes when, in attempting to head clear from a Riyad Mahrez cross, Federico Fernandez could only steer the ball into his own net. The lead was doubled after half-time through a close-range Shinji Okazaki finish, although Swansea soon replied through Alfie Mawson. Leicester did enough to register an overdue victory and, on the balance of play, were good value for the three points.

The clash of Southampton and West Brom did not promise much excitement and most of the fare at St Mary’s on Saturday evening was pedestrian. The home side were typically wasteful with most of the chances that they created while the visitors seemed largely content to sit deep and play for a draw. When a goal finally arrived on 85 minutes, though, it made the rest of the slop worth enduring. Sofiane Boufal, something of a forgotten man for the Saints, ran a full 70 yards with the ball before letting fly from just outside the penalty area and beating Ben Foster in the West Brom goal. For that one moment of magic, the BT Sport commentary team saw fit to name him man of the match, even though he was only on the pitch for 15 minutes of it.

There was also a late winner to settle a dull encounter at the other end of the country as Rafael Benitez’s Newcastle edged Roy Hodgson’s Crystal Palace in a battle of two ex-Liverpool managers. The only talking point from a dreary first half was Yohan Cabaye’s scissor kick on DeAndre Yedlin, an act which earned the Frenchman a booking when it could easily have been red. The winning goal came through Mikel Merino, whose header was beautifully positioned out of Julian Speroni’s reach, and Newcastle continue their more than satisfactory start to the season. For Palace, it’s now eight defeats from nine, with last week’s superb win over Chelsea proving to be a one-off.

Hodgson has a tough job on his hands at Selhurst Park, and while the current Liverpool manager’s situation is not as dire, Jurgen Klopp would certainly have been stewing long and hard last night on the way back to Merseyside following his team’s self-inflicted thrashing against Tottenham. Even the least critical of Liverpool fans would have been left cursing at the team’s defending at Wembley, with Mignolet and Lovren especially culpable. Next up is a home clash against Huddersfield, who after taking down one expensively-assembled team in red will fully believe they could do the same at Anfield on Saturday, particularly if the Keystone Cops defending rears its ugly head once more.

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