Having won just one of their first seven Premier League trips to Stoke, Liverpool made it three consecutive wins at the bet365 Stadium on Wednesday night to maintain their push for the top four, even if the final score of 3-0 flattered them. The visitors started brightly and were good value for the lead given to them by Sadio Mane on 18 minutes, the Senegal striker finishing neatly after Joe Gomez did excellently to cut the ball back for him in the nick of time. Liverpool then had a huge stroke of luck when Simon Mignolet avoided a red card for bringing down Mame Biram Diouf as he was bearing down on goal, although they should have been going in with a 2-0 half-time lead except Mane somehow missed when one-on-one with Lee Grant. Stoke had a sustained spell of pressure in the second half and asked plenty of questions of the Reds’ defence before the introduction of Mohamed Salah, who scored Liverpool’s second with a superb volley after Mane’s deft cutback. The Egyptian supremo put gloss on the final score late on when he got through on goal and slotted the ball past Grant. With Salah in their side, Liverpool are well capable of a top four finish, although this night could have turned out a lot different had Mignolet been sent off in the first half.
Manchester City habitually swept teams aside in the opening weeks of the season, but for the third time in a week they needed a late goal to turn one point into three, Southampton suffering the same fate as Feyenoord and Huddersfield. The Saints were quite comfortable in the first half, going in at the interval on level terms, but City edged ahead just after half-time when Kevin de Bruyne’s free kick was deflected into his own net by Virgil van Dijk. The expected onslaught did not come, though; instead it was Southampton who scored next, Oriol Romeu firing to the roof of Ederson’s net as City’s winning streak was put in peril. A surprise draw looked imminent until, in the sixth minute of stoppage time, Raheem Sterling popped up with yet another last-gasp winner, a delightful curled finish into the top corner as the leaders made it 12 league victories in a row. They can’t keep getting this lucky, though.
In the end it seemed routine enough for Manchester United, but their 4-2 win at Watford was not without its scares. There certainly didn’t seem to be any discomfort for the visitors as they raced into a three-goal lead inside the opening half-hour, with ex-Hornet Ashley Young netting two fine goals before Anthony Martial seemingly put the contest to bed. It remained that way until the final 15 minutes, with Troy Deeney’s penalty giving Watford a sliver of hope that turned into a burning beacon of hope when Abdoulaye Doucoure found the net. Just as United were on the rack, though, they broke quickly through Jesse Lingard, who ran half the length of the pitch before dispatching the ball past Heurelho Gomes to finally kill off the spirited home side. If only Liverpool could have done that last week in Seville at 3-2…
Wayne Rooney has not had the best of times since returning to Everton in the summer, nor has his boyhood club, but both he and the Toffees came good in spectacular fashion as the veteran striker claimed a hat-trick in a 4-0 rout of West Ham. The ex-Manchester United man was denied from the penalty spot by Joe Hart, but when the ball bounced up for him, he headed it into the net to give the home side the lead. Rooney doubled his tally with a close-range finish on 27 minutes and then sealed his treble in extraordinary fashion, scoring from inside his own half with a first-time strike that sailed past Hart. Manuel Lanzini had missed a penalty for the Hammers at 2-0 and their misery was complete when Ashley Williams headed Everton’s fourth to leave Sam Allardyce coming into the manager’s job with a corner potentially turned. It was a wretched return to Goodison Park for David Moyes, though, as his West Ham side endured yet another pasting in a season that doesn’t look like improving any time soon.
November started in memorable fashion for Tottenham with a famous win over Real Madrid, but domestically it’s been a horrendous month that ended with a third consecutive away defeat, last season’s runners-up falling 2-1 at Leicester. The Foxes were ahead inside 12 minutes and it was a sumptuous strike from Jamie Vardy which broke the deadlock, registering his 100th league goal in style. Claude Puel’s side doubled their lead on the stroke of half-time, Riyad Mahrez with an unstoppable drive into the top corner of the Tottenham net. The visitors peppered Kasper Schmeichel’s goal in the second half and missed two glaring chances through Christian Eriksen and Fernando Llorente before Harry Kane netted to set up a grandstand finish. Leicester held on, though, to continue their revival and prolong Spurs’ poor run of form.
While one north London side has hit the wall, the other is proceeding quite nicely as Arsenal hit Huddersfield for five at the Emirates on Wednesday night. The Gunners only needed three minutes to get their noses in front, Alexandre Lacazette with the finish, but they had to endure some sticky moments against a dogged Terriers side who had a fair shout for a penalty waved away. It remained 1-0 until a fateful five-minute spell midway through the second half when Olivier Giroud, Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil all scored to suddenly leave Arsenal coasting towards another home win. Giroud added one more in the closing minutes to give Arsene Wenger a very satisfying victory ahead of the visit of Manchester United at the weekend.
Burnley remain hot on the heels of the Champions League chasers after another away win on Wednesday, triumphing 2-1 at Bournemouth. The visitors dominated the first half and could have been out of sight before Chris Wood eventually broke the deadlock on 37 minutes, turning the ball home from 10 yards as the Clarets’ pressure finally told. The lead was doubled in the 65th minute with an exquisite curled finish from Robbie Brady and the job seemed to be done before Joshua King slotted home from close range with 10 minutes remaining to set up a nervy finish. Burnley were deserving winners, though, as their excellent season goes from strength to strength.
Accumulator junkies would have gravitated towards Chelsea, whose home fixture against Swansea appeared one of the safest bets of the week. While the champions got the expected three points, they made heavy weather of getting over the line against very limited opponents. Unsurprisingly it was one-way traffic for most of the night, but the Blues were frustrated in the first half and also had Antonio Conte sent to the stands for being excessively vocal. When Chelsea did score on 55 minutes, it wasn’t a thing of beauty, N’Golo Kante’s shot taking a deflection and dropping kindly for Antonio Rudiger to head to the net for the only goal of a largely forgettable game. Swansea defended well for the most part but another defeat leaves them joint-bottom of the table.
Newcastle were staring down the barrel of a fifth straight defeat on Tuesday night at West Brom but fought back admirably to claim a point at The Hawthorns. A dreadful first half looked set to end goalless until, in added time, Hal Robson-Kanu headed the home side into the lead. It was 2-0 early in the second half when youngster Sam Field scored his first professional goal and the Magpies looked in real trouble. They didn’t take long to pull one back, though, with Ciaran Clark making the most of slack Baggies defending from a corner, and levelled on 82 minutes when Matt Ritchie’s powerful free kick was deflected into his own net by Jonny Evans. The wait for a first league win since August goes on for West Brom, with Alan Pardew taking on a tough assignment at The Hawthorns.
The wait for a first away goal of the season also continues for Crystal Palace, but at least they’re off the mark points-wise on their travels following Tuesday’s scoreless draw at bitter rivals Brighton. There was plenty of build-up to the first Premier League instalment of this ‘derby’ but the match itself was something of a damp squib, although the home side were grateful to Mathew Ryan for a couple of fine saves early on. Brighton looked dangerous from set plays and twice came close through Glenn Murray and Shane Duffy, but overall neither team really did enough to deserve anything more than a point.
Liverpool showed that they can do it on a wintry Wednesday night at Stoke, keeping a clean sheet into the bargain, although Jurgen Klopp will know that his team were lucky to see Mignolet kept on the pitch. The manager has been questioned for his substitutions in recent games, but in summoning Salah when the lead was a very delicate 1-0, he got it spot on as the outstanding Egyptian again showed why he is a Player of the Season contender.