With Liverpool not in action until Monday night, how did the rest of the Premier League fare out over the weekend? Having seen their unbeaten record ended by the Reds last week, Manchester City bounced back with a 3-1 victory at home to Newcastle. Sergio Aguero famously scored five in this fixture two seasons ago and he tormented the Magpies again by registering a hat-trick, his first goal coming shortly after Raheem Sterling had a goal ruled out for a very marginal offside. City looked comfortable at 2-0 before Jacob Murphy struck to make this game a real contest until Aguero sealed his treble in the closing minutes. It wasn’t scintillating from the league leaders but they returned to winning ways in a business-like manner, suggesting that their Anfield defeat may have been nothing more than a blip.
Manchester United remain 12 points behind their neighbours after a hard-fought 1-0 win at Burnley on Saturday. In a match with precious few chances, the decisive one was converted by Anthony Martial, whose shot came down off the underside of the crossbar before landing in the net. United rode their luck at times, with Johann Gudmundsson’s free kick hitting the bar and the Clarets coming close on a couple of occasions. Another defeat, though, sees Burnley drop to eighth, while Jose Mourinho’s side continue their fine start to 2018, even if the performance was most unconvincing.
Arsenal hadn’t won a match since beating Crystal Palace at the end of December but they set that to rights in ruthless fashion when the Eagles flew by the Emirates on Saturday. The Gunners were four goals to the good by the midway stage of the first half, with Palace exhibiting the kind of defending which would five Jamie Carragher and pals enough material for a week’s worth of Monday Night Football analysis. The one negative for Arsenal was the late Luka Milivojevic goal which denied Petr Cech a 200th Premier League clean sheet, but after a horrendous start to the New Year, this emphatic victory was just what the doctor ordered for Arsene Wenger.
Chelsea have looked impotent in recent games but made up for it on Saturday by putting four past Brighton, for whom the final score looked harsh. The champions were 2-0 up inside six minutes, Eden Hazard getting them off the mark before Willian finished off a sublime team goal. It looked bleak for the home side at that stage although they gave Chelsea plenty to think about thereafter and were wrongly denied two first half penalties, Ezequiel Schelotto the victim on both occasions. It remained 2-0 going into the final 15 minutes until late goals from Hazard and Victor Moses gave the scoreline a misleading appearance. Still, Antonio Conte won’t mind after his team’s difficult start to 2018.
Tottenham missed the chance to draw level on points with Liverpool after being held to a 1-1 draw by Southampton on Sunday. Indeed, it was the Saints who went ahead on 15 minutes after Davinson Sanchez turned the ball into his own net in trying to intercept Ryan Bertrand’s cross. The teams were level within three minutes when Harry Kane headed home from a pinpoint corner for his 99th Premier League goal. Both teams had chances thereafter and a draw seemed the fairest result at St Mary’s. While it was a positive result for Southampton, it nonetheless leaves them in the relegation zone until the next round of league action.
Leicester moved up to seventh after a 2-0 victory over Watford, whose form continues to desert them. The pace of Jamie Vardy troubled the Hornets all day at the King Power Stadium and it was he who won and converted a first half penalty, although the visitors may feel aggrieved to have had a Troy Deeney goal ruled out when he looked just onside. Leicester were the better of the two teams, though, and sealed the win late on with a brilliant solo goal from Riyad Mahrez, who again gave a performance reminiscent of that title-winning season two years ago. This proved to be Marco Silva’s last game in charge of Watford, with the club sacking him on Sunday and replacing him with Javi Gracia, the latest overseas boss through the Vicarage Road managerial revolving door.
Everton’s 1-1 draw with West Brom was overshadowed by a horrible double leg fracture for Toffees midfielder James McCarthy, who suffered the sickening injury after the most innocuous of contacts from Salomon Rondon. The Venezuelan striker was in tears after the incident, his immediate beckoning for help for McCarthy indicating that he knew immediately the situation was grim. Jay Rodriguez had earlier put the Baggies ahead before Oumar Niasse equalised for Everton. Even a win wouldn’t have prevented this from being a sad day for the Toffees, though, after that disturbing injury for McCarthy.
Paul Lambert made a winning start as Stoke manager, his side dispatching Huddersfield 2-0 in a less than memorable game at the bet365 Stadium. Neither team came close to scoring in a dour first half but it was ex-Liverpool man Joe Allen who fired the Potters in front shortly after the interval. Mame Biram Diouf’s scoring form had been deserting him but he was on target on Saturday to seal the three points for Stoke, who climb out of the relegation zone and drag Huddersfield closer and closer to it.
West Ham and Bournemouth evenly shared six goals when they met in a feisty clash on Boxing Day, but their 1-1 draw at London Stadium on Saturday was somewhat less dramatic. Both goals arrived in the space of 65 seconds midway through the second half, Ryan Fraser’s giving the Cherries a lead that proved to be very short-lived after Javier Hernandez came off the bench to equalise. The result keeps both sides in the upper echelons of the bottom half and, with teams around them losing, it can be seen as a point gained for each of them.
Tottenham’s slip-up on the south coast means that Liverpool know a win in Wales on Monday gives them a five-point cushion in the top four, a marvellous incentive to pull away from Spurs with the teams meeting at Anfield in early February. Jurgen Klopp knows his side dare not waste this unexpectedly grand opportunity.