Premier League week 26 round-up: Unadventurous Reds pay a heavy penalty

Premier League Review Liverpool

Drawing at home to a direct rival for Champions League qualification and having been under siege for most of the second half is no disgrace, but the manner in which an uncharacteristically cautious Liverpool had two points snatched from their grasp by Tottenham left the Anfield faithful crushed. It all started so perfectly when Mohamed Salah took full advantage of careless Spurs defending to fire the Reds in front and the home side controlled the first half very professionally. Upon the restart, though, it was one-way traffic towards the Kop as Spurs pinned Liverpool back. The home defence held firm until 10 minutes from time when Victor Wanyama crashed a piledriver beyond the helpless Loris Karius. The German goalkeeper, so often pilloried, proved his worth with a penalty save from Harry Kane, who was incorrectly judged by referee Jon Moss to have been fouled by Karius. As the game entered stoppage time, a moment of individual brilliance by Salah seemed to have stolen it for Liverpool, but there was still time for Erik Lamela to go to ground and Moss’ assistant to call for a penalty. The referee eventually concurred and, having already failed with one spot kick, Kane was not going to do so again. Devastating as the finale was, a draw was the fairest result all told, but that came as little consolation for Liverpool supporters on Sunday evening.

Sam Allardyce did not spare his players in his post-match comments after Everton shipped five goals to Arsenal for the second time this season, the Gunners cruising to a 5-1 victory. As against Crystal Palace in their previous home game, Arsenal effectively wrapped up the points in the opening 20 minutes, by which stage they were three goals to the good. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang netted on his debut but the post-match headlines belonged to Aaron Ramsey, who claimed the first hat-trick of his career. Laurent Koscielny, who was sent off in this fixture last season and missed the FA Cup final as a result, also scored for the Gunners, with Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s goal counting for precious little in the overall context. Arsenal pull themselves closer to the top four while hapless Everton continue to peer nervously over their shoulders at the teams beneath them.

Manchester United had to be patient, but ultimately they eased past Huddersfield at Old Trafford to quickly put last week’s defeat to Spurs behind them. There were no goals in the first half but the home side should have had a penalty when Sam McTominay was taken clean out by a reckless aerial challenge from Terence Kongolo. United eventually made the breakthrough early in the second half, Juan Mata’s pinpoint cross finished from close range by Romelu Lukaku. The points were sealed when Alexis Sanchez reacted quickly to Jonas Lossl’s penalty save to tuck home the rebound, the Chilean scoring on his home debut for United. Defeat for Huddersfield leaves them winless in eight league matches and second from bottom in the table, the harsh reality of Premier League life well and truly setting in for the Terriers.

Here’s a statistic which may seem surprising given Manchester City’s domination so far this season – they are now winless in three away league matches after contriving to draw at Burnley on Saturday despite bossing their out-of-form opponents for most of the game. A superb strike from Danilo midway through the first half appeared to signal the opening of the floodgates, but poor finishing and an assured goalkeeping performance from Nick Pope meant that City’s second goal never arrived. Raheem Sterling, so prolific this campaign, somehow missed from three yards and was made to rue that shocker when Johann Gudmundsson snatched a late equaliser for Burnley, who are still finding wins hard to come by but will certainly view this draw in a positive light.

Southampton collected their first win in 13 league matches in a cracking game at West Brom, who are now four points adrift at the foot of the table. The Baggies got off to the perfect start, Ahmed Hegazi heading them in front inside four minutes, but having looked like they’d take the lead into half-time, they instead found themselves 1-2 down at the interval, Mario Lemina and Jack Stephens turning the game on its head with quickfire goals just before the break. The Saints extended their lead nine minutes into the second half when James Ward-Prowse overruled Sofiane Boufal and hit a free kick that was perfectly placed past Ben Foster. Salomon Rondon scored with just under 20 minutes remaining to ensure a tight finish, but Southampton held on to climb out of the bottom three and plunge West Brom deeper into the mire.

Swansea continued their revival under Carlos Carvalhal by drawing 1-1 at Leicester, with Riyad Mahrez again conspicuous by his absence. Instead there was a home debut for Fousseni Diabate, and it could have been a very brief one had his early lunge on Sam Clucas been given the red card it deserved. Instead, he went on to impress greatly and Leicester were the better team in the first half, taking the lead on 16 minutes through Jamie Vardy. Swansea stuck to their task, though, and equalised soon after half-time when Federico Fernandez headed to the net from a corner. A draw seemed a fair result overall and it took the Swans outside the relegation zone, something that seemed quite unlikely only a short month ago.

Bournemouth followed up their thrashing of Chelsea by coming from behind to beat Stoke at the Vitality Stadium and move up to ninth. That was despite falling behind inside three minutes, Xherdan Shaqiri scoring a rare headed goal as the Cherries defence switched off. It looked like being a case of after the Lord Mayor’s show for Eddie Howe’s side for large spells, but two goals in the final 20 minutes ensured that their fine form continued. Joshua King brought them level shortly before Lys Mousset proved the unlikely matchwinner, consigning Stoke to a first defeat under Paul Lambert.

Brighton completed the double over West Ham by registering a richly deserved 3-1 victory at the Amex Stadium on Saturday. The in-form Glenn Murray gave the Seagulls an early lead with his third goal in a week before Javier Hernandez levelled the match with a splendid solo effort on the half-hour. When Brighton retook the lead in the 59th minute, it was with a goal of the season contender from Jose Izquierdo, and they made sure of the point with 15 minutes to go when Pascal Gross netted. Brighton’s performances of late had not been reflected results-wise until this weekend, while defeat for the Hammers reminded them that the spectre of a relegation battle has certainly not faded.

Crystal Palace and Newcastle shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw at Selhurst Park on Sunday. It was the visitors who hit the front midway through the first half, inept Palace defending from a corner allowing the ball to roll to Mohamed Diame at the back post and he gleefully accepted the gift. The Eagles had the lion’s share of chances, several of which fell to the hapless Christian Benteke. The Belgian’s form in front of goal has been nonexistent this season but it was he who won Palace a 55th-minute penalty, Ciaran Clark’s tug on his shirt not going unnoticed by the assistant. Luka Milivojevic buried the spot kick to earn the home side a point, but given their superiority over the 90 minutes, it was Newcastle who went away happier with the result.

Anyone looking at the 2-2 outcome from the Liverpool-Tottenham match might justifiably assume that the Reds’ defence had another off-day, but there was little in the way of error for either of Spurs’ goals. Instead, it was the interference of an assistant which proved fatal for Jurgen Klopp’s side, although the manager might face questioning as to why his team sat back for almost all of the second half and invited a goal-laden Spurs side to buy the ticket that won the raffle.

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