Round 13 of the Premier League continued with no fewer than six games on a bumper Wednesday evening, including the top two doing battle at Anfield, more on that later but the three 6 pm kick-offs took us to The Emirates, Elland Road and King Power so let us see how those games panned out…
Arsenal 1 Southampton 1
The Gunners are unbeaten in twenty-five home league games against Southampton, with their last loss being twenty-three years ago, with The Saints two wins in their ten competitive games at the Emirates both coming in the League Cup, with their last one coming four years ago.
This though was probably the best chance they had of ending that winless run as Arsenal had lost four straight at home for the first time in 61 years, equalling a club record, in what was their worst start to a league season for some time, and the visitors had only been beaten once in their past ten league fixtures, so we’re playing with confidence, and knew if Leicester slipped up they could go top for a couple of hours.
And after seventeen minutes Southampton went in front, and it was only ex-Arsenal attacker Theo Walcott who netted the goal, this after some awful defending from the hosts, leaving a gaping hole for Che Adams to play a ball through after nicking it off the backline to Walcott to chip over Bernd Leno.
Arsenal though managed to find a response six minutes into the second period as Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang, who scored the own goal against Burnley last time out, managed to find the right end this time out as after Buyako Saka had beat three defenders, he laid the ball off to Eddie Nketiah who slipped a lovely ball to Auba who curled a lovely finish into the bottom corner.
It was their first goal in open play in almost thirteen hours, could this be the catalyst to go on and grab a huge win?
Well, the hosts for the second home game running were down to ten men after defender Gabriel dragged down Walcott and was given a second yellow, and the Ill-discipline under Mikel Arteta continued, and the hosts were now up against it once again.
Would the Saints punish them? Well, they nearly did when Oriol Romeu picked out Nathan Redmond, but the substitute could only poke a stretched effort against the post as the hosts were now holding on for a point, but Arsenal then came within inches of all three points in stoppage time when Rob Holding’s header rattled the frame of the goal.
It meant the game did end all square, not enough to ease the pressure on the hosts, but at least they halt that run of defeats at home, whilst The Saints missed the chance to go top for a couple of hours at least.
Leeds United 5 Newcastle United 2
This was the first top-flight meeting between the two since January 2004, when a certain Alan Shearer have the Toon a 1-0 win, and the visitors are unbeaten in their past five league trips to Elland Road.
Leeds have only won one of their twelve most recent contests against their opponents, with the hosts most recent win a 3-2 win the Premier League some twenty-one years ago, and their form of late has not been great, so Newcastle would fancy that run to continue, they came into this one looking for three successive wins in the league.
It was all Leeds early on but twenty-six minutes in the visitors edged in front with a well-worked goal too, ending with Jeff Hendrick diverting the ball home first time at the far post from a Callum Wilson flick on, it had been the theme for Leeds lately, attack and create chances and have all the possession, only to find themselves behind.
But the hosts reacted well to falling behind and ten minutes before the break levelled as after Rodrigo had looped an effort onto the crossbar, the ball bounced perfectly for Patrick Bamford who nodded into the open net from a couple of yards out. It was the least the hosts deserved.
And just past the hour mark, Leeds had turned it around after Jack Harrison dug out a cross towards the penalty spot and Spanish international Rodrigo threw himself at the ball to divert the ball into the far corner.
But, as no sooner had Leeds gone in front, they were pegged back minutes later as Ryan Fraser whipped in a corner and saw Ciaran Clark go up to meet it, and Leeds keeper Illan Meslier was slow to get down to the header and it nestled into the bottom corner, it was a poor goal to concede and more frustration for the hosts no doubt.
This topsy turvy contest though saw Leeds retake the lead with thirteen minutes remaining as after Newcastle gave the ball away inside their own box, Mateusz Klich dinked in a cross which found Stuart Dallas at the back post to nod in unmarked from six yards out, could Leeds hold on this time around?
Well, they did much better than that, firstly sealing the points with five minutes to go as they caught the visitors on the counter and Pablo Hernandez picked out Ezgjan Alioski in the box and the full-back finished with aplomb, high into the net, to make it 4-2, and then added a fifth sooner after thanks to a stunner from Harrison as the visitors were caught on the counter again, and Harrison burst clear and rocketed a spectacular effort into the roof of the net.
It was a five-star performance from the hosts and a much-needed win and morale boost after a difficult run of form whilst for the visitors a tough loss after back to back wins.
Leicester City 0 Everton 2
The Foxes had won three of their past five home league matches against The Toffees, with Everton’s last win coming four years ago, and the past ten Premier League had seen either side pick up five wins each, so pretty even then.
The Foxes had lost half of their home league games this season though, but Everton had only won one of their past four away games, but both had come into this one with good wins last time out so we’re confident of making it another one here. And Leicester knew a win would take them top, for a couple of hours at least, so that was a good incentive for them.
However, twenty minutes in and Everton had the lead, as Richarlison cut in and hit a shot from twenty-five yards out which arrowed into the bottom corner, although Kasper Schmeichel got a firm hand to it but could only push the ball into the side of the net, should he have done better, maybe, but the visitors had the lead.
The visitors then set themselves up defensively and said to the hosts ‘come and break us down’ which they could not do, and then with just under twenty minutes left doubled their lead as after Schmeichel had made two brilliant saves, he could do nothing about the third effort from Mason Holgate who poked home his first Toffees goal.
That looked like game over, but with eight minutes to go the Foxes thought they had been given a route back into the game when Lee Mason pointed to the spot, but after looking at the pitchside monitor reversed his decision and Leicester would not have the chance to grab a lifeline.
They then saw a goal chalked off for offside, it was one of those nights for the hosts, and it was the fourth loss at home in seven, whilst for Everton, they leap above Chelsea in the table after back-to-back wins.
Now onto the 8pm kick offs, with matches at Craven Cottage, Anfield and The London Stadium…
Fulham 0 Brighton & Hove Albion 0
Fulham’s home win over Albion in their most recent meeting last January ended a run of six league matches without a win against them, and none of their twenty-one league meetings at The Cottage has ended all square.
The Seagulls had scored multiple goals in each of their past seven league matches in this fixture, so the hosts’ defence would have to be on top form, and with bottom side Sheffield United the only side to have kept fewer clean sheets then Fulham this term, Brighton may have fancied their chances.
These two only had two wins each this season though, so this was an important game down at the bottom, with Fulham knowing a win would see them leapfrog their opponents and get out of the bottom three, whilst Brighton could put daylight between themselves and the danger zone with three points.
Danny Welbeck missed a golden chance for the visitors in the first period, whereas the hosts saw an Ivan Cavaleiro effort well tipped over by Robert Sanchez, but chances were few and far between in a goalless first period. Would we get more goal action in the second period?
Well, we did get some action early in the second period when Adam Lallana thought he had grabbed his first goal for The Seagulls to put them ahead, but VAR spotted a handball from Welbeck before it reached Lallana, so the goal was ruled out, so the contest remained goalless.
Ben White then smashed a header against the Fulham bar as Brighton dominated the early exchanges of the second period, but they nearly fell behind when Ruben Loftus-Cheek got through, but Sanchez pulled off his second great save of the game to keep the scoreline goalless.
The keeper was making only his second Premier League start and he made it a hat-trick of saves after denying Ademola Lookman at the near post, and it helped earn his side a point in this as the game ended goalless.
Liverpool 2 Tottenham Hotspur 1
The Reds have lost just four of their past fifteen Premier League meetings, winning ten of those too, and their four most recent victories in this fixture have all come by a single goal, and this one would probably be as tight too no doubt.
Spurs the only victory at Anfield in their last twenty-six Premier League visits came in May 2011, but they had a great chance to end that long winless run here no doubt, but if they did lose this one it would be six straight losses in all competitions against Liverpool for the first time.
As bad as the Reds have been away from home this season, they had won all six home league games this season with an aggregate scoreline of 18-6, a total contrast to their away form, and are unbeaten in SIXTY-FIVE Premier League home games too, which would be three years in April.
Spurs though were unbeaten in their six away league games this season, winning four of those, and had conceded just one premier league goal in almost 500 minutes of football, so the league leaders would not be phased by their poor record at Anfield.
So, who would win this huge top of the table clash and end the evening top then? It was the Reds who were dominant in the early proceedings and on twenty-six minutes they finally broke Spurs resistance when Curtis Jones drove into the box and although Spurs starved him of space and blocked the ball, it fell to Mo Salah and his shot took a big deflection off Toby Alderweireld and looped up and dropped into the far corner. It was well deserved.
But for all the host’s dominance, they were pegged back minutes later when Son Heung-min, who else levelled for Spurs, this after VAR had checked he was not offside, after a brilliant pass from Gio lo Celso, and the visitors, who had barely threatened up to this point, were all square at Anfield. It had been typical Spurs this half, soak up pressure and then hit on the counter in deadly fashion. Jose magic you might say.
Spurs had a couple of good chances at the start of the second period, but they soon fell back into their defensive shape as Liverpool began to see all of the ball again before Steven Bergwijn somehow hit the post when through on goal, and then Harry Kane somehow headed over from five yards out, they were certainly more of a threat this half that was for sure, but who could go on and win this one and end the Round top of the pile?
Mane almost put Liverpool back in front when smashing a shot against the bar with fifteen minutes left, but Spurs, who had only 23% possession, were dangerous in attack when they were not defending and could easily have led themselves, it was the perfect game plan from Mourinho, and the Reds were getting frustrated.
However, there was to be a late twist in this one, and it saw Liverpool grab a late winner, as for once poor defending by Spurs saw Roberto Firmino lose his markers to send a sensational header into the top corner, and last years champions now had a three-point cushion at the top.
West Ham United 1 Crystal Palace 1
Palace could win three straight league meetings against their opponents for the first time with a victory here, whilst The Hammers had scored in each of their past twelve encounters, but the Hammers were in good form and could end the evening in the top four after a run of four wins in five.
Palace, whose last away game saw them net five for the first time in their Premier League history, had only netted that many in nine previous away games, so they do not normally net to many away from home, but if they were to pull off a victory here, they could end the night in the top half of the table.
Palace looked the more dangerous in the opening exchanges, and on 34 minutes edged ahead as Christian Benteke, who got two at West Brom earlier in the month, sent a bullet header into the net and Palace had a deserved lead after a decent first-half showing.
The Hammers though managed to find a leveller early in the second half, and what a wonderful goal it was as well, as after Manuel Lanzini had played a clever ball through to Vladimir Coufal, he crossed for Sebastien Haller who pulled off the perfect overhead kick to draw the hosts level, it was a goal of the season contender for sure!!!
With twenty or so minutes left Palace were down to ten after goal scorer Benteke was sent off after catching Soucek in the face and receiving a second yellow, so could The Hammers take advantage of the extra man with the remaining time available?
They almost snatched it at the death when Declan Rice rifled a fierce shot off the top of the bar, but they had to settle for a point as the ten men held on.
So, after that bumper evening of Premier League football, how did the table stack up?
Liverpool’s late win over Spurs sees them top the table by three points, whilst Everton’s win at Leicester sees them up to fifth and just a point behind The Foxes, whilst The Hammers draw sees them up to seventh, Palace stay in 12th. Leeds brilliant 5-2 win sees them up to 13th and only a win off the top ten, Newcastle drop to 14th and below their opponents on goal difference.
Arsenal’s winless run continues as they stay fifteenth and still five points above the drop zone, whilst Southampton, who were disappointed to only grab a draw, go up to third above Leicester on goals scored. And Fulham’s goalless draw takes them out of the bottom three and a place behind Brighton who is two points further up the road.
Also, news broke today that West Brom has sacked manager Slaven Bilic despite that point at Manchester City last night, and he is to be replaced by Sam Allardyce who returns to management for the first time since his rather embarrassing exit from the England job after just one game. He has 512 Premier League games in his management portfolio, but can he keep the Baggies up? They currently sit second bottom and two points off safety.
Just two more games to come tomorrow to complete Round 13, and they are as follows
Aston Villa v Burnley (6pm)
Sheffield United v Manchester United (8pm)
Villa would go seventh with victory, whilst Burnley could climb out of the bottom three and above both Fulham and Brighton with a win, a draw would be enough to take them out of the bottom three too. And The Blades will continue to search for that elusive win when they take on Man United at Bramall Lane, with the Red Devils knowing a win will take them into the top six. Sure to be another dramatic evening of Premier League football!!!