Sunday’s action in Week 11 of the Premier League now, starting at The Hawthorns as West Brom looked to grab the points to move out of the bottom three against Palace…
West Bromwich Albion 1 Crystal Palace 5
The Baggies had won five and lost two of their twelve top-flight games at The Hawthorns against The Eagles, whilst Palace was unbeaten in four matches against their opponents in all competitions and had not conceded in any of those games, so the hosts would have to try and end that latter statistic if they had any hopes of climbing out of the dreaded drop zone.
Palace themselves knew a win would put lots of daylight between them and the bottom three and see them climb towards the top ten and were boosted by the return of Wilfred Zaha after a two-match absence due to Covid, they had certainly missed his spark over those games he was not available. And after eight minutes he was heavily involved in the Palace opener as Zaha lost his man on the right and flashed in a low cross which Baggies defender Darnell Furlong tried to cut out but could only steer it into his own net, and the visitors good start had been rewarded.
Furlong almost redeemed himself ten minutes later as he planted a header against the visitor’s bar, but the hosts did level on the half-hour mark and it was Furlong with an assist as he got away down the right and although Gary Cahill blocked his first cross, he was able to find Conor Gallagher with a second cross and the latter managed to side foot home for a deserved leveller.
Moments later though and West Brom were down to ten men after Matheus Pereira appeared to kick out at Patrick van Aanholt as they tussled, and after referee Paul Tierney had consulted the VAR monitor, he pulled out the red card and the hosts were down to ten men. Was it deliberate, who knows, but the hosts would now have to play the remainder of the contest a man light. It had been an eventful half, one that ended all square.
Palace began the second period on the front foot, and it was no surprise when they did go in front and it was none other than Zaha who gave them that lead ten minutes into the second period as after James McArthur had fed him on the left of the area, he did the rest quite brilliantly, whipping a lovely curling effort across the keeper and into the net.
Palace was now rampant and quickly added a third as the hosts were struggling to stay with their opponents as the extra man was telling, as van Aanholt charged inside the area before clipping a ball into the six-yard box where Christian Benteke could not miss and nodded home for only his third goal in fifty-three appearances.
The hosts’ heads had now completely dropped, that red card had totally changed the game, and Palace duly netted a fourth as superstar Zaha added his second when more superb football when after Ebe Eze and Benteke had played a nice one-two, Kyle Bartley came to challenge, but the ball ran kindly for Zaha who poked home from eight yards out with just over twenty minutes to go.
Benteke was to add another goal to make it two in the game and five for Palace with eight to go with another decent goal, Nathaniel Clyne flew down the right before delivering a low cross which Michy Batshuayi stepped over and allowed Benteke to let it come across his body before firing a low effort home.
It was the first time Palace had netted five away from home in the Premier League, it had been an absolute mauling in the second period and Palace had a terrific away win, whilst for the hosts, they stay in the bottom three and will need to get this out of their system fast, it was not pretty in the second half for them…
Now onto the mid-afternoon match up and Brammall Lane for Leicester’s visit to Sheffield United…
Sheffield United 1 Leicester City 2
The Foxes were seeking their sixth successive victory against The Blades in all competitions, the hosts had not beaten their opponents in any of the past eight meetings in both the league and cup, with their most recent top-flight win over The Foxes all the way back in 1974, so the stats certainly favoured the visitors that was for sure.
United though needed to grab a win as they began the day bottom and five points behind Burnley just above them and in danger of being cut adrift if they did not find some form soon, whilst for Leicester they were trying to bounce back from a shock defeat to Fulham last time out and try and get themselves into the top four with a win.
Jamie Vardy crashed an early effort against the post for The Foxes as the visitors dominated the opening exchanges, and just past the midway point of the first half they grabbed a deserved lead as after the Blades only half-cleared a cross to Marc Albrighton, his shot was blocked, but it landed at the feet of Ayoze Perez who hit a powerful close-range effort at goal which keeper Aaron Ramsdale managed to get his hand to but could not keep it out.
The hosts though responded in the best possible way by levelling just two minutes later as Oliver McBurnie outjumped Youri Tielemans to head home his first goal of the campaign despite the best efforts of Albrighton and Kasper Schmeichel to keep it out.
Leicester though continued to be on the front foot and nearly grabbed the half time lead, but James Maddison struck the same bit of post-Vardy did earlier in the game, so it meant the sides went in level at the break. So, could anyone find a winner?
Well, yes was the answer, as the visitors grabbed all three points and broke Blades hearts as Vardy, whose last goal came a month or so ago, ran onto a pass from James Maddison to curl past Ramsdale in the 90th minute and send Leicester into the top four, it was a big win for the visitors, whilst it was a painful defeat for the bottom side who still just have one point to show from eleven games now.
Now for the biggie, the late afternoon North London derby at The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium as Spurs looked to defeat their near neighbours and go back to the top of the table…
Tottenham Hotspur 2 Arsenal 0
A Spurs victory would see them win consecutive competitive North London derbies for the first time in almost thirty years, although their only defeat against The Gunners in the past twelve matches at their own ground came six years ago, although Arsenal can be boosted by the fact Spurs had dropped 42 Premier League points from winning positions against them, so if they do go behind all is not lost!!!
The hosts though had started the season brilliantly and would end the weekend top with victory, whilst the Gunners were enduring their worst ever Premier League start and were in the lower half of the table, so this would be an ideal place to begin a recovery perhaps?
After thirteen minutes we had our opening goal, and what a goal it was, as an Arsenal attack broke down and Spurs broke quickly, Harry Kane held the ball up and then sprayed a ball out wide to Son Heung-min who drove forward, cut inside, and bent a stunning effort into the far corner, sublime.
And just before the break Spurs did Arsenal on the counter once again in deadly fashion as a ball played to Giovani Lo Celso saw him power towards the box, slipped the ball to Kane who thumped a shot in off the underside of the bar, and Spurs were two goals to the good at the break and heading back to the top of the league as it stood.
Could The Gunners possibly get back into this game? Well, just like the first period they enjoyed much more possession, but they were not doing anything with it and Spurs looked happy to soak up any pressure and hit the visitors on the counter, this had not been a bad performance from the visitors really and had probably been the better side, but Tottenham had been fair and away more clinical when it mattered.
A big win for the hosts and they return to the top of the table, for Arsenal, their difficult season continues.
The final game of Sunday came from Anfield, as The Reds welcomed Wolves to the North West…
Liverpool 4 Wolverhampton Wanderers 0
The hosts had won seven consecutive Premier League meetings against their opponents with an aggregate scoreline of 15-2, and Wolves had only scored four goals and earned one win in their twelve Premier League encounters overall, but they had beaten Liverpool twice in the FA Cup under Klopp, so something to hold onto their perhaps.
The Reds though are unbeaten in their last six games and have not lost at home for 64 games, so Wolves knew this would be a tough task, but the visitors themselves have kept twice as many clean sheets as their opponents this season, so they would be hard to break down no doubt, and they had only lost one of their last seven league games.
It was Liverpool who broke the deadlock midway through the first half when after Jordan Henderson pumped a ball forward, what looked like a routine clearance for Conor Coady ended with the defender cushioning the ball into the path of Mo Salah and the forward made no mistake and the hosts had the advantage, it was a rare mistake from the Wolves centre half and a very costly one as well.
It was a blow for Wolves who had been playing some good stuff prior to that goal. And they thought they had great chance to make amends when winning a penalty two minutes before the break when Coady was impeded by Sadio Mane, but VAR had a look and decided to reverse the decision after Craig Pawson had looked at the pitchside monitor.
It brought a huge roar from the 2,000 home fans in the Kop, as Coady was getting a mouthful from Henderson as he had been adjudged to have made the most of it and on replays, it did appear that Mane did not touch him, oops, not a great return to Anfield for the Wolves defender so far. It did mean that the hosts went into the break with a slender one-goal lead.
They stepped it up a gear early in the second half too, pushing Wolves back, but Liverpool needed to be more clinical in the final third, well, just before the hour mark, they did just that to double their lead and what a lovely goal it was, as Henderson sprung the attack and Georginio Wijnaldum ended the attack by bending a wonderful effort past Rui Patricio in front of his adoring fans in the Kop.
Wolves, who had just enjoyed a decent spell of pressure prior to that second Liverpool goal, now had a mountain to climb. That mountain got even bigger midway through the second period when The Reds added a third, when a short corner ended with Salah swinging in a cross for Joel Matip to plant a header past Patricio from five yards out, and the hosts were now in complete control.
Three became four with thirteen minutes remaining as Trent Alexander-Arnold, who had only been on the pitch a few minutes, delivered a lovely low cross into the area and it came off Nelson Semedo for an own goal although Mane was claiming it too, the outcome was still a fourth Reds goal and it had turned ugly for the visitors who suffered only their second defeat in eight, whilst it was a resounding win for the hosts who join Spurs at the top.
Here is that Premier League table with one game still to go in Week 11…
Wins for Spurs and Liverpool today see them lead the way by two points over third-placed Chelsea, Spurs do top the league though on goal difference, and they meet Liverpool under the lights at Anfield in ten days’ time!!!
Leicester end the weekend in the top four after today’s late win at bottom side Sheffield United for whom things look desperate right now. Palace climb to eleventh after hitting five past ten-man West Brom who stay in the drop zone, and Arsenal’s loss in the North London derby sees them drop to fifteenth and no wins in four now for Arteta’s struggling Gunners.
Just one more game to come in Week 11, and it comes from the Amex as Brighton host Southampton, with the hosts looking to put more daylight between them and the bottom three whilst The Saints know a win could take them fifth.