Liverpool 2-0 Tottenham
Tottenham have won just once in 17 Premier League away games vs the other current top six clubs (D6 L10).
Jurgen Klopp’s pre-match press conference was interrupted by the beeping of a reporter’s dictaphone indicating low battery power. Quick to make a serious point humorously, Klopp insisted his side’s batteries weren’t running low despite one win (against Plymouth) in 10 games since the turn of the year.
Some saw that as bluster, but Klopp’s men certainly blew Tottenham away in the late game on Saturday. Overrunning a strangely sluggish Spurs side, Liverpool were in control after barely a quarter of an hour when Sadio Mané scored a brace in a little over two minutes. By the break Tottenham had allowed eight shots on target, more than in any Premier League first half since 2004. The second period was cruise control for the home side, especially as the game fell away in niggly yellow cards.
Quite aside from giving Chelsea a chance to go 12 points clear with a Sunday home win against Burnley, the result compressed the five-strong chasing pack to within two points of each other, a situation that should suit Klopp just fine. While other challengers prepare for FA Cup games next weekend before resuming the juggle with European competitions, Liverpool now have a 16-day lay-off to recharge their batteries ahead of a one-track final third of the season. If they can play at this lick every game, they will be confident of Champions League qualification.
Goals Mane (16', 18')
Manchester United 2-0 Watford
Anthony Martial has been involved in more PL goals for Man Utd than any other player since his debut (22 – 14 goals, 8 assists).
Manchester United cruised past Watford to move within a point of their city rivals. It might have taken them more than half an hour to score, but the goal had been coming long before that as Watford looked unlikely to repeat last week’s heroics at Arsenal – and despite the odd flurry of activity from the visitors, United were deserved victors with 11 shots on target to Watford’s three: only heroics from Heurelho Gomes kept the difference decent.
Making his first league appearance since mid-January’s draw with Liverpool, Anthony Martial rewarded Jose Mourinho’s decision by setting up Juan Mata’s close-ranger, and made sure of the win on the hour with a superb finish to cap a performance which even impressed his manager. Thanks to domestic cup duties, United now go three weeks without a league game; they haven’t been beaten in the league for 16 matches.
Goals Mata (32'), Martial (60')
Middlesbrough 0-0 Everton
Middlesbrough have managed just one win in their last 13 league games against Everton (D5 L7) - back in October 2006.
Not, in truth, a riveter at the Riverside. Boro became the first team to shut out Everton in the Toffees’ eight-game unbeaten run, but their defensive determination came at a price of attacking intent, and they are now on their own eight-game league run – without a victory.
That’s not to say there weren’t chances: Romelu Lukaku (of course) would have scored but for the reflexes of Victor Valdes, Boro skipper Ben Gibson was denied on the line by Leighton Baines and youngster Ademola Lookman might have rewarded Ronald Koeman’s decision to start him but Valdes excelled again. As is the football way, Boro threw on the big man late on, but Rudy Gestede was thwarted by Joel Robles and the sides settled for a point apiece.
Stoke City 1-0 Crystal Palace
Joe Allen has scored six league goals this season, 50% more than his previous best-ever haul in a top-flight campaign (2011/12).
Palace were far from the calamitous catastrophe of last weekend’s 4-0 home loss to Sunderland, but Sam Allardyce will have to dig hard to find the positives from another loss to nil. Stoke weren’t exactly Holland 74 either, but they had four shots on target to Palace’s meagre one, and they’re also now 10 places higher than their visitors, who only stay off bottom place because Sunderland imploded at home to Southampton.
In a match described by Mark Hughes as a “war of attrition”, the crucial goal was a rare burst of quality. Joe Allen is enjoying his most lethal season in terms of goals; fair enough, he’s only scored six and he’ll never exactly be Lionel Messi, but the Welsh Xavi’s latest – calmly dispatched from a Ramadan Sobhi layoff after a lovely Marko Arnautovic diagonal – was enough to drag his team into the top half... and to shove Palace a little closer to the trap door.
Goal Allen (67')
Sunderland 0-4 Southampton
Sunderland failed to score a first-half goal for the 19th time in the Premier League this season, a joint league-high with Crystal Palace.
Oof. Just when Sunderland seemed to have their season back on track with a 4-0 win at doomwatch rivals Palace, they suffer a home defeat by the same scoreline. Despite a bright start from the home side, Fraser Forster had just one save to make and it all looked wearyingly familiar on Wearside when Manolo Gabbiadini – no relation to impressively-hootered formerly Sunderland striker Marco – put Southampton in front on the half-hour.
Just before half-time, £14m signing Gabbiadini doubled the lead, and Saints were set fair for their first away win since Christmas. A late oggie from Jason Denayer and Shane Long's injury time tap-in merely hammered the points home. Last time Sunderland won a league game, they followed it up with two points from a possible 21; if they do that again now, they'll be in very big trouble indeed.
Goals Gabbiadini (30', 45'), Denayer OG (87'), Long (90+3')
West Ham 2-2 West Brom
Only Bournemouth (6) have conceded more goals in the 90th minute of Premier League games than West Ham this season (4).
All square in a clash of styles at the London Stadium. West Ham are famed for their fetish for stylish football, whereas West Brom's boss Tony Pulis is very good at getting results. At the end it was Pulis smiling, while Hammers gaffer Slaven Bilic was sent off for protesting the manner of the Baggies' late equaliser.
The visitors had scored in the sixth minute, as they now have in each of their last three league games; on this occasion it was Nacer Chadli scoring his usual goal against West Ham – that’s three goals and two assists in their two clashes this season. Sofiane Feghouli had an equaliser ruled out then did it properly from close range, setting up a tense second half in which the Baggies tried to contain their exuberant hosts. It worked until the 87th minute, when Manuel Lanzini’s left-foot swerver rocked the stadium – but in injury time, Gareth McAuley touched in Jonny Evans’ header.
Goals Feghouli (63'), Lanzini (86') - Chadli (6'), McAuley (90+4')
Arsenal 2-0 Hull City
Sanchez is the first player to score 2 or more goals in 3 consecutive EPL apps against the same team since Thierry Henry vs Charlton in 2002.
After morale-shattering defeats against Watford and Chelsea, Arsenal got the win they needed against Hull, but questions still lingered in the snow-flecked Emirates air. One of them was whether Alexis Sanchez’s opening goal, just after the half-hour, should have stood; a deflection off his arm, it inhabited a grey area of Law 12 and caused a fair few arguments on the internet – a shame, it having previously been such a harmonious place.
Arsenal fans may have been united in celebrating the goal, but they too remain divided over Arsene Wenger, and a nervy performance will have done little to change anyone’s opinion. Hull – who on recent form cam relish upcoming games against Burnley, Leicester and Swansea – had the better of the second half, and things might have been different if Kieran Gibbs had seen red rather than yellow for a contentious 55th-minute clash with Lazar Markovic 30 yards from goal.
As it was, the only red card was flashed to Sam Clucas for an injury-time handball – the easiest decision of Mark Clattenburg’s working day – and Sanchez despatched the penalty to keep the Gunners in the top-four steeplechase. With 17 goals this season, and 16 goal involvements (11 goals, 5 assists) in his last 13 league games, the Chilean is certainly doing his best to drag Arsenal out of their slough of despond; among the questions remaining are whether Wenger can do the same – and whether Sanchez will be around much longer either way.
Goals Sanchez (33', 90+3'p)
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