Another four Premier League took place on Saturday, starting with a biggie at The King Power…
Leicester City 3 Liverpool 1
Third against Fourth in this one, a win for the Foxes would take them into second place and put six points between themselves and Liverpool who themselves knew a win here would take them above Leicester and into third on goal difference. But if the visitors were to lose their third straight loss in the league by losing to the Foxes then they new victories for either Chelsea or West Ham could see them out of the top four, so an important game for them indeed, and The Foxes were dealt a big blow in the week when James Justin was ruled out for the rest of the season after picking up an ACL injury in their FA Cup win over Brighton, injuries are something Liverpool know about all to well after losing four centre halves during the season.
Ozan Kabak was making his debut at the back for The Reds, how would he deal with the likes of Jamie Vardy, James Maddison and Harvey Barnes? For half an hour Liverpool were dominant and they were applying all the pressure, but late on in the half Vardy certainly had three decent openings to give Leicester the lead, crashing one effort against the bar, however Liverpool after a slow start to the second period began to take control again and saw Trent Alexander-Arnold free deflect off Vardy’s head and against the bar. Midway though the second period though the visitors did grab the lead as Roberto Firmino brilliantly controlled and flicked a cross from Alexander-Arnold into the path of Mo Salah who curled a lovely effort into the far corner, and it was a lead Liverpool deserved.
Then came two huge VAR calls, one that went against the hosts, then one that went for them, firstly Barnes darted in between Alexander-Arnold and Thiago and was brought down, and a penalty was given, but then overturned on review as the offence was adjudged to have been just outside the box, and then from that free-kick Maddison curled a ball in which invaded all and found the far corner, but the flag then went up so no goal.
But, VAR deemed it wasn’t offside and the goal was given, so Leicester had been level with thirteen minutes left, and then three minutes later Leicester had turned the game on its head and it was a catastrophic error at the back from Liverpool, as a ball forward saw Alisson and Kabak collide and see the ball break to Vardy who had the simplest task of running towards goal and firing into a gaping net, what a few minutes at The King Power that was!!! And with five minutes to left Liverpool lost the ball in midfield and saw Barnes sent clear by Wilfred Ndidi and he slotted across Alisson and into the far corner and in eight minutes Liverpool had gone from being in control and ahead to being 3-1 behind, they had fallen apart in the East Midlands although credit to Leicester who had responded brilliantly after going behind.
This was a huge result for them in the race for the top four, and they now climb into second spot and have a seven-point gap to fifth place currently, whilst for Liverpool it was a game they controlled for the majority, but that crazy seven-minute spell saw this one fall away from them and they fall to a third straight loss and could end the weekend as low as sixth, crikey.
Now onto the afternoon showing at Selhurst Park as Crystal Palace took on Burnley…
Crystal Palace 0 Burnley 3
Palace had been on a run of two straight wins until their loss last time out, whilst Burnley was on a run of two straight losses until they grabbed a point last time out, so what would happen in South London in this one?
A win for Palace could see them to the cusp of the top ten, whereas Burnley knew they would put eleven points between them and the bottom three with a win, which would pretty much make them safe you would have thought if they weren’t already, although Palace without Wilfred Zaha are a poorer team and do not have a great record when he doesn’t feature, so his ongoing injury would be a concern for Roy Hodgson.
It didn’t start well for the hosts as after five minutes awful defending from Scott Dann and Patrick van Aanholt, who failed to deal with a long ball into the box by Erik Peters allowed Johann Gudmundsson to get the ball onto his left foot and slam an effort past Vicente Guaita, and with nine and a half minutes on the clock it was two for Burnley after a lovely corner from Dwight McNeil found Jay Rodriguez who had the simple task of nodding home from inside the six-yard box, and Hodgson looked less than impressed on the sideline, his side was poor at Leeds on Monday night, and this was a very poor start to this one.
Could the hosts possibly find a route back into the game? They would find that Burnley back line, restored to full strength after resting some for their FA Cup in mid-week, a tough nut to crack, and with Burnley looking more than dangerous from set plays too, it was going to be tough. But less than two minutes into the second half Matt Lowton, who had not scored for Burnley and his last goal in the league was eight years for Villa, surged forward and played a one-two with Rodriguez whose wonderful, lofted ball back saw the full-back volley a superb first-time effort beyond Guaita and into the far corner, a truly wonderful goal and you felt there was no way back for Palace now.
There was a worrying moment for the visitors though with just over ten minutes to go after Ben Mee bravely put his body on the line to stop Jordan Ayew getting through, but in doing so took a hefty knock and after several minutes of treatment on the field, he was stretchered off with a neck brace, fingers crossed all is ok with him, he was knocked out but was conscious when he was being taken off. It certainly was a sobering end to a great day for the visitors, and news that Mee had got off the stretcher and walked towards the dressing room would have been music to the ears of Sean Dyche and co, and they now have an eleven-point gap to the bottom three and are only six points off the top ten. For Palace, though it was another awful performance and although they are in no danger of going down, the last two performances will be a worry for them.
The early evening fare now, and league leaders Man City taking on Jose Mourinho’s Spurs at The Etihad…
Manchester City 3 Tottenham Hotspur 0
City are in danger of running away with the title, they are chasing a SIXTEENTH straight win in all competitions and a win here would take them further ahead of the chasing pack, whereas Spurs finally got back to winning ways last time out after three straight defeats had seen them slip into mid-table, and a win at The Etihad would see them keep their top-four aspirations going, but this was going to be a very tough one to get anything from your thought.
The hosts were boosted ahead of kick-off after Sergio Aguero was named on the bench, he hasn’t played for eleven games due to Covid, whilst Spurs named Gareth Bale on their bench in a week where he has been much talked about by fans, pundits and manager Mourinho himself, would he get any minutes? Spurs had the first moment of the game when Harry Kane curled a free-kick around the wall and crashing against the post with Ederson well beaten, but then midway through the first period Man City won a penalty when Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg clattered into Ilkay Gundogan and Rodri stepped up and although Hugo Lloris got a strong hand to the ball, it went up and into the top corner of the net, and the league leaders had the advantage.
Spurs needed more going forward, Kane’s effort aside, they had created nothing of note, and in fact, City could easily have doubled their lead had Gabriel Jesus not clipped the bar late on in the half, however just four minutes into the second period City did double their money when after Sterling ran and ran, he played a ball to Phil Foden who gave it to Gundogan, he then played it to Sterling, who then laid it into the path of Gundogan who ran onto the pass and fired an effort at goal which Lloris got a big hand to but could not keep it out, Lloris probably should have saved both the penalty and that effort, but he didn’t, and City had a two-goal cushion as Gundogan continued his outstanding goal scoring form.
And he made it 11 goals in the last 12 matches midway through the second period when a lovely long pass from keeper Ederson reached Gundogan who turned Davidson Sanchez inside out before firing past Lloris into the bottom corner, terrible defending by Sanchez but the German midfielder did so well although he looked to have tweaked his groin soon after so had to be subbed, City will hope it’s not to serious as he has been a revelation this term. A comfortable win for City though and they march on at the top of the league, whilst for Spurs it’s five defeats in six now.
The final game of the day came from the South Coast and saw Brighton host Aston Villa at The Amex…
Brighton & Hove Albion 0 Aston Villa 0
The Seagulls are on a terrific run in the league right now, a run that has seen them put ten points between themselves and the bottom three, whilst Villa have won then lost than won then lost over there last four games, although they did win last time out against Arsenal at Villa Park. The hosts could actually take themselves just four points off a top ten position with victory, such as their form has been recently, whilst Villa could get into the top seven with a victory here. It was Brighton who was much the better side in the opening forty-five minutes, but their Achilles heel is finding that net, they played some nice football but had no end product.
Villa keeper Emiliano Martinez made three or four decent stops, the best of them tipping wide a Dan Burn header, whilst Alexis MacAllister headed over when he should have scored, Villa’s only effort on goal in the entire first half saw a Douglas Luiz effort deflected wide, but would Brighton rue these chances as you felt Villa had to improve in an attacking sense in the second period.
However, Villa barely threatened the Brighton goal in the second period as the hosts continued to knock on the door but found Martinez in imperious form as he frustrated the hosts who did everything but score in this one and it meant the game would end goalless meaning a point apiece. The Seagulls are now six unbeaten despite failing to score and climb up to 15th and eleven points above the drop zone, whilst Villa’s point takes them above Spurs into eighth and with games in hand are only four points the top four, although they will have to play a lot better than they did this evening to have any chance of achieving that.
Let’s see how the table looks after today’s results…
Manchester City sixteenth straight win in all competitions sees them open up a seven-point lead at the top, Leicester are into second after that dramatic win over Liverpool who are clinging onto fourth by their fingertips now. And with Burnley and Brighton picking up more points the bottom three are now ten points from safety and with every passing week look more and more doomed.
Here are this weekend’s remaining fixtures…
Sunday February 14
Southampton v Wolverhampton Wanderers (12pm)
West Bromwich Albion v Manchester United (2pm)
Arsenal v Leeds United (4.30pm)
Everton v Fulham (7pm)
Monday February 15
West Ham United v Sheffield United (6pm)
Chelsea v Newcastle United (8pm)
Manchester United can go second once again if they defeat struggling West Brom at The Hawthorns, Everton can draw level with Merseyside rivals Liverpool in fourth if they down struggling Fulham at Goodison. And on Monday both West Ham and Chelsea can knock Liverpool out of the top four with wins as the race for the top four continues to be competitive. Just four points separate Liverpool in fourth and Spurs in ninth!!!