Chelsea bounced back from the midweek disappointment in Rome with a strong display at home to Manchester United, but what else happened in the Premier League this last weekend?
Manchester City start the international break basking in the glory for an 8 point lead, following their victory over Arsenal. Arsene Wenger highlighted Raheem Sterling’s ability to “dive very well” as the turning point in the match, but the truth was that City were just on a different level to the Gunners.
With Manchester United and Chelsea contesting a surprisingly open 1-0 victory for the hosts at Stamford Bridge, the gap between City and the chasing pack has widened. Alvaro Morata scored a fine header from another Cesar Azpilicueta cross to take all three points for the Champions. Jose Mourinho, somewhat predictably, felt United were “unlucky” and deserved more from the match.
Tottenham Hotspur are level on points with United, albeit sitting in third place on goal difference. Following their surprising 3-1 victory over Real Madrid last week, it was always going to be tough for Spurs to play that well for a second game in a row and Crystal Palace will have left Wembley feeling the should have taken at least a point from the match. Mamadou Sakho and Wilf Zaha were the biggest culprits as Palace should have been ahead before Son scored an excellent goal to win the match 1-0. Mauricio Pochettino said after the game that he could not see himself ever leaving Tottenham for another club.
The was more misery at the London Stadium for West Ham United and Slaven Bilic. Jurgen Klopp shuffled his tactics slightly, and Liverpool ran away with the match 4-1 with Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane causing havoc in the West Ham backline. The victory for Liverpool keeps them in touching distance of the Champions League places but defeat probably spells the end for Slaven Bilic. The rumour mill was in full flow after the game with David Moyes believed to be already lined up to take over from the Croat early this week.
Stoke and Leicester kicked off the weekend with an entertaining 2-2 draw which included yet another goal from the bench for Peter Crouch. Leicester’s new boss Claude Puel is yet to be beaten since taking over from Craig Shakespeare.
The 3pm Saturday kick offs were far from entertaining, but there were crucial wins for Huddersfield Town and Brighton & Hove Albion. Huddersfield overcame West Bromwich Albion with a wonderstrike from Rajiv van La Parra and Brighton beat fellow relegation candidates Swansea City with a slightly less impressive goal off Glenn Murray’s midriff. Those victories see both Brighton and Huddersfield in the top ten after eleven games, impressive work from two promoted clubs who were clear favourites to go straight back down to the Championship. The defeats for WBA and Swansea see them sit 16th and 19th respectively, with Palace bottom and West Ham in the relegation zone.
Another team punching well above their weight is Burnley, who won 1-0 yet again at struggling Southampton. The victory further boosts Sean Dyche’s reputation and sees Burnley level on points with both Arsenal and Liverpool.
Two sides that got massive boosts in completely different ways were Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth and David Unsworth’s (for the time being at least) Everton. Bournemouth beat Newcastle 1-0 with a late goal from a corner moving them up to 17th and out of the relegation zone. Everton trailed Watford 2-0 with 25 minutes to go and, incredibly, came back to win 3-2 thanks to goals from Oumar Niasse, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Leighton Baines. Watford were awarded a penalty ten minutes into injury-time to snatch a point back, yet Tom Cleverley failed to convert. The three points sees Everton move up to 11 points and sit in 15th.
With the international break upon us, there is likely to be managerial movement at least one club. Antonio Conte will be feeling much happier about his lot following getting over on his main rival, but Chelsea still need to work through the gears if they are to defend their title. Still, what a header that was.