It was another busy weekend of Premier League action as Liverpool responded to Manchester City’s return to the top by usurping the defending champions once more on Super Sunday. There were also excellent wins for Newcastle and Southampton while Wolves and West Ham continued their good run of form.
But from that bunch, and the rest of the Premier League, who impressed, who needs to do more, and at which club does the writing look on the wall?
Liverpool – A
Manchester United are accustomed to withstanding an early onslaught whenever they go to Anfield but Jurgen Klopp’s side set a new benchmark with their performance on Sunday. The Reds brushed their pre-match injury issues to one side to systematically bombard Jose Mourinho’s side throughout the duration of the 90 minutes.
On another day Liverpool could have had at least twice as many goals as they scored. Yes, Alisson’s mishandling led to Jesse Lingard’s equaliser, but it was a mere blimp on an otherwise exemplary day’s work for the Premier League leaders, who are 19 points clear of their fierce rivals. (Jack Wilkinson).
Chelsea – A
Chelsea stayed in touch at the top of the Premier League with what could prove to be a vital win in the race for the top four, and even the title.
Eden Hazard was the big difference between the two sides. After setting up the opener and scoring his side’s second, Hazard has now been directly involved in more Premier League goals this season (17 in 16 appearances) than he was in the whole of last season (16 in 34 appearances).
The good news after the game for Chelsea is that the injury suffered by Hazard late in the game proved only a minor knock. “Eden is okay,” said Sarri. “Maybe one day to rest; two days at most. He could be very important in this (forward’s) position.
“He’s very able to come out and play with his team-mates, very able to create spaces. Now, in that position, he has to improve in attacking the box.” (Oliver Yew).
West Ham – A
The clinical Hammers were far from their recent free-flowing best but gave a profligate Fulham side a lesson in finishing. Robert Snodgrass’ sumptuous opener and Michail Antonio’s well-taken second came in between a flurry of missed chances for the hosts, who run out of ideas in the second when confronted with the West Ham defence, who didn’t put a foot wrong all afternoon.
The victory saw the Hammers win four Premier League wins in a row for the first time since Sam Allardyce’s tenure way back in February 2014 – oh, how times have changed after Manuel Pellegrini’s tenure kicked off with four straight defeats. (Jack Wilkinson)
Crystal Palace – B+
Crystal Palace enjoyed their first win in 14 Premier League games without Wilfried Zaha (L13) since beating Sunderland 3-2 on September 24, 2016.
Roy Hodgson is not one for stats though. When asked about ending the streak, Hodgson told Sky Sports: “I’ve not really given it too much thought to be honest because it’s one of those facts that I get hit with. They mention 13 games but I wasn’t in charge for all of those 13 games.”
However, Hodgson did admit he was delighted to see Palace win without Zaha. “It was good to win without him and we deserved to win without him.”
Palace have now won consecutive home league games for the first time since their final three matches at Selhurst Park in 2017-18 and have proved they can cope without their talisman. That’s a huge positive as we head into a decisive part of the season where the games come thick and fast. (Oliver Yew)
Manchester City: B+
This was more like it from Pep Guardiola’s men following their lacklustre second-half showing against Chelsea last weekend. There was plenty of energy in their attacking play, spearheaded by the excellent Gabriel Jesus, who helped himself to two goals – his first strikes for four months. Kevin De Bruyne was also given 20 minutes from the bench on his return from injury. All in all, a very good day at the office for City. (Lewis Jones)
It’s an impressive feat that Ralph Hasenhuttl has already stamped his style all over Southampton. For the first time at St Mary’s this season they played with intensity, enthusiasm and took their chances when they arrived.
It resulted in a first home victory, which could go a long way in terms of their aim to climb the Premier League table. Danny Ings was their star man, punishing Arsenal with two deadly headed finishes. If he stays in this kind of form, Southampton will be fine. (Lewis Jones)
Paul Merson described Watford as a “bag of Revels” before this game, and this game typified that assessment. For 80 minutes, it was the best of Javi Gracia’s side as they deservedly claimed all three points despite Cardiff’s late flourish.
The fluid movement of Roberto Pereyra, Gerard Deulofeu and Ken Sema behind Troy Deeney caused the Welsh club countless problems, while Etienne Capoue now faces a battle to regain his place after another Domingos Quina capped another encouraging display by becoming Watford’s youngest ever Premier League goalscorer.
The final 10 minutes showed why Watford are vulnerable defensively as Junior Hoilett’s strike flicked the panic switch, so Gracia knows precisely where he needs to improve. (Ben Grounds)
Newcastle – B+
A 1-0 win away in a big six-pointer. You can’t really ask for more. The only question is whether Newcastle could be better than soaking up pressure against a team inside the bottom three. It was hardly a vintage performance from Rafa Benitez’s men but they got the job done, defended stoutly and took one of few opportunities they created on the counter-attack.
It’s still going to be a big January, because Newcastle will demand more than this kind of backs-to-the-wall result against a limited side, but it’s good enough for now. (Ron Walker)
Wolves – B
Nuno Espirito Santo’s side were far from their best in possession but capitalised on a Bournemouth error to take an early lead and then defended superbly at Molineux to keep the visitors at bay. Ivan Cavaleiro’s stoppage-time goal added polish to the scoreline as Wolves made it three wins in three. (Sam Drury)
Tottenham – B
Having made five changes from the side that drew in Barcelona, Spurs struggled against a resolute Burnley side, and ultimately had Christian Eriksen to thank for his 91st-minute winner. It proved to be Mauricio Pochettino’s 100th Premier League win in charge of Tottenham.
Few will have been as hard-fought – 1-0 victories like that are often deemed the mark of champions, and in this instance it keeps Spurs within touching distance of Manchester City and Liverpool as we reach the halfway stage. (Michael Hincks)
Burnley – B-
It was very nearly job done for Burnley at Wembley, but after recording no shots on target and reducing Spurs to just two themselves with 90 minutes on the clock, it was ultimately in the 91st minute where Sean Dyche’s side came unstuck.
With five at the back, Burnley played for a point from the off, and time-wasted whenever possible – two bookings midway through the second half highlighted that fact, and there were ironic cheers from the Spurs fans when the visitors, a goal down late on, rushed in search of an equaliser that was not to be. (Michael Hincks)
Brighton – C+
Chris Hughton was left frustrated after Brighton’s defeat to Chelsea. The hosts gave a very good account of themselves but in the end Eden Hazard proved to be the difference between the two sides.
“In the end, whether we deserved (a draw) or not – probably not over 90 minutes – when you get a rhythm in the game and are in the ascendancy, you do think it might be your day. Eden is very difficult to stop. He’s a world-class player.”
There’s still plenty for Hughton to build on despite seeing his side lose their four-game unbeaten run at the Amex Stadium. Solly March’s 66th-minute goal set up a nervy finish for Chelsea but in the end it wasn’t to be Brighton’s day. (Oliver Yew)
Leicester – C
Leicester do not enjoy their trips to the capital. Claude Puel’s side are without a win in their last 10 Premier League visits to London (D4 L6), since a 3-2 win against West Ham in March 2017.
They have also not enjoyed playing against Palace in recent times. Palace have won and kept a clean sheet in each of their last three Premier League games against Leicester, meaning the Foxes have lost three consecutive games without scoring against an opponent in the Premier League for the first time since April 2002 (six in a row against Manchester United).
However, after a poor first half, they did improve and could have had an equaliser through Jamie Vardy but for a superb save from Vicente Guaita on his Premier League debut. In the end, it wasn’t meant to be for Leicester, who have an opportunity to bounce back when they take on Man City in the Carabao Cup quarter-finals, live on Sky Sports Football on Tuesday. (Oliver Yew)
Everton – C
Marco Silva was left frustrated with Everton’s finishing as they were given a lesson in ruthlessness by Manchester City. Richarlison spurned a glorious chance with the game at 0-0 and given City’s defeat at Chelsea the week before, Pep Guardiola’s men could have become nervy. However, some sloppy defending from the Toffees allowed City to get their noses in front and in truth Everton never really looked confident of making a game of it. Easy challenges than this lie ahead. (Lewis Jones)
Huddersfield – C
How many times can Huddersfield suffer this déjà vu before something changes? They have so much passion, so much intent, but so little quality. Newcastle could have probably kept a clean sheet if they played until midnight, and that’s not for the want of trying, because Huddersfield got into promising positions often enough to make something happen.
The Terriers’ strikers may not have scored all season but those supplying chances have to take their share of the blame, their final ball has been dreadful most of the season and it was the same again against Newcastle. Their spirit and drive is impressive, especially with their scant reward in terms of points, but they must spend in January. (Ron Walker)
Cardiff – C
Cardiff’s wait for another away point since August goes on, and on this evidence they look no closer to adding to that draw against Huddersfield.
They were indebted to the brilliance of Neil Etheridge for giving them the platform to even stage a comeback, but his performance, as well as another brilliant strike from Junior Hoilett, were among the few positives for Neil Warnock. He lamented the choice of match official, but it was his side’s defensive shortcomings that should be of greater concern, as Watford created numerous chances aside from their three goals. (Ben Grounds)
Arsenal – C
The unbeaten run went up in smoke on the south coast as a rejuvenated Southampton punished Arsenal. Unai Emery will be worried about the issues mounting up in defence. All three goals came from crosses and Hector Bellerin, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Shkodran Mustafi and Saed Kolasinac are all missing through injury. Laurent Koscielny returned from seven months off but he looked in need of games to get up to speed. (Lewis Jones)
Bournemouth – C-
The first half at Molineux was littered with errors but it was Charlie Daniels and Bournemouth who were punished as Raul Jimenez gave Wolves the lead. From that point on Bournemouth struggled to create anything of note despite dominating possession and a late goal for the hosts condemned Eddie Howe’s side to a sixth defeat in seven games. (Sam Drury)
Fulham – E
Giving away cheap goals and failing to take presentable chances is a recipe for relegation in the Premier League. Few clubs manage to do both at the same time, but Fulham look to have mastered the knack, and show no sign of addressing either other them. West Ham carved through the Fulham defence with consummate ease at Craven Cottage on Saturday and could have had more than their two goals if needed, which, of course, they didn’t as Fulham missed chance after chance.
Claudio Ranieri can draw positives from the fact they actually created opportunities, but with Fulham the only club in the top four tiers of English football yet to keep a clean sheet this season, they need to learn how to put the ball in the net at one end and keep it out of the other – fast! (Jack Wilkinson)
Man Utd – F
Where do we begin with Manchester United? The writing looked on the wall when the teams were announced, with Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial and Juan Mata starting on the bench. But you sense the result would have been the same whoever Jose Mourinho picked, such is the state of disarray at United.
When your flair players are among the substitutes, it will come as no surprise to hear Liverpool registered a staggering 30 more attempts on goal than United. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the gap, or chasm, between the two clubs is 19 points. If Sunday’s abject performance is anything to go, that will only increase in the coming weeks. Something has got to give, surely? (Jack Wilkinson)