With Manchester City the evening kick off, Arsenal had the chance to put pressure on City by defeating West Brom on their home turf. Olivier Giroud headed in Mesut Ozil’s free kick with the top of the Premier League in sight. The rollercoaster journey that is the Gunner’s hunt for the title took its usual downturn as James Morrison’s volley levelled the score, with Mikel Arteta’s helping hand five minutes later to give the away side all the work to do in the second half.
Santi Cazorla was given the chance to clinch a point from the penalty spot following Chris Brunt’s foul on Alexis Sanchez. The Spaniard’s penalty rose as he fell to the floor, slipping at the crucial moment as the home side claimed all three points, could Leicester claim the top spot?
It would be Ruud not to start on Jamie Vardy’s goal in his tenth consecutive game. The striker opened the scoring on the stroke of half time. The Foxes took control in the second half with Arsenal’s slip up almost confirming their climb up the table. Leonardo Ulloa headed in a second from playmaker Riyad Mahrez’s cross and summer signing Shinji Okazaki netted the rebound, following up Danny Simpson’s initial effort that was saved.
Vardy linked up with Ulloa as the ex-Brighton player’s through ball found the ex-Fleetwood player who cut inside of Moussa Sissoko to claim an accolade only achieved by Ruud Van Nistelrooy when he was at Manchester United. Ulloa then doubled the Foxes lead when Mahrez picked out the striker with his cross leaving Okazaki to confirm the result with the third goal for all three points.
As La Marseillaise played loudly around the Etihad Stadium, the emotional attachment of three of City’s starting 11 could have played a part with Bacary Sagna and Eliaquim Mangala trying to play through a difficult period for their country. A Mangala own goal opened the scoring for Liverpool in the first 10 minutes of the game before two more first half finishes from Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino drove the away side into a commanding position. Aguero’s attacking prowess was once again shown with a goal in his return to action following a stint on the sidelines.
City’s demise was pinpointed at defensive errors as captain Vincent Kompany watched on from the sidelines. Like Chelsea this season without John Terry, the home side lacked a leader in their back line. 3-1 was always going to be a difficult task for Manuel Pellegrini’s side to turn over in the second 45 minutes, especially after being given a master class in the first half. In the final ten minutes of the game, three became four as Martin Skrtel’s powerful strike followed a corner as City’s reign at the top was likely to come to an end.
With Arsenal playing West Brom and Leicester facing 17th placed Newcastle United earlier in the day, the pressure was on the leaders to keep up the pace.
Tottenham surged into an impressive four goal lead with a brace from Harry Kane, a trademark header from Toby Alderweireld and a late Kyle Walker strike after twice being denied by the woodwork. Manuel Lanzini’s strike three minutes from time was one for the individual tally with the game already beyond the Hammers at 4-1.
On the weekend one Englishman equalled a goal scoring record, two more contributed three goals as the home grown contingent in the Tottenham squad repay the faith of the Mauricio Pochettino for giving the fringe players their chance in the limelight. Kane opened the scoring before Alderweireld once again made his threatening front post run to wreak havoc in the box at a corner. Kane scored the fourth league game in a row for the second time in his Premier League career, finding the net six times in this period. Walker added a fourth before Lanzini’s consolation. Four shots found the back of the net from the 12 that found the target, the most shots on target any team has managed this season.
The victory moved Spurs within two points of Manchester City and Arsenal following their defeats, three points away from Manchester United and a four point deficit separates new leaders Leicester City from Pochettino’s side.
Memphis Depay’s return to the starting line-up, assisted by the injuries to Anthony Martial and Wayne Rooney, couldn’t have started better as the Dutchman volleyed past Heurelho Gomes 11 minutes into the game. Troy Deeney’s penalty three minutes from time seemed to deny the Red Devils all three points but it was the Watford striker who gifted all three to the away side.
With a one goal lead to protect for 80 minutes, Marcos Rojo’s foul on Odion Ighalo, converted by Deeney had brought the game level with little time remaining for a winner. Jesse Lingard’s late cross into the box made its way to Bastian Schweinsteiger lurking at the back post, who slid the ball back towards goal for a backtracking Deeney to slide the ball into the net in the most unfortunate fashion.
The away side’s late victory propelled the Red Devils into second following Arsenal and Manchester City’s defeats. The newly second placed side currently sit one point away from new leaders Leicester.
In a much improved Chelsea performance, Diego Costa’s goal midway into the second half was enough to take all three points. By no means was it the form of champions however there was a lot more positivity in their play, Eden Hazard ran at defenders with some success, playing with freedom for the first time in a while.
The home side needed a victory back at what once was a fortress, even against a bottom half side. The counter attacking style of play that has work so well for so many teams this season, such as Leicester City and West Ham United to name a few, was in full effect for the Blues as Hazard, Costa and Willian broke with intent moving the ball from left to right. The eventual goal came through a foul on the half way line with quick thinking from Cesc Fabregas to lob the resultant free kick over the Norwich back four to Costa who had Pedro in support, curling the ball into the far corner. Nemanja Matic even found himself running deep into the box, needing a big save to prevent the powerful left foot of Matic increasing the home side’s lead.
The one goal victory allowed Chelsea to leapfrog Norwich into 15th place, 10 points away from fifth placed Tottenham, and 14 points behind ex-Chelsea manager Claudio Ranieri’s Leicester.
Of the weekend’s other fixtures:
Everton completed a comprehensive victory as Romelu Lukaku and Ross Barkley scored two goals apiece in a 4-0 victory against Aston Villa, moving up to seventh in the table while Bojan Krkic’s front post flick saw off Southampton in a 0-1 victory at St Mary’s Stadium.AFC Bournemouth were cruelly denied a win at the Liberty stadium as an Andre Ayew backheel and Jonjo Shelvey penalty clawed Swansea back into the game after trailing 2-0, goals from Joshua King and Dan Gosling after good hold up play from Matt Ritchie spotted the surge into the box from the ex-Newcastle midfielder. Ayew appeared to trip himself up after the slightest touch from Simon Francis meant the game finished 2-2 at the Liberty Stadium. Jermaine Defoe’s late second half strike moved Sunderland above Bournemouth on goal difference as Crystal Palace dropped to tenth as thegame ended 1-0 to the away side at Selhurst Park.
First placed Leicester welcome second placed Manchester United to the King Power Stadium on Saturday 28th November.
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