Liverpool Regal even as Tottenham and Chelsea emerge Hottest Challengers to their Crown
Champions Liverpool continued to defy substantive injury woes, to dish out yet another regal performance in the 29th Premiership, scoring four without return past Wolverhampton Wanderers, even as Matchday 11, emphatically established Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham Hotspurs and Frank Lampard’s Chelsea, as the hottest challengers to the crown, being magnificently defended by Jeurgen Klopp’s men.
Spurs finished on top of the table for the second week running, with the Champions level on points and closing down on the goal-difference advantage pretty fast as well. Chelsea with 22 points after a sixth win from11 games now, were in third, two points behind the leaders.
Stars of Week
Spurs won the North London derby over Arsenal and Chelsea outclassed a spirited Leeds United, but it was the manner of their victories, in contrasting tactical styles but both equally oozing confidence and control, that would have caught the eye of all other Premiere League managers. Jeurgen Klopp in-fact over the weekend even went as far as labeling Chelsea as ‘favourites’ to win the title.
Also, for the first time in the Premiership this season, fans were back in the stands for many of the nine games on schedule, and the couple of thousand adoring ones present at Anfield and Stamford Bridge, must have gone back particularly pleased with what they saw.
Leicester City legend Jamie Vardy, walks away with the Star of the Week honours for the umpteenth time this season – once again for the impact he had on the fortunes of his side, both in the game as well as on the points table.
With bottom placed Sheffield United looking set to have snatched an honourable point at Bramall Lane, Vardy burst through the Blades defense in the 90th minute following a measured through ball from James Maddison, to finish clinically and break Sheffield hearts. It was his ninth strike of this league season, putting him third on the scorer’s chart and propelled Leicester to fourth on the points table.
Big clubs win big
All big clubs, including the likes of Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham and Leicester City, the top six of the last edition, won big on Matchday 11, and so did Southampton. The Saints thereby slotted in at fifth, pushing Manchester City just outside the top six for now.
Crystal Palace, were the other big winners of the week, trouncing a 10-man West Bromwich Albion 5-1, with a couple of goals each from a returning Wilfred Zaha and the big Belgian Christian Benteke, to place 11th in the pecking order.
Everton and Burnely played out the only draw of the game week, a 1-1 affair at Turf Moor, which saw Dominic Calvert Lewin score his 11th of the league season and occupy sole top spot in the scorers chart once again.
Chelsea, Tottenham impress
When Patrick Bamford scored for Leeds United in the 4th minute of the game at Stamford Bridge, his eighth of the league, little did they expect of what was to come. The in-form Frenchman Olivier Giroud began the Blues comeback in the 27th minute with a telling opportunistic strike. This was Giroud’s fifth goal of the week, after he had netted four against Sevilla in a Champions League encounter earlier.
Kurt Zouma then scored in the 61st, to put daylight between the North-South rivals, with a now regulation header off a corner, before Christian Pulisic came off the bench to score in the 3rd minute of stoppage time, following a marauding Timo Werner run on the break.
As for The Spurs, Jose Mourinho decided to sit back and play on the counter and it paid rich dividends against an Arsenal side, which did pretty much everything but score.
The deadly and the league’s most successful attacking duo of Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min again on song together thankfully for Mourinho- the Korean curling in another peach from distance early in the game and then putting his mate Kane through to score the second just seconds before the half-time whistle.
It was Son’s 10th and Kane’s eighth of the League season. The England talisman, now also has a league leading 10 assists, which means he has been involved in 18 of Tottenham’s 23 goals this season. Phenomenal by any standards!
Liverpool score four, Manchester clubs back in business
The Champions had a tough assignment against the Wolves, particularly given their severe injury woes and the fact that the Wolves were going into the game with confidence having beaten Arsenal in the previous week.
But the way they dismantled the Wolves at Anfield was nothing short of regal. Playing yet again with a new defensive combination of Joel Matip and Fabinho at the back and starting the game without their most prolific of scorer in recent games, Diogo Jota, the Champions never looked in any sort of discomfort.
Egyptian Mo Salah broke the deadlock, making the Wolves captain Conor ‘Coby’ Caody, pay heavily for a defensive mis-judgement mid-way into the first-half. They then pumped in three in 20 minutes of the second, beginning with a scorcher from Gini Wijnaldu, then a header from Matip to a cross from Salah, before a Nelson Semedo own-goal, rounded off the tally.
Both Manchesters United and City were also confidence personified, but both again going about it in their own distinctive ways. United super confident after going behind and playing on the counter, while the Citizens imposing themselves with flowing attacking football from the outset.
The 13-time Champions were up against West Ham, who went into the game on a three-match winning streak. Tomas Soucek netted in the 38th minute for the Hammers to raise hopes of a fourth win on the trot, but Ole Gunnar Solksjaer’s men are a different proposition when behind.
Last time it was Cavani who came on in the second half to change the game. This time Solksjaer took off Cavani and unleashed Bruno Fernandez and Marcus Rashford in the second half with the same devastating effect.
Paul Pogba started the rout with a scintillating strike in the 65th minute. Three minutes later, young Mason Greenwood trapped a cross inside the box, the single touch magnificent, enabling him to both turn and create space in one action, before pulling the trigger. United were ahead in a flash.
Ten minutes later, to a searching beauty of a ball from Juan Mata, Marcus Rashford finished with elan, chipping the keeper from close, to sound a warning to competition that they were also well and truly back, after three defeats to begin the season with.
Manchester City put the game beyond Fulham midway into the first half itself with a Raheem Sterling strike in the fifth minute and a Kevin De Bruyne penalty conversion in the 26th, ensuring they sit just a point and a position behind their Manchester rivals in seventh place.
Danny Ings returns to score
Besides the likes of Wilfred Zaha of Crystal Palace and Trent Alexander Arnold of Liverpool, another return to Premiership action from injury, which yielded fruitful results was that of Danny Ings of Southampton. The Saints were down initially, but Jannik Vestergaard had restored parity for them against Brighton and Hove Albion just before half-time. Ings then converted from the spot in the 81st to see Southampton home.
It needs to be said however, that a lot of the scorelines would not appear the way they are at the moment, had it not been for some world class goal-keeping which stole the show across the nine games of Matchday 11.
In particular, the performances from the likes of Alphonse Ariola of Fulham, Nick Pope of Burnely, Jordan Pickford of Everton, Dean Henderson of Manchester United and Liverpool’s young Irish keeper Caoimhín Kelleher, who dished out an outstanding clean-sheet on club debut, were nothing less than extraordinary.
Matchday 12: The Manchester Derby
The biggest game of the four-day 10-game Matchday 12 schedule will undoubtedly be the Manchester derby between United and City on Saturday, December 12th, 2020. The stage has been perfectly set for it, with both teams warming up with confident and pleasing wins and both so close to each other on the table.
The Matchday begins again on Friday though, with what could be an equally exciting game between Leeds United and West Ham. All three leaders will be on show on Sunday. Chelsea would be first up against Everton, then the Spurs take on Crystal Palace, before the Champions finally clash with Fulham.
The week surely has all the potential to cause disruptions at the top of the table and we will all be watching closely I am sure.