By Neil Leverett
- Liverpool retain eight-point Premier League advantage after another hard-earnt away victory at Crystal Palace
- Jose Mourinho begins tenure as Spurs boss with win, as pressure ramped up on Unai Emery and Manuel Pellegrini
- Everton lose at home to Norwich, whilst Manchester United draw 3-3 at Bramall Lane as Leicester win again
PREMIER LEAGUE, UK – After Liverpool retained their Premier League lead with another hard-earned away victory, what did we learn from Gameweek 13?
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Liverpool retain fortune
After coming through yet another litmus test this season in Gameweek 13, Liverpool remain unbeaten after a tricky weekend in South London – with another dose of good fortune coming their way, as the Reds retain their position on the right end of favour.
With the Eagles piling on the pressure at Selhurst Park, Jurgen Klopp‘s men looked set for the ghosts of Crystal Palace past returning to haunt them after their 3-3 nightmare five years ago, however the Reds again survived their latest road test.
It was however, not without another dose of fortune, with Palace squandering a number of first-half chances and having a goal ruled out – fairly it must be said – before Wilfried Zaha did indeed give Palace the lead. The red-hot Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino then completed the second half riposte as Liverpool took the full spoils back to Merseyside.
Whatever the opinion on VAR, and forgetting goals being rightly ruled out, the Reds continue to have somewhat of a guardian angel watching over them, and with specific regard to results before the international break, Klopp and his charges still have a stranglehold of good fortune on the top flight. That has kept their eight-point margin at the summit this weekend. But will said fortune stay on Reds shoulders post-Gameweek 13?
Mourinho honeymoon cruise departs…
As Tottenham Hotspur rang in an new era in N17, Jose Mourinho made a winning start to life as Spurs boss, taking advantage of a nervous and uncertain West Ham United, as the visitors three-goal lead was enough to pick up the win.
For the opening 20 minutes, the Lilywhites took time to adjust to their newly-inherited tactition, before Son Heung-min netted Spurs’ first and before long Mourinho’s side had opened up a 3-0 lead.
During Tuesday night’s UEFA Champions League clash against Olympiacos, the Spurs honeymoon period looked set to be one of the shortest on record, but after fighting back to win 4-2, fans in North London have been given quite the ride few would have expected under the Portuguese, whose last weeks at Manchester United were goal-frugal to say the least.
No sooner has the good ship Mourinho left the Haringey docks, the question now remains how long will the favourable waters last, and with little evidence of an improvement in defence, the visit of AFC Bournemouth on Saturday will test the longevity of Tottenham’s unbeaten status in its’ new fledgling era.
…As the sack race hots up
Whilst Mourinho warmed his newly-vacated hot-seat, the managerial revolving door looks set to move into top gear after Mauricio Pochettino‘s shock dismissal last week.
The contenders it appears are many, however the for the moment three main protagonists are in the running with Unai Emery, Manuel Pellegrini and Marco Silva vying to avoid becoming the second casualty of the campaign.
Perhaps the man sitting most precariously over the pit of unemployment is the latter, after Everton’s chastening defeat to a Norwich side without a win in over two months, firmly set the alarm bells ringing at Goodison Park.
However, after Arsenal avoided defeat themselves to Southampton – courtesy of Alexandre Lacazette‘s stopping time second – Emery is close behind his fellow Iberian, with growing unrest in North London. Spurs’ win against the Irons also heaped the pressure on Pellegrini, and despite a late fight back, another home defeat has the natives restless in East London.
Given Liverpool’s handsome lead in the league standings, for the time being at least, it is the battle to garner or rather avoid the next pink slip that is providing the Premier League with its’ most competitive battle after Gameweek 13. And, despite Christmas being just around the corner, it is not likely to be the season of good will in the club boardroom for many.
Red Devils grow a spine
With the seeds of improvement having been sewn in recent weeks before the international break, Manchester United approached Sunday’s trip to high-flying Sheffield United in high spirits, but within minutes of the opening whistle at Bramall Lane, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s troops looked set for more misery, and a reality check.
As Lys Mousset doubled the Blades advantage to go two up in Yorkshire, the hosts seemed set to inflict a further defeat on a former Premier League champion, before out of nowhere and in the space of seven minutes in the final 20, the Red Devils finally showed some fight in arrears.
In truth, Chris Wilder‘s men had taken their foot off the gas with victory seemingly in the bag, but a well timed finish from Brandon Williams spurred Solskjaer’s side into life, as substitute Mason Greenwood levelled the scores, before Marcus Rashford saw United take an astonishing lead, snatched from out of the blue.
Despite Ollie McBurnie‘s late equaliser, it a was a point the visitors has scarcely deserved, but, as questions remain over the club and their ability to move forward, the Red Devils at last developed a spine. That is something United must continue to show and indeed build on.
Vardy on prowl for Foxes
With Gameweek 13 rolling on, Leicester City continued to show their lusty top four credentials, as the Foxes picked up their fifth win on the bounce away to a resolute Brighton & Hove Albion.
Since a narrow and late defeat at Anfield almost two months ago, Brendan Rodgers‘ men have gone from strength to strength with Jamie Vardy at the centre of Leicester’s now almost inevitable top four aspirations this term.
Rolling back the clock four seasons ago from the Foxes 2015/16 title winning season, Vardy has now scored in his last five league games on the bounce – almost half way to his own consecutive league goal scoring record he broke that season of 11 games in a row.
With seven in four during his current run, the now retired England international looks at perhaps his most clinical best under Rodgers and with home games against lower table struggling Everton and Watford in the coming week, Vardy will fancy his chances of stretching his run to seven consecutive games with a goal. Efforts that would surely go some way to ensuring a very merry yuletide period in the East Midlands.
Premier League Gameweek 14 begins on Saturday lunchtime, as Newcastle United host Manchester City, kick off 12;30pm.
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