By Ryan Moran
- Three fixtures featured six goals, two ending in draws, Sunderland 4-2 victors.
- Sunderland move within a point of Swansea, after victory at the Liberty Stadium.
- Aston Villa record first win since the opening day of the season.
Liverpool, UK – Full strength squads with a sprinkle of tired legs produced more goals than many could have predicted, affecting the look of the table at both ends.
Liverpool 3-3 Arsenal
An early influx of goals set the tone for an exciting encounter on Merseyside, Roberto Firmino twice finding the net either side of Aaron Ramsey’s leveller. The Brazilian opened the scoring after Emre Can was denied by Petr Cech, Firmino making no mistake with the follow up.
After Ramsey levelled, Firmino was once again on hand to give the Reds the lead for the second time, curling in from outside of the box. Giroud put the away side level from a corner before putting Arsenal in front for the first time, turning and firing past Simon Mignolet.
Allen’s volley prevented Arsene Wenger’s side maintaining their lead at the top, giving Leicester and Manchester City the chance to cut the gap at the top.
Newcastle United 3-3 Manchester United
Paul Dummett rescued a point late on for Newcastle against Manchester United as the sides produced a six goal thriller at St James’ Park. A Wayne Rooney brace continued his gradual return to form, also assisting Jesse Lingard’s goal, as the captain played a key part in the hard fought draw.
The Red Devils took the initiative early on, well set up to deal with the threat of crosses as Marouane Fellaini played deeper when United defender. Chancel Mbemba was judged to have handballed as Fellaini’s back post header struck the defender, Rooney despatching from the spot to take the lead nine minutes into the game.
The striker was once again heavily involved, leading a counter attack up field, holding up the ball before playing a reverse pass to Lingard. The midfielder slotted the ball through the legs of Rob Elliot, doubling United’s lead.
The Magpies set about a comeback through Georginio Wijnaldum’s instinctive run into the box. A long ball forward was met by Aleksandar Mitrovic who headed into the patch of Wijnaldum, swivelling away from his marker to beat David De Gea from close.
Mitrovic levelled from the spot, after being brought down by Chris Smalling, with momentum in Newcastle’s favour. Rooney dealt another blow finding the back of the net after Memphis Depay’s initial shot was blocked. Dummett had the last laugh as his side pushed for the equaliser, the United box not too dissimilar from a pinball arena. As the ball came out and dropped at the defender’s feet, he struck the ball towards goal, taking a deflection off Smalling to nestle in the corner.
The home side could have had another penalty, Mike Riley waving away appeals, Lingard taking Daryl Janmaat down from behind. The midfielder appeared to take the player and then the ball but the referee did not give the decision, United getting a rare slice of luck to take a point from the game.
Swansea City 2-4 Sunderland
Sunderland moved within a point of safety, Jermaine Defoe’s hat trick sinking the Swans to a third game without victory. The striker’s clinical finishing helped the Black Cats to a second successive victory after going five games without a win.
The home side were up against it when Kyle Naughton saw red just before half time for a foul on Yann M’Vila, even though the defender won the ball, with studs up, however. In a highly controversial tie in Wales, both opening goals were controversial, Defoe’s opener from a rebound appeared to be from an offside position while Gylfi Sigurdsson’s equaliser.
Andre Ayew went down under the challenge of his own foot, the referee giving a foul against Wes Brown for bundling the Ghanaian over. Sigurdsson finished from the penalty spot to level the scores at 1-1. Naughton was sent off before half time, this was soon followed by Swansea taking the lead, Lukasz Fabianski kicking long towards Ayew, who went past Lee Cattermole to go clear, beating Vito Mannone with an effort across the Sunderland goalkeeper.
Patrick Van Aanholt drew the Black Cats level four minutes after the restart, a deflected effort going in off the post, taking advantage of the free space down Swansea’s right flank. Jeremaine Lens hit the woodwork as Sunderland took the upper hand at the Liberty Stadium. Sam Allardyce’s side soon took the lead, Adam Johnson was given time to play Defoe through for his second, slotting past Fabianski with the defence appealing for offside, not given.
The ex-England striker complete his hat trick and the victory four minutes from time, Van Aanholt cutting the ball back for Defoe, finishing from inside the box. Allardyce’s 450th game in charge ended in victory while Swansea are truly embroiled in an uphill battle to retain Premier League status from here until the end of the season.
Tottenham 0-1 Leicester
Leicester closed the gap on Arsenal as Robert Huth headed past Hugo Lloris to claim all three points at White Hart Lane. The result moves the Foxes level on points with the Gunners, whose superior goal difference keeps them top.
Huth ended a three game goal drought as the defender found space at a corner to head in unmarked. Harry Kane hit the bar, Kasper Schmeichel tipping the striker’s shot onto the bar.
The result left Spurs four points adrift of third placed Manchester City, who drew with Everton, with West Ham and Manchester United within three points of the North London outfit.
AFC Bournemouth 1-3 West Ham United
West Ham United came from behind to claim victory over Bournemouth, moving the Hammers up to fifth in the table. All of the Cherries’ January signings were on show, Benik Afobe coming the closest to a goal on his debut, the only new signing to start the game.
The home side dominated the early exchanges, Harry Arter making their early play worthwhile, striking from range to give his side the lead. Afobe missed a header in the first half that would have doubled Bournemouth’s lead, 1-0 leaving the game vulnerable to a Hammers comeback.
An improved second half performance got its reward as Dimitri Payet’s free kick hit the underside of the bar, giving goalkeeper Artur Boruc no chance. Payet turned from scorer to provider as the Frenchman set up Enner Valencia to score from close range. The Ecuadorian doubled his tally, as well as doubling his sides lead, another free kick opening up a two goal deficit.
Chelsea 2-2 West Bromwich Albion
Chelsea failed to hold on to the lead twice as West Brom refused to lie down, twice coming back to finish level at Stamford Bridge. A late James McClean strike ensured the Blues would remain below the Baggies in the table.
The Blues took the lead as full back Branislav Ivanovic’s low cross was met by fellow full back Cesar Azpilicueta who beat Boaz Myhill to put Chelsea ahead. Craig Gardner drove the away side level but Gareth McAuley stabbed home Willian’s cross into his own net as the home side went ahead for the second time.
McClean’s finish meant West Brom stayed three points ahead of Chelsea, the Blues’ frustration showing as Diego Costa was involved in a heated clash with a handful of Baggies players at the final whistle. The clash seeming to build up throughout the duration of the game.
Manchester City 0-0 Everton
Everton held on for a point at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester City now play catch up with Leicester winning at Tottenham. Tim Howard thwarted City’s attack as each wave washed away without a goal to show for their efforts.
In a game of two halves, Everton failed to take advantage of a strong attacking first half and were tight defensively with the Citizens the more likely to grab a winner. John Stones was reprieved after Raheem Sterling was brought down by the defender, the appeals waved away by the referee.
With the second leg of the Capital One Cup fast approaching, City have a point to prove with the Toffees unbeaten in their last two encounters, with the sides playing three times in a short period of time. The Merseyside outfit are losing ground on the teams above them but remain hard to beat, another attacking source to compliment Romelu Lukaku could see Roberto Martinez’s side rising up the table.
Of the week’s other results:
Aston Villa 1-0 Crystal Palace
Southampton 2-0 Watford
Stoke 3-1 Norwich
The fixture pile up continues as Liverpool welcome Manchester United to Anfield on Sunday 17th January, with fixtures kicking off on Saturday 16th January.
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