By Ryan Moran
- Wayne Rooney’s late strike the only goal of the game.
- Leaders Arsenal play out stalemate with Stoke City.
- Second placed Leicester were held at Villa Park, missing the chance to go top.
Manchester United remain in touching distance of the top four after recording victory over Liverpool.
Liverpool 0-1 Manchester United
Wayne Rooney’s late strike denied Liverpool a share of the spoils, in a fixture that failed to meet the expectation of a tie between two heavyweights of English football.
A dogged affair at Anfield was separated by a single goal will leave Jurgen Klopp asking questions with his side winless in three league games. The hosts were the stronger side at Anfield but paid the price for not taking their chances against a world class goalkeeper in the form of David De Gea.
Rooney’s winner was United’s first shot on target, coming 12 minutes from time, as once again Liverpool’s defence showed their inability to deal with crosses. Marouane Fellaini headed against the bar before the striker hit high into the roof of the net to give the visitors an undeserved lead, given Klopp’s side managed 19 efforts at goal to United’s seven.
The result moved Louis Van Gaal’s side within two points of the Champion’s League places, while defeat for Liverpool opened up a six-point deficit between the sides.
Stoke City 0-0 Arsenal
Stoke and Arsenal played out a stalemate on a wet and windy evening in Stoke as both goalkeepers prevailed. While no one ever doubted Petr Cech’s ability, the rising stock of English goalkeeper Jack Butland will please Roy Hodgson with the Euros fast approaching.
The draw meant the Gunners’ wait for a win at the Britannia Stadium continued for a sixth consecutive year. Missing the flair of injured Mesut Ozil, Arsenal couldn’t force a winner as Butland prevented any effort from rippling the net.
The Potters came the closest to a winner as Jon Walters’ header was cleared off the line, late in the game, by Aaron Ramsey. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain failed to fill the gap left by Ozil but did force the Stoke shot stopper into a one handed save from long range.
The draw proved enough to keep Arsene Wenger’s side top after Leicester were held by bottom club Aston Villa. Mark Hughes’ Stoke side remain in the hunt for a Europa League place in seventh.
Aston Villa 1-1 Leicester
Leicester City failed to put pressure on Arsenal’s reign at the top, Rudy Gestede’s deflected strike gave bottom-of-the-table Aston Villa a share of the spoils.
Shinji Okazaki had given the Foxes the lead at Villa Park, finishing after Jamie Vardy’s initial lobbed effort was saved. Riyad Mahrez’s penalty was saved after a handball was spotted by referee, Aly Cissokho the offender, the ambiguity of the rule fell out of the defender’s favour.
The Frenchman threw himself in front of the Algerian’s shot at goal and was judged to have deliberately handled, his arm tucked into his chest. Villa felt hard done by as they were denied a penalty when Robert Huth appeared to pull Libor Kozak back in order to clear a cross, the appeals waved away by the referee.
The Villains came away with a point to move within seven points of safety, holding a top four side in the process. The point moves Leicester level on points with Arsenal, but would have been hoping for three points against a side 18 places below them in the table.
The Foxes shining stars appear to be flickering with Vardy eye for goal slightly off target, his goal drought standing at six games. His partner in crime, Mahrez, is also lacking that threatening impact having not score in five games and not assisted a goal in six attempts.
Manchester City 4-0 Crystal Palace
Manchester City condemn Crystal Palace to a third straight defeat, taking the Citizens within one point of both Arsenal and Leicester. A Sergio Aguero brace confirmed the striker’s return to form with the Argentine denying himself a hat-trick, choosing to set up David Silva for his side’s fourth goal.
Palace have hit a wall in recent weeks, the defeat to City their third consecutive loss with the Eagles winless in their last five league games. Wayne Hennessey was at fault for the Fabian Delph’s opener, a long range strike finding its way underneath the goalkeeper and into the net.
Damien Delaney’s header two minutes in was the Eagles best opportunity for a goal however, Delph’s strike set the tone for a miserable day at the Office for Alan Pardew’s side. Had Joe Hart failed to keep out the defender’s header, this could have been a totally different game for the South London outfit.
Chelsea 3-3 Everton
A suspicious 98th minute equaliser from John Terry ensured Chelsea stayed unbeaten under Guus Hiddink. Everton squandered a two goal lead and failed to protect what could have been their winning goal, Ramiro Funes Mori firing in from close range, unmarked at the back post.
Terry made his 700th appearance for Chelsea, finding the net at both ends in an unforgettable game at Stamford Bridge. The defender gave the Toffees a second half lead, turning Leighton Baines’ cross into his own net due to a mix up between his own two feet in an attempt to clear the ball.
Kevin Mirallas doubled his side’s lead, taking one touch before finding the back of the net, shortly after Ross Barkley had struck a post. The Blues scored twice in the space of two minutes to draw themselves level, Diego Costa beating Tim Howard to pass the ball into the empty net, followed by Cesc Fabregas’ deflected shot that wrong footed the American.
Funes Mori thought he had found a winner but deep into stoppage time, Terry back heeled in the equaliser from an offside position after Oscar had touched the ball on the way through.
Everton will feel hard done by, a win would have taken them back into the mix for European qualification. Two teams who will feel they are underachieving so far this season will be looking to rectify these problems, but Chelsea will feel the more fortunate to take a point from the game, now six points from safety.
Tottenham 4-1 Sunderland
Tottenham closed the gap on Arsenal and Leicester with a 4-1 victory over Sunderland, a great response following the defeat to the Foxes in midweek.
Patrick Van Aanholt gave Sunderland an undeserved lead, finding a space at the near post to open the scoring. Spurs came straight back at the Black Cats, Christian Eriksen finally finding the net with one of Tottenham’s 15 first half shot. Lee Cattermole attempted to clear the Dane’s effort on the line, but failed to do so meaning the sides were level at half time.
Mousa Dembele gave the hosts the lead before Jan Kirchhoff’s debut for Sunderland took a turn for the worst. Eriksen sealed a brace with a free kick, deflecting off the ex-Bayern defender, giving the Mauricio Pochettino’s side a two-goal cushion.
The German then fouled Danny Rose in the box, giving Harry Kane the chance to seal victory from the spot, which the striker converted. The three goals scored in the second half made up for their wasteful first half showing which saw the sides go in level at half time.
The victory kept Manchester United at bay while dropped points at the top mean Tottenham are now five points off leaders Arsenal. With teams above them claiming victory, Sunderland are four points from safety, their Tyneside rivals three points ahead of them.
Bournemouth 3-0 Norwich
Newcastle 2-1 West Ham
Southampton 3-0 West Brom
Swansea 1-0 Watford
Ex-Chelsea goal keeper Cech welcomes his old side to the Emirates Stadium in the pick of the fixtures on Sunday, 16:00 GMT, while Norwich host Liverpool to kick off the weekends action.
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