Last week in the Premier League we returned from the international break with all 20 teams back in action.
Manchester City welcomed a familiar foe in the form of Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool in a five-goal thriller at the Etihad.
This week was all about the bottom of the table clashes between the likes of: West Ham, Southampton, Crystal Palace, Leicester, Nottingham Forest, and Wolves all playing fellow relegation rivals.
Some teams showed the rest of the league their survival credentials, whilst for others they tumbled further towards relegation.
Here is your Premier League weekly roundup…
GAME OF THE WEEK
MANCHESTER CITY 4-1 LIVERPOOL
Manchester City kept up their title charge with a dominant display at the Etihad against rivals Liverpool despite being without 28-goal Erling Haaland.
Haaland’s deputy Julian Alvarez got his name on the scoresheet alongside experienced midfielders Kevin De Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan.
England international Jack Grealish rounded off the scoring, encapsulating a brilliant individual performance which saw the winger run the show.
Mohammed Salah scored his 12th of the season, but despite scoring early his side couldn’t go on to get something out of the game.
The big news ahead of this game was that Manchester City would be without star striker Haaland due to the forward picking up a groin injury against Burnley in the FA Cup just prior to the international break.
With the Norwegian having scored 42 goals in 37 appearances in all competitions, there was no doubt that he would be a major miss which could have had the potential to unsettle the rest of the team.
Liverpool had injury issues of their own with Darwin Nunez only fit enough to start on the bench plus Thiago and Luis Diaz, whilst close to a return, were not fit enough for this game.
City dominated the opening exchanges however it was Liverpool who drew first blood when Salah scored in the 17th minute.
Diogo Jota managed to find space in-behind an out-of-position Ruben Dias through the centre of the pitch after Trent Alexander-Arnold picked him out with a clever lofted pass.
The Portuguese striker found himself in a footrace with Manuel Akanji baring down on the City goal. Jota managed to hold the Swiss defender off and knock the ball back to Salah who was charging into the box.
Liverpool’s Egyptian king curled his shot from just inside the area into the top left corner, leaving Ederson without a chance, giving his team a lead against the run of play.
Just ten minutes later City levelled the game up through Julian Alvarez. Riyad Mahrez cut-in from the right wing and found Gundogan in a central position just outside the penalty area.
The German spun 180 degrees with the ball and found Grealish on the opposite wing who marauded into the box and powerfully crossed through the legs of Alexander-Arnold to find Alvarez in space just yards out.
The 23-year-old World Cup winner slotted past Allison from close range, finishing off a brilliant move.
The score was 1-1 at the break with City definitely looking the better side but as seen with the Salah goal, Liverpool kept City honest with a big threat on the counter-attack.
Just seconds after half-time City took the lead, catching Liverpool asleep. Alvarez dropped deep and linked with Grealish before spraying a pass across the pitch to find Mahrez wide-right.
Having beaten Andy Robertson for pace, the Algerian crossed to De Bruyne who was free on the edge of the six-yard box to side-foot the ball into an open net, giving his side the lead.
In the 53rd minute City made it three courtesy of captain Gundogan. Alvarez, once again involved, saw his goal-bound shot blocked with the rebound falling to Gundogan who showed composure by taking a touch and picking out the top-left corner from close range.
Grealish scored the goal that his performance deserved in the 74th minute to make it 4-1 to City.
He started the move by slipping De Bruyne in down the left-wing and then darting into the box to finish the move by converting the Belgians cut-back from around ten-yards.
The game ended 4-1 with City once again showing their title credentials, keeping up with Arsenal in a game that many had predicted to de-rail their title aspirations. The gap remains eight points with City travelling to St. Mary’s next weekend to face bottom side Southampton.
Jurgen Klopp will be disappointed in the manner in which his side lost the game, seemingly giving up after City made it 2-1 due the reds slow start to the second-half.
Liverpool drop to eighth after the defeat to City now having a tricky task ahead in their quest for the top four.
Klopp’s side go to Stamford Bridge midweek in what will be a tough test before facing the league leaders Arsenal at The Emirates on Sunday. Liverpool will need to get something out of these two games if they’re to challenge for Champions League football come May.
ARSENAL 4-1 LEEDS UNITED
The Gunners remain top of the table after a convincing win at The Emirates against strugglers Leeds.
Gabriel Jesus scored twice in his first start since mid-November to take his season tally to seven.
Ben White and Granit Xhaka stepped up and both grabbed goals for Arsenal in the absence of Bukayo Saka who wasn’t fit enough to start after a bout of illness.
Rasmus Kristensen scored his second goal for Leeds since signing in the summer in what was a somewhat rotated Leeds side.
There were many fitness woes for Mikel Arteta’s side coming into this fixture as William Saliba was ruled out for the near future after picking up a back injury in the gunners Europa League defeat against Sporting CP.
Bukayo Saka started on the bench in what was a surprise withdrawal from the starting XI with Arteta later revealing it was due to illness in the build-up to the game meaning he was unable to train. Gabriel Jesus took his place, returning from injury after four and a half months.
Thomas Partey and Kieran Tierney were both doubts having picked up knocks over the international break, however the pair managed to prove their fitness and feature in this game.
Javi Gracia made numerous changes to the Leeds side that beat Wolves 2-4 just before the international break, perhaps with an eye to Tuesday’s crunch match against Nottingham Forest.
Max Wober, Weston McKennie, Wilfried Gnonto and Patrick Bamford all made way with Crysencio Summerville, Luis Sinisterra, Pascal Struijk and Kristensen taking their places.
Arsenal took the lead in the 35th minute through Jesus from the penalty spot. This came after the Brazilian sent Luke Ayling to the deck after some clever footwork in the box.
Ayling’s outstretched leg caught Jesus as he attempted to progress past the Leeds defender forcing referee Darren England to award a penalty kick.
After winning the penalty, Jesus himself stepped up to convert it sending the Leeds keeper the wrong way and passing the ball into the bottom-right corner.
Two minutes into the second-half Arsenal doubled their lead through an Unlikely scorer in Ben White.
The right-back ventured forward and met Gabriel Martinelli’s cross at the back post, the ball hitting the bar on its way in from White’s shot.
The game was over when Arsenal made it 3-0 in the 55th minute. Leandro Trossard weaved away from Robin Koch inside the area and cut the ball back to Jesus who best Illan Meslier from close range, scoring his second of the afternoon.
Leeds did score a consolation goal thanks to a driven shot from outside the area from Kristensen, beating Aaron Ramsdale and finding the bottom left corner.
Just six minutes from time Xhaka made it 4-1, heading past Meslier from an excellent cross by skipper Martin Odegaard.
With the game finishing 4-1 Arsenal restored their eight-point lead over Manchester City at the top of the table.
Arteta’s attention will swiftly turn to Liverpool who, despite underperforming this season, still pose a threat and a potential banana skin in the gunner’s race for the title.
Leeds will be desperate to put this result behind them having two home games against Forest and Crystal Palace in the space of five days. These are must-win games if Gracia’s side want to avoid finishing in the bottom three.
NEWCASTLE UNITED 2-0 MANCHESTER UNITED
Newcastle jump to third after victory over high-flying top-four rivals Manchester United.
Joe Willock set Newcastle on their way midway through the second half before Callum Wilson came off the bench to seal the result with a late goal.
United in poor form with two losses and a draw in their last three as race for Champions League football hots up.
David De Gea kept United in the game in the first-half with an excellent double save from an Alexander Isak header and Willock’s follow up shot.
Willock also missed a golden opportunity at the back-post when Allan Saint-Maximin cut the ball back to him. The midfielder’s shot flew just over the crossbar from yards out.
Newcastle finally scored the goal they deserved in the 65th minute when Bruno Guimaraes chipped a cross to the back post which Saint-Maximin headed back across goal where Willock was waiting to head the ball across the line with De Gea nowhere to be seen.
The magpies thought they had a second when Joelinton headed against the bar from a corner and Fabian Schar’s follow up was saved on the line by Anthony Martial.
However, the second goal did come in the 88th minute through substitute Wilson.
Kieran Trippier curled another beauty of a free-kick into the penalty area where Wilson rose highest to guide his header past De Gea from inside the six-yard box.
This goal sealed what was a brilliant result for the magpies, extending their excellent home record having only lost once at St. James’ Park this campaign.
Newcastle jump United in the table going into third, level on points with United and Spurs with the latter having played twice more than Newcastle and United.
Eric ten Hag was disappointed with his team following the result as they never really got a grasp of the tie.
His side drop to fifth but as previously mentioned are level on points with third and have two games in-hand on Spurs in fourth.
“I hate to say it but they were better today – especially their determination, passion and desire. They wanted to win more so they won.”
BRIGHTON & HOVE ALBION 3-3 BRENTFORD
Two of the league’s biggest underachievers shared the points on the South coast in a six-goal thriller.
Brighton came back three times to earn a well-deserved point against the side directly below them.
Roberto Di Zerbi’s side showed character battling back from a losing position three times with Kaoru Mitoma, Danny Welbeck and Alexis Mac Allister all scoring for the seagulls.
Brentford showed their set-piece superiority, scoring twice from set-piece situations through Pontus Jansson and Ethan Pinnock.
Ivan Toney notched his 17th of the campaign, only Erling Haaland and Harry Kane have scored more goals in the Premier League this season.
Brentford came flying out the traps, scoring after just ten minutes through captain Jansson.
The goal came from a throw-in which was taken quickly by Mathias Jensen into the feet of Bryan Mbeumo who laid it back to the taker.
Jensen whipped a cross into the six-yard box where Jansson’s run went undetected by Lewis Dunk allowing the Swede to crash a header past Jason Steele unchallenged from close range.
Brighton caught Brentford out when Steele picked out Mitoma with an excellent pass dissecting the Brentford rear-guard.
Mitoma set himself away and lobbed David Raya who was charging out of his goal in an attempt to intercept the ball, getting his side back into the game.
However, just seconds after the game re-started, Brentford caught Brighton out and reinstated their lead.
Jansson charged out of defence to head a loose ball forward to Mbuemo who found Toney inside the area.
Toney made no mistake powerfully curling the ball past Steele and low into the bottom-right corner.
The goals didn’t stop coming as Brighton struck level six minutes later in the 28th minute through veteran striker Welbeck.
Solly March ventured down the right flank and crossed in search of a teammate in the box. His first cross was blocked but the ball fell kindly back to him, and he crossed again curling the ball towards the back post.
Welbeck showed his experience, being in the right place at the right time, and meeting March’s cross with a strong header into the ground and up into the roof of the net.
Brentford scored their third four minutes after halftime from yet another set piece.
Mbuemo launched a free kick from 30-yards out on the left wing over most of the waiting players and towards the back post where Pinnock was waiting to guide the ball past Steele and into the back of the net.
The bees’ are the top-scorers from set pieces this season and it is evident why with this goal highlighting yet another well thought-out move that caught the opposition out.
Brighton found themselves behind for the third time in the game but once again fought back just in the nick of time.
Substitute Deniz Undav saw his shot deflected at close range by bee’s wingback Aaron Hickey. After consulting with VAR, referee Michael Oliver awarded a penalty as the VAR spotted that Hickey had used his arm to deflect the shot.
Mac Allister was on penalty duty and dispatched his spot kick into the top-right corner, sending the keeper the wrong way, levelling the game for the third and final time.
With Brighton and Brentford positioned sixth and seventh in the table after this game there is no surprise that this game ended a draw.
This was an excellent game of football that showcased the attacking brilliance Di Zerbi and Thomas Frank have gotten out of their sides.
CHELSEA 0-2 ASTON VILLA
UNAI EMERY CONDUCTS GIANT-KILLING AT THE BRIDGE AGAINST A TROUBLED CHELSEA.
OLLIE WATKINS CONTINUES HIS FINE FORM, NOTCHING IN HIS FIFTH SUCCESSIVE AWAY GAME.
JOHN MCGINN SEALED THE RESULT FOR THE VILLAINS SCORING FOR THE FIRST TIME THIS SEASON.
CHELSEA DROP INTO THE BOTTOM HALF, WHILST VILLA PUSH CLOSER TO EUROPEAN QUALIFICATION.
Chelsea fans are beginning to lose patience after yet another defeat under Graham Potter. Fans thought the blues had turned a corner after three wins in their last four in all competitions.
Watkins put villa ahead after 17 minutes. Marc Cucurella helped Douglas Luiz’s lofted through ball onto Watkins who was racing away in-behind the Chelsea centre-backs.
The 27-year-old volleyed the bouncing ball over the head of Kepa who was left stranded off his line, scoring against the run of play.
Chelsea should have scored in the first-half. Mykhaylo Mudryk should have hit the back of the net when he found himself one on one against Emi Martinez.
Potter’s side had the ball in the back of the net in first half injury time. However, Ben Chilwell’s header was ruled out due to the wing-back pushing defender Ashley Young in the back in his attempt to win the ball.
McGinn added to Chelsea fans misery when he added a second with an excellent curled strike into the bottom right corner from just outside the box.
This came in the aftermath of a corner that Chelsea defended poorly. This goal rounded off a good week personally for the Scotsman, scoring in Scotland’s win against Cyprus and being a key part of the win against Spain in the Euro 2024 qualifiers.
Substitute N’Golo Kante missed a big chance later in the second half. The Frenchman was slipped in by Noni Madueke but dragged his effort wide of the goal from around eight yards under little pressure.
This lack of cutting edge summed up Chelsea’s evening as the blues suffered a bitterly disappointing 0-2 defeat.
The blues face another tough test against Liverpool midweek, Potter will be desperate to turn things around with patience running thin among the Chelsea fans.
Villa move up to ninth, and only two points off the top six, will be wanting to challenge for a European spot by the end of the season.
EVERTON 1-1 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR
Everton secure important point at home against top-four hopefuls Spurs in the North-London sides first game post Antonio Conte.
Centre-Back Michael Keane scored a stunner in the dying seconds to earn well deserved point for his side.
The chaotic game finished with both teams having ten men after Abdoulaye Doucoure struck Harry Kane in the face and Lucas Moura later put in a horror challenge on Keane.
Harry Kane continued his fine form netting a penalty midway through the second-half, now with 22 for the season and five in his last five.
The first-half was one of few chances with Everton happy to stay compact and threaten on the break and from set-pieces.
One of the turning points in this game was when Harry Kane went in for a challenge on Doucoure after the referee had already blown his whistle for an earlier foul.
Doucoure reacted by squaring up to Kane and pushing him in the face prompting the England captain to fall to the ground, forcing the referee to brandish the red card for violent conduct.
Spurs used their man advantage to push on and their efforts were rewarded when Cristian Romero won a penalty when he beat Keane to the ball inside the box with the latter clipping him in the process.
Kane stepped up against England teammate Jordan Pickford and sent the keeper the wrong way firing into the bottom-left corner.
The game was flipped on its head when substitute Moura lunged into a challenge late on Keane with his studs up above the ankle giving the referee an easy decision to show him red.
Everton used this as a boost, giving them a fresh lease of life with a few minutes to play.
Keane picked the ball up midway inside the Spurs half and drove forward with the ball before striking a spectacular effort from nearly 30-yards leaving Hugo Lloris flatfooted watching the ball fly past him and into the side-netting.
The goal earned Sean Dyche’s side a much-needed point keeping the toffees outside the drop zone.
Everton have shown their desire and determination to stay up in recent weeks with late equalisers against Chelsea and Spurs in their last two and an excellent win at Goodison Park against high-flying Brentford.
Sean Dyche’s side are now unbeaten in four but will have to get past Manchester United next weekend before they can look forward to some easier games against sides around them in the weeks after.
Spurs start life under Christian Stellini very much how they ended life under Conte, disappointing.
Stellini will have a task on his hand to secure top-four football with Newcastle on a good run and Manchester United seemingly a better side.
Spurs face Brighton, Newcastle, Manchester United and Liverpool in their next five games. These will be make or break games for Spurs and Stellini in their quest for back-to-back top-four finishes.
CRYSTAL PALACE 2-1 LEICESTER CITY
Roy Hodgson made dream return to Selhurst Park with his side leaving it late, winning the game in the fourth minute of second-half stoppage time.
Jean-Philippe Mateta scored his first goal since August off the bench to win the eagles a vital three points against relegation rivals Leicester.
Leicester were the masters of their own downfall with goalkeeper Daniel Iversen scoring an own goal.
Ricardo Pereira put the foxes ahead, but it wasn’t to be as Brendan Rodgers side drop to 19th after this disappointing defeat.
Both keepers were kept busy in the first half but ultimately neither side could come up with anything that could break the deadlock.
Leicester took the lead after a short spell of pressure early in the second-half through substitute Pereira.
Timothy Castagne received the ball on the right-flank from a sweeping cross-pitch pass from Wilfred Ndidi and cut the ball back to fellow full-back Pereira just inside the area.
The Portuguese defender took a touch and thrashed the ball into the roof of the net, too powerful for Vicente Guaita to save.
The foxes lead lasted just three minutes as Eberechi Eze’s free-kick struck the underside of the bar before bouncing into the back of the net after hitting the back of Leicester stopper Iversen.
This was a bit of luck that palace needed after some torrid months that they could use to spur them on to go on and win the game.
And so they did, in the 94th minute Mateta made Hodgson’s return a memorable one by scoring to win palace the game.
Jordan Ayew picked out Mateta inside the box with a delightful through ball leaving the French striker the job of putting the ball past Iversen from 12-yards out.
If palace do stay up, they may look back at this win as a catalyst for their survival, ending a four-month winless run that saw former manager Patrick Viera get the sack.
Palace jump up to 12th, four points above of the relegation zone. Hodgson will quickly turn his attention to the eagles next fixture against relegation rivals Leeds. Should palace secure another three points against the Yorkshire outfit they will be well on their way to Premier League safety.
Things are looking bleak for the foxes after this defeat, sitting 19th and only two points off the bottom of the table, it seems they’re sleepwalking towards the Championship.
Rodgers side have back-to-back home games now against Aston Villa and Bournemouth which they will need to get positive results out of if they’re to stay in the top-flight.
AFC BOURNEMOUTH 2-1 FULHAM
The cherries lift themselves out of the relegation zone with vital comeback win against out-of-form Fulham.
Dominic Solanke scored his first league goal since early November to win his side the game, ten minutes from time.
Halftime substitute Marcus Tavernier launched Bournemouth’s comeback with a stunning strike
Andreas Pereira opened the scoring for the cottagers, stepping up in the void of talisman Aleksandar Mitrovic.
Fulham came into this fixture slightly light due to the suspensions of Mitrovic and Willian in the their previous game against Manchester United in the FA Cup.
The first goal of the game was scored by Fulham through Brazilian midfielder Pereira in the 16th minute.
Manor Solomon dashed down the left-wing and just into the penalty area before he cut the ball back to Harrison Reed.
Reed, unselfishly, laid the ball off to Pereira who wrongfooted the keeper with his driven shot from just inside the box.
Inspired substitute Tavernier scored five minutes after his introduction at half-time to bring the cherries back into the game.
The 24-year-old picked up the ball on the edge of the box after a headed clearance from a corner and shifted it to his left foot before picking out the top left corner excellently with a venomous strike.
The game was turned on its head when, in the 79th minute, Solanke made it 2-1 scoring the winner for the cherries.
Ryan Christie’s shot was parried by Neto in the Bournemouth goal into the path of Solanke who fought of Antonee Robinson on the goal-line to poke the ball in.
This 2-1 win for Gary O’Neil’s side was a massive statement to the rest of the league not to write Bournemouth off as his side climb out of the drop zone.
The cherries face Brighton at home midweek before travelling to The King Power Stadium on Saturday in a relegation six pointer against Leicester.
Fulham face West Ham, Everton, and Leeds in their next three so Marco Silva’s side have every opportunity to turn their form around and have a late challenge for European football being only four points away from sixth.
WEST HAM UNITED 1-0 SOUTHAMPTON
Hammers drag themselves out of the bottom three with six-point win over bottom-side Southampton.
Saint’s staring down the barrel of relegation, now four points from safety with teams above all with games in-hand.
Only goal of the game scored in first-half by Naif Aguerd, his first for the irons after signing from Rennes in the summer.
The goal came in the 25th minute, midway through the first-half from a freekick 40-yards out in the saint’s half.
Thilo Kehrer’s precise curled freekick picked out Aguerd inside the penalty area allowing the Moroccan to head the ball brilliantly beyond the reach of Gavin Bazunu and into the bottom right corner.
Referee Paul Tierney allowed the goal after a lengthy VAR check, much to the relief of David Moyes and the West Ham supporters.
West Ham pushed on for an equaliser, Said Benrahma and Jarrod Bowen tested Gavin Bazunu with strong efforts in the second-half.
The saints nearly made West Ham pay for missing some big chances when Paul Onuachu’s headed crashed against the crossbar with Lukasz Fabianski seemingly beaten five minutes from time.
The game ended 1-0 to West Ham, securing a vital three points as the disconnect between the fans and the manager was seemingly growing, but with this result fans will get behind Moyes as the team prepares for tricky fixtures against Newcastle, Fulham, and Arsenal.
Many will predict Southampton are going to be relegated after this result. This was a must win game which they fell short in, the story of the saint’s season.
Southampton are four points from safety and with games against Manchester City and Arsenal in the next two weeks, Ruben Selles may have to start preparing for life in the championship.
NOTTINGHAM FOREST 1-1 WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS
The points were shared at The City Ground as Wolves came from behind to earn a point that keeps both sides out of the relegation zone.
Brennan Johnson continued his purple patch as the Welshman netted his third in four games, dragging his side away from the bottom three.
Wolves left it late, equalising in the 83rd minute through Daniel Podence scoring his first goal in eight games.
Both sides stay out of the relegation zone, only separated by a point sat 13th and 15th respectively.
Forest went ahead in the 38th minute through talisman Johnson, netting his eighth of the season.
Clever play between Danilo and Morgan Gibbs-White allowed forest to progress into the box. The former picked out Johnson on the right with a lofted pass over the head of Toti Gomes.
Johnson volleyed the bouncing ball past Jose Sa from a tight angle with a powerful finish between the legs of the Portuguese goalkeeper.
Wolves manager Julen Lopetegui will be disappointed in his keeper conceding from such a tight angle, a shot which he will have been expected to save.
Wolves rescued a point through Podence in the 83rd minute after the substitute beat former PSG stopperr Keylor Navas with a powerful strike. Wolves deserved the goal after dominating possession in the second-half.
Pedro Neto’s deflected shot fell kindly to Podence inside the box. The small winger used his low centre of gravity to shift the ball to his right-foot and unbalance Neco Williams before striking powerfully above the head of Navas from around eight-yards out, taking a deflection of Williams on its way in.
Wolves will have been the happier side with the point as The City Ground had been an unhappy hunting ground for many teams this season.
However, still only two points ahead of the drop zone, Lopetegui’s side will soon need to pick up some wins should they want to avoid relegation.
Steve Cooper will be disappointed not to have seen the game out and secured three points that would’ve seen forest in 13th with daylight between them and the bottom-three.
Forest travel to Leeds midweek in a season defining clash as Cooper’s side face five games against sides in the top nine after.