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Missing the Point: Premier League Round-up

Paradise Lost, or shall we say, Points Lost. This was the story of the Barclays Premier League this past weekend, at least for top teams who would like to be called title contenders.

Arsenal, Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea all dropped points on Saturday and Sunday. Only Manchester United managed a take all three points as they broke down Tony Pulis’ determined West Brom at Old Trafford thanks to a moment of genius from young winger Jesse Lingard and a late Juan Mata penalty.

Manchester City's Raheem Sterling despairs after missing a scoring opportunity against Aston Villa at Villa Park.
Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling despairs after missing a scoring opportunity against Aston Villa at Villa Park.

Aston Villa 0-0 Manchester City, Villa Park

New Villa manager RĂ©mi Garde had an instant imapct in his first game in charge at Villa Park, as Aston Villa produced a focused, confident and resilient display to keep league leaders Manchester City at bay. Manchester City have themselves to blame for this result, though. They were slow to build in the first half, and while they were much better in the second period, Villa’s determination meant the men in blue could only muster three good goal-scoring chances.

City are desperate to get Sergio Aguero and David Silva back from injury, and get their campaign back on track, while last-placed Aston Villa hope Garde will take them off the relegation zone with a string of decent results in the weeks to come.

Arsenal's Kieran Gibbs scored off the bench to level the scores after harry Kane gave Tottenham Hotspur the lead.
Arsenal’s Kieran Gibbs scored off the bench to level the scores after Harry Kane gave Tottenham Hotspur the lead.

Arsenal 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur, Emirates Stadium

Arsenal lost a gilt-edged chance to go to the top of the Premier League table after City’s stumble, drawing against Tottenham Hotspur at home. Spurs were the better side in the first half, and took a well-deserved first half lead when Harry Kane surged into the box and slotted home. The second half was a free-flowing affair with both sides creating multiple chances. Substitute Kieran Gibbs gave the home side some hope of a revival, bundling the ball in after a pin-point pass from assist master Mesut Ozil. However, both sides held on to keep the score from developing futher.

While Arsenal keep their title charge intact – they are second in the league on goal difference – Spurs have shown they could end up in the top-four come May.

Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard was in the stands to witness Jurgen Klopp's first loss as manager.
Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard was in the stands to witness Jurgen Klopp’s first loss as manager.

Liverpool 1-2 Crystal Palace, Anfield

Jurgen Klopp was handed his first loss as Liverpool manager as Alan Pardew’s Crystal Palace capitalised the home side’s defensive errors to snatch the game. Pardew has now been involved in all three times Palace has beaten Liverpool – first as a player in 1991, and twice this year as manager. The excellent Yannick Bolasie and Scott Dann scored on either side of a composed Philippe Coutinho strike in an end-to-end game that saw Christian Benteke and Wilfried Zaha turn in commendable performances for Liverpool and Palace respectively. In the end, Liverpool, who were dominant in possession, slipped to 10th on the table, and Palace leapfrogged the Reds to 8th.

Stoke City's Marko Arnautovic wheels away to celebrate his goal against Chelsea.
Stoke City’s Marko Arnautovic wheels away to celebrate his goal against Chelsea.

Stoke City 1-0 Chelsea, Brittania Stadium

There were two major absentees at the Brittania Stadium as Chelsea travelled to Stoke: Jose Mourinho and a Chelsea victory. The Chelsea coach, who missed the game serving a suspension for his anti-referee rant, will be livid at his team’s performance, but will secretly be happy that his wards turned in a much better performance compared to previous outings. On the Stoke front, manager Mark Hughes will be delighted with his team’s performance. Marko Arnautovic gave Stoke the lead early in the second half, and from then on it was all about weathering wave after wave of Chelsea attacks to see out a 1-0 verdict.

This defeat is Chelsea’s 7th out of 11 games and their third in a row – their worst run since 1999. The Londoners now sit at No. 16 on the table, three points off the relegation zone. Jose Mourinho was ‘The Missing One’ in this game, and if Chelsea continue in this vein of form, owner Roman Abramovich may just make that status permanent.

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