Manchester United struggled to a 1-0 win over Brighton at Old Trafford on Saturday. The only goal of the game came when Lewis Dunk deflected an Ashley Young effort into his own net, sparing Mourinho the blushes after a poor performance from the Red Devils.
Manchester City came awfully close to dropping points against Huddersfield Town, coming back from a goal down to win 2-1. The Terriers went ahead through a Nicolas Otamendi own goal in the first half, but Sergio Aguero coolly converted a penalty right after half-time, after Raheem Sterling had been fouled, to level the game. The winner was extremely fortunate, with Jonas Lossl’s excellent parry from Gabriel Jesus’ shot deflecting into the net off Sterling. The win allowed City to maintain their eight-point advantage at the top, and the Manchester derby in a couple of weeks already looks pivotal to the title race.
Elsewhere, Tottenham could only draw against West Brom at the Hawthorns, in their first game since Tony Pulis’ sacking. Salomon Rondon gave the Baggies the lead in the 4th minute with a calm finish past Hugo Lloris, and it took Harry Kane’s 74th minute equaliser to ensure that Spurs didn’t go home empty-handed. Arsenal, level on points with Burnley at kick-off, looked set to be dropping two points away to Sean Dyche’s side. However, a controversial penalty award, in stoppage time, allowed Alexis Sanchez to snatch the win, and leave Sean Dyche fuming.
Liverpool and Chelsea played out an entertaining 1-1 draw at Anfield. Mohamed Salah scored his 10th goal of what has been an outstanding season so far, slotting past Courtois after being played in by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. However, Chelsea were able to take a point home after a goal from Willian, who was almost certainly attempting to cross the ball, but ended up lobbing it over Simon Mignolet. Elsewhere on Merseyside, Everton’s woes continued after a 4-1 hammering away to goal-shy Southampton. Dusan Tadic’s opener had been cancelled out by Gylfi Sigurdsson on the stroke of half-time. However, a devastating second half saw a brace from Charlie Austin, with Steven Davis rounding up the goals with a beautifully taken effort, to leave Everton just two points outside the drop zone.
Watford hammered Newcastle 3-0 at St. James’ Park; an own goal from DeAndre Yedlin and strikes from Richarlison and Will Hughes contributing to the sense of stalled momentum at Newcastle, as rumours of a takeover continue to excite the Toon faithful. Crystal Palace won 2-1 against Stoke at Selhurst Park, a last-gasp Mamadou Sakho goal winning the game for the Eagles, after Ruben Loftus-Cheek had cancelled out Xherdan Shaqiri’s superb opener. Swansea managed to stop the rot to an extent with a 0-0 draw at home against Bournemouth, while David Moyes’ West Ham tenure got off to a slow start, with a 1-1 draw against Leicester at the Olympic Stadium. Cheikhou Koyate got the equaliser after Marc Albrighton had put the Foxes in front, and Moyes will be pleased with the fight shown by his team, which managed to get the fans onside as well.
United won ugly, but on a weekend where Spurs, Chelsea and Liverpool from the chasing pack all dropped points, and City won, three points were all that mattered. The next three fixtures in the league (Watford (a), Arsenal (a), City (h)) are going to be hugely important in the context of United’s domestic hopes, with two wins needed from the away games before the derby, to maintain the gap if nothing else.