Manchester United play Stoke City at Old Trafford on Monday night, and they could reduce the deficit to City to 12 points, after they were finally beaten 4-3 by Liverpool at Anfield in the best game of the season so far. Liverpool had taken the lead through Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s superb drive from distance, but City equalized just before half-time when Leroy Sane took advantage of Joe Gomez’s lapse in concentration to race into the area and smash a shot in at the near post, which should arguably have been kept out by Loris Karius. Three goals in nine second-half minutes turned this game on its head: first, Roberto Firmino nonchalantly chipped Ederson to restore Liverpool’s lead, then Sadio Mane hit an unstoppable left-footed rocket into the top corner, having hit the post moments ago, and finally, Mohamed Salah made a wandering Ederson pay, scoring from around 40 yards into an empty net after the City goalkeeper had gone walkabout. City, and everyone watching, were stunned, and Liverpool looked to have sewn up the game. However, two late goals, from Bernardo Silva and Ilkay Gundogan, had Anfield watching on nervously, but Liverpool managed to hold on to inflict a first league defeat on City this season.
Elsewhere, Arsenal’s wretched away form continued, as they fell to a 2-1 defeat to Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium. Hector Bellerin’s composed finish had put the Gunners ahead in the second half, but shoddy defending allowed Callum Wilson and Jordon Ibe to score two goals in four minutes and leave Arsenal in sixth, for whom Alexis Sanchez was an absentee as he nears a move to either of the Manchester clubs, with United surprisingly appearing frontrunners. Arsenal’s London rivals, Tottenham, handed out a lesson to Everton, thrashing them 4-0 at Wembley. A Harry Kane brace, and goals from Son Heung-Min and Christian Eriksen sealed the win for Spurs, as Everton yet again failed to even have a shot on target in the match. Sam Allardyce’s mini-revival looks to be over, with the Toffees struggling for goals and looking porous at the back.
Chelsea succumbed to their fourth consecutive draw in all competitions; three of which have been goalless, in a 0-0 home draw against Leicester City, even though the Foxes were a man down more than twenty minutes after Ben Chilwell’s sending-off. Crystal Palace’s revival continued, meanwhile, as they beat Burnley 1-0 at home through Bakary Sako’s first-half effort. The win moved Palace up to the giddy heights of 12th, with Burnley staying put at 7th. Another club enjoying an upturn of form under a new manager are West Ham; they thrashed Huddersfield 4-1 away from home. Goals from Mark Noble and Marko Arnautovic, and a Manuel Lanzini brace, gave the Hammers a vital win, notwithstanding Joe Lolley’s equalizer after West Ham had taken the lead initially. Newcastle and Swansea played out a 1-1 draw at St. James’ Park, Joselu and Jordan Ayew getting on the scoresheet for the two teams.
West Brom finally won their first game in 20 attempts, beating Brighton 2-0 at home. Jonny Evans set them on their way with an early goal from a corner, and Craig Dawson repeated the trick in the second-half to give Alan Pardew’s side much-needed three points. They remain in 19th place, but are only two points off Southampton in 16th. The Saints will feel extremely aggrieved at only drawing 2-2 with Watford, after they had been 2-0 up. A James Ward-Prowse brace had put Southampton on course for a first win in ten games; however, Andre Gray halved the deficit close to the hour mark, and Abdoulaye Doucoure bundled in a last-gasp equalizer. To add insult to injury, Doucoure clearly scored with his hand, but the goal was deemed legitimate.
On a weekend where Arsenal, Chelsea, and most importantly, City all dropped points, United have the chance to cut the deficit to first place to 12 points by winning against Stoke. It almost certainly will not matter in terms of the title race; however, a win is required to move United ahead of Chelsea and Liverpool, both of whom are level on points with the Red Devils. A confident performance against a managerless Stoke side could go a long way in setting up the second half of the season, and capitalizing on any further slips by City.