It was a weekend of high stakes leading into the eleventh round of fixtures in the Barclays Premier League, with talking points treading the rumor mill across the country. Under fire Chelsea manager, Jose Mourinho, faced a rejuvenated Liverpool side, under the leadership of Jurgen Klopp, at Stamford Bridge, seeking to answer critics of Chelsea’s abysmal start to the 2015/16 campaign.
Louis Van Gaal’s Manchester United travelled to Selhurst Park amongst accusations of sporting a boring and unattractive brand of football (vocalised by United legend, Paul Scholes) alien to the Old Trafford faithful. Sam Allardyce’s Sunderland side, sat nineteenth in the table, sought to distance themselves from the relegation zone and back up their 3-0 victory in the Tyne-Wear derby last week (their first of the season) with a trip to Goodison. Tony Pulis’s West Brom and Claudio Ranieri’s Leicester faced each other at the Hawthorns, with Jamie Vardy looking to become only the third player in Premier League history to score eight goals in successive games.
The action at Stamford Bridge initiated Saturday’s fixtures, with a lunch time kick off time live on BT Sports 1. The match started franticly, with Chelsea’s midfield mirroring the nervousness circling the Chelsea fans attending the game. However, fans, and Mourinho, were put at ease with Ramires firing the Blues 1-0 ahead in the fourth minute. Optimism was soon replaced by nerves once more as Mourinho’s side failed to get to grips with the game. Fans angst were confirmed when Philippe Coutinho equalised for Liverpool in first half injury time; an incident only fuelling the fire of Mourinho’s accusations of complacency amongst Premier League officials, as the goal was scored past the two minutes allocated by referee Mark Clattenburg.
The second half continued in the same fashion as the first, with Liverpool dominating the midfield. Domination turned into delight on 74 minutes as Phillippe Coutinho bagged his first brace for the Merseyside club and put them 2-1 in front. Further despair was heaped upon the Stamford Bridge faithful, with a Christian Benteke strike on 83 minutes giving Jurgen Klopp his first win in the Premier League at the expense of a poor Chelsea side. Though Mourinho chose to speak to the media after the game, unlike last week’s loss at Upton Park, he refused to comment on the questions put forward by BT reporter, Des Kelly. Jurgen Klopp, however, left Stamford Bridge more jovial, securing the Reds’ first Premier League win in three games.
Manchester United fans hoped to witness the same action seen at Stamford Bridge as their side had drawn two successive games in a row, all 0-0. Van Gaal’s tactics have come under analysis in recent weeks, with Paul Scholes claiming that “he would not have liked to play for the club under his management” due to a lack of “adventure” in their play.
Undeterred by these comments, Van Gaal’s United lined up at Selhurst Park in familiar fashion. Chances, however, were few and far between for the Manchester team in the first half, with a Wayne Rooney half opportunity and an Ander Herrera miss-que the only things to report. Palace, encouraged by United’s lack of attacking intent, broke quickly and created a number of chances. Summer recruit, Yohan Cabaye, had a number of shots saved by United keeper, David De Gea, and a chance, similar to that of Herrera’s on 44’ minutes, to put the Eagles 1-0 ahead. Dwight Gayle also showed attacking intent. However, the best chance of the game fell to Palace winger, Yannick Bolasie, closing in from the right wing and firing a shot fiercely towards the United goal, only to see it tipped on to the crossbar. The match finished 0-0, United’s third in a week, leaving fans unhappy and voicing Scholes’s views of attack, attack, attack.
Claudio Ranieri’s Leicester secured a 3-2 victory at the Hawthorns, with Jamie Vardy scoring the winning goal on the 77th minute making him only the third player to score in eight Premier League games in a row.
Arsenal continue to show title winning form, coming out as 3-0 winners away at Swansea City. However, Manchester City maintained their position at the helm of the table with a hard-fought 2-1 win against Alex Neil’s Norwich.
Watford managed to stop West Ham’s glittering away form at Vicarage Road, winning 2-0 thanks to a Odion Ighalo brace.
And more misery at St. James Park as Steve McLaren’s Newcastle side could only muster a 0-0 draw against a Stoke City team encouraged by England goalkeeper, Jack Butland’s, performances.
Sunday’s fixtures saw the turn of the bottom half of the table to be placed in the television spotlight. A south coast derby took place at St. Mary’s between Ronald Koeman’s Southampton and Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth. Trying to further themselves from the table’s drop zone, Howe’s team lined up in attacking fashion. Ultimately, however, they gave way under the pressure of a talented Southampton side, with goals from Steven Davis and Graziano Pelle giving the Saints a 2-0 win.
Sam Allardyce’s Sunderland traveled to Merseyside for the second game of the day, seeking only their second win of the 2015/16 campaign. The Wearside faithful left Goodison, however, down trodden seeing their side cecum to an inspired Arouna Kone hat trick and a 6-2 loss.
Monday night’s fixture saw Tottenham Hotspur face Aston Villa at White Hart Lane, with newly appointed Villa manager, Remi Garde, in the stands to watching the Midlands team fall to seventh straight defeat.