Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Premier League Results Matchweek 23: Arsenal Stops Liverpool Momentum With Win at Emirates; Foden Leads Manchester City Win; Wolves Embarrass Chelsea; Youth Movement Shines For Manchester United; Hatters and Newcastle In High Scoring Draw; Brighton Smashes Crystal Palace; Everton Shares Points With Spurs

Arsenal sent a strong message by defeating Liverpool  3-1 at the Emirates on Sunday, just the second loss in 34 matches for a Liverpool team playing its final season under Manager Jurgen Klopp. The Gunners have been dismissed by many as lacking the firepower to compete with Manchester City and Liverpool for this year’s title. Victory on Sunday, however, pulls Arsenal to within two points of the league leaders as Liverpool was defeated for the first time since a controversial late September loss to Tottenham Hotspur. The Gunners extracted a measure of revenge after falling to Liverpool at this same home ground in the FA Cup in January. A surprisingly shaky Liverpool defense helped the Gunners change that result in the rematch. The first half of Sunday’s match was deadlocked after an early Bukayo Saka goal was neutralized by a deflected Gabriel own goal in the 45th minute. The second half would see Liverpool’s downfall. A mix-up between Liverpool goalkeeper Allison and center back Virgil van Dijk would lead to Gabriel Martinelli’s tie-breaking goal at the 67-minute mark. Allison would suffer additional embarrassment when Arsenal’s Leandro Trossard squeezed the final goal though the Liverpool keeper’s legs in stoppage time. Despite the assistance of Liverpool errors, Arsenal had the better of play and particularly dominated the midfield behind Declan Rice and former Chelsea man Jorginho who made his first start for the Gunners since November. Liverpool, meanwhile, was playing without injured Hungarian midfield star Dominik Szoboszlai (not to mention a certain Egyptian forward as well).

Looming over both Arsenal and Liverpool is a rejuvenated Manchester City intent on a third consecutive Premier League title. Manchester City lurks just two points from the top of the table, holding a goal differential advantage over Arsenal and a match in hand versus both the Reds and Gunners. The Citizens won for a fifth consecutive time in the league with Monday’s 3-1 win over Brentford. Erling Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne started a match together for the first time since the league’s opening weekend and yet it was another star from Pep Guardiola’s talent laden squad who won the day. Things took an early surprising turn when Neal Maupay scored his fifth goal in as many matches for the Bees to put the home side in front. Brentford goalkeeper Mark Flekken, stopping 10 shots on target in the first half alone, would then preserve that lead until Phil Foden deflated Brentford hopes in first half stoppage time. Foden was just getting started as he added two more goals in the second half to complete his second career hat trick and secure Manchester City’s victory.

Meanwhile, Aston Villa returned to the top four as Unai Emery’s men rebounded from a difficult home loss to Newcastle with an easy win at Sheffield United. The 5-0 win over the Blades moved Villa past Tottenham Hotspur which was held to a 2-2 draw at Everton. A 94th minute goal by the Toffees’ Jarrad Branthwaite thrilled the Goodison Park faithful who were braced to accept defeat at the hands of former Toffee Richarlison. The Brazilian scored both the London side’s goals but had his homecoming tainted by Brathwaite’s late heroics.

Manchester United moved into the top six with a 3-0 win at Old Trafford over West Ham. Alejandro Garnacho netted a brace and Rasmus Hojlund scored for a fourth consecutive Premier League match to lead the Red Devils. Hojlund was celebrating his 21st birthday on Sunday while Garnacho is only 19. They were joined by 18-year-old Kobbie Mainoo in the starting lineup on Sunday as Manager Eric ten Hag can point to the development of those young stars as a positive in what has at times been a difficult season for the Red Devils.

Mauricio Pochettino is seeing most of his young players fall on their face as Chelsea was embarrassed at home in a 4-2 loss to Wolverhampton. Matheus Cunha led the visitors with a hat trick against the flimsy Chelsea defense. The Blues have spent exorbitantly on young players who have failed to deliver on their perceived promise at Stamford Bridge. Through 23 matches Chelsea has the same number of points in the Premier League as it had at the same stage of last season, a season which saw Thomas Tuchel and Graham Potter lose their jobs at Stamford Bridge.

While questions are asked of Pochettino, things are getting even uglier across London at Crystal Palace. A 4-1 loss at Brighton saw defender Joachim Andersen restrained after the match from going after vocally abusive Eagle away supporters. Demands for the sacking of Manager Roy Hodgson are growing louder and President Steve Parish is being called out by frustrated and angry fans. The contrast with perceived rival Brighton is stark as the Seagulls have climbed the Premier League table and are competing in Europe while Crystal Palace still equates success with survival. Palace is currently five points clear of the drop zone, having won just two of its last twelve matches.

Luton Town remained one point clear of the relegation zone after a 4-4 shootout at Newcastle. The home Magpies were down two goals before salvaging the point on second half goals by Kieran Trippier and Harvey Barnes. Sean Longstaff had earlier given the Mapgpies two first half leads before the Hatters stormed to their two-goal advantage. Ross Barkley and Carlton Morris each had a goal and an assist for 17th place Luton Town. While disappointed with the blown lead, the Hatters can take heart in grabbing a point at a formidable away venue and avoiding defeat for a fifth time in their last six matches as they try to hang onto safety and another year in the top tier.

A looming points deduction to Nottingham Forest for financial fair play violations would do wonders for Luton’s survival chances. Forest remained a point ahead of the Hatters after a 1-1 draw at Bournemouth. Former Chelsea man Callum Hudson-Odoi equalized for the Tricky Trees in the 45th minute. The Cherries held on for their point despite playing the last six minutes with ten men. A fourth draw on the weekend saw a 2-2 final at Turf Moor in the match between host Burnley and visiting Fulham. The point did little to advance the fortunes of either side. Burnley is seven points from safety with its survival hopes continuing to fade. Fulham is presently safely ensconced in 13th place; seven points clear of relegation doom.

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