EPL Wrap-Up: Coutinho Sinks Chelsea

Chelsea 1-3 Liverpool

Coutinho scores vs. Chelsea

In the biggest match of the weekend, Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool traveled to Stamford Bridge and took on a struggling Chelsea led by José Mourinho. The Reds went into this match with a renewed sense of confidence and optimism with their new charismatic boss at the helm. Chelsea, on the other hand, looked like a team struggling for identity and lacking passion. Through the first ten games of the season, Mourinho’s squad had won just three times and sat 15th in the table with 11 points. With an owner that demands excellence from his squads, another high profile defeat for Chelsea would surely spell disaster for those in charge.

It was a dream start for the hosts, however, as they found a goal in the opening five minutes of the match. César Azpilicueta sent in a cross from the left wing and Ramires, who recently signed a new contract with the club, managed to ghost into the box and cannon a header past Simon Mignolet. Would we finally see the Chelsea team that dominated England last year? As the first half was coming to a close, it looked as if the Blues would go into the break with a rather unexpected one-goal advantage over Liverpool, but a moment of brilliance from the Reds’ Brazilian midfielder crushed those hopes. Philippe Coutinho took the ball on the edge of Chelsea’s 18-yard box and easily swept aside his compatriot Ramires before curling a beautiful effort past Asmir Begovic to level the scores.

The first moment of drama in the second half came on the hour-mark courtesy of Diego Costa. The Spanish forward didn’t draw attention for his ability on the ball, rather, replays of his collision with longstanding nemesis Martin Skrtel appeared to show Costa deliberately kicking out at the Liverpool defender when they were both on the ground. No sending off was issued, however. Ten minutes later, Oscar nearly scored the goal of the season with a half-field lob, but Mignolet made a brilliant effort to tip the ball out of bounds. Just three minutes after Oscar’s shot, Coutinho gave Liverpool the lead with a deflected shot into the back of the net. Christian Benteke, who started the match on the bench, delivered the dagger in the 83rd minute with his fourth goal of the season. The result pushes the Reds to eighth in the table, while Chelsea remain in 15th. Could this be Mourinho’s last match in charge?

Manchester City 2-1 Norwich City

Saturday’s visit from Norwich City would have been seen as little more than a formality for a Manchester City side that sat atop the table. The Canaries hadn’t won a game in their last five matches, and had been outscored ten to six in that stretch. City, on the other hand, had won two of their last three matches, including 5-1 and 6-1 defeats of Bournemouth and Newcastle respectively. Getting any points away at the Etihad would have been a miracle for Norwich, and they very nearly pulled it off.

As expected, City had the first chance of the match when Wilfried Bony’s drive from distance forced John Ruddy into a relatively comfortable diving save. The visitors almost grabbed the opener in the 29th minute, but Joe Hart made a strong save to deny a powerful strike from West Ham-loanee Matthew Jarvis. The first half came and went without a goal from either side, and worries of an upset may have started to creep into the minds of City’s fans and players. Anything less than a win would take away the hosts guarantee of the top spot going into next week’s fixtures.

City’s long awaited breakthrough came in the 67th minute. Summer signing Nicolas Otamendi rose above the crowd to head home a Kevin De Bruyne cross that put City ahead with his first ever goal for the club. Through the closing stages of the game, it looked as if the hosts would hold on for victory and walk away with all three points, but a blunder from Hart added some late drama to the match. A seemingly innocuous cross from Norwich floated into City’s six-yard box, but the English goalkeeper fumbled his catch and Cameron Jerome tapped home the loose ball to level for the visitors in the 83rd minute. It just wasn’t meant to be for Norwich, though as City continued to push for a winner. Raheem Sterling’s strike looked to be destined for the back of an empty net, but Russell Martin blocked the ball with his hands. Martin was promptly sent off for his impromptu goalkeeping and City were given a chance from the spot to win the match. Yaya Toure stepped up for the kick and just barely slid it past Ruddy to secure all three points for the league leaders.

Watford 2-0 West Ham United

One of the most surprising teams in the Premier League this season has been Slaven Bilic’s West Ham United. The Irons have beaten the likes of Manchester City, Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea (this one is looking less impressive as the Blues continue to struggle) this season and dreams of a top-four finish are looking more and more realistic. Going into the match, West Ham sat third in the table and seven points ahead of Saturday’s opponents. For newly promoted Watford, things had actually been going relatively well. The Hornets had won 13 points from their first ten games and were coming off of a massive 2-0 victory away at Stoke last matchday. Could they beat the giant killers of West Ham?

From the start, Watford looked like a team on a mission. In the tenth minute, Chelsea-loanee Nathan Aké got on the end of a corner kick, but his headed effort was saved by Adrian. During the ensuing chaos in the penalty area, the host’s captain Troy Deeney thumped a shot goalwards, but Andy Carroll made a goal line clearance to keep the scores level. Carroll’s heroics would soon be forgotten as his carelessness in defense in the 38th minute gave the ball away to Aké who crossed to Odion Ighalo. The 26-year-old made no mistake and easily tapped the ball home into the empty net. Ighalo’s goal was the only one of the opening 45 minutes and sent Watford into the break with a much-deserved lead over West Ham.

Just three minutes into the second half, another defensive slip, this time from James Tomkins, gave Watford the chance to score and again it was Ighalo who finessed his shot past a helpless Adrián. The striker nearly scored his hat trick a minute later, but this time Adrián was able to sprawl out and make a save. The Irons should’ve scored in the 69th minute after a poor back pass put Enner Valencia through on goal, but his first time shot rang off the post before falling to Carroll who failed to get a shot off at all. Following a worrying trend for West Ham this season, James Collins earned himself a red card in the 84th minute marking the fourth time the Irons would end a match with ten men through all competitions. Few could argue that Watford didn’t deserve this momentous 2-0 victory, and now they find themselves 11th in the table while West Ham fall to fifth.

 

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About the author: Collin Carpio

 

I am currently a senior at the University of Missouri in the Journalism School. I have been an avid follower of Manchester United since 2006 and of course I support the Stars and Stripes. Due to my St. Louis high school allegiances, I am a big supporter of Brad Davis and Sporting KC in MLS.

 

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