Manchester United 1-1 Stoke City
Things finally looked like they were about to turnaround at Old Trafford. Jose Mourinho’s side thrashed Leicester City 4-1 last weekend, and even won midweek in the Europa League. A visit from last place Stoke City seemed like the perfect fixture to continue this winning form, but Mark Hughes’ side had other the plans. How did the Potters manage to frustrate Manchester United and steal vital points away from the high-powered club?
Less than two minutes into the match, Zlatan Ibrahimovic had a near one-on-one with Lee Grant, and the English keeper did well to get low and make not one, but two saves. Ten minutes later, Paul Pogba sent a great chance wide inside the penalty area. Juan Mata proceeded to force Grant into a high save to tip his chipped effort over the bar.
In the second half, United looked like a shadow of themselves and Stoke began to take control of the match. For the first 30+ minutes, the visitors looked like the more likely side to grab the match’s first goal. Despite this dominance, United took the lead in the 69th minute. Even though Wayne Rooney’s initial touch on Anthony Martial’s pass on the edge of the penalty was atrocious, Geoff Cameron’s challenge inadvertently set the French striker up for a shot. Martial hit a perfectly curled effort past Grant, and things started to return back to normal at Old Trafford.
It just wasn’t meant to be for United. Horrendous defending from the hosts gifted Stoke the equalizer in the 82nd minute. After Glen Johnson glided past defenders on the edge of the box, David De Gea botched his save and Jonathan Walters’ ensuing shot hit the crossbar before falling to Joe Allen who fired into the empty net to make it 1-1.
A late header from Paul Pogba smacked off the crossbar, and United’s revival was put on hold with a 1-1 draw.
Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 Manchester City
The biggest match of the weekend kicked off at White Hart Lane as Tottenham Hotspur hosted Manchester City. Going into the fixture, these two sides sat as the only unbeaten clubs left in the league, and title implications loomed large. Could Mauricio Pochettino outsmart Pep Guardiola in this managerial chess match?
In the ninth minute, Manchester City put the ball in the back of the net. It was just the wrong net. Danny Rose floated a cross into the back post right into the path of Aleksander Kolarov. The Serbian fullback didn’t quite know how to deal with the ball, and ended up deflecting it past Claudio Bravo to put Spurs a goal in front. This was the first time this season that the Cityzens found themselves behind.
Spurs continued to press a seemingly shell shocked City for a second goal with Son Heung-Min and Christian Eriksen both coming close. This sustained pressure paid off as Dele Alli doubled the lead in the 37th minute. Son jumped on a loose ball and slid in an inch-perfect pass to the midfielder who passed his first-time effort past Bravo. 2-0 Spurs.
Five minutes into the second half, Sergio Agüero forced Hugo Lloris into an awkward low save at the near post. The Frenchman turned the striker’s effort inadvertently onto the woodwork, but luckily for the keeper no danger came from it.
Just after the hour mark, Tottenham were awarded a penalty kick after Fernandinho took out Alli in the box. Erik Lamela stepped up for the spot kick, and Bravo was there do any him with a diving stop. Was this the lifeline City needed?
A late push from City saw Agüero and Kelechi Iheanacho both come close for the visitors, but in the end no one could find a way past Lloris. Even with the loss, City still find themselves top of the table, but Spurs now sit second and just one point behind Guardiola’s squad.
Burnley 0-1 Arsenal
With all of the managerial turnover that happens every season in the Premier League, it’s always amazing to look at Arsene Wenger’s tenure at Arsenal. The Frenchman celebrated his 20th anniversary at the club this weekend, and he is, by far, the longest tenured active manager in the league. As much criticism as he draws from pundits and pans, sometimes regardless of how his team plays, Wenger deserves a tip of the cap for his work in North London. Luckily, his team was able to pull out a victory for him on Sunday.
Through the opening stages of the match, Arsenal looked anything but dominant. Their attack couldn’t seem to put a shot on frame, and sloppy defending gifted Burnley several chances. Luckily for Wenger, none of these chances found their way past Petr Cech.
A rather uneventful first half came and went with neither side finding the back of the net.
Three minutes into the second half, Arsenal began to wake up. Alexis Sanchez came close to giving the Gunners the lead but former Manchester United keeper Tom Heaton was there to make the save. Despite their attacking resurgence, Arsenal’s defense still struggled to cope with Burnley, and the hosts came close on a couple of occasions to taking the lead.
In the 75th minute, Michael Keane outjumped Hector Bellerin and Skhodran Mustafi on a corner kick. Cech reached for the save, but didn’t have the height. Unfortunately for Keane, his headed effort had too much height and smacked off the woodwork.
As the match crept into the final minute of injury time, Arsenal grabbed the winner. A cross from Sanchez following a short corner kick was nodded on by Theo Walcott and then bundled in by Laurent Koscielny at the far post to win the match for the Gunners. It wasn’t a dream “Arsenal” goal, but all that matters in the end is three points.
The 1-0 result keeps the Gunners in the top four as they sit third, just two points behind Manchester City for the top spot.