It was all change at the top of the Premier League again after the weekend’s fixtures, with Arsenal regaining top spot from Manchester City. Meanwhile, at the bottom, there was significant movement in the fight to avoid relegation, with all three bottom sides winning on the weekend.
The results mean that Graham Potter at Chelsea and David Moyes at West Ham are the latest managers fearing for their jobs.
Having lost at home to Manchester City and been in the middle of a mini-slump, the pressure was on Arsenal when they travelled to face Aston Villa in the Saturday lunchtime kick-off. Villa are now managed by former manager Unai Emery, whilst former Gunners’ keeper Emi Martínez was in goal for them.
Arsenal were sluggish in the first half, fell behind to an early goal by Ollie Watkins, and, although Bukayo Saka equalised, were trailing again by half-time thanks to Philippe Coutinho.
An improved second-half performance saw them equalise, with Oleksander Zinchenko score his first-ever Premier League goal, but as the match went into added time, it looked like they would drop two more points.
But, in a dramatic finale, Jorginho hit a shot from outside the area that hit the underside of the bar, hit Martínez in the face and rebounded into the goal. Villa won a late corner wherein Martínez went up against his manager’s instructions, and when the ball was cleared, was left stranded up field allowing Gabriel Martinelli to add a fourth.
Manchester City missed the chance to go back to the top by only drawing with Nottingham Forest, with full-back Kyle Walker describing their performance as unacceptable. City took the lead through Bernardo Silva and had a number of other gilt-edged chances, but poor finishing and inspired goalkeeping by Keylor Navas denied them. And they were made to pay when Chris Wood tapped in a late equaliser for the home side.
United have worked their way into title contention, and they are now just five points off the top, although they have played a game more. A brace either side of half-time by Marcus Rashford (he now has 24 in all competitions this season) and a third by Jadon Sancho helped them brush aside Leicester City at Old Trafford on Sunday.
Next week Manchester United will play Newcastle at Wembley in the EFL Cup final, but the North-East side are in poor form right now, and lost at home to an improving Liverpool side, who have boosted their own chances of qualifying for the Champions League next season.
Liverpool struck early with goals from Darwin Nuñez and Cody Gakpo, and to make matters worse, goalkeeper Nick Pope was sent off for handling outside the area. He will now miss the EFL Cup Final.
That slip-up by Newcastle enabled Tottenham to move above them into fourth place with goals by Emerson Royal and substitute Son Heung-Min enough to beat West Ham in their London derby.
That result leaves the Hammers third from bottom in the table and with the team having just taken six points from their last 13 games, David Moyes knows his job is on the line.
That is even more the case for Graham Potter at Chelsea, whose latest ignominy was losing at home to bottom-side Southampton. James Ward-Prowse scored the winner with a trademark free-kick, and he is now just one behind the record of goals scored from free-kicks in the Premier League era, currently held by David Beckham.
Chelsea for all the money they spent in the transfer market in January, cannot buy a goal at the moment.
That win was not enough to lift the Saints off the bottom, but it did draw them level on points with West Ham. However, Everton are out of the bottom three as their revival under Sean Dyche continues, a single goal from Seamus Coleman enough to beat Leeds United who have taken their place in the bottom three.
Another South Coast side, Bournemouth, were able to clamber their way to temporary safety with a much-needed away win at Wolves.
In the battle for Europa League places, Fulham came out on top in their battle with Brighton, thanks to an 88th-minute winner from Manor Solomon, although the West London side scarcely deserved the win.
Brentford left it even later to extend their unbeaten run to 11 games, Vitaly Janelt scoring in injury time after Crystal Palace had taken the lead through Eberechi Eze.
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