Manchester City Open up 8 Point Lead in English EPL
The eleventh round of the English Premier League season got underway with Saturday’s early match between Stoke City and Leicester City at the Bet 365 Stadium, with Leicester twice taking the lead, only for Stoke to strike back with equalisers. Vincente Iborra opened the scoring for Leicester with his first goal for the club, and then headed over from a good chance after Xerdan Shaqiri had equalised for Stoke before half time, before Riyad Mahrez restored Leicester’s lead with a fine individual run down the right wing and byeline resulting in cutting into the six yard box and firing past Stoke goalkeeper Jack Butland, and Peter Crouch coming off of the bench for Stoke to head home the equaliser past Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichal, who then made a fine save with the last touch of the match to hold on to a point.
In Saturday’s later games, Huddersfield entertained West Bromwich at the John Smith Stadium, and won the match 1-nil with the only goal of the game from Rajiv van la Parra, though they had to defend resolutely to keep out the visitors and hold onto the 3 points once Christopher Schindler had been red carded; Newcastle hosted Bournemouth at St James’ Park, with the visitors claiming the 3 points from a 1-nil victory courtesy of Steve Cook’s injury time goal, a win which moved them out of the relegation places; Southampton entertained Burnley at St Mary’s Stadium, with the visitors collecting the 3 points from a 1-nil away win, the goal being scored by substitute Sam Vokes, the 3 points strengthening Burnley’s 7th place position though moving them up to equal points with Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool; Swansea entertained Brighton at the Liberty Stadium, and were defeated 1-nil by the visitors, courtesy of Glenn Murray’s 4th goal in 3 games, and consigning Swansea to the relegation places after their sixth odd goal defeat of the season, and a record of only one home win of the season.
In the late kick off game, West Ham entertained Liverpool at the London Stadium, with Sadio Mane on return from injury for Liverpool setting up Mohammed Salah for the opener, and Joel Matip adding a close range finish for the second before half time, Manuel Lanzini pulling a goal back for the hosts in the second half, and then Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, his first EPL goal for Liverpool, and Salah adding his second for a brace to wrap up a 4-1 away victory for Liverpool. .
In Sunday’s early game, Spurs entertained Crystal Palace at Wembley in the derby and were a little fortunate to end 1-nil victors courtesy of a fine edge of the box strike from Son Heung-min, though Palace will rue some missed opportunities, particularly when Wilfried Zaha rolled the ball wide of the left hand post after rounding the goalkeeper on the edge of the box; before Manchester City entertained Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium, and came away with the 3 points due to a 3-1 victory, with goals from Kevin de Bruyne’s first half strike, and Sergio Aguerro’s 50th minute second, from the penaty spot, giving City a 2-nil lead, before Alexandre Lacazette pulled a goal back for the visitors, only for Gabriel Jesus to restore their 2 goal advantage in the 74th minute after coming on from the bench; In the afternoon’s later matches, Chelsea entertained Manchester United at Stamford Bridge, a tussle between second and fourth placed sides, with the hosts looking to bounce back after their 3-nil defeat away to Roma in the Champions League, and came away with the victory, securing a 1-nil win, courtesy of Alvaro Morata’s second half goal; whilst Everton hosted Watford and fell to a 2-nil deficit before rousing to win the game 3-2 after 12 minutes of injury time, and record their first win under caretaker manager David Unsworth. Watford went into a 2-nil lead with second half goals from Richarlison and Kabasele, before Everton sparked with a goal from Oumar Niasse, substitute Dominic Calvert-Lewin equalised, and then Leighton Baines scored from the penalty spot for the winner, which recorded their first win in 5 games and moved them out of the relegation places, though they experienced some good fortune with Tom Cleverly driving a penalty for Watford wide of the post in the last minute of time added on. The weekend’s results put pressure on a variety of managers, chide amongst them Slaven Bilic at West Ham, whose position is already said to be under review, but probably also the likes of Paul Clement at Swansea, and even Tony Pulis at West Bromwich. With 3 clubs already having sacked their managers from the start of the season, its likely that more will follow before the January transfer window opens, with the majority of owners desperate to maintain their EPL status.
Manchester City lead the table with 31 points from 11 matches, with Manchester United and Spurs in second on 23 points from the same games, whilst Crystal Palace hold up the table with 4 points from 11 matches, and are already a little adrift of the 17th placed team, the one above the relegation places, being 5 points behind.
Allan Jackson has been involved in soccer for more than 40 years as a player, referee, administrator and freelance writer.