The pressure continues to pile up on Jose Mourinho, with Chelsea struggling to find points once again. A controversial afternoon ended up seeing Liverpool take all three points with the help of two Phillipe Coutinho efforts and a Christian Benteke strike late on to seal it. Chelsea started brightly, looking like they were finally going to put their poor run of form behind them when Ramires headed in the opener from a deflected cross, but Chelsea hearts were broken in first half extra time. Which there was too much of, might I add. The fourth official held up his little neon board and declared two minutes of stoppage time, which the ref promptly ignored and allowed Coutinho to dummy his marker at the edge of the box and curl a left footed strike past Begovic heading into three minutes of extra time. Mourinho was not well pleased, understandably.
The second half piled more misery on the beleaguered manager as Liverpool were never really threatened, but Chelsea conceded twice more through unforgiving deflections for 2-1 and 3-1 respectively. Mourinho’s position at the start of the weekend was tenuous, but with a crunch game against Dinamo Kiev in midweek, he’s going to need to start racking up a win before Abramovich is forced to make a decision. Rumours of dressing room unrest continue to plague the Blues, indicating that the mood at the club may be beyond Jose’s ability to repair. Chelsea have an away trip to Stoke next week, which may very well be a make or break game for the Portuguese manager.
Elsewhere Crystal Palace held United to a dreary 0-0 draw, and the same result occurred for Newcastle against Stoke. United’s lack of goals have become scarily noticeable, with them slipping further behind the league leaders, to a four point gap. Rooney had another dismal performance, with Martial the only bright spot in attack. Crystal Palace are a tough team to beat at home, but United are going to need to find goals from somewhere if they’re going to stay in touching distance of the top two. More and more the United fans are starting to ask when Rooney will be dropped, as he’s had the worst stats of all the outfield players for several games.
The blue side of Manchester had a happier time as City managed a hard fought 2-1 win against Norwich, a team that recently suffered a 6-2 thrashing at the hands of Newcastle. City opened the scoring in the 67th minute through a towering long range Otamendi header, set up by Kevin De Bruyne’s delivery from a corner. Their lead didn’t last that long though, with Joe Hart inexplicably dropping a gathered cross at the toes of Cameron Jerome, who easily poked the ball into the open net. Another bizarre goal-keeping error from Norwich handed City a penalty in the 89th minute. Ruddy came off his line to gather a cross only to slap the ball away and barge clumsily into a City player barely inside the box, conceding the penalty. Ruddy chose the right direction from the resulting spot kick, but Toure’s low drive had too much power for the keeper to stop as City snatched all three points at the death.
Arsenal managed to match City’s winning result, but looked far more comfortable while securing a 3-0 win away at Swansea. A routine Giroud header opened the scoring, with another goal keeping error allowing Koscielny to protect possession and shoot from inside the six yard box. Joel Campbell finished off a smoother, textbook Arsenal buildup by converting a well worked cross from Mesut Ozil. All in all a very comfortable win for the Gunners, keeping them level on points with City at 25 a piece.
Everton provided the value for money game of the weekend by beating a lackluster Sunderland team 6-2, with Arouna Kone claiming a hat trick while the rest of the Everton attack were also razor sharp. Romelu Lukaku further proved his importance to the Toffees as he got himself a goal and two assists too. This battering leaves Sunderland on 6 points from 11 games and lodged in 19th place, two points from safety. Leicester managed a 3-2 comeback away at West Brom in another entertaining game where English striker Jamie Vardy got himself another goal to remain the leading scorer in the league.
Liverpool, City and Arsenal will be the happiest teams after this weekend’s fixtures, with Jurgen Klopp getting his first win for the Reds in spectacular fashion against a faltering Chelsea. Next week’s showpiece fixture is the North London Derby which has Arsenal hosting Spurs at the Emirates. West Ham host Everton in what should also be an entertaining game, while Liverpool host a Crystal Palace side that managed to beat them twice last season. City theoretically have the easiest fixture, as they travel to rock bottom Aston Villa. The joint league leaders both have opportunities to create further distance between themselves and the prospective top four competitors, but Arsenal may have a decent challenge posed to them by a confident, young Spurs side. Many eyes will be on the Stoke game though, as another loss for Mourinho may spell his end.