Tottenham 2-1 Watford: Llorente secures dramatic win
With the FA Cup in action over the weekend, Premier League proceedings were pushed to midweek, and that schedule shuffle yielded several eyebrow-raising results across England. Nick Miller runs the rule over the Premier League's biggest storylines.
If losing games to Leicester, Crystal Palace and Newcastle this season wasn't concerning enough for Pep Guardiola, what might be more troubling is that Manchester City have taken the lead on all three occasions. In each game, complacency has seemed to take over and a curious passivity has befallen this team that swept all before them last season, broadly thanks to their extraordinary intensity.
It surely can't be the sort of complacency of a team that expects to win the title. Liverpool have been ahead of them for a month now, so if these players still believe the Premier League title is in the bag then they have bigger problems with wider reality, not just football.
But it does feed into the idea that City -- and indeed all Guardiola teams -- struggle when things don't go to plan. That they are so tightly drilled that they are essentially automatons, incapable of improvisation or reacting to adversity. If that's true, then there isn't a huge amount Guardiola can do other than hope Plan A works more often, because he can't very well deprogramme his players now. The only comfort is that they aren't even further behind in the title race.
You'll find out who the optimists and pessimists on Merseyside are this week. By any rational standard, a result that extended Liverpool's lead at the top of the Premier League to five points is a an evening's work well done. But when that lead could -- should -- have been seven points, it's easy to see why someone might not be quite so overjoyed.
To be entirely unscientific about things, the 1-1 draw with Leicester felt like one of those nights for Liverpool, beyond the first 20 or so minutes anyway. Passes were just a little off -- not by much, but enough -- second balls just didn't quite fall in their favour, a spark was missing.
You could write all of that off as something not to be overly concerned by, an isolated incident that has nothing to do with their title challenge. After all, they've won games in which they haven't played well plenty of times this season. But a bigger element of concern might be that they looked nervous and static when faced with a challenge, that they didn't quite have a clear idea of what to do when things started to go awry. Jurgen Klopp's task is to ensure that doesn't happen again.
There were various terrific defensive performances by Leicester players at Anfield, and it's perhaps churlish to focus more on what Liverpool didn't do than what the visitors did. But arguably the moment of the game came in the closing stages as Sadio Mane advanced towards goal, pulled back his foot only for the ball to be perfectly whipped away after Hamza Choudhury had run half the length of the pitch to dispossess him.
You wonder whether Roman Abramovich is scrolling through his phone, looking for Guus Hiddink's number once more.
It's not just that Chelsea lost 4-0 to Bournemouth on Wednesday, prompting Maurizio Sarri to keep his players in the dressing room for 50 minutes after the final whistle, not even allowing his coaching staff to witness the carpeting that was to ensue. It's that this has been coming, and it might be a surprise it hasn't happened sooner. Chelsea have barely played well in the league since the start of December, when they beat Manchester City, and after a second consecutive league defeat they have now dropped out of the top four.
Sarri cautioned in his early days that it might take three months to get his team playing as he wants them, but it hasn't happened yet. They are too slow, too predictable, and once again an opposition manager stymied them by putting a player on Jorginho, on this occasion the excellent David Brooks.
It's not just the results that might cause Abramovich to act, but the lack of much discernible progress. Sarri's position is probably not yet under threat, but he hasn't yet been able to impose his style, the team is currently less than the sum of its parts and he publicly criticised his players for being difficult to motivate. Much more of this, and Sarri might join the many other Chelsea managers rapidly dismissed.
Another of those rare mistakes by Hugo Lloris, for Watford's opener against Tottenham. One of the many problems a side operating within limited financial means has is that if/when the performance of an established player starts going downhill, there isn't much you can do about it.
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"We've beaten one of the best sides in Europe," said Rafa Benitez after Newcastle's win over Manchester City, "and they will feel they can beat anyone now."
That's true, in theory. If things are managed correctly -- and with Newcastle United that is a massive "if" -- then Tuesday could be a turning point in their season. With the impending arrival of Miguel Almiron, breaking their 13-year-old transfer record, plus the knowledge that they can beat a side like Manchester City, this could inspire a revival at St James's park.
He didn't score a goal, but you have to admire Oumar Niasse's performance against Arsenal. These are strange days for the Cardiff players, deeply grieving a man they barely knew, trying not to let that impact on their football too much. But it must be strangest of all for Niasse, knowing that he is essentially filling the role Emiliano Sala should have held. With all of that in mind, he was remarkably good for his new side against Arsenal .
Sean Dyche is often a man for whom indignant bluster and the sense that the world is against his team is an instinct. His complaints that Manchester United only clawed back a 2-2 draw against Burnley on Tuesday because of an iffy penalty decision and excessive injury time were predictable, but hard to take seriously.
Rather than grave officiating injustices, might more significant factors be Jeff Hendrick inexplicably pulling Jesse Lingard down by the shoulder and his defence's awful marking for Victor Lindelof's equaliser? It's something we've come to expect from him, but not for the first time Dyche might be better advised to look at his own team's failings.