What did we learn on a wild Premier League Tuesday? (video)
This feels like one of the pivotal days in the 2018-19 Premier League season.
The title race swung massively in Liverpool’s favor. At the bottom, there were huge wins for strugglers. In the top four race there was movement.
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Six PL games delivered drama, comebacks, thrills and spills, with 20 goals across the games.
Here are the key takeaways from a wild Tuesday...
Man City hand Liverpool title initiative
If you’re a Liverpool fan, you’re already thinking about how to get to Merseyside on May 12 to see them lift the Premier League trophy at Anfield. It’s okay. You can admit it. Manchester City shockingly lost 2-1 at Newcastle United to give Liverpool the chance to go seven points clear atop the table with 14 games to go. This is an opportunity Liverpool simply have to take. Pep Guardiola’s men took the lead after 25 seconds (the fastest PL goal this season) at Newcastle but the alarm bells were ringing for Pep as his normally slick side were sluggish on the ball and they let Newcastle back into the game. A half-hearted clearance allowed Salomon Rondon to equalize and then a mistake from Fernandinho gave away a penalty kick which Matt Ritchie scored. Newcastle could hardly believe their luck, as City handed them the win in this game. For the record: the Magpies last won a Premier League home game after trailing way back in 2006. On a night when Man City were supposed to cut the gap to leaders Liverpool to one point and put the pressure on Jurgen Klopp’s side, they crumbled. “We are in January, we have a lot of titles and games still to play for,” Guardiola said after the game. We may well look back on Jan. 29 as the day when Liverpool were actually handed the title. There is a long way to go until May 12, but Liverpool’s fan’s will be in a party atmosphere against Leicester City at Anfield on Wednesday. Liverpool can smell the trophy because City have placed it in front of them. The bookmakers have now cut Liverpool’s odds to win the title to 4/11.
Man United stumble for first time under Solskjaer
For the first time under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Man United fell behind, and for the first time in nine games under their caretaker boss they failed to win. But they didn’t lose. United trailed Burnley 2-0 with three minutes of normal time remaining at Old Trafford and then Solskjaer led another valiant comeback. Paul Pogba and Victor Lindelof made it 2-2, but there was to be no record seventh PL win on the trot to kick off his time in charge. It was probably what United deserved after starting slowly and missing big chances. They’re still in the hunt for a top four finish, but dropping points at home against Burnley is likely to see you finish outside the top four. That is not the aim for Ole. The next few weeks will be key in deciding how successful Solskjaer will be at United. Next up they play Leicester and Fulham away in the PL, PSG at home in the UEFA Champions League, Chelsea away in the FA Cup and then have Liverpool at home in the PL. At the end of that brutal spell we will truly known if Solskjaer’s honeymoon period is over at United, or if that draw against Burnley equated to a minor mishap with a bottle of champagne for the happy couple...
Fulham, Newcastle breath new life into relegation battle
Two strugglers fought back to seal improbable wins in the chilly conditions as they breathed new life into their survival bids. Fulham were 2-0 down against Brighton at half time at a snowy Craven Cottage. A soggy Claudio Ranieri was livid and he made two subs before the 46th minute. It worked. Aleksandar Mitrovic led their amazing four-goal second half performance as he wrecked havoc, scored twice and set up another. Fulham can score goals galore when they get going, but they have to sort out their defensive issues if they’re going to survive. Right now, they’ve given themselves a chance as they sit four points from safety. Tuesday was huge for the Cottagers. As for Newcastle, it is tough to see where their amazing resolve to come back from 1-0 down to beat Man City came from, but Rafael Benitez’s side will get a huge boost from back-to-back home wins in the PL. Miguel Almiron, who is expected to become their new club-record signing in the coming days, will also provide a huge boost in the final weeks of the season. The likes of Southampton, Burnley, Brighton and Crystal Palace will not be sleeping well on Tuesday as Newcastle and Fulham breathe down their necks.
Wolves flying high as Jimenez stars, again
Mexico’s Raul Jimenez is loving life in the Premier League, and so are his team Wolves. The man on loan from Benfica scored twice in Wolves’ 3-0 shellacking of West Ham at Molinuex, as Nuno Espirito Santo’s men are in seventh place and many believe in the driving seat to seal European qualification. Jimenez hasn’t been the most prolific at times this season, but he is Wolves’ top goalscorer with 10 and he’s now scored three goals and had an assist in his last three outings in all competitions. He does more than score goals though, as his link-up play and runs in-behind create so many chances for Wolves’ other attackers. Jimenez described his form for Wolves in the PL as a “dream come true” and now we will wait and see if that dream continues beyond this season, or if he moves onto one of Europe’s big boys permanently from Benfica in the summer. He has now proved he is capable of delivering on the big stage consistently.
Arsenal in top four hunt on emotional night at the Emirates
The Gunners edged past Cardiff City, but it was far from convincing for Unai Emery’s men. Cardiff had numerous chances to score in the first half but couldn’t break through, and it took a Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang penalty and a late Alexandre Lacazette penalty kick to seal the win for Arsenal. On an emotional night at Arsenal where tributes were paid to Cardiff’s missing striker Emiliano Sala, the action on the pitch was put into perspective. Their club-record signing disappeared, along with the plane he was on and pilot Dave Ibbotson last week, and the search for Sala in the English Channel continues. On a snowy night at the Emirates Stadium the action on the pitch was secondary as daffodils were laid in tribute to Sala before the game by both captains, his name was placed on the back of the matchday programme at Arsenal and across the Premier League he was honored.