After the two week international break the English Premier League returned with Round 32, although due to fixture congestion and cup commitments, some teams have played one game less).
Proceedings got under way with the lunchtime kick-off as Liverpool came from behind to win 2 -1 at Crystal Palace. It was Palace who took the lead with a Luka Milivojeic penalty, only for Sadio Mane to equalise just after half-time. And six minutes from time, Mohamed Salah, who had barely featured until that point, popped-up with the winner. It was his 29th Premier League goal of the campaign, and his 37th in all competitions so far this season.
That win temporarily lifted Liverpool until Manchester United to second in the table, but their ascendancy was short-lived, a United reclaimed their place with a 2 - 0 win over Swansea City. Both goals from Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez came in a first-half which United absolutely dominated. Swansea improved after the break, and David de Gea had to make two impressive saves in short order to deny Tammy Abrahams, but United claimed all three points.
Elsewhere, the rest of the afternoon matches concerned teams at the bottom.
The bottom-side West Bromwich Albion now looked doomed to relegation as they set an unwanted Premier League record with an 8th consecutive defeat at home to Burnley, going down 2 -1 . Ashley Barnes gave Burnley the lead with a fine volley, and his strike partner Chris Wood added a second before Salomon Rondon scored a late consolation for the home team.
Another team deep in trouble are Southampton who went down 3 – 0 at the London Stadium to West Ham United. The Hammers got off to a good start with two early goals from Joao Mario, on loan from Inter Milan, and Marko Arnautovic, who then scored a second in first-half injury time to put the result beyond doubt.
Newcastle United, meanwhile, eased their relegation fears with a solitary goal from Ayoze Perez enough to give them victory over Huddersfield Town at St. James Park.
Leicester City scored twice in the last 10 minutes to win away at Brighton, with goals from Vincent Borra and Jamie Vardy. Leicester finished the match with 10 men after Wilfred Ndidi was dismissed for two yellow cards.
In the final afternoon match, Bournemouth scrambled a late equaliser to snatch a 2 – 2 draw away at Watford. It was the home team who took the lead when Kiko Femenia volleyed in a cross, only for Bournemouth to equalise before half-time from the penalty spot thanks to Joshua King. Watford retook the lead in the second half due to Peyrera, only for Bournemouth substitute Jermaine Defoe to level in injury time.
Saturday evening saw Premier League leaders Manchester City travel to Everton and claim a 3 -1 victory, although, in truth, the score line flatters Everton. City were utterly dominant from the start, taking an early lead from a Leroy Sane stunning volley, with the assist provided by David Silva who ran the game with a brilliant display. Kevin de Bruyne then set-up Gabriel Jesus to head the second, and a swift flowing move saw Silva cross for Sterling to score the third. Mindful of their midweek Champions League tie with Liverpool, City eased off in the second-half, and Yannick Bolasie was able to pull a goal back for Everton. But City’s first-half display will live long in the memory after a victory that takes them to within one win of the Premier League title.
Sunday afternoon saw two matches, both in London.
In the first game Arsenal defeated Stoke City 3 – 0 to deepen the Potters’ relegation fears. The final score does not do justice to the closeness of the match and flattered Arsenal, who made a number of changes with the upcoming Europa League quarter-final in mind. It took a dubious penalty, converted by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to break the deadlock, and he hit a second to seal the victory. Alaxander Lacazette then scored from another penalty to give a distorting gloss to the score.
The major clash of the day saw Tottenham Hotspur travel to Chelsea and win there for the first time in 28 years. Alvaro Morata gave Chelsea the lead only for Christian Eriksen to level on the stroke of half-time with a long-range shot that completely bamboozled Chelsea’s stand-in keeper Willy Caballero. The match was won with two goals in four second-half minutes minutes, both scored by Dele Ali, the first the result of a sublime first touch and shot, the second a scrambled effort. The result all but ends Chelsea’s chances of finishing in the top four and qualifying for the Champions League next season.