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PL Saturday roundup: Mane stars against Spurs; Arsenal, United win

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Many of the Premier League’s elite came away with victories on Saturday, however, one side saw its title hopes stomped on. Five teams currently sit within two points of another for the second spot in England’s top flight.

Meanwhile, the relegation battle continues to be a heated one, with six teams currently separated by three points at the bottom.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Here, we take a look back at Saturday’s action from around England’s top flight.

Arsenal 2-0 Hull City — RECAP

Controversy was the name of the game at the Emirates Stadium, however, the Gunners managed to come away with a critical three points against relegation side Hull City. Alexis Sanchez was at the center of the drama, after having scored the game’s opener by knocking the ball over the line with his hand in classic Diego Maradona fashion. The Chilean added a second in stoppage time after converting from the penalty spot to move the Gunners into third in the PL.

Liverpool 2-0 TottenhamRECAP

Sadio Mane was dearly missed for the Reds while he was away on African Cup duty but Liverpool is surely grateful for his return. The speedy attacker tallied twice in the opening stanza at Anfield, and that was enough for the Reds to make the top of the league all the more congested. Spurs struggled to break down the Liverpool back line for much of the afternoon, and now Mauricio Pochettino‘s side has its hands full for the second spot.

[ LISTEN: 2 Robbies discuss Liverpool’s win ]

Manchester United 2-0 Watford — RECAP

Jose Mourinho’s side has now gone unbeaten in 16 matches. 16. Juan Mata and Anthony Martial booked their names on the scoresheet at Old Trafford as United now sits 11 points out of the top spot in the PL. Watford sits on 30 points and in 12th place in England’s top flight.

Middlesbrough 0-0 Everton — RECAP

The scoreline was certainly at least somewhat positive for the Boro, but it won’t draws won’t be enough to keep them comfortable in the relegation race after staying winless in their last eight fixtures. Meanwhile, Everton remains unbeaten in its last eight, but Ronald Koeman‘s side currently sits 18 points out of the top spot in the PL.

SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 11: Southampton players celebrate their win in the Premier League match between Sunderland and Southampton at Stadium of Light on February 11, 2017 in Sunderland, England. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Sunderland 0-4 Southampton — RECAP

It was a less than ideal performance from the hosts at the Stadium of Light, and the Black Cats remain at the bottom of the PL because of the result. Manolo Gabbiadini netted a brace in the opening half before Shane Long and an own goal finished off the lopsided scoreline for Southampton. The Saints moved into 11th place following the victory.

Stoke City 1-0 Crystal Palace — RECAP

Joe Allen continues to prove to be one of the most-underrated signings of the season after the Welshman netted his sixth goal of the campaign on Saturday. While Palace’s run in the PL looks to be nearing an end with each passing defeat, Stoke currently sits in ninth place.

West Ham 2-2 West Brom — RECAP

Jonny Evans played hero for West Brom with a stoppage-time equalizer at the London Stadium after West Ham appeared to have the points in the bag. Goals from Sofiane Feghouli and Manuel Lanzini gave the Hammers a lift after Nacer Chadli had given the Baggies an early advantage. The draw keeps the two sides in the top half of the table, with West Brom ahead by five points and in eight place.

Jurgen Klopp hails “perfect day” for Liverpool

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Jurgen Klopp has had far from an ideal week but his Liverpool side ruthlessly dispatched Southampton at Anfield to end it on a high note.

[ MORE: Liverpool batter Saints ]

Klopp was sent to hospital earlier this week when he felt unwell but the German coach was given a big boost as Mohamed Salah scored twice in the first half, which included a stunning opener, and Philippe Coutinho finished Saints off in the second half as the Reds eased to victory and stayed in touch with the chasing pack behind runaway leaders Manchester City.

Speaking to the BBC after the game, Klopp was happy with what he saw from his side after he was fit enough to be on the bench on Saturday.

“Difficult game, Southampton are a really good football side. It was an open game, we had more chances before we scored. We need to be patient in a lively way,” Klopp said. “The first goal, wow, I have nothing to do with the goal and the second was a fantastic pass and Mo Salah makes great runs. We could have scored more often but it was a perfect day for us.”

Klopp, 50, sees his side just three points off second place after 12 games of the Premier League season, while his side remain firm favorites to qualify for the UEFA Champions League Round of 16.

So far, so good.

Yes, Man City will take some catching (and a collapse of their own) but Liverpool’s aim should be to secure a second-straight top four finish and go from there.

With Sadio Mane, Salah, Coutinho and Roberto Firmino in the form they showed on Saturday, plus a fifth clean sheet in six PL games this season at Anfield, the defensive woes Klopp’s team have faced away from home this season aren’t troubling them at home.

Next up is Chelsea at home for Liverpool, which will be a supreme test of their newfound defensive solidity at home. Their results against title contenders this season have been up and down with a draw against Manchester United, hammerings at Tottenham and Man City and a thrashing of Arsenal at home.

Liverpool’s clash against top four rivals Chelsea is followed by five winnable games before they travel to Arsenal on Dec. 22.

Between now and then we will see if Liverpool’s season will amount to more than just a top four challenge. Saturday’s shellacking of a lackluster Southampton may have been “perfect” but a much tougher test awaits next week against a rejuvenated Chelsea side who have Alvaro Morata and Eden Hazard purring in attack

Can Liverpool’s oft-fragile defense cope? We are about to find out.

Burnley’s Barnes: “Can we finish the season now?”

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Ashley Barnes broke his season duck in classy fashion, scoring and adding an assist as Burnley stayed in the thick of the race for Europe with a 2-0 win over Swansea City at Turf Moor on Saturday.

[ RECAP: Burnley 2-0 Swans ]

The win shouldn’t be a surprise, as Burnley is humming in style. The Clarets entered the day with a win at Chelsea and draws at Liverpool and Spurs, so why would a visit from Swansea lead to anything than three points.

It’s dream world, really.

From the BBC:

“We’re on a fantastic run. We’re working hard every day and today we were different class.

“Can we finish the season now? No, I’m kidding. there’s still a long way to go and we need to pick up as many points as possible.”

Every win makes more and more believers of the Burnley Football Club. Perhaps more important to the Clarets, each win makes it less likely that Sean Dyche will leave the club for a better gig (Everton), at least right now.

Crystal Palace 2-2 Everton: Toffees battle back for point

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  • Eagles took lead through McArthur, Zaha
  • Baines, Niasse equalized
  • Palace remain bottom of PL table

Crystal Palace and Everton played out an entertaining 2-2 draw at Selhurst Park on Saturday.

The Eagles twice took the lead in a wild first half with James McArthur giving Palace the lead less than a minute in but Leighton Baines soon equalized from the penalty spot. Wilfried Zaha made it 2-1 but Oumar Niasse equalized right on half time and it finished 2-2 after a tense second half.

With the point Palace stay bottom of the table on five points, while Everton are in 16th place on 12 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

A rapid start to the game saw Palace take the lead with just 51 seconds on the clock.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek‘s shot was saved by Jordan Pickford but McArthur was on hand to tap home and give the Eagles an early lead.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Soon after Everton were level as Oumar Niasse went down under Scott Dann‘s challenge in the box and Baines smashed home the spot kick. 1-1 with less than seven minutes in.

10 minutes before half time Palace retook the lead as Joel Ward’s cross found Zaha and his flick beat Pickford to make it 2-1. Just when it looked like Palace would lead at half time, Everton leveled.

Julian Speroni had a howler as he gave the ball straight to Idrissa Gana Gueye who played it to Gylfi Sigurdsson who put it on a plate for Niasse to make it 2-2. The Senegalese forward came so close to joining Palace on Transfer Deadline Day back in the summer and came back to haunt them.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ] 

A tense second half saw plenty of players booked in the rain in south London as Palace pushed hard for the winner with Loftus-Cheek going close but Everton’s defense held firm.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Late on Christian Benteke, on his long-awaited return from injury, also went close for Palace but the game ended even at Selhurst.

WATCH LIVE: Manchester United vs. Newcastle United

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Paul Pogba returns for Manchester United, who welcomes Newcastle United to Old Trafford on Saturday (Watch live at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Zlatan Ibrahimovic makes the bench for the Red Devils, which also has Ander Herrera and Jesse Lingard as options.

Rafa Benitez will look to best his old nemesis with Dwight Gayle and Joselu up top.

LINEUPS

Manchester United: De Gea; Valencia, Lindelof, Smalling, Young, Matic, Pogba, Mata, Rashford, Martial, Lukaku. Subs: Romero, Rojo, Shaw, Fellaini, Herrera, Lingard, Ibrahimovic.

Newcastle United: Elliot; Yedlin, Lejeune, Clark, Manquillo; Ritchie, Hayden, Shelvey, Murphy; Gayle, Joselu. Subs: Darlow, Gamez, Mbemba, Diame, Aarons, Perez, Mitrovic.