What did we learn on a wild Premier League Tuesday? (video)

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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.


Manchester United: Solskjaer hopeful of new Paul Pogba contract

Paul Pogba contract
Photo by Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images
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Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is singing a new tune, hopeful that star midfielder Paul Pogba will stick around Old Trafford for the long term.

Reports say that United has an option to extend Pogba’s contract by an extra year beyond its 2021 expiry, but Solskjaer is thinking bigger. He has been praising Pogba plenty since the World Cup winner returned to the lineup.

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It’s a bit surprising given Pogba and his super agent’s constant time in the rumor mill, with Real Madrid often linked with the Frenchman. And that agent, Mino Raiola, has not been so nice when it comes to judging Solskjaer.

But Solskjaer is reportedly hopeful that Pogba can join Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford, and others in building a new power.

“I can’t comment on discussions between player and the club but. of course, we want to keep the best players around the club,” Solskjaer said. “We want to build a squad for the future and Scott and Nemanja are a similar position but at different stages in their careers. One at the start, one really experienced one.”

Pogba leads United in key passes per game with 2.3, though his minutes have been severely limited by injuries this season. He had 13 goals and nine assists last season, and turned 27 in March.

The way United’s performed in recent weeks it would not be a surprise if keeping its main talents while adding another stalwart center back and wing would propel it into a more serious table discussion.

Do you buy the idea that Pogba could be with United well into the future?

Suarez goal gives Barcelona win, relegates neighbors Espanyol

Espanyol relegated
Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images
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Seventh-place one season ago, La Liga mainstays Espanyol are being relegated from Spain’s top flight.

The final decision came at the hands of their Catalan neighbors Barcelona, who got a second-half goal from Luis Suarez to relegate Espanyol.

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Espanyol are 11 points back of 17th place and can only capture nine more points this season following the 1-0 loss in a match where both teams had a player sent off.

Suarez’s goal was a nice one after Antoine Griezmann’s back heel pass to Lionel Messi saw the Argentine’s shot deflect onto the path of the Uruguayan finisher.

Espanyol had been in the top flight since 1994 and has only spent four single seasons outside La Liga since 1929. Leganes and Mallorca may join them soon.

Barcelona moves a point back of Real Madrid. Real has four matches left to Barca’s three and holds the tiebreaker.

Klopp reacts to Liverpool wins, says Henderson injury ‘not nothing’

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Liverpool’s 3-1 win over Brighton and Hove Albion was a bit more what we’re used to from the Premier League champions.

But that wasn’t the focus of the post-match despite a highlight-reel show from Mohamed Salah, as Reds boss Jurgen Klopp sounded an ominous note when asked about Jordan Henderson leaving the match with injury.

“I don’t know exactly but it was something with the knee I think. We know it’s not nothing.”

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Henderson’s not exactly a player to hit the deck unless he’s feeling pain, and Klopp removed him for James Milner with 10 minutes to play.

That’s about the only bad news from the win, as Liverpool became the first team this season to breach the 90-point mark and saw Salah’s brace move him within three goals of the Golden Boot lead.

Salah would only say, “Let’s take it game-by-game,” but it’s clearly on his mind.

Trent Alexander-Arnold says the Egyptian is hungry to get a share of a third-straight Golden Boot.

From the BBC:

“He has his targets, he’s around the Golden Boot and it’s something he wants to retain,” Alexander-Arnold said. “He’s a world class player who scores so many goals for us and we try to get him on the board as much as possible.”

As for the match, Brighton almost as missed some big chances as Liverpool before the game was out of reach. Klopp admits that it was a challenge.

“We started really well,” Klopp said. “We had to adapt a little bit as we knew what they wanted to do but it was a little bit hard to defend. We left one or two players in a position where if we won the ball we had players in the counter-attack position. We got the first two goals with super balls but we could have scored more. I said to the boys at half-time they could have been 2-2 too. It was a nice game to watch.”

The Reds finish with Burnley, Arsenal, Chelsea, and Newcastle United.

Liverpool march continues with 3-1 win at Brighton

Brighton - Liverpool recap
Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
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Mohamed Salah had two goals and an assist in the first eight minutes of Liverpool’s 3-1 win over Brighton and Hove Albion at the Amex Stadium on Wednesday.

Salah is now three goals behind league leader Jamie Vardy, and Liverpool’s 92 points are 23 more than Man City. Jordan Henderson also scored for the Reds.

BRIGHTON – LIVERPOOL FULL MATCH REPLAY

Leandro Trossard scored for Brighton, whose 36 points are nine clear of the bottom three with four matches to play (The 18th and 19th place sides do have a match each in hand).

[ MORE: Premier League summer schedule ]

Liverpool’s 30 wins through 34 outings is a Premier League record and Jurgen Klopp’s men are chasing several PL records. The Reds finish with Burnley, Arsenal, Chelsea, and Newcastle United.


Three things we learned

1. Salah somehow under the radar: Look, the Egyptian star’s 32-goal league season was an outlier. Not a lot of guys consistently hit 25, let alone the 30 mark in the Premier League. But Salah has rather quietly put together another amazing season with 19 goals and nine assists in PL play plus another four and three in cup competitions. Salah is one assist of joining the a small group of players to get double digit league goals and assists in a top five European league this season.

While it’s become sexy to praise Sadio Mane as the Reds’ top winger, Salah has been just as good. He could’ve had another goal in the 53rd but Mat Ryan made a fine intervention at close range. If Salah is under the radar, it’s because Liverpool has spread the wealth this season and had so many heroes in close matches. But boy, oh boy, is he their best weapon.

2. Lamptey shows glimpses, then youth: The sample size is very small, but 19-year-old Chelsea outcast Tariq Lamptey has played well at right back in most of his outings for Brighton since the return from the coronavirus pause. Lamptey was at blame for Liverpool’s third goal in both the chance conceded and actual finish from Salah, but the $4 million January buy looked well worth the price tag in a terrific first half at the Amex.

3. Seagulls still missing final ball: Brighton produced four big chances in the game to Liverpool’s two, but only put one in the back of the net (SofaScore). That’s sadly been par for the course this season, as Brighton’s style has been worthy of a top half place. Brighton entered the day with seven fewer goals than its expected goals total. Only Everton, Watford, and Norwich have been less fortunate.

Man of the Match:

Salah.


Brighton – Liverpool recap

Salah had a goal and an assist within 500 seconds of kickoff.

The Egyptian took a feed from Naby Keita to score off a Davy Propper giveaway and then set up Henderson’s second to have the Seagulls’ heads spinning early.

Brighton found a chance in the 19th but Neco Williams recovered with a slide to block Leandro Trossard from slotting a point-blank goal.

The Seagulls pulled within one just before halftime when in-form youngster Tariq Lamptey swept a cross into the mix for Trossard to punch home.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Salah could’ve had it 3-1 at one end but Brighton’s Dan Burn asked the Egyptian to hold his drink with a butchered wide-open shot at the back post in the 60th minute.

Jurgen Klopp didn’t like the close score, and brought on Fabinho, Andy Robertson, and Sadio Mane in the second half. One of the players he removed, Naby Keita, had a strong hour before departing the contest.

Henderson almost produced a third Liverpool goal after a rare Lamptey error spring a chance that took a wicked turn off Dale Stephens.

The Reds made it 3-1 off the ensuing corner, Salah’s clinical header in front of Lamptey. Henderson limped off for Liverpool late in the contest.

Ryan denied Salah a hat trick in stoppage time and the Egyptian headed over the bar at the final whistle. He could’ve had five.