What we learned in the Premier League

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Seven games took place in the Premier League on Saturday and we learned plenty at both ends of the table.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays

Huddersfield and Fulham will both be frustrated as their bad luck continued, while Liverpool and Chelsea held their nerve and there were big wins for Watford, Southampton, Burnley and West Ham.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Here’s a look at the key takeaways from Saturday’s PL action.


Liverpool respond with gritty away win
It wasn’t pretty but Liverpool regained a seven-point lead atop the Premier League table as Mohamed Salah won and converted a penalty kick to beat Brighton 1-0. This was the kind of test Liverpool had to pass if they’re going to win the Premier League this season. After back-to-back defeats against Man City (in the Premier League) and Wolves (in the FA Cup), this was a big statement from Liverpool. Playing at a well-organized Brighton is always tough but Jurgen Klopp‘s side made relatively light work of it as their defensive injuries didn’t hamper their charge towards the Premier League title. Of course, there are bigger tests ahead but they don’t arrive for a while. The next time they play a top six side is the trip to Old Trafford to play Manchester United on Feb. 24. Between now and then there are plenty of tricky tests against teams they are supposed to beat sandwiched between their UEFA Champions League last 16 clashes against Bayern Munich. Liverpool were far from their best at Brighton, but they got the job done with minimal fuss as they were back to being ruthlessly efficient, and solid, just as they were at the start of the campaign. That is a very good sign for Klopp after the disappointment of the last week.


Emery’s Ozil problem not going away
Arsenal lost 1-0 at West Ham on Saturday and Unai Emery‘s post-game press conference was dominated by one person: Mesut Ozil. The German playmaker was not in Arsenal’s 18-man squad for the London derby and Emery said that was because “the players who were here are the players who deserved to be in this match.” That is yet another ominous statement from Emery for Ozil, as the highest-paid player in Arsenal’s history is the biggest headache Arsenal’s new manager has. The defending wasn’t as bad as it has been at times this season in the defeat at West Ham, but you could say that Ozil’s creativity would have been handy as Arsenal had plenty of the ball but couldn’t break down a stubborn West Ham defense. They are now six points off fourth-place Chelsea and could be overtaken by Manchester United in the next few weeks, and all of the momentum Emery had from that 22-game unbeaten run has evaporated with away defeats at Southampton, Liverpool and now West Ham, as they’ve had no victories in their last four PL away games. This poor away form is all getting very similar to Arsene Wenger‘s final season in charge…

Talking of Wenger, he oversaw Ozil, 30, signing a new bumper contract in January and he is guaranteed huge sums of cash. Ozil has only appeared in 16 games in all competitions this season and Emery clearly doesn’t trust him, as he’s said before, in away games against feisty, dedicated opponents. Ozil is a luxury player who is excellent, when given the chance, against lesser opponents at home but it doesn’t appear that the high-pressing, more defensive style Emery prefers can carry any passengers against more aggressive opponents. If Arsenal aren’t going to use Ozil, they have to loan him out or sell him in January. With his huge wages that will be tough and an argument can be made that Arsenal needed him at West Ham to unlock a defense and create chances in only the way he can. Emery’s issue with Ozil, on or off the pitch, has to be resolved one way or another as it threatens to derail their season.


Puel’s time at Leicester coming to an end
The boos rang out at the King Power Stadium as Leicester City lost 2-1 to Southampton, with Claude Puel‘s time in charge of the Foxes surely coming to an end soon. After their big wins against Chelsea, Man City and Everton over the festive period, all was well. But three-straight defeats to Cardiff, fourth-tier Newport County in the FA Cup and now an injury-hit Saints (who played over 55 minutes with 10-men) have cemented what many Leicester fans have been saying: Puel is not getting the best out of this team consistently. His decision to play three defensive midfielders against Saints was baffling, as the likes of Demarai Gray and Harvey Barnes sat on the bench and made a big difference in the second half. Leicester play extremely well against the big boys as they have less of the ball and their squad of players have perfected the art of counter-attacking. Against the teams they are supposed to beat they just aren’t able to break them down, as Puel’s belief in ball rotation, slow build-up and keeping possession doesn’t play to the strengths of this squad. After a testing year off the pitch for Leicester, Puel has brought some stability. He is a good, honest man who has brought plenty of Leicester’s young players to another level but it looks like he may get the hook soon. There is no chance of Leicester being relegated this season, so now is a good time to bring in a manager who can get the best out of this group and kick them on in their pursuit of Europa League qualification.


Huddersfield, Fulham in danger of being cut adrift
The bad luck continued for two relegation battlers as Fulham scored two own goals to lose at Burnley and Huddersfield had a penalty kick awarded, then overturned at Cardiff. In two six-pointers they both came up short and all of a sudden Huddersfield are eight points from safety and Fulham are five points (basically six points, given their goal difference) from staying up. Given their respective schedules in the next few weeks as they play plenty of the big boys, they are likely to be cut adrift. David Wagner is doing all he can with limited resources at Huddersfield, while the jury is out as to whether Claudio Ranieri was ever the right hire for Fulham. Both teams have shown they can hang in games but the little things are going against them as Saturday proved. Their fortunes will have to change quickly if they’re going to drag themselves out of the relegation zone with 16 games to go. There is almost a resignation among the Huddersfield fans that they are doing down, while Fulham will be at that stage very quickly. 

Heroic Southampton win at Leicester (video)

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  • Ward-Prowse, Long score for Saints
  • Valery sent off in first half 
  • Southampton out of relegation zone
  • 3 defeats in last 4 for Leicester

10-man Southampton beat Leicester City 2-1 at the King Power Stadium on Saturday, as Ralph Hasenhuttl‘s men dragged themselves out of the relegation zone with a wonderful defensive display.

James Ward-Prowse and Shane Long put Saints 2-0 up in the first half but they also had teenage right back Yan Valery sent off for two yellow cards. With a host of injuries, suspensions and players away on international duty, Saints dug deep with eight academy graduates in their matchday squad.

In the second half Leicester pulled one back as Wilfred Ndidi made it 2-1, but despite having all of the possession and efforts they couldn’t break down a stubborn Southampton side.

With the win Saints move up to 16th place on 19 points, while Leicester slip to eight on 31 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ] 

Southampton took the lead early on thanks to a moment of madness by Nampalys Mendy. The Leicester midfielder caught Shane Long in the box and gave away a blatant penalty kick.

Ward-Prowse stepped up to score the penalty as Kasper Schmeichel got close to it but couldn’t keep it out.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

An unmarked Jack Stephens then forced Schmeichel into a stop as he powered in a header from a corner which the Leicester goalkeeper pushed away. Harry Maguire nodded wide from Ben Chilwell‘s cross as Leicester battled their way back into the game before half time.

After a flashpoint between Jan Valery and Chilwell saw them both booked, Jan Bednarek somehow cleared Wes Morgan‘s effort off the line as Saints held firm. At the other end Valery should have finished off Matt Targett‘s cross at the back post under pressure and moments later he was the villain.

Valery brought down Marc Albrighton and was given a second yellow card as Saints were reduced to 10 men right on half time, but then they went 2-0 up. Long beat Mendy to a long ball and his shot had too much out on it Schmeichel to keep out.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ] 

At half time Leicester brought on Demarai Gray and Harvey Barnes to try and get back into the game, as Leicester had plenty of the ball but Saints were a threat on the break with the pace of Nathan Redmond and Long.

The Foxes pumped long balls into the box and soon pulled a goal back as Ndidi bundled the ball home from Ricardo Pereira‘s cross. Game on.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Jamie Vardy and Barnes went down in the box without any contact to leave Southampton’s defenders furious, while Vardy headed off target when under pressure.

Late on Leicester threw everything at Southampton as Maddison curled a long-range effort just wide, but Saints held on for a huge victory after a valiant defensive effort.

Newport County shocks Leicester City as five PL clubs exit

Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images
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A late Padraig Armond penalty helped Newport County to a surprising 2-1 win over Premier League mainstay Leicester City in FA Cup action on Sunday at Rodney Parade.

Jamille Matt also scored for the Exiles, who became the second League Two side to knock off a top-flight team on the day after Fulham was upended by Oldham Athletic.

It was one of several big upsets on Sunday, though we’ll get to those a bit further down the page.

Rachid Ghezzal scored for Leicester, who left Jamie Vardy, Harry Maguire, Wilfred Ndidi, and Kasper Schmeichel out of the 18, and only found their equalizer once Demarai Gray and James Maddison subbed into the game.

Matt scored in the 10th minute.

Leicester needed 72 minutes of play to level the score through Ghezzal, their first success in a match which held 70 percent for the Foxes and a 24-9 edge in shot attempts.

But the stalemate was only three minutes long, as Marc Albrighton handled a ball in the box, and up stepped Armond. Scenes, as they say.

More upsets

League One side Gillingham used home field to beat Cardiff City 1-0 on Saturday.

Huddersfield Town lost 1-0 at Championship side Bristol City.

Bullets dodged 

Newcastle United got a late penalty from Matt Ritchie to dodge Blackburn Rovers upset bid at St. James’ Park, and will face a replay at Ewood Park.

Jordan Ayew‘s late goal helped Crystal Palace avoid a stunning home loss to Grimsby Town.

Burnley got a lone goal in holding off Barnsley.

Southampton tossed away a 2-0 lead at Derby County but will still get the chance to advance through a replay.

A pair of early goals had Everton ticketed for an easy ride past Lincoln City, but the Imps had other ideas and were unlucky not to level the score late in a 2-1 Saturday loss.

Big boys have little problem

Romelu Lukaku and Juan Mata scored as Manchester United beat Reading 2-0 while handing Tahith Chong a debut at Old Trafford.

Manchester City hung seven goals on Rotherham United on Sunday, with Ilkay Gundogan starring with four assists.

Spurs absolutely worked over Tranmere Rovers, scoring seven goals of their own in a Friday clean sheet.

Blackpool was pesky enough in front of a half-empty stadium, but Arsenal mostly cruised in a 3-0 win highlighted by a pair of Joe Willock goals.

Chelsea got a brace from Alvaro Morata in knocking off Nottingham Forest.

Liverpool plays Monday at Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Other Premier League teams

Watford dodged a solid challenge from non-league Woking and its assistant coach, long time Premier League broadcaster Martin Tyler.

West Ham United scored in the second minute through Marko Arnautovic and added an Andy Carroll goal in stoppage time to hold off Birmingham City.

Brighton and Hove Albion beat Bournemouth 3-1 at the Vitality Stadium.

Etheridge, Camarasa spring Cardiff City past Leicester

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  • Etheridge saves third penalty of season
  • Camarasa scores in stoppage
  • Leicester has 62 percent possession

Victor Camarasa’s sensational stoppage time winner gave Cardiff City its first away win of the season, a 1-0 defeat of Leicester City at the King Power Stadium on Saturday.

The 24-year-old third goal of the season has Cardiff 16th, with 18 points, while Leicester is seventh with 29.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Leicester was nearly ahead in the 5th minute, when Wilfred Ndidi’s pass was flicked just wide of an own goal by goalkeeper Neil Etheridge.

James Maddison hit a low bouncing ball through traffic in the 16th minute, and Etheridge conceded a corner on a shot headed just wide.

A Demarai Gray cross from the left was nearly turned into an own goal by Sean Morrison‘s blocking attempt.

Leicester was sloppy, and Cardiff loves a counter attack. That led to a few decent chances, particularly for Josh Murphy.

Morrison gave away a penalty to Maddison in the 74th minute, but Etheridge denied the young Englishman’s effort before Sol Bamba slid to clear the rebound from Maddison’s plate.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Crystal Palace edge past Leicester

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  • Luka Milivojevic scores only goal of the game
  • Palace hadn’t won any of their last 14 PL games without Zaha
  • Leicester with just one win in six

Crystal Palace battled to a 1-0 win against Leicester City at a soggy Selhurst Park on Saturday, as Roy Hodgson‘s side did the business without their star man Wilfried Zaha.

Luka Milivojevic’s fine strike in the first half was enough to grab all three points for Palace, but Jamie Vardy hit the post in the second half as Leicester battered the Eagles but somehow they couldn’t find an equalizer.

With the win Palace move up to 15th place on 15 points for the season, while Leicester have 22 points and sit in 11th.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Crystal Palace started the game well with Jordan Ayew causing problems but the final pass or shot was just off.

Leicester then had the ball in the net as Vardy put goalkeeper Vicente Guaita, starting his first Premier League game, under pressure. Although a foul was given for a shoulder barge by Vardy, it seemed like Palace’s goalkeeper had got away with one.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Vardy headed a Christian Fuchs cross at goal but Guaita saved easily before the break as Leicester grew into the game in south London.

But it was Palace who took the lead as Milivojevic picked the ball up 25 yards out and fired a beautiful shot into the far corner past Kasper Schmeichel. 1-0 to the Eagles.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ] 

Leicester played with more urgency in the second half as Demarai Gray tried his luck after a rapid counter but rushed his final shot.

At the other end Ayew was played in but Harry Maguire blocked, as the Foxes battled to stay in the game. Gray then found Rachid Ghezzal in the box but the Algerian winger sent his effort just wide as Leicester pushed hard for an equalizer.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

Vardy was then played in and his poked effort was pushed onto the post by Guaita, as Palace were hanging on for dear life.

Despite late Leicester pressure the Eagles secured a second-straight home win to drag themselves further away from the relegation zone.