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EPL week 23 review: Arsenal and Man Utd close ground on Chelsea

TAGs: Arsenal Football Club, English Premier League, Manchester United

Week 23 of the English Premier League sees Arsenal and Manchester United close the gap to three points behind Chelsea as the race for Champions League qualification hots up. Liverpool remains in the hot seat after a thrilling 4-3 win over Crystal Palace.

Liverpool 4 v 3 Crystal Palace

EPL Wk 23 Review: Arsenal and Man Utd close ground on ChelseaOn the day that the late, great Bob Paisley would have celebrated his 100th birthday, Liverpool found their way out of a sticky marmalade of a jam to beat Crystal Palace in a seven-goal thriller in a sauna-like Anfield.

Before this game, Liverpool had only conceded three goals at home in the English Premier League (EPL) all season, and they doubled that tally against the side that produced the shock of the season so far when they beat Man City 3-2 at The Etihad at Christmas time.

A second shock seemed on the cards after Palace went into the half time break a goal to the good. James Milner was playing as an emergency right back, and Wilfried Zaha made him look like one of those old men who sit at bus stops with canes for company as he trotted past him, before passing to Andros Townsend to score the opener.

Liverpool had not lost a game at Anfield in 32-matches, and they looked on course to make that 33, after taking the lead in eight barnstorming minutes after the half time break. First, Mohamed Salah finished from close range after a long-range Virgil van Dijk effort hit a Palace defender on the head, and then Roberto Firmino found space in a crowded penalty area to thread the ball home.

Palace then equalised on 65-minutes thanks to a thunderous James Tomkins header from the Palace corner, but Liverpool retook the lead ten minutes later after Salah finished on the goal line after Julian Speroni made a right royal mess of dealing with Milner’s cutback.

With a minute left on the clock, Liverpool fans began sweating after Milner received his marching orders for two separate wild hacks at Zaha, but a calm spread around the ground after Sadio Mané cut in from the left to score a lovely little goal, only for Palace to provide the jitters for a few minutes more when Max Meyer finished after a lovely layoff from Connor Wickham.

Liverpool remains four points clear of Man City after Pep Guardiola’s men beat managerless Huddersfield by 3-0 thanks to goals from Danilo, Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sané. It was the Terriers ninth defeat in their past ten EPL games, and they are ten points adrift of safety.

Champions League News: Arsenal and United Close The Gap on Chelsea

Arsenal opened the race for a Champions League berth wide open after a comprehensive victory over Chelsea at The Emirates. The Gunners played some scintillating football in a first 45-minutes that saw them lead by the two goals that would seal the win.

Unai Emery’s side twice came close to opening the lead early doors, the first chance falling to Pierre-Emerick Aubemyang who couldn’t connect from six-yards after a brilliant ball from Alexandre Lacazette, and then Laurent Koscielny saw his bullet header smash into the face of Kepa Arrizabalaga before flying over the bar.

When the first goal came, it was a cracker. With his back to goal, Lacazette picked up a weak cross from Hector Bellerin, turned, and two touches later the ball was in the roof of the net. Chelsea nearly equalised when Pedro beat the offside trap to get on the end of a long ball from David Luiz only to see his lob miss the mark, and then Arsenal had daylight.

Sokratis Papastathopouos poked the ball into the six-yard box from the left, and this time Koscielny managed to score albeit with the final touch coming off his shoulder. Chelsea was never at the races, but they did see a Marcos Alonso header strike the post in a rare chance for the blues.

The gap between the two sides is now a mere three points, as Liverpool, Man City and Spurs seem to have a lock on those first three Champions League positions. Spurs beat Fulham 2-1 thanks to an injury time winner from Harry Winks to keep Mauricio Pochettino’s side four points clear of Chelsea in third.

Man Utd joins Arsenal on 44-points after the Red Devils secured a sixth win in six games since caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solksjaer took charge. Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford were on the scoresheet once again. Pascal Groß scored for Brighton to make it an interesting final 20-minutes.

Here are the weekend’s results in full:

Results in Full

Wolves 4 v 3 Leicester
Liverpool 4 v 3 Crystal Palace
Watford 0 v 0 Burnley
Newcastle 3 v 0 Cardiff
Man Utd 2 v 1 Brighton
Bournemouth 2 v 0 West Ham
Southampton 2 v 1 Everton
Arsenal 2 v 0 Chelsea
Huddersfield 0 v 3 Man City
Fulham 1 v 2 Spurs

Premier League Table

1. Liverpool – 60 points
2. Man City – 56
3. Spurs – 51
4. Chelsea – 47
5. Arsenal – 44
6. Man Utd – 44
7. Watford – 33
8. Wolves – 32
9. Leicester – 31
10. West Ham – 31
11. Everton – 30
12. Bournemouth – 30
13. Brighton – 26
14. Crystal Palace – 22
15. Southampton – 22
16. Burnley – 22
17. Newcastle – 21
18. Cardiff – 19
19. Fulham – 14
20. Huddersfield – 11

Odds

To Win

Liverpool 2/3
Man City 11/10

Top 4 Finish

Spurs 2/7
Chelsea 2/5
Man Utd 6/4
Arsenal 10/3

Relegated

Huddersfield 1/20
Cardiff 4/9
Fulham 1/2
Burnley 6/4
Newcastle 7/2

Top Scorer

Mohamed Salah 8/11 (16 goals)
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – 13/5 (14 goals)
Harry Kane 9/1 (14 goals)
Sergio Aguero 9/1 (10 goals)

Next Manager to Leave

Claude Puel 4/7
David Wagner 3/1
Rafa Benitez 10/1
Marco Silva 14/1

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