Chelsea might finally be finding its stride under Graham Potter while Liverpool’s up-and-down season took another nosedive in the English Premier League on Saturday.
Chelsea made it three straight wins in all competitions for the first time since October by beating Leicester 3-1 away, another sign that the expensively assembled team is starting to gel under Potter.
Liverpool, though, followed its record 7-0 win over archrival Manchester United by losing 1-0 at relegation-threatened Bournemouth – a team it beat 9-0 at home in August.
Manchester City again looked far from its best but still kept the pressure on leader Arsenal by beating Crystal Palace 1-0 away thanks to a second-half penalty by Erling Haaland. That cut Arsenal’s lead to two points ahead of its visit to Fulham on Sunday.
Liverpool’s surprising loss threw away much of the momentum it had generated recently after a woeful first half of the season, and Jurgen Klopp’s team is six points behind fourth-placed Tottenham in the fight for the final Champions League place, albeit with a game in hand.
“This game was a massive knock,” Klopp said. “You know how it is with knocks, you have to take them and see how big the scars are and go from there.”
Tottenham beat Nottingham Forest 3-1 at home after Harry Kane scored twice in the first half.
Bournemouth began the day in last place but climbed up to 17th, with Everton also leaving the relegation zone after Dwight McNeil scored just 35 seconds into a 1-0 win over Brentford.
Leeds fell to 19th place despite rallying for a 2-2 home draw against Brighton.
The battle against the drop is exceedingly tight, though, with only four points separating Leeds from 12th-placed Crystal Palace.
Manchester City visited Palace in the late game trying to keep up the pressure on leader Arsenal, which plays at Fulham on Sunday.
Chelsea thriving, Liverpool stumbles
After knocking out Borussia Dortmund from the Champions League to reach the quarterfinals, Chelsea followed with a first away win in the league since Oct. 16.
“It’s been a really good week,” said Potter, whose job looks a lot more secure than it did last weekend.
Kai Havertz netted one of the best goals of the day to make it 2-1 just before halftime by volleying in a delicate lob over the goalkeeper after being teed up in the area by another lofted ball from record signing Enzo Fernandez.
Ben Chilwell put Chelsea ahead in the 11th minute after meeting a high cross into the area with a low first-time shot from a difficult angle. Patson Daka equalized in the 39th. Mateo Kovacic added the third for Chelsea in the 78th.
Chelsea remained in 10th place but just five points behind fifth-placed Liverpool after Klopp’s side showed their inconsistency once again.
Philip Billing scored the only goal in the 28th minute after being teed up in the box by Dango Ouattara and Bournemouth managed to contain a Liverpool attack that was rampant against United last weekend.
Mohamed Salah summed up a frustrating afternoon for the Reds when he missed a penalty in the 70th by sending his effort wide, the first time he has missed the target from the spot in the Premier League.
Haaland scores again
For 77 minutes at Selhurst Park, it looked like Palace manager Patrick Vieira could have a big say in the title race between his two former clubs and tilt the balance further in Arsenal’s favour by taking points off City.
But after defending resolutely for so long, Palace came undone at a corner and gave away a cheap penalty when Michael Olise clumsily clattered into Ilkay Gundogan in the area.
Haaland made no mistake from the spot, sending the goalkeeper the wrong way for his 28th league goal to make up for having missed a stellar chance in the first half.
Palace’s lack of attacking threat at the other end was evident once again. Vieira’s team has not won a single game in 2023, and this was the third league match in a row when it didn’t manage a single shot on target.
Linker off air, in the stands
Taken off the air, Gary Lineker went into the stands.
Lineker attended the Leicester-Chelsea game amid a growing crisis at the BBC after the popular presenter of the highlights show “Match of the Day” was suspended by the broadcaster for comments criticizing the British government’s new asylum policy.
Lineker, the former England captain who began his professional playing career at Leicester, watched his former team in the stands and posed for photos with fans while the BBC scrambled to stem the fallout from the decision to take him off the air.
The broadcaster said it would air only “limited sport programming” over the weekend after hosts of many of its popular sports shows declined to appear, in solidarity with Lineker. The BBC’s Premier League coverage was especially affected as lunchtime TV program “Football Focus” and the early evening “Final Score” were both replaced with other programs, and Saturday’s edition of “Match of the Day” – the late-night soccer show that has been a British institution for 60 years – was set to be reduced to just a 20-minute compilation of match footage with no studio punditry and no player or manager interviews.