Hat-tricks, landmarks and last-minute winners made for an eventful weekend in the top flight
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Top, middle and bottom. As the festive fixture pile-up fast approaches, the Premier League is shaping up rather nicely.
This weekend’s results have cast an unlucky seven adrift at the bottom of the table, while Chelsea’s win over Manchester City suggests the title race may not solely consist of two horses after all.
1. Result of the weekend
Chelsea 2-0 Manchester City
For 44 minutes at Stamford Bridge, Pep Guardiola’s City slickers were at their unflinching best. Then, with Chelsea’s first attempt (the longest they’ve had to wait for a shot in a home league game since 2006-07) N’Golo Kanté broke a deadlock to send shockwaves through the Premier League. David Luiz completed an opening defeat of the campaign for City, who relinquished their ten-week stay at the top of the table and, more importantly, proved they are beatable.
2. Goal of the weekend
Javier Hernández (West Ham) v Crystal Palace
His seemingly straightforward goal may have been sandwiched between top efforts from Robert Snodgrass (his first for the club) and Felipe Anderson (his fifth in six) but Chicharito’s six-yard strike was more than a tap in. As Hammers captain Mark Noble stated after the game: “It’s come to him quick, it’s spinning and he’s got to go over the goalie. It’s probably the hardest finish of the day. People won’t appreciate that.” We do, Mark. In fact, we’ll add in the little nugget of it being his 49th Premier League goal – all of which have come from inside the box.
3. Performance of the weekend
Mo Salah (Liverpool) v Bournemouth
“Is he… is he… is he… is he… Yes, he is!” Sky Sports’ man-on-the-mic Martin Tyler need not have asked the question four times – the “Egyptian king” was always going to complete his hat-trick in style at the Vitality Stadium. Salah is back where he belongs at the Premier League top-scorer summit following a well-taken treble in the most comprehensive victory you’re ever likely to see. It would appear both he and Liverpool are clicking into third gear – and that’s before they’ve even lost a game. Take note, Mr Guardiola.
4. Manager of the weekend
Nuno Espirito Santo (Wolverhampton Wanderers) v Newcastle
Despite a refreshingly honest claim that “a draw was clearly the right result”, the bearded Wolves boss will be sitting a lot prettier this week. Beating Chelsea in midweek halted a winless seven-game run and Matt Doherty’s last-gasp header at St James’ Park made it back-to-back triumphs for the first time since early October. DeAndre Yedlin’s dismissal changed the game, but so did Wolves’ ability to capitalise on it – no team has had more 90th-minute winners this season.
5. Landmark 50 of the weekend
In what was a carbon copy of his first goal for the club (also at the King Power, also at the same end and also against Kasper Schmeichel), Dele Alli, still just 22, bagged his 50th in all competitions for Spurs. On the same day, Juan Mata registered his 50th Premier League goal and assist, while José Mourinho recorded his 50th Premier League win as Manchester United manager. For achieving the feat in just three-and-a-half seasons since stepping up from League One however, the England man gets the nod here. Well done Dele.
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