Tottenham’s rotten run of form continued on Saturday with just a second point in three matches. But, all things considered, Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Watford was far from the worst-case scenario. It might have even been a positive result.
Spurs were down a goal in the first half. They were down a man in the second. But they performed admirably for 35 minutes with 10 men, and held on for a point. In the toughest fixture outside the Big Six, that’s far from the end of the world.
And they were somewhat fortunate, too. Watford players and fans were up in arms in the final minute of stoppage time when a Richarlison cross appeared to strike the hand of Eric Dier. Martin Atkinson swallowed his whistle. Watford couldn’t believe he did. The Hornets felt peeved. Tottenham, therefore, has to feel decent about the point.
Here’s a roundup of the early action on a busy Premier League Saturday:
Tottenham holds on for point at Watford
Spurs conceded an early goal for the third time in three games. Christian Kabasele rose above the Tottenham defense on a corner and found the far post with a gliding header:
It’s slightly odd to commend Spurs for battling against a lesser team, but an away match at Watford is no easy task. And battle is exactly what the visitors did.
In the 25th minute, while Watford rued the lack of a penalty call at one end, Spurs caught them out down the attacking right. Christian Eriksen provided Heung-Min Son with a tap-in to bring Tottenham level:
Sanchez was sent off seven minutes after halftime for an elbow that was in the “orange card” range. It was a bit reckless. But there was no intent to injure. It was more an arm bar that happened to be slightly too high than an elbow to the head:
Both teams had chances after Spurs went down to 10. Mauricio Pochettino moved his side into a 4-3-2 formation that coped well with the numerical disadvantage. Abdoulaye Doucoure struck the inside of Hugo Lloris’ left-hand post with a curling 25-yard shot, but Tottenham mostly contained Watford’s forwards, even when Marco Silva threw on a fourth with three minutes remaining.
The handball will be the talking point, though:
hardly conclusive from this angle but it definitely looks a handball from Dier. Watford will feel aggrieved. rightly so. pic.twitter.com/2iAPPuE4fq
— amadinho gaúcho (@amadoit__) December 2, 2017
That’s why Spurs were the happier of the two teams to hear the final whistle.
Klopp rotates again, Liverpool wins again
Liverpool, like others, has played three Premier League games in eight days. Jurgen Klopp, unlike others – namely Pochettino – has committed to rotating his starting lineups. Here are his front sixes from those three games:
Chelsea (H) — Jordan Henderson, James Milner, Philippe Coutinho; Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Mohamed Salah, Daniel Sturridge
Stoke (A) — Emre Can, Georginio Wijnaldum, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, Dominic Solanke
Brighton (A) — Henderson, Milner, Wijnaldum; Coutinho, Salah, Firmino
Liverpool took seven points from the three games, a great return. The latest win was 5-1 at Brighton. Can and Firmino scored in quick succession around the half-hour mark to give Liverpool a 2-0 lead out of nowhere:
In the second half, Brighton had a glorious chance to cut the lead in half. But Simon Mignolet came up with a fantastic save, and Liverpool raced down the pitch to make it three. Firmino finished off the wonderful counter.
Glenn Murray made it 3-1 from the penalty spot, but Coutinho then cheekily slipped a free kick under the Brighton wall for 4-1:
An own goal capped the rout. Klopp was able to pull Salah off with 10 minutes remaining. The German boss has the attacking depth to manage the busy holiday period, and so far, he’s doing so better than any of his counterparts.
With Joel Matip now injured, the back four is still a major concern. But don’t be surprised if Liverpool goes on an extended December run.
Chelsea takes care of Newcastle
A lunchtime kickoff at Stamford Bridge against struggling Newcastle got off to the sleepiest and sloppiest of starts for Chelsea. A pinball-esque sequence at the edge of the penalty area allowed Dwight Gayle to give the Magpies a surprise lead:
But Chelsea didn’t allow the match to reach a stage of any real worry. Eden Hazard equalized with a bounding volley less than 10 minutes later:
Victor Moses, back from injury, was a threat down the right. He set up Alvaro Morata for Chelsea’s second:
After the break, with Chelsea well on top, Moses charged into the box and won a penalty. Hazard converted from the spot – with a Panenka on Antonin Panenka’s birthday. Chelsea won 3-1.
West Brom 0-0 Crystal Palace
Everton 2-0 Huddersfield
Leicester 1-0 Burnley
Stoke 2-1 Swansea
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Henry Bushnell covers soccer – the U.S. national teams, the Premier League, and much, much more – for FC Yahoo and Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Question? Comment? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @HenryBushnell.