Premier League hits and misses: Liverpool lucky to escape with draw and Arsenal hit a new low

Did Tottenham run out of steam at Crystal Palace? Is this the Ralph Hasenhuttl we had heard about? Plus: why Liverpool won't have it all their own way this season, and Arsenal hit a new low...

Are Arsenal in a relegation fight?

Granit Xhaka appears to grab Ashley Westwood by the throat before his sending off
Image: Granit Xhaka appears to grab Ashley Westwood by the throat before his sending off

How long ago August's FA Cup win already feels at the Emirates. Mikel Arteta's problems are mounting into a crisis and an existential threat both to his own job security and Arsenal's in the Premier League. Make no mistake, any side which is less than two wins above the drop zone in December is quite clearly in a relegation fight.

Sunday's defeat was harsh in some respects given Burnley, who had just 35% of possession and had their only shot on target saved, did so little to win it, but Arsenal's failings are becoming habitual. There was only two ways Arsenal could lose this game: indiscipline and profligacy. Just in time for Christmas, they gift-wrapped both.

Arteta, understandably, looked rather shell-shocked by it all. "We threw the game away. We had total control and should have won it already," he told Sky Sports. "We just gave the game to an opponent."

ARSENAL 0-1 BURNLEY 3:01
FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Burnley's win over Arsenal in the Premier League

If there is a criticism of the Arsenal boss, it is that he didn't make enough changes to his squad over the summer and too much deadwood remains at the club. In fairness, some of that accusation must be levelled at the club's hierarchy too.

But the club's hierarchy can hardly be blamed for Arteta picking Xhaka over Dani Ceballos this weekend to such disastrous effect. It is certainly a curiosity that whereas Arteta has been so severe with the likes of Mesut Ozil and Matteo Guendouzi, there appears to be no limit to his patience with the under-performances of Willian, Alex Lacazette and Xhaka. You could probably add David Luiz and Hector Bellerin to that list too.

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The problem at root remains that Arsenal simply don't have enough players of sufficient quality. "These players are not good enough to play for Arsenal," Graeme Souness starkly concluded. So what does Arteta do now? He will have to make at least two changes in midweek when they host Southampton with Bellerin and Xhaka suspended.

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But what will be fascinating to see is whether he makes changes based on form. He has been reluctant to do so to date, but it's high time Arteta wielded the axe to that lingering deadwood. Roy Keane warned a few months back that the Manchester United players will get Ole Gunnar Solskjaer the sack. Much the same could be said of Arsenal and their own player-turned-manager right now. It's them or him.
Pete Gill

Liverpool won't have it all their own way

FULHAM 1-1 LIVERPOOL 3:03
FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Fulham's draw against Liverpool

There's a reason Jurgen Klopp seemed satisfied with a point at Fulham on Super Sunday, after a first half so woeful his side could have easily been 3-0 down.

In his post-match interviews, we expected a repetition of his actions on the sidelines - from the bench, his roar and beat of the chest was loud enough to be heard 80 yards away in the press seating - but what came was acceptance, and even a smirk.

He was satisfied because Liverpool got away with one, so much so it was almost laughable.

It's going to be one of those seasons, a season where large chunks of dreadful performance go unexplained. Klopp barely attempted to look rationally at why a struggling Fulham had been able to cut his side open with an ease rarely seen before lockdown, but more apparent in the Premier League now.

Maybe it was the fact all Champions League sides struggled this weekend. Maybe it was a vocal Fulham crowd. Or maybe Liverpool just won't have it all their way this season, as they so often did last.

They only had themselves to blame on Sunday - they were second to every first, second and loose ball, their passing awry. Consistency in performance is a rare commodity this season, and Liverpool are just another side who can't buy it. But to avoid defeat in a game that should have been lost before half-time was reason enough for Klopp to be satisfied.
Gerard Brand

Did Tottenham run out of steam?

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Crystal Palace's draw with Tottenham

The smile remains on Jose Mourinho's face with his Tottenham side still top of the Premier League following Liverpool's surprise draw at Fulham.

What appeared to be two points dropped at 4.30pm turned into one gained two hours later during a lively day in the capital.

At Selhurst Park, Mourinho extended a proud record with Tottenham having now lost only one of the 21 Premier League games in which they have opened the scoring under the Portuguese.

Spurs' lead at the summit heading into Wednesday's trip to Anfield might have been more tangible than their superior goal difference, however.

Having edged in front through Harry Kane's fifth goal in seven away league matches against Palace, Mourinho's men were punished for inviting pressure onto Hugo Lloris' goal as Jeffrey Schlupp levelled.

With the top-of-the-table clash next on Merseyside, were Tottenham content in not trying to find an insurance goal with the game still in the balance?

Mourinho said: "My instructions didn't change from the preparation yesterday and at half-time. This is the kind of game where you need the ball and where you cannot accept a low block."

When asked if his players might have fought harder to put the contest beyond Palace, the Spurs boss added: "I want to admit that they couldn't. I want to admit that they didn't have that capacity. Some of my build-up players, they lost a lot of passes in the first phase of the build-up. In the second half, we were not very accurate so I want to admit that if we didn't, it's because we couldn't."

Palace broke down Spurs' defensive doggedness and another big effort will be required when Liverpool seek a response.
Ben Grounds

Leicester march on, but tougher tests to come

LEICESTER 3-0 BRIGHTON 2:58
FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Leicester's win over Brighton

The good times continue for Leicester.

After claiming top spot in their Europa League group last Thursday, they swept aside Brighton with the minimum of fuss to win their eighth Premier League game of the season - the most in the division.

It's their joint-highest tally of wins from the first 12 games of a top-flight season alongside 2019-20.

The win saw Brendan Rodgers' side moved up to third in the Premier League table, just a point behind both Tottenham and Liverpool, who face each other on Wednesday.

However, tougher tests are on the horizon for Leicester too with Everton at home, Tottenham away and Manchester United back at the King Power Stadium their next three games in the league.

For now, though, Leicester are right in the mix for the title and if they can continue to show the form they showed in the first 45 minutes with James Maddison pulling the strings and Jamie Vardy in the goals, the Foxes could be set for another special season.
Oliver Yew

Is this the Hasenhuttl we had heard about?

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Southampton's win over Sheffield Utd

Ralph Hasenhuttl said his Southampton side have undergone a "massive development" to reach the position they are in at the moment, having won seven of their 12 Premier League games this season and enjoying the kind of season that seemed a world away when they were getting hammered 9-0 at home by Leicester barely a year ago.

He's not wrong, is he? Southampton press from the front, defend with quality and can play through the lines. The likes of Theo Walcott, who looked lost at Everton last season, has added an extra dimension to midfield and James Ward-Prowse is in the form of his life. And that's before you even get to Danny Ings, whose goals weren't even needed to beat a poor Blades side.

"The performance, the attitude of the players, this is a team and a manager on the up. I love the way they play, full of energy, full of quality," said Jamie Redknapp after full-time. This is the sort of football we heard about when Hasenhuttl first arrived on these shores two years ago this month.

Southampton will end the weekend in the top four. No-one expects them to stay there until the end of the season. But when do we start asking the question? A team fighting as one for their manager, and led by a man as talented as Hasenhuttl, is a hard thing to stop. Stranger things have happened.
Ron Walker

Schlupp epitomises Palace perseverance

Roy Hodgson was delighted with the manner in which his side denied Tottenham a sixth win in seven Premier League games, which looked to have passed them by when Jeffrey Schlupp blazed over from close range midway through the second period.

The winger had been in the wars in the first half having received treatment following a robust challenge, but Schlupp dusted himself down and scored his first goal since the final day of last season, curiously in a 1-1 draw with Tottenham at Selhurst Park in which Harry Kane was also on a scoresheet.

For 81 minutes, this looked like being the type of dogged away performance that win titles, but Palace fed off the returning crowd of 2,000 supporters and Benteke continued his renaissance with a display typical of the Belgian's earlier years in the Premier League.

"The supporters were great," Hodgson said. " I told the players it's not what they can give us it's what we can give them and I thought we produced an excellent spectacle today. They got behind us and appreciated it and luckily we welcomed them back on a good day."

Hodgson will take plenty of satisfaction from knowing goals can come from several areas of the pitch - including stubborn Schlupp.

"He got a lot of chances today," the Palace boss added. "We didn't force as many saves as they did but I felt we had as many chances to score."
Ben Grounds

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