Last gasp drama, dramatic comebacks and elite heavyweights sizing each other up in one of the biggest football matches there is; this weekend in the Premier League pretty much had it all.
Here is a look at five things we learned from the best of the action.
Raul Jimenez continues to lead Wolves charges to European football
Adama Traore deserves huge praise for helping Wolves turn things around at in-form Southampton on Saturday, however it was their prolific Mexican striker leading the line who continued to shine once again.
Raul Jimenez bagged two big goals at St Mary’s as his side fought back superbly from 2-0 down to claim all three points. The 28-year-old has now been involved in 27 goals in all competitions for Wolves this season, more than any other player in the league. His importance to this side was perfectly encapsulated by the match winning goal he struck in this highly entertaining clash.
The Mexico international picked up the ball with his back to goal on the halfway line and released Traore to bomb forward down the left. Jimenez darted, unmarked, towards the box and was at hand to tap home the winning goal from his teammate’s perfect cut back. It was a goal which summed up the fighting spirit in this Wolves team as their success story rolls on into 2020.
Steve Cook hands Bournemouth yet more relegation trouble as the Cherries miserable slump continues
Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth have been a breath of fresh air during their five year stint in the top flight. That stay looks increasingly perilous now though after a dismal 1-0 defeat to Norwich City during Saturday’s basement battle.
To make matters worse for the Cherries, it was one of their stalwarts who, quite literally handed them defeat at Carrow Road. Steve Cook’s bizarre acrobatic hand ball to deflect over Ondrej Duda’s goal-bound effort saw him receive the most clear cut red card that you’re likely to see and left the away side with a mountain to climb.
Eddie Howe is going to need his experienced men to help lead him out of this mire, so to see his captain dismissed so cheaply will be a very hard one to take indeed as Bournemouth look desperately up the table with 15 games to go.
Eddie Howe in the dressing room: Look lads. We’ve been on an abysmal run of form lately but I know if we keep our heads and not do anything silly, we’ll get through this
Club captain Steve Cook half an hour into the game: pic.twitter.com/nqFtVDDIYw
— FootballJOE (@FootballJOE) January 18, 2020
Sergio Aguero continues to fire despite Man City’s title defence taking another blow
For the sixth time in their last nine home matches in the Premier League, Manchester City found themselves a goal down and with real work to do to avoid defeat. Fortunately for them, their record breaking Argentine remains bang in form as he notched a timely brace which looked as though it had won the match for the defending champions.
Sergio Aguero has now scored over 250 goals for Man City as he continues to add extra pages to his legendary story at the club. His goals late on Saturday may not have been enough win the game against Crystal Palace with the Eagles snatching a draw at the death, but it shows once again that as long as the 31-year-old is on the pitch, Man City are never out of the game. Whether or not Aguero is papering over some growing cracks is another matter altogether for Pep Guardiola’s men though.
Sergio Aguero scored his 2⃣5⃣0⃣th goal for #MCFC today.
He is now the outright 4⃣th top scorer in Premier League history:
2⃣6⃣0⃣ Alan Shearer
2⃣0⃣8⃣ Wayne Rooney
1⃣8⃣7⃣ Andy Cole
1⃣7⃣8⃣ Sergio Aguero pic.twitter.com/S8RuuLH0iR
— ManCityzens (@ManCityzenscom) January 18, 2020
Arsenal’s forward line stutters with Aubameyang suspended
Mikel Arteta insisted his side’s performance against Sheffield United was worthy of all three points following a 1-1 draw with the Blades at The Emirates. The manager’s view will be unlikely to be taken up by most other observers though as his side lacked an attacking spark up front with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang suspended for Saturday’s match.
The Gabon international has scored a whopping 48% of Arsenal’s league goals this season, and without his talents to lead the line, the Gunners looked flat and lifeless in attack. This should be of some concern for Arteta. The Spaniard has every right to demand so much more from a forward line consisting of Mesut Ozil, Nicolas Pepe, and Alexandre Lacazette.
For such an expensively assembled group of players to muster just one shot on target at home during a dull second half showing is pretty poor and leaves Arsenal with just one win in five league games under the guidance of their new manager.
Virgil van Dijk masterclass inspires Liverpool to massive win over Manchester United
Liverpool have been shaky against Manchester United in recent years, winning just one of 11 league clashes with their fierce rivals coming into this weekend’s headline fixture. Both sides were guilty of missing big chances in a tense encounter at Anfield, but once again Jurgen Klopp will be indebted to his titan at the back Virgil van Dijk for another stellar display to help steer his side to three points.
Virgil van Dijk vs Man Utd
64 passes completed – most in game
3/4 aerial duels
A man mountain pic.twitter.com/rwriFI1eT0
— LFC Stats (@LFCData) January 19, 2020
The Dutchman rose to head home his side’s opener after 14 minutes and was imperious from them in on. His record of eight league goals since signing for Liverpool in 2018 makes him the top-flight’s highest scoring defender over that period and he continued to show what a critical influence he is in the big games during a near flawless 90 minutes on Sunday.
He made eight clearances and two interceptions as the Reds were made to do some defending against a spirited United, however, his pass success rate of 88% and only one aerial duel lost all night highlights an overall performance of top-class quality from a defender who is undoubtedly the very best in the world right now.