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City rise from the dead to prevent Pep's career-worst winless run, Ange's Spurs nullify Newcastle to snap streak

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10th December, 2023
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Without the injured Erling Haaland and trailing 1-0 to Luton at halftime, Manchester City had looked in danger of plunging into a full-blown crisis approaching the halfway point of their Premier League title defence.

But the defending champions managed to turn it round on Sunday (Monday AEDT) as goals by Bernardo Silva and Jack Grealish in a three-minute span earned a 2-1 victory that ended their four-match winless run and trimmed the gap to leaders Liverpool to four points.

If it wasn’t for the recovery in the second half, City manager Pep Guardiola would have stumbled into the worst streak of results in his coaching career, having never gone five matches without a win.

That was the bleak scenario facing Guardiola and City after striker Elijah Adebayo headed in Andros Townsend’s cross at the back post in the second minute of first-half stoppage time to give Luton the lead at Kenilworth Road.

Haaland had been sidelined with a foot injury so City were without the league’s top scorer but Rodri was back from suspension and when the Spain midfielder’s surge into the area was stopped by a timely challenge, Silva was there to pounce on the loose ball and curl a finish into the bottom corner in the 62nd.

Grealish then converted a cross by Julian Alvarez in the 65th to keep City in fourth, with Guardiola saying Haaland will be assessed ahead of the home game against Crystal Palace on Saturday.

Meanwhile, the injuries are piling up for Saudi-owned Newcastle – and so are the losses as Ange Postecoglou’s Tottenham crushed them 4-1.

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It means Newcastle have now lost more games in the Premier League — six — than in the whole of the 2022-23 campaign, with three coming in the last five games.

Destiny Udogie scored for the first time in the Premier League, Richarlison added goals either side of the break and Son Heung-min converted a late penalty for Spurs, who hadn’t won since October 27 when they were still unbeaten and top of the standings.

After five games without a victory, Ange Postecoglou was delighted to see his Tottenham side return to winning ways in the Premier League. 

Spurs have been battered by injuries and suspensions since getting the better of Crystal Palace on October 27, when Postecoglou’s side were unbeaten and sitting top of the table. 

Four defeats – including a 4-1 home loss to bitter rivals Chelsea – and a draw followed that success at Palace, but Tottenham bounced back on Sunday with a 4-1 hammering of Newcastle to lift their manager’s spirits.  

“We’re trying to build something here and part of that is through the tough periods to not allow the lads too much latitude in terms of excuses,” Postecoglou said. “But the reality is, and I have probably been too hard on them in retrospect, we got decimated (by player unavailability) after the Chelsea game. 

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“And it is no coincidence that now we are getting some players back we are starting to look a lot stronger. In this league if you have one or two key players out, you’re going to struggle. I just felt we had more energy and legs and we needed it today.” 

Postecoglou paid particular tribute to forward Richarlison after the Brazilian’s two goals helped down Newcastle.

Richarlison’s double came after Destiny Udogie broke the deadlock in the 26th minute. Son Heung-min, who was shifted back to left wing, grabbed the fourth after claiming two assists. 

But the night belonged to the fit-again Richarlison, who has struggled since his $115 million move from Everton last year and recently had groin surgery to correct a long-standing issue. His absence helped tip Tottenham’s list of absentees into double figures.

“Richy was great, really important,” Postecoglou said. “Him and Pape (Sarr) coming in gave us some real energy. We were going to need it today with the midweek fixture (a 2-1 loss to West Ham) and they did that. 

“For Richy, getting a couple of goals as a striker that was positive for him. (He) was important to us at the start of the year too, but he wasn’t fully fit. You could tell he was kind of restricted with his movements. 

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“At times we had to play him out wide just to get him through games. Since he’s come back, it’s fair to say he feels a lot better physically and that’s helped him mentally as well. 

“Great for him to get two goals today, but it wasn’t just his goals, it was his general work-rate, energy and physicality.” 

Everton are surging clear of the relegation zone, less than a month after plunging into the bottom three after being deducted 10 points for financial mismanagement.

A 2-0 win over Chelsea secured their third straight win. Abdoulaye Doucoure scored for the third time in five games, while Lewis Dobbin added a second in the second minute of stoppage time.

After spending around $US1 billion ($A1.5 billion) on players in the last three transfer windows, Chelsea still aren’t in the top half after losing three of their last four games.

The visitors also lost right back Reece James to another injury after he was forced off in the 27th minute with a suspected hamstring problem.

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Raul Jimenez is enjoying a new lease of life at Fulham.

The Mexico international went through some lean times after sustaining a career-threatening head injury while playing for Wolves in November 2020. From being one of the most sought-after strikers in the Premier League, he appeared to lose all of his confidence and was sold to Fulham in July.

But with his 22nd-minute strike in Fulham’s 5-0 win over West Ham, Jimenez has four goals in his last five games and is leading a mid-season resurgence from the London club.

Willian and Tosin Adarabioyo added first-half goals while Harry Wilson and Carlos Vinicius added more after the break as Fulham scored at least three goals for the fourth straight game, after doing so against Wolves, Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.

© AAP

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