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Around the Premier League: The top four open up a small gap

Matchday 13 ends; next up, December!

The final Premier League fixtures for the normally scary but this year not scary at all month of November took place this past weekend. All clubs are now on thirteen games played — one third of the way through the season — but while there were wins all round in the top four, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United of ‘the big six’ did drop points. Chelsea are now 11 points ahead of former manager Jose Mourinho’s Red Devils, who are winless in four straight at home

Manchester City vs. Chelsea with Saturday’s early kick-off will headline next weekend, but City also had an early start this weekend.

Moving from the entertainment and bright lights of the Champions League, they had a slightly less attractive, but equally important, fixture against twelfth-placed Burnley. Burnley tried their best and even took the lead as an unexpected thumping volley from outside the box flew past Claudio Bravo. City suddenly realised they had work to do and upped the tempo before eventually being gifted a winning goal by some disastrous defending from the visitors. Having rested Silva and De Bruyne, and still successfully collected full points, City will be more than ready for next weekend.

Liverpool hosted Sunderland later on Saturday, a game that was only ever going to have one possible outcome. But as the teams came out and lethargically carried along in the cold weather, it became clear it was not going to be simple for Jurgen Klopp and his charges. One of the linesmen pulling a hamstring was comically symbolic of the sluggish start to the game, although talisman Coutinho’s foot injury was rather more worrying. Patience paid off for Liverpool when a curling Divock Origi strike gave them the lead and then James Milner sealed the points with a penalty won by a sprinting Sadio Mane.

Fourth-place Arsenal received an early Christmas present from the Bournemouth defence. Gift-wrapped with a ribbon on top, Alexis Sanchez found his name on a weak back-pass, which he easily slid into the back of the net for Arsenal’s opener. The early goal and nervous defending could’ve easily signaled the start of a fun demolition for Arsenal fans at the Emirates, but surprisingly, Bournemouth upped their tempo and matched Arsenal blow for blow in an exciting first half. The referee was kept busy in the middle of all the action and returned the favour of a gift to Bournemouth, awarding a questionable penalty for a shoulder-check in the box. After wasting three further clear-cut opportunities, Bournemouth were made to pay — when the second half arrived, Walcott celebrated the birth of his baby and Sanchez ran riot as Arsenal clinched the 3-1 win to remain fourth.

At the other end of the table, two under pressure teams, with two under pressure managers met on the Welsh seaside to decide which one of them was less worse. This apparently was quite hard to figure out, with Bob Bradley’s Swansea City finally grabbing their first win while still letting in four goals. Both defenses were terrible; both teams remain terrible, but this was a fun game to watch.

So, as we reach third of the way through the season, the top four remain unchanged but do pull two further points away from both 6th and 7th. Next month, December will bring along the hectic festive fixture list, even more hectic transfer speculation, and hopefully a fair few post-match celebratory beers as well.

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