The Saturday Night Takeaway: Liverpool win clouded by Coutinho worries
Alan Pardew's problems are growing at Crystal Palace and Chelsea show grit20:14 Saturday 26 November 2016, 20:14 26 Nov 2016
In the end, the very top of the Premier League table looks pretty similar to the start of the day as Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City all finished with wins.
But while relief might be a feeling that unites the trio, there will be different emotions all round.
And a certain Alan Pardew will be experiencing different types of emotions to those teams at the opposite end of the table.
Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool side is not reliant on one single individual with the team ethic being most important.
But there is no denying how important Philippe Coutinho is to the side.
Which is why Liverpool fans will be very concerned as they watched him being withdrawn from the Anfield pitch with a potential serious ankle or foot injury as they picked up a late 2-0 win over Sunderland.
As of yet there is no confirmation of the scale of the injury suffered by the Brazilian but he did leave the stadium on crutches.
Klopp's post-match comments reflect both concern and some positives: We will have to wait for a scan. What we know it is something with the ankle but that’s it. He was in pain but the pain got better."
However, if Coutinho is absent for any significant length of time, Liverpool are losing a player that not only has an excellent and fluid on-field relationship with Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane but has five goals, a joint-most 33 chances created and five assists in the league this season.
Daniel Sturridge or Divock Origi are the players who can step into the front three. The former is an exquisite finisher in front of goal and will prove useful during the season as the most natural goalscorer at the club, although his ability to do the defensive side of the forward task will now be tested.
The latter scored the key first goal against Sunderland to help the Reds to a 2-0 win.
So, it's not a crisis if Coutinho is out in the short-term but if an injury were to put him out for the busy Christmas period and beyond, then worries won't be unfounded given what he provides for the team.
Chelsea's Pedro, right, celebrates with teammate Diego Costa after their second goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur at Stamford Bridge stadium in London, Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016.(AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Arguably Chelsea's best win of their recent run
Chelsea and Tottenham was a meeting of the best defences in the Premier League prior to kick off and it took fantastic long-range goals from Christian Eriksen and Pedro to open the scoring for both sides.
And while Chelsea have finally conceded after six full games without leaking a single goal, the fact they came back from 1-0 down - albeit at home - against a tough side like Spurs is impressive.
Indeed, it's arguably Chelsea's best win in their seven-game run of victories since losing heavily at Arsenal, for the fact it came from behind but also because of the quality of opposition.
They caught Manchester United out cold very early in their 4-0 win and also earned deserved plaudits for a 5-0 thrashing of an Everton side that got it wrong tactically by trying to match the Blues formation-wise.
Granted Tottenham had been coming off the back of disheartening Champions League action which made Chelsea fresher but Antonio Conte's side still dug out a win against a side no-one else had beaten this season.
Next up...a mouthwatering clash against Pep Guardiola's Man City who are still grinding out wins thanks to individuals.
Last week, it was Yaya Toure who overcame Crystal Palace, this time it was a double from Sergio Aguero away to Burnley.
Pardew's Palace finds itself on shaky foundations
Football narratives can change in the blink of an eye.
As Alan Pardew prepared to take Crystal Palace to Swansea, a poor 2016 in the league, including a run of five-straight defeats leading into to the fixture in Wales meant there was even talk that the man who led the Eagles to last season's FA Cup final would be forcibly made to take flight from his perch.
And sack talk only grew louder as Palace found themselves 3-1 down. But in a topsy-turvy thriller, not only had Palace shown plenty of character but had sensationally gone 4-3 up late on.
The narrative was shifting in Pardew's direction as he looked close to getting a much-needed win.
But all changed as a Swansea side with its own problems fought back to win 5-4. A great game for the neutrals but obviously not for Pardew whose team are now on a six-game losing streak and are slipping closer to the relegation zone.
Premier League owners don't tend to have much patience and Pardew is currently testing that of the Crystal Palace hierarchy.
Given that he is not particularly popular in all corners in terms of his personality, there will be critics lining up to have a dig.
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