With the Premier League back following the international break, all eyes were set to be on the Emirates Stadium for a heavyweight clash between Arsenal and Liverpool.
Or, that’s what the nostalgia of the Premier League wanted us to expect – the reality was rather different, as Arsenal’s current status as Europa League-hopefuls at best was made brutally clear.
In fact, as it turned out, the day’s most-compelling viewing came from elsewhere in London, as Chelsea suffered an abysmal home defeat by West Brom.
In the East Midlands, Manchester City took their customary step closer to the title, while Leeds United came out on top in an all-Yorkshire affair.
We have taken a look at all the best Opta facts from the four games.
Chelsea 2-5 West Brom: Blues bruised by Big Sam’s Baggies in momentous defeat
It was a day to forget for Thomas Tuchel and Chelsea as their honeymoon period came to a bruising and humiliating end in a 5-2 home defeat by relegation-threated West Brom.
Chelsea did take the lead through Christian Pulisic, his first goal in 21 games across all competitions, but Thiago Silva’s red card for two bookings in the 29th minute offered encouragement to West Brom.
Matheus Pereira’s first-half stoppage-time brace – the goals separated by just two minutes and 46 seconds – put the Baggies in front, and Callum Robinson got a double of his own in the second period, becoming the first player in Premier League history to score at least twice home and away against Chelsea in a single campaign.
Mason Mount and Mbaye Diagne got the other goals, with Chelsea conceding five times in a home Premier League game for only the second time, the last being against Arsenal in October 2011.
Victory ensured Sam Allardyce became the first manager in Premier League history to win at Stamford Bridge with three clubs, while it was Tuchel’s first defeat since replacing Frank Lampard in January.
The hard work starts here.
Leeds United 2-1 Sheffield United: Blades approaching new low
Sheffield United have looked doomed virtually all season – no win over Leeds United at this stage of the season was going to change that.
But in losing at Elland Road, it took them to 24 defeats in the league this term from 30 games – only twice in their entire history have they suffered more losses in a single campaign, 26 in 1975-76 and 2010-11, though on both occasions were from many more matches (42 and 46, respectively).
For Leeds, however, the win saw them complete a league double over their Yorkshire rivals for the first time since 1991-92 when they actually won the top-flight title.
While no one is expecting them to go close to repeating that title feat anytime soon, Saturday’s visit of Blades did provide another reminder of the positivity Leeds have brought to the Premier League – it was the fifth time this term they have attempted at least 20 shots (23 this time) in a single game, with only Manchester City doing so more often (six).
Jack Harrison’s opener was one of them, with the winger netting his seventh goal of the season to make this his best ever campaign in English football, while Raphinha teed him up to move on to a Leeds-high six assists in the Premier League in 2020-21.
They needed a helping hand, though. The seventh own goal of Phil Jagielka’s career – only Richard Dunne (10) has more – proved decisive, making him the oldest outfield player (38 years, 229 days) to score in his own net in the top tier since Stuart Pearce in 2001 (38y, 252d).
Leicester City 0-2 Manchester City: Guardiola has the key to cleansheets
When you think about what Pep Guardiola the coach is associated with, ‘tiki-taka’, free-scoring teams and ball-playing centre-backs spring to mind immediately.
But now, perhaps we should add defensive solidity to that list?
Granted, Guardiola has coached great teams for the majority of his career, and they wouldn’t usually have poor defensive records, but his runaway City side seems arguably one of his shrewdest ever.
After Saturday’s 2-0 win at Leicester, who although third in the table were utterly subjugated, City have kept more clean sheets (28) and conceded fewer goals (26) in all competitions than any other side in Europe’s top five leagues.
They prevented Leicester from mustering a single first-half shot for the first time in the league since December 2019 (against Liverpool), and the Foxes suffered just their third defeat in their last 17 top-flight outings.
Among the scorers for City was Gabriel Jesus, who continued his remarkable unbeaten run in games he’s scored (41 – W39, D2), a record only James Milner (54) and Darius Vassell (46) can better.
It was the fifth league goal Jesus has managed against Leicester, making them his second-favourite opponent after Everton (seven goals against).
However, Sergio Aguero was unable to cross another stadium off his list. He’s played four times at the King Power Stadium without scoring – only two other grounds has he a worse goalless record (eight games at Anfield, six at Selhurst Park). Following the announcement of his end-of-season departure, it seems Leicester have largely avoided his wrath.
Arsenal 0-3 Liverpool: Arteta questions mount with his record not standing up to Emery’s
Mikel Arteta’s 50th Premier League match as Arsenal coach was one to forget – though it feels like we could say the same thing about rather a lot of his previous 49 games.
Brought in as Arsenal attempted a hard restart, ushering in a new ‘era’ with fresh ideas, Arteta it was hoped would turn the Gunners back into title challengers, but it seems as though they’re even further away from that than under much-maligned predecessor Unai Emery.
This was Arteta’s 17th Premier League defeat, four more than Emery suffered in his first 50 games, and the game itself suggested there remains a significant gulf between Arsenal and a Liverpool side that is nowhere near what it was last season.
Nevertheless, it is true that Liverpool’s issues have mostly been consigned to Anfield recently, with each of their last six league wins – including this one – coming away from home. This is only the second time they’ve ever achieved such a run, the first recording since 1955.
Perhaps results against Liverpool aren’t the best barometer to measure Arsenal against given they’ve beaten the Reds once in their past 12 Premier League meetings.
But Arsenal appear to be treading water under Arteta, with their points-per-game dropping to 1.3 from 1.7 in his second 25 league matches in charge.