LONDON – Daniel Sturridge scored on his Liverpool return, Manchester United claimed revenge on Leicester and Chelsea and Manchester City played out a tense draw,
Most eyes on Saturday were on Stamford Bridge, where Manuel Pellegrini’s City tried to cut the deficit on Premier League leaders Chelsea, but they could only come away with a battling 1-1 draw to stay five points adrift.
Earlier, it had been left to Manchester United, Tottenham and Liverpool to keep breathing down their necks, with comfortable victories improving their hopes of Champions League football next season.
Louis van Gaal’s men secured a modicum of revenge for their loss at the King Power Stadium in September with a 3-1 win over strugglers Leicester City, but the big news was at Anfield where Sturridge delighted the Liverpool fans with a goal on his first appearance in five months in a 2-0 triumph over West Ham.
Spurs were in cruise-control at West Brom with a double from Kane helping them to a 3-0 victory, Everton achieved some rare joy with a 1-0 victory at Crystal Palace, while Jermain Defoe got his first goal for Sunderland to boost their survival hopes with a 2-0 victory over fellow-strugglers Burnley.
QPR’s worries at the foot of the table show no sign of changing as they lost 3-1 at Stoke with Jonathan Walters notching a hat-trick, while Newcastle grabbed three crucial points in a 3-0 win at struggling Hull City.
Chelsea could have gone a long way towards securing the title with victory over City at Stamford Bridge, but they were unable to hold on to their lead for more than a few minutes as most of the excitement came just before half-time.
Loic Remy put Jose Mourinho’s men in front on 41 minutes, tapping in at the end of a flowing move, but David Silva ensured Pellegrini’s men went in level at half-time with the equaliser seconds before the interval.
The second period proved to be very tense and lacking in chances and Frank Lampard’s introduction with less than 15 minutes to go proved to be the highlight – the Chelsea great was well received by fans but had little impact in the closing stage as the game petered out.
It was over five months since Sturridge last featured for Liverpool and he showed no rustiness from his thigh injury as he came off the bench to score against battling West Ham.
The England striker blasted in from Philippe Coutinho’s cute pass to double the lead after Raheem Sterling scored a cracking opener.
Stewart Downing and Andy Carroll had chances to hurt their former club, but as their team remained winless at Anfield for over 50 years, Brendan Rodgers’ men push for a top-four spot gathers pace.
Back in September, Van Gaal watched in horror as his side saw a 3-1 lead slip in an embarrassing 5-3 defeat at Leicester but there was an element of payback on Saturday with the Foxes brushed aside after a finishing masterclass by Manchester United’s strikeforce.
Nigel Pearson’s may be at the wrong end of the table but they arrived at Old Trafford after four wins in six in all competitions but after Robin van Persie scored a stunning half-volley, there was no looking back for the hosts despite a few late wobbles in the home defence.
Under-fire Radamel Falcao stabbed in a second after veteran keeper Mark Schwarzer could only parry Angel di Mariaâ€™s shot and Daley Blind, pulling all the strings in the middle, flicked on a corner to the luckless Wes Morgan who nodded into his own net.
Marcin Wasilewski gave the visitors some hope and David de Gea made a couple of strong saves but United tip-toed over the finish line and jumped to third, with Southampton playing Swansea on Sunday.
West Brom had gone 260 minutes without conceding a league goal before welcoming Tottenham but there is no stopping Christian Eriksen these days, and his opener on six minutes put Spurs in the driving seat.
Mauricio Pochettino’s team are also pushing for the Champions League and as they survived a Baggies fightback, Kane struck twice (his second a penalty) to ease home.
A bit of a six-pointer at the Stadium of Light and Sunderland didn’t disappoint the home fans to rise away from the relegation spots with a hard-fought victory over Burnley who continue to hover above the bottom three.
Gus Poyet’s men had lost their three previous Premier League matches but they could afford a more relaxed second half after an early strike from Connor Wickham, while Defoe, a recent acquisition from Toronto, poked in his first goal for his new employers.
QPR lost their 11th away game of the season and it doesn’t look good for Harry Redknapp’s team, although their second half efforts could not be faulted in defeat at Stoke.
Walters was the star of the show with three goals, but after Niko Kranjcar pulled one back to give the R’s some late hope, Stoke saw Joey Barton’s free-kick hit the woodwork and several missed chances for a last-gasp equaliser before Walters wrapped up the points.
Palace had won all four league and cup matches under new manager Alan Pardew but it was visiting boss Roberto Martinez who ended the day in buoyant mood after his Everton team edged a nervy win.
The Eagles had their chances, but Romelu Lukaku’s second-minute goal gave Everton their first victory in nine matches.
John Carver hasnâ€™t had a lot to smile about since replacing Pardew at Newcastle but despite a sluggish start his team finally turned on the style to demolish Hull City.
It was Carverâ€™s first game in charge since being confirmed as head coach and he piled more misery onto Steve Bruceâ€™s tame Tigers thanks to Remy Cabella’s 20-yard strike and goals from Sammy Ameobi and substitute Yoan Gouffran. – Sky Sports