Tuesday 31 December 2013
Arsenal won three of their four Barclays Premier League fixtures in November to stretch their lead at the top of the table to seven points during a stuttering month for Chelsea. Elsewhere, Tony Pulis returned to top-flight management with Crystal Palace while four English teams qualified from the group stages in Europe.
Arsenal began the month two points clear of Chelsea and Liverpool but managed to increase that lead on the opening weekend when they beat the Reds 2-0 in North London, while Jose Mourniho’s side fell to defeat at Newcastle United. However there were other headlines to be made as Manchester City thrashed Norwich City 7-0 at the Etihad Stadium and Asmir Begovic became only the fifth goalkeeper to score in the league's history when he accidentally found the net 13 seconds into Stoke City's 1-1 draw with Southampton.
After defeat at St James’s Park, Mourinho’s unbeaten home record with Chelsea was cast under serious doubt when West Bromwich Albion took a 2-1 lead at Stamford Bridge, before Eden Hazard scored a 96th-minute penalty to rescue a draw for the Blues.
Sunderland secured only their second win of the season when they beat Manchester City 1-0, making it four consecutive defeats at the Stadium of Light for City. Manuel Pellegrini’s side bounced back in style and continued their rich goalscoring home form with a 6-0 defeat of Tottenham Hotspur, who ended the month in ninth despite making their best ever start to a Barclays Premier League season after eight games.
Arsenal’s only defeat of November was inflicted at Old Trafford as Robin van Persie haunted his former club, scoring the only goal in a 1-0 win for Manchester United to reassert the champions’ credentials as title contenders. But while United could only draw at Cardiff City later in the month, Arsenal triumphed where their rivals were unable to do so. Aaron Ramsey was on the scoresheet twice against his former club to move Arsenal seven points clear at the top of the table.
Everton were denied their first Merseyside derby win since 2010 in a thrilling 3-3 draw at Goodison Park, as Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge scored a late equaliser for the visitors. The two teams ended the month level on points after Everton beat Stoke 4-0 to move into the top four, with the Reds ahead on goal difference.
Newcastle won all four of their fixtures during November as the Magpies made a dramatic improvement from their early-season form, climbing up to fifth in the Barclays Premier League above Manchester City, Manchester United and Spurs. The run also lifted Newcastle above Southampton, who suffered a downturn in form and picked up four points from as many fixtures.
Crystal Palace began to show signs of life at the bottom of the table. Palace picked up a point against Everton before winning away at Hull City and followed up the impressive results by appointing Pulis as first-team manager, a month after Ian Holloway walked away from the managerial position. However the former Stoke tactician was unable to get off to a winning start with his new club as they fell to a 1-0 loss at rivals Norwich.
Fulham, who appointed former Manchester United coach Rene Meulensteen as head coach at Craven Cottage in November, dropped into the relegation zone under his predecessor Martin Jol after a 3-0 defeat at West Ham United rounded off their worst ever start to a Barclays Premier League season.
In Europe, three of the four Barclays Premier League teams competing in the UEFA Champions League secured early qualification for the knock-out phase of the competition. Manchester City were first to book their place when they beat CSKA Moscow 5-2, reaching the last 16 of the competition for the first time in the club's history. Manchester United advanced with a 5-0 victory at Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen while Chelsea progressed from Group E despite being beaten 1-0 by Basel in Switzerland.
In the UEFA Europa League, Spurs reached the knock-out phase as Andre Villas-Boas's side beat FC Sheriff 2-1, a match which saw Jermain Defoe score his 23rd European goal for the club to break Martin Chivers' record.
At international level, England suffered back-to-back friendly defeats at Wembley after a 2-0 defeat to Chile before Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker scored a winning header during a 1-0 loss against Germany.
Manager of the Month: Alan Pardew
Player of the Month: Tim Krul
"To get in the Premier League after only a few years is remarkable. So it's an opportunity and a chance to try and achieve something that Palace haven't achieved yet and that is to get promoted into the Premier League and then stay there. I'm still very, very ambitious. I like climbing hills and this is going to be a tough job, but one that I'll relish." - Tony Pulis after being appointed Crystal Palace manager
"It was obviously nice, I have never scored a goal before, so I will take it. It was bizarre, and it was just one of those things that happen in football. Fortunately for us it earned us the point that I think we deserved. It was a freak goal, though, there is no denying that, and obviously I do feel for the other 'keeper because it mustn't be nice." - Stoke City goalkeeper Asmir Begovic after scoring against Southampton
"Let's go a few more games. It's still a bit early for me but what is good for us is that we can show consistency and that's always a very good sign for a team. Every win makes you a bit stronger. If we can take care of the concentration level and the desire to improve then we will have a good chance." - Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger on the title race after going seven points clear at the top of the table
Barclays Premier League table on 1 December 2013.