Leicester stretch unbeaten run, Pulis under pressure
Leicester City extended their unbeaten run on Saturday with a draw at Stoke while struggling West Brom’s winless run stretched to nine league matches against 10-man Huddersfield, cranking up the pressure on manager Tony Pulis.
With five of the top six sides not in action until Sunday, the focus was on the battle lower down the Premier League table before Liverpool were due to kick off in the late match against struggling West Ham.
In the early game, former England striker Peter Crouch came off the bench to rescue a point for Stoke City in a 2-2 draw, denying new Leicester manager Claude Puel another victory after he won his first match at the helm against Everton last week.
The 2015-16 Premier League champions are now unbeaten in six games in all competitions after early season struggles but will be disappointed they twice let their lead slip, and in the end were indebted to goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel, who made a fantastic flying stop in the dying seconds.
Leicester parted company with Craig Shakespeare last month after slipping into the relegation zone but have recovered strongly under caretaker boss Michael Appleton and ex-Southampton manager Puel.
“I am happy with the attitude of my players, it was a good game, good intensity and passion,” said Puel.
“We had a lot of chances today. It is difficult to accept one point but Kasper saved well at the end so then OK, we take a point. It is an encouraging game which is important for the future.”
Huddersfield’s Rajiv van La Parra broke the deadlock at home to West Brom, lighting up a match devoid of real quality with a stunning strike on the stroke of the interval that lifts them up to 10th.
West Brom, struggling for goals, have not won a Premier League match since mid-August and remain just two points clear of the relegation zone, with Pulis’s proud record of never being relegated under threat.
Huddersfield were forced to play for more than half an hour with 10 men after Christopher Schindler was shown a second yellow card, prompting three substitutions from Pulis but the visitors failed to force an equaliser.
“The fact they went down to 10 men should’ve meant the game swung in our favour but we couldn’t find the goal,” said West Brom defender Jonny Evans
“It’s been a while since our last win but we keep our heads up into the international break.”
Elsewhere, Sean Dyche’s Burnley extended their impressive unbeaten away record with a 1-0 win at Southampton courtesy of a late strike from substitute Sam Vokes to climb to sixth in the table.
With three wins and two draws, Burnley have already won more games and points on the road than they amassed in the whole of 2016-17, when they garnered just seven.
“Fantastic,” said Dyche, who has been linked with the vacant Everton job. “The two that came on up front were a credit to their professionalism. They came on and really affected the game today and Sam Vokes’s header was a fantastic finish. What a header.
“I am delighted to be where we are but there are a lot of challenges coming our way and the group know we will have to work hard for every point we get.”
Brighton earned three points at struggling Swansea with a first-half goal from Glenn Murray and a Steve Cook strike in added time gave Bournemouth a 1-0 win at Newcastle that lifted them out of the relegation zone.
West Ham host Liverpool in the late evening kick-off on Saturday. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was set to start for the first time in the league since his move from Arsenal while Sadio Mane makes his comeback from injury.
On Sunday, leaders Manchester City host Arsenal while second-placed Manchester United travel to Chelsea.
Tottenham, on a high after their historic 3-1 Champions League win against Real Madrid, host bottom-placed Crystal Palace.