Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho was sent off for the second time in a month on Sunday as the controversial coach watched his side draw 1-1 at home to West Ham United and lose more ground in the Premier League title race.
On an afternoon when Arsenal moved within three points of top spot after Alexis Sanchez scored twice in a 3-1 home win over Bournemouth, Mourinho’s hopes of seeing United roar back into contention foundered amid more Old Trafford drama.
At the end of last month the Portuguese was dismissed for abusing referee Mark Clattenburg at halftime against Burnley.
This time Mourinho’s crime was simple petulance, booting a bottle down the touchline in the 27th minute after what he felt was an unjust booking for Paul Pogba.
Jon Moss, the referee, had history with Mourinho, having also sent him to the stands against West Ham for a halftime rant at the official when he was Chelsea boss last November.
The score was 1-1 on Sunday when Mourinho saw red, Zlatan Ibrahimovic having levelled after a sensational start in which Diafra Sakho headed West Ham in front after 90 seconds, the second-fastest goal United had conceded at home in the Premier League.
What will have concerned Mourinho more than his latest run-in with authority was more dropped points as United, thanks to a fourth straight home league draw, lie sixth on 20 points, eight behind fourth-placed Arsenal and 11 adrift of leaders Chelsea.
Mourinho’s assistant Rui Faria, who is getting used to doing the media duties after his boss’s misdemeanours, seemed to be following the Portuguese’s recent assertions about United’s misfortunes, saying: “We can say we are unlucky. We all believe the results will appear.”
Of Mourinho’s dismissal, Faria told the BBC: “The referee explained it to Jose and there is nothing more to say. I think there was frustration from Jose after the yellow card for Pogba.
“It should be a foul for us but the referee understood it in another way.”
The top four are separated by just three points, Arsenal’s win opening up a bit of daylight for the leading quartet over the rest of the league, with rivals Tottenham Hotspur now four points adrift in fifth after Saturday’s 2-1 loss at Chelsea.
Arsenal’s Sanchez scored after 12 minutes and in stoppage time to sink Bournemouth at the Emirates Stadium, helped by a goal for Theo Walcott who reckoned that, after the birth of his second child, it had been “the perfect weekend”.
After three successive draws, Arsenal needed a win against a Bournemouth side who equalised in the first half with a Callum Wilson penalty and generally proved stubborn opponents.
“Our players questioned themselves a little bit after a few draws but we have responded,” said Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger.
Southampton found a new hero in 19-year-old winger Josh Sims, whose assured debut included setting up Charlie Austin to head what proved to be the winner with only 43 seconds on the clock in a 1-0 victory over Everton.
Voted Man of the Match in the televised fixture, a thrilled Sims, a graduate of Southampton’s renowned academy system, told Sky Sports: “The whole thing was a great experience.
“It was a mixture of nerves and excitement before starting but it’s everything you wish for as a kid.”
The youngster’s impressive contribution helped his side to move into 10th place, two points behind Everton, whose coach Ronald Koeman was left bemoaning a miserable return to his old St Mary’s managerial stamping ground.
Stoke City took advantage of an unwitting own goal by Watford keeper Heurelho Gomes — Charlie Adam’s header bounced off a post, back on to the Brazilian and into the net — to earn a 1-0 win at Vicarage Road that moved them up to 11th place.