Thursday, December 31, 2020

Match Week 16: Devils Remain Hot; Liverpool Struggles; Stand Off at The Bridge; Gunners Strike Again; More COVID Cancellations

Top of the Table

Liverpool - Liverpool dropped points in a second consecutive match, drawing 0-0 at Newcastle. Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah seem to have temporarily geared down, making the absence of Diogo Jota all that much more striking. Liverpool has won just two of eight away matches.

Manchester United -Manchester United defeated Wolves 1-0 on a late Marcus Rashford goal to continue the team’s developing title challenge.  The Red Devils are now just three points behind Liverpool with a match in hand.  United is unbeaten in nine matches, winning seven while moving from fifteenth in the table to just a hair’s breadth from the top.  Bruno Fernandes assisted on the Rashford goal and has now been involved in more goals than any other Premier League player since his February 2020 debut.

Leicester – Leicester needed an 83rd minute goal from Harvey Barnes to escape with a point in a 1-1 draw at Crystal Palace.  The Foxes were continually frustrated by Palace goalkeeper Vicente Guaita who saved a first half penalty kick attempt by Kelechi Iheanacho.  A second consecutive draw was another missed opportunity for Leicester to make up ground on Liverpool.

Everton – Everton’s Monday game with Manchester City was postponed due to COVID. The Toffees finish 2020 as a top four club as the Carlo Ancelotti project is delivering results.

Aston Villa – Aston Villa extended its unbeaten run to five matches in the 1-1 draw with Chelsea.  Anwar El Ghazi scored in a third consecutive league appearance.  With ten shots at Chelsea, the aggressive Villa side is the only Premier League club to have double digit shots in each of its games this season.  Fifth place Villa has lost only one of nine away matches to date.

Chelsea – Chelsea continued to pick up points at home with a 1-1 draw against Aston Villa.  The Blues have lost just once at Stamford Bridge this season.  Olivier Giroud scored for a third time in his last four league starts.  Despite the point, Chelsea failed to win for a fourth time in five matches.  Out of form attackers Timo Werner and Kai Havertz were spectators for Chelsea.   

Tottenham Hotspur – Spurs’ match versus Fulham was a COVID casualty.  A break could be beneficial for a Spurs club which is winless in four matches.  Two losses in their past three matches has seen Spurs fall from the top of the table all the way to seventh

Manchester City – Manchester City’s match with Everton was postponed due to COVID.  City remains unbeaten in six matches.  The Citizens now hold two games in hand while trailing league leader Liverpool by seven points.

Southampton – Southampton is the fifth of five clubs level on twenty-six points, seven behind first place Liverpool.  While Striker Danny Ings is back, Southampton continued to struggle in attack while drawing 0-0 with West Ham.  The Saints have failed to score in their last three matches and have fallen from third to ninth in the table entering the new year.

Mid Table

West Ham – West Ham’s 0-0 result with Southampton was a third draw in four matches for the Hammers.  The tenth place Hammers have so far nailed a top half position with a seven-point improvement over their sixteen-match performance in 2019/20. 

Leeds – Leeds destroyed a hapless West Brom side 5-0 for a third victory in their last five matches.  It was the second time in four weeks that Leeds scored as many as five times.  The volatile Whites also conceded six goals to Manchester United during that stretch.  The never boring Leeds squad has both scored and conceded thirty goals this season. The team is third in the league in goals scored while second in the league in goals conceded.

Wolves – Wolves’ deficiencies in attack were again highlighted as a strong defensive effort was wasted with the injury time concession of the winner in a 1-0 loss to Manchester United.  Wolves have lost four of six while failing to score in half of those six matches.

Arsenal – Alexandre Lacazette scored for a second consecutive game and Arsenal won back-to-back matches for the first time since the season’s opening two games.  Lacazette’s goal came just twenty-nine seconds after his second half substitution.  Thirteenth place Arsenal has moved nine points safe of relegation with its two victories.

Newcastle – Furious defending and strong play form goalkeeper Karl Darlow enabled Newcastle to frustrate Liverpool in a goalless draw at St. James Park.  A string of second half saves and a key goal line clearance from defender Fabian Schar preserved the point for the Magpies.  

Crystal Palace – A Wilfried Zaha goal, his eighth of the season, enabled Crystal Palace to salvage a point in a 1-1 draw with Leicester.  A late Leicester goal deprived the Eagles of their first clean sheet since the opening weekend.  Crystal Palace benefited from a first half penalty save by goalkeeper Vicente Guaita who has played well in backstopping a suspect defense this year.


Bottom of the Table

Burnley – Burnley put further distance between itself and the relegation places with a 1-0 victory over Sheffield United.  The improving Clarets lost five of their six opening matches this season but have lost just once in their past six, winning three times in that run.

Brighton & Hove Albion – Brighton’s 1-0 loss to Arsenal extended the winless streak for the Seagulls to seven matches as they now reside only two points from the relegation zone with 18th place Fulham also having a game in hand.  Brighton has won just once in its past fourteen league matches.  The Seagulls were scoreless for a third time in five matches.

Fulham – Fulham’s match with Everton was a COVID postponement.  The Cottagers enter 2021 two points from safety with a game in hand.

West Bromwich Albion – Any positive thoughts from a 1-1 draw with Liverpool were eradicated in a 5-0 loss to Leeds.  The Baggies gifted an opening own goal to their opponent leading to four first half goals conceded in the rout.  Manager Sam Allardyce lost a second consecutive home match by more than three goals.  The own goal was West Brom’s seventh of the season, a measure of ineptitude matched by only one other side in all tiers of English football this season.  

Sheffield United – The Blades 1-0 loss to Burnley marked sixteen matches without a win to start the season, matching a Premier League record.  Ten of the Blades’ fourteen losses this season have been by a single goal.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Please leave a comment: