Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Match Week 17: Saints Be Praised; Devils Go Level; Spurs Bury Leeds; More Blues for Chelsea; Gunners Firing on All Cylinders

Top of the Table

Liverpool -Liverpool went scoreless for a second time in three matches, falling 1-0 to the Saints of Southampton.  The Reds have now dropped seven points in their last three matches, allowing Manchester United to come level on points with the Red Devils having a game in hand.  Liverpool failed to put a shot on target until the 75th minute in the loss, their latest in a league match in over five years.  Premier League goals leader Mohamed Salah had no shots on target.

Manchester United – A fifth successful penalty kick of the season by Bruno Fernandes secured a 2-1 win over Aston Villa for United’s eighth victory in a ten-match unbeaten stretch.  United’s successful run has drawn them level on points with suddenly vulnerable Liverpool.  Fernandes is third in the league for both goals and assists with eleven goals and seven assists, respectively.  Anthony Martial scored the opener in a third consecutive home win for the Red Devils. 

Leicester – Leicester won a fifth consecutive league match at St. James Park in defeating Newcastle 2-1.  Leicester’s seventh away win this season equals their prior season total.  Midfielders James Maddison and Youri Tielemans each scored their fourth league goal in the Foxes’ victory.  The win saw the Foxes maintain their hold on third in the table.

Tottenham Hotspur – Spurs registered their first win since early December in a 3-0 defeat of Leeds.  A goal by Son Heung-min was Son’s 100th goal in all competitions for the club.  The assist by Harry Kane on Son’s goal was his ninth this season to the Korean forward, tying a Premier League season record for assists to a single player.  Kane also scored to become the first player in Europe’s top five leagues to reach double digits in both goals and assists this season.

Manchester City – Manchester City won for a fifth time in a seven-match unbeaten run by decisively beating Chelsea at Stamford Bridge 3-1. Only Manchester United has captured more points during that stretch. Phil Foden and Kevin De Bruyne each had a goal and an assist in a dominant first half for City.  De Bruyne played in a "false nine" role to successfully bolster the City attack as the Belgian scored his fourth career goal against his former team.

Southampton – Southampton scored for a first time in four games and made it stand up for a 1-0 victory over visiting Liverpool.  Danny Ings scored his fiftieth career Premier League goal.  The Saints deserve praise for beating Liverpool for a first time in almost five years while missing several of their core players to injury and COVID.  Southampton rises to sixth in the table, twelve places improved on their 2019/20 standing after seventeen matches.

Everton – Everton conceded only the second goal in its past five league matches as its four-match winning run ended in a 1-0 loss to West Ham. Striker Dominic Calvert Lewin went without a goal for a fifth consecutive match after scoring eleven in his first eleven matches of the season.  It was a third loss in the last five league matches at Goodison Park for the Toffees.

Aston Villa – Aston Villa’s 2-1 loss at Manchester United ended a five-match winning run and was only a second defeat this season away from Villa Park.  Jack Grealish’s assist on the goal by Bertrand Traore was the Villa captain’s seventh of the season, joint third highest in the league.  Despite a well-played game, Villa’s winless streak versus Manchester United was extended to sixteen matches with the Villans last win coming in 2009.   

Chelsea – Chelsea lost for a fourth time in six matches with a 3-1 home defeat to Manchester City. During that stretch Chelsea has toppled from third in the table to its current ninth position.  The Blues attack is struggling with just three goals in the past three matches as the temperature of Manager Frank Lampard’s seat becomes ever warmer.  A Callum Hudson-Odoi extra time goal avoided the clean sheet at Stamford Bridge.

West Ham – Tomas Soucek hammered home an 86th minute winner to give West Ham a 1-0 victory at Everton.  Manager David Moyes’ first win at Goodison Park since leaving Everton in 2013 also continued his unbeaten league record against current Everton Manager Carlo Ancelotti.  The victory ended a four-match winless streak for the tenth place Hammers who are one of three teams sitting on twenty-six points, just seven points behind the league leaders.

Mid Table

Arsenal – The Gunners fired four goals past West Brom in a 4-0 victory marking a third consecutive win and second consecutive clean sheet for Arsenal.  The streaking Gunners are now just three points off the top half of the table after the relegation talk of just a few weeks ago.  Alexandre Lacazette had a brace for Arsenal and has scored four goals during the Gunners’ three match winning run.

Leeds – Despite numerous opportunities against Spurs, Leeds failed to score in an away match for the first time this season in a 3-0 defeat in north London.  The Whites were also guilty of mistakes in defense and conceded a penalty leading to a Harry Kane goal.  The penalty was a league leading sixth committed by Leeds this season.

Wolves – Wolves squandered a two-goal half-time lead in escaping with a point in a 3-3 draw at Brighton.  The three goals represented Wolves highest tally of the season as they were assisted by a Brighton own goal and penalty in the first half.  Defender Romain Sais opened the Wolves scoring while Ruben Neves converted the penalty kick for his first goal this season.

Crystal Palace – Eberechi Eze sealed the 2-0 win over Sheffield United with a box to box run moments before the first half whistle.  Eze, in his first Premier League season, adds excitement to an Eagles line-up which rumors have once again claimed is in jeopardy of losing Wilfried Zaha to a bigger club.  Jeffrey Schlupp scored the opener in Palace’s first win in six matches.

Newcastle   Andy Carroll’s first Newcastle goal in over a decade was not enough to prevent the Magpies from losing 2-1 to Leicester.  The loss was a third in a current five match winless run for Newcastle who remain eight points clear of relegation concerns.

Bottom of the Table

Burnley – Burnley’s match with Fulham was postponed due to COVID.

Brighton & Hove Albion – Brighton overcame a 3-1 deficit to draw 3-3 with Wolves, a fourth draw in the last five games for the Seagulls.  It was a tough day at the office for Brighton Defender Dan Burns who was involved in conceding all three first half goals for Wolves.  The Seagulls’ second half comeback included goals from Neal Maupay and Lewis Dunk.  

Fulham – Fulham’s match with Burnley was postponed due to COVID.

West Bromwich Albion  A 4-0 loss to Arsenal made the Baggies the first Premier League team in over a decade to lose two consecutive home matches by at least four goals.  The leaky Baggies defense has conceded thirty-nine goals, six more than any other league team. 

Sheffield United - A threadbare roster was further depleted by COVID related absences in a 2-0 loss at Crystal Palace. Substitute Antoine Hackford became the twentieth sixteen-year-old to play in the Premier League as the Blades fell for a fifthteenth time in their seventeen matches.

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