Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Matchweek 20: Chelsea Begin Post-Lampard Era; Everton Returns To The Fray; How Times Have Changed for Liverpool and Spurs; Cottagers Battle For Safety; Top Meets Bottom

Patience is not a Chelsea virtue. The Blues have parted ways with former player and club legend Frank Lampard after just eighteen months as manager. A promising first season where expectations were exceeded with a top four finish and FA Cup final was quickly forgotten as the club has struggled to find form after a huge transfer window investment for purposes of an expected title chase.  Chelsea were 9th in the table with five losses in their past eight matches at the time of Lampard’s sacking.

The poor results this season mean Lampard leaves having achieved the lowest average points per match of any manager during Roman Abramovich’s ownership of the team. Former PSG and Borussia Dortmund Manager Thomas Tuchel is reported to be replacing Lampard. The immediate task for the new manager will be to generate goals from an underperforming group of young attackers which includes disappointing former Bundesliga players Timo Werner and Kai Havertz.  The German born Tuchel succeeded current Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp as manager at both Mainz and Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga. Tuchel managed Chelsea attacker and US international Christian Pulisic while both were at Dortmund.  

Matchweek 20 has a full schedule of ten matches to be played from Tuesday through Thursday this week.  Liverpool’s match at Spurs and Leicester’s visit to Everton are two of the more interesting matches between top teams. When Liverpool and Spurs last played, the Reds defeated then league leader Spurs to move to the top of the table, a position they retained for five weeks. Now a struggling Liverpool side have not scored a goal in their past four Premier League matches and are winless in five matches, falling to fourth in the table. Liverpool was eliminated from  the FA Cup over the weekend by Manchester United. Spurs have won just two of five league matches since their losing visit to Anfield and are currently fifth in the table, one point behind Liverpool. Jose Mourinho’s charges have scored no more than one goal in five of their past seven matches while exploding for three goals in each of their two victories during that stretch. 

Everton, sixth in the table, have won five of their last six matches. They will have been idle for two weeks, though, when they face third place Leicester which has won impressively over Southampton and Chelsea during the time the Toffees have been at leisure. Leicester has won seven of its nine away matches this season but will be without striker Jamie Vardy when the Foxes visit Goodison this week.  

Manchester City looks to extend its six-match winning run when it visits a West Brom side which earned just its second win of the season in its last outing versus Wolves.  

West Ham travels to Selhurst Park to face Crystal Palace.  A three-match winning run has lifted the Hammers to seventh in the table, only two points outside a top four spot. The Hammers, however, have been unable to nail a victory against the Eagles in their last four attempts.  

Arsenal play a league match at Southampton just days after they were eliminated from the FA Cup by the Saints.  Southampton had risen as high as third in the table following a December draw with Arsenal but has fallen off to tenth, winning just once in five matches since the two clubs’ last league meeting.  

Aston Villa plays its third league match in 8 days following an almost three-week layoff when it travels to Burnley. The Villans and Clarets played a scoreless match in December and goals can again be expected to be in short supply at Turf Moor this week. 

Wolves, Chelsea’s opponent on Wednesday, has not won in six matches since they defeated Chelsea in mid-December.  

Brighton welcomes Fulham to the south coast in a match with relegation ramifications.  A victory by the Seagulls would put them 8 points clear of 18th place Fulham. Alternatively, Fulham could move to within two points of safety with a Cottagers’ win at the Seagulls’ nest.  

Newcastle is winless in eight matches as it prepares to face Leeds this week.  Newcastle has not scored in three matches while Leeds has been held scoreless in its own two match losing run entering this week’s match at St. James Park.  

The top team in the league plays the worst team in the league when Manchester United hosts Sheffield United at Old Trafford.  Sheffield United trails the Red Devils in the table by 35 points.


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