Friday, January 22, 2021

The Week That Was: Liverpool’s 68 Home Unbeaten Run Shattered by Burnley; Man U Stays Top; Man City Moves to Second; Foxes Stay In Hunt

Liverpool's unbeaten run of 68 consecutive home matches ended with a 1-0 victory loss to Burnley. The impregnability of Anfield had extended almost four years and makes it difficult imagine any Premier League team approaching the record 86 game home unbeaten run of Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea.  Liverpool failed to score for a fourth consecutive match despite Klopp juggling his starting forwards line-up in a futile attempt to shake loose a goal.  The benched Mohamed Salah and Bobby Firminho entered the Burnley fray as second half substitutes to still no avail.  An animated Jurgen Klopp appeared to be showing his stress in a halftime encounter with Burnley manager Sean Dyche.  Burnley played its bruising style to perfection, employing its patient low block defense and waiting for its moment.  That moment came when Liverpool goalkeeper Allison interfered with Ashley Barnes and the Burnley striker converted the penalty for his 100th league goal and a historic victory for the Clarets.


League leading Manchester United came from behind to defeat Fulham 2-1.  Paul Pogba fired the winning strike for a second time in the last three matches for the Red Devils who are unbeaten in their last seventeen away matches. Both Manchester based Premier League teams are in top form. Manchester United are unbeaten in twelve matches while Manchester City has now moved into second place behind their crosstown rival after a 2-0 defeat of Aston Villa, extending their own league unbeaten run to nine matches.  Pep Guardiola’s surprisingly dominant defense has posted seven clean sheets over those nine matches.  The impact of center back Ruben Dias, acquired last September, has been transformative for the club in a manner reminiscent of the impact of Virgil van Dyck on arriving in Liverpool two years ago. City’s defense will be even more critical in coming weeks as their attack will be disadvantaged following the club’s disclosure that midfielder Kevin De Bruyne could miss 4 to 6 weeks with a hamstring injury incurred versus Villa.  

Aston Villa, returning from a three-week COVID induced layoff, will attempt get back on a winning track when they face Newcastle on Saturday. 

Leicester remained level on points with Manchester City with a 2-0 defeat of Chelsea which saw Fox midfielder James Maddison score for a third consecutive league match.  The disciplined Foxes have lost only 5 times in 35 matches when scoring first under Manager Brendan Rogers.  Leicester will unfortunately be without Striker Jamie Vardy for a period of weeks due to a hernia procedure. 

West Ham, like Leicester, has won all three of its 2021 league matches following a 2-1 win over West Brom.  Hammer Striker Mikhail Antonio scored the winning goal for his club for a second consecutive match.   

FA Cup Weekend: Manchester United and Liverpool At It Again

Manchester United and Liverpool meet in an FA Cup match this weekend just seven days after the familiar rivals’ scoreless league match at Anfield.  Reeling Liverpool recorded their only 2021 win across all competitions in a 4-1 win over Aston Villa youth players in the Cup’s last round.  Southampton hosts Arsenal in the only other matchup of Premier League teams in the FA Cup Fourth Round.  Wolves will face the only non-league team remaining in the tournament when they play Chorley.  The FA Cup’s Fifth Round competition among this week’s sixteen survivors will take place over February 9-11.  

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