Friday, February 26, 2021

Matchweek 26 Preview: Citizens Look To Drop Hammers; Red Devils Head To Stamford Bridge; Vardy Doesn’t Shy From Gunners; Chance For Fulham; Little Prayer For Saints

Matches featuring the Premier League’s two Manchester clubs headline this weekend’s action.  League leader Manchester City plays host to fourth place West Ham at the Etihad. The Citizens will extend their win streak across all competitions to 20 matches if they can put down the Hammers. Manchester City is 8 wins short of the Guinness world record for consecutive victories set by the Welsh club, The New Saints, in 2016. West Ham trail only Manchester City in points won in the league since the beginning of the year, winning 7 of their 9 matches in 2021. The Hammers are in the top four after 25 matches for the first time since 1986.  West Ham manager David Moyes has never defeated Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola.


Second place Manchester United travels to Stamford Bridge to face a Chelsea team which remains undefeated since Thomas Tuchel took command. Fifth place Chelsea has conceded just two goals under Tuchel but has struggled in attack. Manchester United is unbeaten in 19 away league fixtures and have won 3 consecutive matches at Stamford Bridge in all competitions.  

Third place Leicester hosts Arsenal at King Power Stadium where the Gunners have lost on their last 3 league visits. Leicester striker Jamie Vardy is particularly looking forward to the match as he has scored more goals against Arsenal than any Premier League player not named Wayne Rooney. The Foxes will be without injured defenders Wesley Fofana and James Justin against a Gunner squad which has failed to score in 3 of their last 5 matches.  

Liverpool, losers in their last 4 matches, travel to Brammall Lane hoping to sharpen their game against the bottom dwelling Blades. The Reds incurred yet another injury blow last week as captain Jordan Henderson sustained a groin injury which will have him out for an extended period. Injuries to key defensive performers has led to Liverpool allowing 34 goals in their 25 matches this season, exceeding their goals conceded in the entirety of last year’s championship season. No Premier League team has achieved 20 losses in a season more quickly than Sheffield United this season.  

Seventh place Everton looks to keep its European hopes alive when the Toffees welcome struggling Southampton to Goodison Park on Monday. Everton are unbeaten in their last 15 home matches against Southampton and manager Carlo Ancelotti has indicated both striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin and midfielder Allan should be fit and available for Monday’s match. Southampton has lost 7 of their last 8 matches and the team was accused by manager Ralph Hasenhuttl of giving up in last week’s loss to Leeds. The Saints would seem to have little prayer on Monday as injuries to Oriel Romeu and Takumi Minamino compound their woes.  

Aston Villa manager Dean Smith indicates the Villans will travel to Leeds without injured captain Jack Grealish. Leeds will be missing Kalvin Philips and Rodrigo as they attempt to earn their first home win against a team currently in the top half of the table when they face eighth place Villa. Leeds trails Aston Villa by a single point in the table. The match features two in-form strong goalkeepers. Villa’s Emiliano Martinez’ 12 clean sheets are 2nd in the league behind the 15 of Manchester City’s Ederson. Leeds goalkeeper Illan Meslier is seeking to become the first Premier League goalkeeper to achieve 9 clean sheets before the age of 21.  

Tottenham Hotspur, level on points with Aston Villa, have lost 5 of their last 6 matches as they welcome Burnley to north London.  The only league victories for Spurs in their last 8 league games were against the bottom two in the table, Sheffield United and West Brom. Burnley are on a four-game unbeaten run but have drawn 3 of those matches and are but 6 points clear of relegation. The last topflight win for Burnley at Spurs was in 1974.  

Wolves have won 3 times in a 4-match unbeaten run as they travel to face struggling Newcastle at St James Park. Newcastle has lost 10 of their last 14 matches and are but 3 points from relegation. Both teams struggle for goals. Newcastle has scored more than a goal in only 2 of their last 13 matches. Wolves are level on goals with Newcastle for the season, the 26 goals for each team exceeding only the total scored by Burnley for teams not in the relegation zone.  

Fulham will reach safety with a victory in their London Derby at Crystal Palace and a Newcastle loss to Wolves.  The Cottagers have lost just once in their last 7 Premier League games and are seeking a third consecutive win. Crystal Palace looks to win a second consecutive match without top goal scorer Wilfried Zaha. While Fulham’s recent race toward safety has been noteworthy, Crystal Palace has accumulated a point more than the Cottagers in the prior 5 matches for each club. 

Brighton, just 4 points clear of relegation after the Seagulls’ gut-wrenching loss to Crystal Palace last week, will travel to West Brom. The Seagulls should have Tariq Lamptey back for the game. West Brom have lost their last 7 league home matches while Brighton have lost just once in their last 6 league away matches.

Premier League in Europe Results: Chelsea Trips Atletico; No Problems For City; Spurs Move On; Red Devils Deliver; Arsenal Edges Benfica; Foxes Fall

Chelsea was in full control of their Champions League match against Atletico Madrid and snatched a 1-0 victory on an athletic overhead kick by Olivier Giroud. Controlled play by Chelsea and a typically conservative approach by Atletico manager Diego Simeone resulted in the Spanish club failing to land a single shot on target. A fifth clean sheet in Champions League play by Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy leads the competition this season. Giroud became the oldest Chelsea player ever to score in the Champions League knockout stage.


Manchester City rolled to a 19th consecutive win across all competitions in a 2-0 victory over Borussia Monchengladbach in their Champions League match. Bernardo Silva and Gabriel Jesus scored for the Citizens while goalkeeper Ederson was not forced to make a save until stoppage time. City are the first team in a decade to post clean sheets in their first four away matches in a Champions league campaign. 

Tottenham Hotspurs midfielder Dele Alli executed the second overhead bicycle kick by a Premier league player in two days of European competition as he put an acrobatic stamp on Spurs’ Europa League elimination of overmatched Wolfsberger. Spurs 4-0 victory at home in north London resulted in an aggregate 8-1 margin over the two legs, the first time a Jose Mourinho managed team had scored 8 goals across a major European tie since the Portuguese manager was at Real Madrid. Carlos Vinicius scored twice for Spurs who also received a goal contribution from Gareth Bale.  Alli had two assists in addition to his opening goal of the match.  

Arsenal needed to come from behind before Bukayo Saka’s cross was headed in by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to give Arsenal a 3-2 win over Benfica in the second leg of their Europa League tie. Arsenal advanced 4-3 on aggregate to the final 16 stage of Europa League. Aubameyang had an opening goal for the Gunners who conceded twice before Kieran Tierney’s tying goal set the stage for Aubameyang’s winner at the 87-minute mark.  

Manchester United coasted at Old Trafford in a goalless Europa Cup draw which eliminated Real Sociedad as a result of the Red Devils’ 4-0 win in the first leg between the clubs. What would have been Axel Tuanzebe’s first goal for United was disallowed due to a violent foul committed on the scoring play by Red Devil defender Victor Lindelof.  17-year-old Shola Shoretire became the youngest player to appear in European competition for Manchester United on a night which also saw 18-year-old Amad Diallo make his first appearance at Old Trafford.  

Leicester was less fortunate than other Premier League clubs in European play as the Foxes exited the Europa League with their tails between their legs, losing to Slavia Prague 2-0 at home after a goalless first leg. Leicester is left to focus on the Premier League top four race and their quarterfinal FA Cup match.  Leicester manager Brendan Rogers has lost all five of his career Europa League ties. 

The Europa League draw for the Round of 16 which begins March 11 will see Manchester United paired with AC Milan and former Red Devil Zlatan Ibrahimovic.  Arsenal will face Olympiakos, the team which eliminated the Gunners in the Europa League Round of 32 last year. Spurs will face Croatian club Dinamo Zagreb.


Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Matchweek 25 Results: Liverpool Turn Blue; Hammers Go Fourth; Chelsea Frustrated; Gunners Fire Blanks Again; Eagles Shock Seagulls; Hope For Fulham

The city of Liverpool was Toffee blue on Saturday evening as Everton defeated Liverpool at Anfield for the first time since 1999 in a 2-0 victory which handed the Reds a fourth straight home defeat. The Toffees jumped into the lead after three minutes on a Richarlison goal ably assisted by James Rodriguez.  An 83rd minute penalty conversion by Gylfi Sigurdsson sealed the match for the Toffees who moved level on points with sixth place Liverpool. Everton also have a game in hand on their in-town rivals as they pursue a European place. Liverpool’s fourth consecutive league loss marks 6 defeats in their last 8 league matches as they have fallen from 1st to 6th in the table. Liverpool have lost as many matches this February as they lost in the prior 2 league seasons combined.


Crashing the Top Four this week were the Hammers of David Moyes who delivered their manager his first victory over Jose Mourinho in a 2-0 defeat of Spurs. The Hammers received first half goals by Michail Antonio and Jesse Lingard and then withstood a furious second half comeback attempt by Spurs. A Lucas Moura header brought Spurs within one goal before Gareth Bale missed an opportunity to tie the match with a strike off the crossbar. Lingard, on loan from Manchester United, has three goals in four appearances for the Hammers who occupy a top-flight Top Four slot after 25 matches for the first time in 35 years. The pressure builds for Spurs manager Mourinho who has accumulated fewer points after 50 league matches at Spurs than at any other club in his managerial career.  

Table leader Manchester City received a goal from Raheem Sterling in the first two minutes and then locked down Arsenal for a 1-0 victory. The clean sheet was the 23rd across all competitions for City this season, highest among all 5 of Europe’s top leagues. The Citizens extended their winning streak to 18 matches across all competitions and 13 consecutive league victories. Tenth place Arsenal, managing only 1 shot on target Sunday, lost to City for an 8th consecutive time and have failed to score in the last 4 matches between the clubs. The Gunners remained 10th in the table. 

Manchester United put down a listless Newcastle United side in a 3-1 victory by the Devils at Old Trafford. A Bruno Fernandes penalty kick was his 15th goal of the season for Manchester United and followed scores by Marcus Rashford and Daniel James. The Red Devils remain 10 points behind league leader Manchester City. Newcastle lost for an 8th time in their last 10 matches as they are now but 3 points above the relegation places.  

Leicester stayed level on points with Manchester United with the Foxes’ 2-1 defeat of Aston Villa.  Harvey Barnes delivered the winner for Leicester and his 13 goals on the season leave him just 1 behind team leader Jamie Vardy. James Maddison opened the scoring for the Foxes and has been involved in 8 goals in his last 9 appearances for Leicester. The Foxes have been the league’s most consistent team this season, remaining in the Top Four from the opening week. Aston Villa were playing without Jack Grealish for the first time in 48 matches with the injured Villa captain last having missed a match in November 2018. A Bertrand Traore second half goal made matters close for a Villa team which has lost 5 of their last 9 matches and have scored no more than a goal for five consecutive matches.  

Chelsea remained undefeated under manager Thomas Tuchel but were disappointed with just a point from their visit to struggling Southampton. Mason Mount, one of few players who played well for Chelsea, scored the tying penalty for the Blues. Chelsea managed just 3 shots on target with their 71% ball possession as they were overtaken by West Ham for fourth position in the table.  A frustrated Tuchel controversially pulled second half substitute Callum Hudson-Odoi after just 30 minutes for attitudinal deficiency. The relationship between manager and player will bear watching. The Saints, meanwhile, were smiling to end a six-game losing streak with the draw. Recently acquired Takumi Minamino scoring his second goal for the Saints since his recent loan from Liverpool. Southampton is 14th in the table after being as high as 3rd in the table in mid-December.  

Wolves defeated Leeds on an own goal which caromed into the goal off the back of  goalkeeper Illan Meslier after ricocheting off the crossbar on a shot by Adama Traore. Rui Patricio had 7 saves in recording his 7th clean sheet of the season for a Wolves side which has won three of their last 4 four matches following an 8-match winless streak. Wolves leapfrogged Leeds into 11th place in the table with the win.  

Crystal Palace perpetrated the ultimate “smash and grab” in their 2-1 victory over archrival Brighton in the teams’ “M23 derby”. Brighton dominated play with 25 shots and 75% possession before the Eagles’ Christian Benteke won the game for the visitors with a clean strike in the final minute of stoppage time to reward endless minutes of desperate defending by Palace.

Former Chelsea defender Gary Cahill led a determined Eagles defense with 9 individual clearances.  Brighton had tied the game early in the second half on a goal by Joel Veltman after Jean-Phillipe Mateta had given the Eagles an early lead with his first Premier league goal. The backbreaking loss broke a six-match unbeaten run for Brighton and leaves them just 4 points clear of relegation. The wasteful Seagulls have attempted 57 shots to score only once in their past two matches. Crystal Palace, who were playing without leading scorer and club captain Wilfried Zaha, moved ahead of Southampton to 13th in the table and are 10 points clear of relegation.  

Burnley, playing without forwards Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes, was unable to take advantage of a West Brom team playing the second half with 10 men in a 0-0 final which was Burnley’s 3rd draw in a 4-match unbeaten run. The Clarets were 6 points clear of relegation after earning the point. Undermanned West Brom had the better chances and recorded their first clean sheet since November. The first half red card assessed against West Brom’s Semi Ajayi was the 111th awarded by controversial referee Mike Dean, 44 more than any Premier League referee in history.  

Fulham’s 1-0 defeat of Sheffield United continued the Cottagers determined march towards survival. Scott Parker’s men have closed their gap to safety from 10 to 3 points with two wins and a draw in the last week. The two victories in the past week, sandwiched around a mid-week draw, were as many wins as Fulham had achieved in its previous 24 league matches.  Ademola Lookman scored the winner for Fulham which could potentially move past currently 17th place Newcastle with a win next week. Bottom dwelling Sheffield United lost for a 20th time this season.  

Leeds and Southampton play a rescheduled Matchweek 18 fixture on Tuesday.

European Preview: Manchester City and Chelsea Resume Champions League Play; Spurs and Red Devils Look to Finish Off Europa Foes; Foxes and Gunners Face Europa Challenges

Manchester City and Chelsea resume Champions League play this week.  Chelsea will be facing current La Liga leader Atletico Madrid on Tuesday.  Chelsea’s attack has yet to fully engage under manager Thomas Tuchel and the Blues will be facing an Atletico squad which has conceded only 16 goals in 23 La Liga matches. The Mattress Makers, however, have been a bit sloppy of late in drawing 2 and losing 1 in their last four matches, allowing Real Madrid to close within three points of the La Liga lead. The Blues are hoping to advance to the quarterfinal for the first time since 2013/14.  Atletico, meanwhile, have advanced to the final 8 in 5 of their last 7 seasons. Luis Suarez leads the manager Diego Simeone’s side with 16 goals in La Liga this season. Many are curious as to how Chelsea will line up. For example, will Hudson-Odoi possibly even start following his quick hook from the weekend’s premier league game. Will Christian Pulisic be healthy enough to make an appearance? Manchester City will look to extend its winning streak to 19 matches across all competitions when it faces Bundesliga club Borussia Monchengladbach on Wednesday. Pep Guardiola’s side will be looking to advance to the quarterfinals of the Champions League for a 4th consecutive year.  Their German opponents are playing in the knockout stage of the Champions League, formerly the European Cup, for the first time in 43 years.  Die Fohlen (The Colts) finished second in their group stage behind Real Madrid, eliminating Shakhtar Donetsk and Inter Milan. Domestically, Monchengladbach sit 8th in the Bundesliga table and have not won in their last 4 matches.  Due to COVID restrictions Chelsea will be playing in Bucharest, Romania while Manchester City’s match will be played in Budapest, Hungary.

Wednesday will see Tottenham host Wofsberger in the second leg of their Round of 32 Europa league tie with Spurs holding what should be an insurmountable 4-1 advantage from their first leg.  Manchester United is in a similar enviable position when they face Real Sociedad on Thursday following their 4-0 victory last week against the Spanish club.  Things are just a bit more tense for Leicester and Arsenal on Thursday.  The Foxes host Slavia Prava after Leicester was unable to secure an away goal in a scoreless opening leg match last week.  Arsenal host Benfica at the Emirates after the clubs played to a 1-1 opening leg draw. 

Friday, February 19, 2021

Matchweek 25 Preview: Merseyside Derby; Gunners Aim at Citizens; Moyes To Finally Hammer Jose?; Seagulls and Eagles; Fulham Needs Sharp Performance Versus Blades

This weekend’s Merseyside derby will see Liverpool try to break their three-match losing run at Anfield when they host Everton. Liverpool is unbeaten in 23 matches across all competitions versus the Toffees, their longest such streak against any opponent in club history. Everton will be looking to stay unbeaten for an eighth consecutive league away match and hope to have striker Dominic Calver-Lewin available for duty. Liverpool, losers of 5 of their last 8 league matches, will look to build on this week’s Champions League win over RB Leipzig.


Manchester City, looking invincible of late, will look to extend its 17-match winning run across all competitions when they face Arsenal at the Emirates. Arsenal have lost their last 7 matches against the citizens, the second longest such streak against any club in Arsenal’s history, just short of an 8-game losing streak to Leeds in the 1970’s. 

West Ham, having already accumulated more points than they did in the entirety of last season, will host Tottenham Hotspur in a London derby. Hammer manager David Moyes will attempt to win for the first time against a Jose Mourinho managed club.  This should present a prime opportunity for Moyes to end that streak against a Spurs team which has lost 4 of its last 5 league matches. Spurs enter the match six points behind West Ham in the table.  

Old Trafford will be an intimidating venue when Newcastle plays at Manchester United. Newcastle has one but once in the last 33 matches at the historic home of the Red Devils. Newcastle manager Steve Bruce, meanwhile, has garnered just 1 of 33 points available when he has managed at Old Trafford. 

Only Manchester United has won more matches against Southampton than Chelsea who will be paying the Saints a visit this weekend. The Saints are on a 6-match losing run in the league, the longest in Southampton history. Chelsea is undefeated in five matches under manager Thomas Tuchel and has won four consecutive matches to return to the top-four.  

Leicester will travel to Aston Villa to face a Villa squad which has been inconsistent in losing 4 of their last 8 matches. Fox manager Brandon Rogers has won all five previous league matches he has managed against Aston Villa. 

Wolves will look to achieve back-to-back wins in the league for the first time since October when they host Leeds on Friday. Leeds is one position above Wolves in the table and have won 6 their 12 road matches this season. Wolves have won 2 of their last 3 matches following an 8-match winless run.  

The league’s strangest rivalry is renewed on Monday when south London based Crystal Place travels to Brighton on the south coast. The two teams and their fan bases have an intense dislike for each other. Brighton will move ahead of Crystal Place in the table on points differential with a win and the Seagulls will be looking to record a fourth consecutive home clean sheet. The Eagles will be missing primary scoring threat Wilfried Zaha.


Burnley, hoping to further separate itself from the relegation scrap, will have a prime opportunity at home versus 19th in the table West Bromwich Albion. Burnley have scored one less goal than West Brom but have conceded 25 fewer goals than the Baggies. Injured midfielders Johan Gudmundsson and Robbie Brady will miss the match for the Clarets. West Brom, 3 points behind Burnley in the table when Sam Allardyce was appointed manager, are now 14 points behind the Clarets.  

Fulham needs a sharp performance against Sheffield United to win but their fourth match of the season and further their hopes of escaping relegation. A victory could move the Cottagers within three points of Newcastle for the final safe position in the table. A win by Sheffield United could lift them from the bottom of the table for the first time since week 7.  

Tuesday will see a make-up of an originally scheduled Matchweek 18 contest between Leeds and Southampton. The Saints will be praying for a first win in seven matches.


European and Midweek League Results: Liverpool Play Like Champions; Devils and Spurs Stroll; Leicester Stymied; City Dispatches Everton; Fulham Wastes Chance

Liverpool reasserted its status as an elite power in European football with a 2-0 defeat of RB Leipzig. Recent struggles in the Premier League were left behind as the Reds dominated a quality German side in the first leg of their Champions League Round of Sixteen matchup. 

Europa League action, meanwhile, saw varying levels of success for the four remaining Premier League teams. Manchester United and Spurs cruised to comfortable 4-0 and 4-1 victories, respectively. Manchester United was dominant against a Real Sociedad side that fielded some familiar faces in former Red Devil Adnan Januzaj and Manchester City legend David Silva. Bruno Fernandes had a brace for the winners who also received goals from Marcus Rashford and Daniel James.

Gareth Bale scored one goal and created another in an easy Spurs win over Wolfsberger. Son Heung-min, Lucas Moura, and Carlos Vinicius also scored for a Spurs team playing without Harry Kane. Dele Alli escaped Jose Mourinho’s doghouse to start for Spurs. Arsenal were fortunate to secure an away goal in a 1-1 draw with Benfica. Bukayo Saka scored for the Gunners two minutes after Benfica had taken the lead on a penalty for a called handball. Leicester’s task will be more difficult for the second leg of their tie as they failed to capture an away goal in a scoreless duel with Slavia Prague. Leicester’s Czech opponent remained unbeaten at home in Europa play this season. Despite missing torrid goal scorer Ilkay Gundogan due to injury, Manchester City had little trouble dispatching Everton, 3-1, in their Premier League matchup for a 17 th consecutive win across all competitions. Pep Guardiola’s team becomes the first club in Premier League history to win the first 10 league matches of a calendar year. Phil Foden, Riyad Mahrez and Bernardo Silva had goals for City. Everton, playing without injured striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin, saw Richarlison score his third goal of the season. Fulham frustrated supporters with yet another draw in a 1-1 final in their rescheduled Premier League match at Burnley. The Cottagers conceded a tying goal with poor defensive play just minutes after they had taken the lead. Fulham now has 10 draws this season and only three victories in league play. With the point, the Cottagers trailed Newcastle by six points in their race to survival.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Matchweek 24 Results: Man United Drop Points Again; City Punishes Spurs; Reds Fall To Foxes; Chelsea Crash Top Four; Hope For Fulham?

Manchester United dropped points for a second consecutive league match in a 1-1 draw with West Brom. A third draw in four matches for the Red Devils leaves them seven points behind Manchester City which has also played one less match than their cross-town rivals. A stoppage time save by West Brom goalkeeper Sam Johnstone which deflected Harry Maguire’s header off the post enabled the Baggies to hold an opponent to less than two goals for the first time in 9 of those matches. Bruno Fernandes scored his 14th league goal of the season for Manchester United. Mbaye Diagne had his first goal for the Baggies.

Manchester City continued to pile the misery on Jose Mourinho and a Spurs team which lost for a fourth time in five matches in their 3-0 defeat to Pep Guardiola’s side. City won an 11th consecutive league match to take further command of the title chase and extend their English record win streak in all competitions to 15 matches. The league leaders have conceded but 2 goals in their 11-match league win streak, posting clean sheets in 9 matches.  Manchester City goalkeeper Ederson leads the league with 14 clean sheets and recorded an assist against Spurs on one of two goals by Ilkay Gundogan. Gundogan continued his superlative form with a second consecutive brace and has now scored 9 goals in 9 2021 appearance for City.  

Leicester moved level on points with second place Manchester United following a 3-1 win over Liverpool which saw the Foxes score all three goals of their goals in a seven-minute span beginning with the 8th minute. James Maddison’s goal tied the game after Liverpool had taken an early lead on Mohamed Salah’s 17th goal of the season. Liverpool goalkeeper Allisson was guilty of a howler leading to Jamie Vardy’s 12th goal on the season before Harvey Barnes finished the scoring for the Foxes. Maddison has four goals and four assists in his last nine appearances for the Foxes.  Leicester Manager Brendan Rodgers defeated Liverpool for the first time since his 2015 sacking by the Reds. Liverpool’s 5th loss in their last 7 league matches prompted Manager Jurgen Klopp to concede the Reds were out of the title race following the defeat at Leicester.  

Chelsea moved into the top four and remained undefeated after 5 matches under manager Thomas Tuchel as the Blues defeated Newcastle 2-0 at Stamford Bridge. Timo Werner scored his first goal in 100 days for Chelsea while also assisting on Olivier Giroud’s goal in the Blues’ 4th consecutive victory which saw Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga register his first clean sheet since July 2020. Steve Bruce’s Magpies, losing for a 6th time in their last 7 away league matches, are 17th in the table amid rising relegation concerns.

West Ham moved to 5th in the table, 2 points above Liverpool, with a 3-0 defeat of Sheffield United.  Midfielder Declan Rice and defenders Issa Diop and Ryan Fredericks all scored their first Premier League goals of the season for the  Hammers who were without injured striker Michail Antonio. As surprising contenders for a spot in European play next season, the Hammers have accumulated more points in the 2021 calendar year than any Premier League club other than Manchester City. Sheffield United were scoreless for a 12th league game this season, joint highest with Burnley. 

Everton failed to win for a fourth time in their last five matches in losing 2-0 at home to Fulham. Goodison Park has not been friendly for the Toffees this season as they have lost five of 11 league home matches, winning only 4 times. Newly acquired Fulham striker Josh Maja scored a brace in the Cottagers’ first victory since November. Maja may provide some hope for Fulham which is 7 points from safety behind a Newcastle team which is looking vulnerable and which will be without striker Callum Wilson for a lengthy stretch.  

Aston Villa goalkeeper Emilio Martinez notched his 12th clean sheet to preserve a draw with Brighton. The Seagulls took 26 shots, 9 on goal, but were unable to beat the Villa goalkeeper. Brighton dominated play as Aston Villa managed just 4 shots of its own, of which only 1 was on target. Brighton increased its league leading number of draws to 11 while extending its current unbeaten run to 6 matches.  

Arsenal experienced a rare offensive explosion in a 4-2 victory at the Emirates over Leeds. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang delivered a hat trick for the Gunners who had scored but one goal in a three-match winless run entering the match versus Leeds. The wide-open game saw Leeds reduce a four goal first half deficit with two goals of their own in second half action. Arsenal moved past Leeds into 10th position in the table with the win. Leeds has now won but once in their last 24 league visits to London based clubs.  

Southampton lost a 6th consecutive match for the first time in club history in a 2-1 defeat at home versus Wolves. A first half Saints lead on Danny Ings’ 12th goal of the season was quickly under attack by Wolves in the second half. Ruben Neves converted a tying penalty kick before Pedro Neto curled in the winner to capture all three points at Saint Mary’s for Wolves.  

Crystal Place conceded a goal within the first 3 minutes for a 3rd consecutive game in a 3-0 loss to Burnley at Selhurst Park. The Eagles have conceded the second highest goal total in the league this season behind West Brom. Johann Gudmundsson scored for a second consecutive match for the Clarets who are 8 points clear of relegation. 

European competition dominates the mid-week but for two re-scheduled Premier League matches. Wednesday will see Fulham travel to Turf Moor to take on Burnley while Everton will host league leading Manchester City at Goodison Park.

Premier League in Europe

Champions League and Europa competition resume this week.  Struggling Liverpool faces RB Leipzig, currently second in the Bundesliga, on Tuesday. The match will be played in Budapest, Hungary due to COVID related travel restrictions. RB Leipzig, who eliminated Manchester United in the tournament’s last round, have won four of their last five league matches and recently advanced in the DFB-Pokal, the German equivalent of the English FA Cup.  Tuesday’s other Champions League match features former Premier League managers Ronald Koeman and Mauricio Pochettino when Barcelona hosts PSG.  Champions League matches featuring the remaining Premier League teams in the competition, Manchester City and Chelsea, take place next week.  Europa competition resumes Thursday with several matches displaced due to COVID restrictions. Manchester United will face Real Sociedad in Turin, Italy. Spurs take on Austrian side Wolfsberg in Budapest and Arsenal goes to Rome to play Portuguese side Benfica. The Premier League table and domestic cup competitions make it probable that Spurs and Arsenal can only compete in next year’s Champions League by winning this year’s Europa tournament.


Friday, February 12, 2021

Matchweek 24 Preview: Jose Under Fire; Top Four Battle at King Power; Leaky Baggies; Rematch for Saints & Wolves; Will Anyone Score at Selhurst?

Manchester City face the last team to defeat them when they welcome Spurs to the Etihad this weekend.  The Citizens have won 10 consecutive league matches, 15 across all competitions since a November loss to then league leader Spurs.  Jose Mourinho’s squad have now fallen to eighth in the table and British bookmaker Paddy Power has published odds indicating Jose Mourinho to be the most likely next Premier League manager to be sacked. 

Manchester United look to extend their 18 away match unbeaten run in the league when they travel to West Brom. The Red Devils are the only Premier League team not to have lost away from home this season. West Brom’s 31 goals conceded at home this season are the most by a Premier League team at this stage of the season in 60 years. The Baggies have won just once at home this season, versus Sheffield United in November.  

A top four matchup sees Liverpool travel to King Power Stadium to face Leicester. It has been three years since Leicester defeated Liverpool in a home match and The Foxes have already lost five home matches this season, one more than all last season.  Leicester’s James Maddison enjoys playing at King Power, however, and has four goals and two assists in his last six home matches.

Liverpool have won just two of their seven league matches in 2021, losing four of those seven and have scored just eight times in nine matches since a 7-0 win at Crystal Place in December. Fabinho has been announced out for Liverpool. Leicester’s James Justin is out for the season with a knee injury.  

Fifth place Chelsea play host to a Newcastle squad decimated by injury.  Newcastle will be missing leading scorer Callum Wilson as well as defenders Fabian Schar and Javier Manquillo when they visit Stamford Bridge. The Blues should be well positioned to continue Tomas Tuchel’s unbeaten start, now at four matches, in the Premier League. Chelsea opponents have yet to score a goal since Tuchel’s arrival with an own goal by Antonio Rudiger being the only defensive blemish in four matches under Tuchel. Chelsea have lost only one Premier League home match to Newcastle, that loss coming in 2012.  

Sixth place West Ham will be hoping Michail Antonio’s troublesome hamstring allows him to play when Sheffield United visits London Stadium. The Hammers are thin up front, having dispatched Sebastien Haller in the transfer window and losing Andriy Yarmolenko to a knee injury this past week. Sheffield United has shown signs of life in winning three of their last six league matches and securing a midweek FA Cup victory. 35-year-old Billy Sharp scored the FA Cup winner against Bristol City and has now scored a winning goal four times in four weeks for the Blades.  

Everton will be without injured striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin when they host Fulham at Goodison Park. The Cottagers will be hopeful of a result against a Toffee squad which has conceded 7 goals in their last two outings which includes a 5-4 FA Cup victory in a match that took 120 minutes to reach a decision versus Spurs during the week.  

Aston Villa travels to the south coast to face in-form Brighton. The Villans need just one point to surpass their point total from all last season. The Seagulls present a challenge, though, as they have conceded but one goal in a five-match unbeaten run.  

Leeds seeks a third consecutive league away win when they travel to London to face Arsenal at the Emirates. Arsenal have not lost a home match to a promoted side in ten seasons. Gunner supporters will be hoping to see more of Martin Odegaard following his two relief appearances since coming on loan from Real Madrid. Leeds is on a run of three wins in their last four league matches.  

Southampton hosts Wolverhampton, hoping for a repeat of their victory in an FA Cup fixture between the clubs played just three days earlier. The Saints have lost five consecutive league matches and have never lost six matches in a row. Takumi Minamino will be available for Saints after needing to sit out the FA Cup win. Wolves, winners just once in their last ten league matches, have struggled in attack and are the only Premier League team to score more goals from set pieces than from open play this season.  

Crystal Palace will again be without Wilfried Zaha when Burnley visits Selhurst Park. The Eagles have lost 17 of their past 19 games played without Zaha, failing to score in 15 of those losses. Burnley is currently 8 points clear of the relegation places despite a goals per match average which is lower than any Premier League team which has survived relegation. The Clarets have scored 14 goals in their 22 matches this season.

FA Cup Update: Thriller at Goodison; Red Devils Squeak By; Record Breaking Manchester City; Bournemouth Crashes the Party

Spurs fans hopes for FA Cup silverware were dashed in a 5-4 defeat to Everton.  The sloppy defense played by Jose Mourinho’s team was shocking in the entertaining goal fest.  An 83rd minute tying goal from Harry Kane enabled Spurs, who had at one point trailed by two goals, to take it to extra-time before Bernard’s strike captured the win for the Toffees.  Everton, who received a brace from Richarlison in the win over Spurs, will now move on to face Manchester City in a March quarterfinal match. City had little difficulty in dispatching Swansea by a 3-1 score line.  The win by Pep Guardiola’s club established a record for English top-flight clubs of 15 consecutive wins across all competitions.  The streak is also the longest of Pep Guardiola’s managerial career.  City Goalkeeper Zach Steffen and Swansea’s Jordan Morris and Paul Arriola were US Men’s National Team members who made appearances in City’s win. Manchester United needed extra-time before a goal from defensive midfielder Scott McTominay broke a scoreless deadlock to end West Ham’s FA run.  The Red Devils move on to face Leicester in an enticing quarterfinal matchup between two current top four Premier League clubs. Leicester forward Kelechi Iheanacho scored 4 minutes into stoppage time for the only goal in the Foxes’ victory over Brighton.  Billy Sharp converted a 66th minute penalty in Sheffield United’s 1-0 win over Bristol City. The Blades will face Chelsea in the quarterfinals as a Tammy Abraham goal was all Chelsea needed in a 1-0 elimination of Barnsley.  Southampton defeated Wolves 2-0 on goals from Danny Ings and Stuart Armstrong.  The Saints will face Bournemouth in the quarterfinals.  Bournemouth was the sole Championship side to advance with a 1-0 defeat of Burnley.

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Matchweek 23 Results: Blue Skies For City; Late Collapse For United; Another Historic Anfield Streak; Saints Fail To Take Advantage; On-Line Ugliness; Dynamic Duo Leads Spurs Win

Manchester City continued its title march by defeating Liverpool 4-1 at Anfield. Ilkay Gundogan scored a brace for the Citizens who are five points clear of second place Manchester United with a game in hand. Since scoring his first goal of the season on December 15th Gundogan has surprisingly outpaced all other Premier League goal scorers. Phil Foden contributed a goal and an assist for City while Raheem Sterling scored his 100th goal playing for Pep Guardiola. Sterling joins Lionel Messi and current teammate Sergio Aguero in reaching the century mark under the iconic Spanish manager. City has now won 14 consecutive matches across all competitions.

Liverpool lost at home for a third consecutive match, its first such streak since 1963. The last time a defending top-flight champion lost three consecutive home matches was 1956. Mohamed Salah increased his league leading goal total to 16 with a first half penalty kick but Liverpool rarely threatened during the match. The Reds were victimized by a rare poor performance in goal by Allison Becker whose miscues led to two of the City goals. Liverpool remained fourth in the table but are only three points ahead of seventh place Everton who have two games in hand versus their Merseyside rivals.  

Manchester United, perhaps the league’s best hope to catch Manchester City, dropped two points in a 3-3 weekend draw with the Toffees. The Red Devils squandered a two-goal advantage, allowing Everton to score the tying goal on the final kick of the match. Manchester United has captured only 8 of 15 points available in their last 5 matches as they have been overtaken at the top of the table by Manchester City. Everton’s Calvert-Lewin delivered the final strike for the Toffees, scoring for a second consecutive match and gaining redemption for a chance missed at the end of the first half against the Red Devils.  

Leicester missed a chance to go level with Manchester United by drawing 0-0 at Wolves. The Foxes recorded their fifth clean sheet in their 12 away matches this season against a Wolves squad which has failed to score in three of its last four matches and eight matches in total this season. Jamie Vardy, returning from hernia surgery as a second half substitute for the Foxes, nearly had the winner on a missed header opportunity in extra time.  

West Ham’s London derby with Fulham ended in a goalless draw notable only for a controversial red card assessed the Hammers’ Tomas Soucek in extra time. The card from referee Mike Dean was later rescinded by the Football Association. Dean, who had been involved in another controversial decision at Southampton a week ago, reported on-line abuse and death threats following the match and will step back from officiating this coming weekend. Following the draw at Fulham, West Ham have now lost but once in their last 9 matches. The draw for Fulham was its 9th in 21 matches, one less than league leading Brighton in the indecisive category. The Cottagers have won but twice, joint bottom in the league for victories with fellow relegation tenant West Brom.  

Chelsea won its third consecutive match in a 2-1 defeat of Sheffield United. Jorginho scored a penalty for a second consecutive match which followed an earlier Chelsea goal by Mason Mount.  Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger was victimized by an own goal in a miscommunication with goalkeeper Edouard Mendy for Sheffield United’s score.  

Spurs ended a 3-match losing skid with their 2-0 victory over hapless West Brom.  Harry Kane made a surprising early return from his ankle injuries to score the opening goal for Spurs which was shortly followed by the clincher from Son Heung-min.  Kane and Son have scored 26 of Spurs’ 36 goals this season. West Brom boss Sam Allardyce has never beaten current Spurs Manager Jose Mourinho in 13 attempts.


Aston Villa posted an 11th clean sheet in their 21 matches in a 1-0 victory over Arsenal. Ollie Watkins scored his 10th goal of the season less than two minutes into the debut of newly acquired Arsenal goalkeeper Matt Ryan. Villa completed a league double against Arsenal for the first time since the inaugural Premier League season in 1992/93. A second consecutive loss by Arsenal leaves them 4 points behind ninth place Villa in the table.  

Leeds moved to 10th in the table with a 2-0 defeat of Crystal Palace. The Eagles were predictably dire in attack absent the injured Wilfried Zaha. Patrick Bamford had his 12th goal of the season as Leeds won for a third time in its past four matches.  

Southampton, following a 3-2 defeat at Newcastle, has now lost five matches in a row. The Saints will rue a missed opportunity to recover from their historic prior week thrashing at Old Trafford. Red cards forced Newcastle to play the final 18 minutes with 9 men after playing with 10 men since early in the second half. The Saints were unable to capitalize against the undermanned Magpies who won for a second time in three matches to go 10 points clear of the relegation spaces. Joe Willock scored his first goal for Newcastle since his loan from Arsenal. Takumi Minamino had his first goal for the Saints after transferring from Liverpool on loan.  

Brighton extended its unbeaten run to 5 matches in a 1-1 draw at Burnley. Burnley’s Johann Gudmundsson tied the match when scoring his first goal of the season for the Clarets in the 53rd minute, negating a first half goal by Seagull Lewis Dunk. The shared points leave Brighton 2 points above 17th place Burnley in the table.

FA Cup Update

There are no mid-week Premier League matches as the FA Cup resumes play.  Round Five of the FA Cup sees 12 of the remaining 16 clubs in the competition representing the Premier League.  Matchups of Premier League sides include West Ham at Manchester United, Brighton at Leicester, Southampton at Wolves and Spurs at Everton.  Spurs v. Everton features two teams separated by a point in the league table with both sitting just outside European qualification. Serial trophy winner Jose Mourinho is seeking to deliver silverware for Spurs for the first time since the 2008 League Cup.  Everton is looking to earn its first major title since the 1995 FA Cup.  Premier League Leader Manchester City faces Championship squad Swansea while Premier League bottom dweller Sheffield United will face off against Championship side Bristol City.  Chelsea goes to Barnsley and Burnley will host Bournemouth in other matchups between Premier and Championship sides.  Winners of this week’s matches proceed to the quarterfinals of the FA Cup scheduled for the weekend of March 20. 

Friday, February 5, 2021

Matchweek 23 Preview: City Look To Knock Out Liverpool; Manchester United Face Tougher Old Trafford Test; Gunners Vulnerable vs. Villa; Seagulls Look to Continue Ascent

The fading title hopes of Liverpool are on the line this weekend when they welcome Manchester City to Anfield. A third consecutive home loss would put Liverpool 10 points behind a league leading Manchester City side which has a game in hand on the Reds. Manchester City has won 13 consecutive matches across all competitions, 9 consecutive wins in the league.

Everton will look to win a fifth consecutive league away match when they face Manchester United. United demolished Southampton this past week at Old Trafford but have incurred all four of their league losses in home matches this season.  

Leicester hopes to have Jamie Vardy back fit when they travel to Wolves this weekend. Leicester’s 8 wins on the road this season are matched only by Manchester City. Wolves will be looking to record back-to-back league wins for only a second time this season.  

Arsenal travels to Aston Villa shorthanded due to suspensions resultant from this week’s red cards versus Wolves. David Luiz will be replaced by Gabriel in defense but the real concern is that Arsenal could be vulnerable at goalkeeper where Bernd Leno is suspended and newly acquired Matt Ryan is nursing a hip injury. Runar Alex Runarsson could make his first league start for the Gunners. Villa is experiencing a rocky patch.  The 4 defeats in their last 6 games are as many losses as the Villans sustained in their first 18 matches this season.  

Southampton travels to Newcastle for a match between struggling teams. Southampton is at risk to lose its fifth consecutive league match which would equal the club record. Newcastle have lost 6 of their last 7 league matches.  

Spurs, still without Harry Kane, will hope to end their goal drought against a West Brom team which has conceded 52 goals this season 14 more than any other Premier League team. 

Brighton will be aiming for a third consecutive away win when they travel to Turf Moor to face Burnley this weekend. A fifth consecutive clean sheet would mark a club record for the Seagulls. The record should be in reach as Burnley has scored fewer league goals this season than any team in Europe’s top five leagues.  

West Ham looks to match a club record of four consecutive away victories when they travel to Fulham for a London derby. The Cottagers are at risk of matching a more dubious club record of eight consecutive league home matches without a win. The Cottagers are also winless in their last 19 London derbies, home and away.  

Suddenly dangerous Sheffield United hosts Chelsea at Bramall Lane.  Sheffield United’s Billy Sharp had the game winner versus West Brom, his third deciding goal in the past month across all competitions for the Blades. Chelsea has won 10 of its last 12 matches played against teams at the bottom of the league.  

Crystal Palace travels to Leeds without the services of injured Wilfried Zaha. That normally spells doom for the Eagles who have few other quality options in attack. Leeds will be looking to end a two-match home losing streak and to avenge an earlier 4-1 loss to Crystal Palace.


Matchweek 22 Results: Groundhog Day for Saints; Manchester City Smothers Burnley; Liverpool Falls Again at Anfield; Spurs Sputter; Hammers Pound Villa; Blades Strike Down West Brom

Only three times in Premier League history has a Premier League team lost by a record 9-0 score line. Southampton has now done it in two consecutive seasons, the Saints’ latest sin occurring on Groundhog Day Tuesday at Old Trafford against Manchester United. There was hope the ignominy could be avoided until a second red card was awarded in the 86th minute after which the 9-man Saints side conceded the final three goals. Well regarded Saints manager Ralph Hasenhuttl must do some soul searching as to why these historic collapses happen to his Saints. 7 different players scored for Manchester United in the rout. The Red Devils stay second in the table, 3 points behind Manchester City.  

The league leading Citizens have now won 13 consecutive matches across all competitions following their 2-0 defeat of Burnley. City has now recorded 6 consecutive league clean sheets.  Burnley, already the lowest scoring team in the league, were without both starting strikers for the match at Turf Moor.


Third place Leicester moved past Liverpool into third place with a 2-0 defeat of Fulham.  Midfielder James Maddison assisted on both goals for the Foxes who won for the first time in three matches.  Fulham failed to win for an 11th consecutive match.  

Liverpool dropped a spot to fourth in the table as they lost for a second consecutive time at Anfield following the end of their historic 68 match unbeaten run. The Reds’ 1-0 loss to Brighton drops them to fourth in the table, 7 points behind the leaders. The Seagulls continued to soar with a third win a four-match unbeaten run for the south coast team.  

West Ham defeated Aston Villa 3-1 won for a fourth win in their last five league five matches.  Jesse Lingard, newly acquired on loan from Manchester United where he was tethered to the bench, scored a brace in his debut for West Ham.  The fifth place Hammers are enjoying their most successful season in the top-flight after 22 matches since the 1985/86 season. Villa has lost 4 of their last 6 matches.  

Thomas Tuchel has yet to lose as Chelsea manager following his team 1-0 defeat of Spurs. Chelsea has yet to concede a goal in securing 7 of 9 points during Tuchel’s three match tenure. Of concern, though, is that no Chelsea forward has scored in the three matches. Spurs are on a three-match losing run and have not scored since Harry Kane’s injury in the first of those three matches. With the defeat, Jose Mourinho lost back-to-back home matches for his first time as a top-flight manager. Eighth place Spurs are now 14 points from the top of the table, 7 points outside the top four.  

Everton’s 2-1 win over Leeds draws them level on points with 6th place Chelsea and the Toffees have 2 matches in hand versus the Blues. Everton striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin scored for the first time since early December. Calvert-Lewin’s goal from an Everton corner was the 17th set piece goal conceded this season by Leeds, the most of any Premier League club.  

Arsenal were done in by a red card shown defender David Luiz in first half stoppage time during a 2-1 loss to Wolves. The ensuring penalty kick tied the score and 10-man Arsenal conceded the winner just three minutes into the second half. A second red card was assessed Arsenal when goalkeeper Bernd Leno later handled a ball outside his box. Wolves won for a first time in 9 matches.  

Crystal Palace won a second consecutive match, defeating Newcastle 2-1.  Palace received goals from unlikely sources as Gary Cahill scored his first career goal for the Eagles and Jairo Riedewald scored just his second goal of the season. Newcastle squandered an early lead in the game to fall to their 8th defeat in their last 11 league games. 

All three of Sheffield United’s wins this season have come in their last 5 matches following a 2-1 defeat of West Brom.  The Blades overcame an early 1-0 deficit in significantly damaging West Brom’s survival chances.

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Winter Transfer Window: Liverpool Adds Defense; Gunners Clean House; Baggies Load Up

The winter transfer window closed for Premier League clubs on Monday. The window was dominated by loan deals as clubs wrestle with the current financial circumstances created by the COVID pandemic. 

Liverpool, which earlier announced center back Joel Matip would be out for this season, moved quickly to obtain reinforcements for its back line by signing young defenders Ben Davies and Ozan Kabak from Preston North End and Schalke, respectively, on the window’s final day. Kabak will be on loan with a purchase option should the former Bundesliga defender impress. Exiting Liverpool on deadline day was winger Takumi Minamino who leaves on loan to struggling Southampton. The former FC Salzburg player should see significantly increased minutes with the Saints. 

Arsenal made further moves on Monday to transfer out more squad members as part of a sizable housecleaning by manager Mikel Arteta. Mesut Ozil’s Arsenal saga had ended in January with the midfielder’s move to Turkish club Fenerbache. On Monday, Shkodran Mustafi became the latest Arsenal defender to be moved when he went to Schalke as the likely replacement for Liverpool bound Kabak. Mustafi joins Sokratis, Sead Kolasinac and William Saliba as defenders leaving Arsenal this window. Arsenal on Monday also loaned out two players who may yet come back to a future with the club. Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Joe Willock will now assist the Premier League survival battles of West Brom and Newcastle, respectively, on loan deals before returning as Arsenal property at the end of the season. 

From an incoming perspective, Arsenal’s procurement of the services of Martin Odegaard on loan from Real Madrid was one of the more noteworthy additions made in the Premier League this window. Arsenal also addressed a backup goalkeeper need in acquiring Matt Ryan on loan from Brighton and Hove Albion. Arsenal’s Maitland-Niles was one of five transfers brought in by West Brom Manager Sam Allardyce in an attempt to avoid his first ever relegation. 

Unsurprisingly several strikers were acquired by Premier League clubs looking to address scoring deficiencies.  Among West Brom’s many transfers was Mbaye Diagne, acquired on loan from Galatasaray in Turkey.  Wolves acquired Willian Jose on loan from Real Sociedad to help replace injured striker Raul Jimenez. Everton, suffering from a goal shortage during a current slump by Dominic Calvert-Lewin brought in Bournemouth’s Josh King. Whether backing up or playing alongside Calvert-Lewin, King will be significant upgrade on Cenk Tosun, dispatched on loan to Turkish club Besiktas. Crystal Palace acquired Jean-Philippe Mateta on loan with an option to buy from Mainz where the young striker had 7 goals in 15 appearances this season for the Bundesliga club.  West Ham parted ways with disappointing striker Sebastian Haller, who was sold to Ajax.  The Hammers will hope for a better goal return from attacking midfielder/wing Jesse Lingard who they acquired on loan from Manchester United. Fulham, which was in the running for Josh King, came away Monday with Josh Maja on loan from Bordeaux.  Maja was featured during his time as a player for Sunderland in the Netflix documentary “Sunderland Till I Die.”

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Matchweek 22 Preview: London Derby; Basement Battle; Devils and Saints; Liverpool Looks to Start New Streak

The mid-week slate in the Premier League includes a London Derby between Chelsea and Spurs on Thursday. Chelsea would seem primed for a good run with a talented young roster under the direction of new manager Thomas Tuchel. Spurs are floundering at the moment under Jose Mourinho, having lost two on the trot and missing the inured Harry Kane.


Manchester United will try to stay on the heels of league leading Manchester City by capturing all three points when they host Saints. The Red Devils, though, have been vulnerable at home this season. Their four home losses to date represent the third highest season total in their Premier League history.  The Saints will be hoping hope to end a 3-match losing run when they visit Old Trafford.  

Manchester City looks to extend an 8-match winning run in league competition when they travel to Turf Moor to face a Burnley side currently starving for goals. A sixth consecutive clean sheet by the Citizens would establish a new club league record.  

Liverpool will play its first match at Anfield since the end of its 68-match home unbeaten run.  Following two away victories, the Reds will be attempting to win three consecutive league matches for the first time since the opening three matches of the season when they host Brighton. The Seagulls will be feeling increased confidence following their win over Spurs and three consecutive clean sheets.  A fourth consecutive clean sheet would be the first such streak for the Seagulls in topflight competition.  

Leicester tries to remain in the title hunt when it travels to London to face Fulham. The Foxes incurred their first loss of the new year when they fell to Leeds this past weekend, ending a nine-match unbeaten run for Leicester across all competitions.  The Cottagers have not won since November but have been playing an improved brand of football, earning a point in seven of their last ten matches.  

West Ham will try to rebound from their loss at Liverpool and continue with their successful season when the Hammers travel to Aston Villa. West Ham has already won as many matches as they did in the entirety of the 2019/20 season. Villa is looking to match a club record of four consecutive league home match clean sheets.  

Arsenal looks to continue a run of good form when it travels to struggling Wolves. The Gunners have won five times during their current seven match league unbeaten run and could have Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, missing due to personal reasons the last two matches, back for Tuesday’s match. Wolves are looking to end an eight-match winless run.  The club is hoping new striker Willian Jose can alleviate the scoring struggles Wolves have had since the loss of injured striker Raul Jimenez.  

Everton go to Leeds where the Toffees could have trouble matching goals with the frenetic Whites attack.  Everton’s performance has been patchy of late, winning just two of their past five matches.  Only Chelsea, outside of the league’s current top four clubs, has scored more goals than Leeds this season.  

Crystal Palace goes to Newcastle with both teams coming off confidence building wins in their last outings. A lot of focus will be on whether Newcastle continues in the more aggressive style flashed in their win over Everton. It is unlikely conservative Palace manager Roy Hodgson will start his newly acquired striker, Jean-Philippe Mateta.  

West Brom visits Sheffield United in a battle between the league’s bottom two teams.  West Brom has allowed the most goals in the league.  Sheffield has scored the fewest. Sheffield would seem resigned to its relegation fate after bringing in no new transfers.  West Brom would seem to still retain hope of preserving manager Sam Allardyce’s run of never having been relegated. The Baggies added five new players in the just concluded window.

Monday, February 1, 2021

Matchweek 21 Results: Newcastle Rises from the Dead; City Rolls On; Liverpool Finding Form; Mixed Result at Emirates; Seagulls Take Wing

The unpredictability which lends to the Premier League’s attraction for fans was demonstrated once again as Newcastle rose up to defeat Everton for a second time this season. The 2-0 victory was the first win in ten matches for the Magpies who had lost their four previous matches. Callum Wilson’s brace for Newcastle included his 50th career Premier League goal. Wilson’s performance was certainly helped by manager Steve Bruce’s change to a 4-4-2 diamond formation as his side showed more ambition.  

Everton showed little in the disappointing home performance and appears lacking in scoring options without production from leading scorer Dominic Calvert-Lewin. The Toffee striker has not scored since December 5th when he was leading the league with 11 goals.  

Sheffield United was unable to pull a second consecutive upset of a league leading Manchester club. Manchester City rode a Gabriel Jesus goal to a 1-0 victory over the Blades as the Citizens posted a fifth consecutive clean sheet. Sheffield United goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale helped control the damage after the early Jesus goal, but his Blades teammates were able to manage only one shot on target against Pep Guardiola’s home side. Manchester City has now won twelve consecutive matches across all competitions. 

Manchester United extended its away unbeaten run to eighteen matches with a goalless draw at Arsenal. Despite the accomplishment, the Red Devils have dropped five of six points in their last two matches as they have ceded top position in the table to Manchester City. Arsenal have not lost in their last seven league matches and a sixth straight match against United without a loss marks the longest such stretch in almost 38 years for the Gunners in their long rivalry with the Manchester club.  

Liverpool moved to third in the table with a 3-1 victory over West Ham, a second consecutive game with three goals for the Reds. Mohamed Salah had a brace for Liverpool, increasing his league leading goal total to 15. Versatile Liverpool midfielder and captain Jordan Henderson admirably filled in at center back to cover for a spate of injuries on the back line. West Ham lost for the first time in four matches.

Liverpool leapfrogged Leicester into third position with the win.  The Foxes fell 3-1 at home to Leeds, marking the first loss in eight matches for Leicester. Following an opening goal by forward Harvey Barnes, Leicester proceeded to drop points from a winning position for the first time this season. Newly promoted Leeds now have 9 victories in their 20 league matches this season. Leeds Striker Patrick Bamford had his 11th goal of the season in the win over Leicester. 

Spurs sorely missed injured striker Harry Kane as they were able to generate little in the way of attack in a 1-0 defeat at Brighton. It was an important win for Brighton who pulled themselves seven points clear of relegation with the win.  

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel celebrated his first Premier League win in the Blues 2-0 win over Burnley at Stamford Bridge, courtesy of goals defenders Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso.  The clean sheet was Chelsea third in its past four matches. Burnley, playing without Striker Chris Wood, failed to record a single shot on target.  

Aston Villa won for a second time in three matches by defeating the Saints 1-0 at St. Mary’s. Ross Barkley’s header, nicely assisted by Villa Captain Jack Grealish, decided the contest for Manager Dean Smith’s men. The Saints were gutted by a VAR disallowance of what would have been a tying goal by Danny Ings. Southampton has failed to score in 5 of the club’s last 8 matches, scoring just one goal in each of the other three matches during that stretch.  

Crystal Palace was much improved on recent form in a 1-0 home victory over Wolves.  The defensive solidity which had been lacking in recent matches was restored for the Eagles and Roy Hodgson’s men seemed more comfortable in attack. Young Eagles midfielder Eberechi Eze scored his third goal of the season for the win. Wolves failed to win for an eighth consecutive match, the longest such streak in Nuno Espirito Santo’s tenure as Wolves manager.  

Fulham and West Brom decided nothing in their relegation battle as the two sides finished in a 2-2 draw.  It was the 7th draw in the last 9 matches for the Cottagers who seem lacking the necessary next gear to escape the bottom three.  The shared result leaves West Brom trailing Fulham by two points in the table.