Monday, November 29, 2021

Premier League Results Match Week 13 : Chelsea Bedeviled at Home; Manchester City and Liverpool Close Gap; Arsenal Outgun Winless Newcastle; Everton Spiral Continues; Canaries Survive Wolves Attack

The title chase tightened over the weekend as league leading Chelsea was held to a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge by Manchester United. Chelsea was uncharacteristically sloppy with a giveaway by Jorginho providing the breakaway opportunity for Manchester United’s goal. United’s Jadon Sancho scored his first Premier League goal just days after scoring his first goal for the club in United’s Champions League win over Villareal. Jorginho would later find some solace with a match tying penalty kick for Chelsea. Michael Carrick potentially ended his temporary stint as manager undefeated for Manchester United, pending whether newly named interim manager Ralf Rangnick takes the reins for the next match. Rangnick will helm the club, once satisfying work permit requirements, for the balance of the season before assuming a front office consulting role at season’s end.

Manchester City moved within a point of Chelsea by defeating West Ham 2-1 in blizzard conditions at the Etihad. The victory was a ninth in ten meetings with West Ham for Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola. West Ham remained fourth on goal differential over Arsenal despite the Hammers falling for a second consecutive match.

Sunday’s snowy weather conditions in the northwest were so daunting that Burnley’s home match versus Tottenham Hotspur was postponed for a later date.

Things were sunnier in Liverpool Saturday where the Reds dispatched Southampton 4-0. Diogo Jota scored a brace while Mohamed Salah was held uncharacteristically to just an assist. Third place Liverpool trail Chelsea by two points in the table after a second consecutive win. The unsaintly performance by Southampton saw the club fall to 15th in the table, five points removed from the drop zone.

Arsenal, rebounding from its own 4-0 annihilation at Liverpool last week, resumed its surprising top four challenge by defeating Newcastle 2-0.

The Gunners, winners of four out of five matches, moved level on points with fourth place West Ham. Eddie Howe, managing his first match for Newcastle, gained an appreciation for the task ahead for the still winless Magpies if they are to avoid relegation under their new ownership.

Wolves sit three points behind Arsenal in sixth after a goalless draw with Norwich. Dean Smith is unbeaten after two outings as Canary manager, with seven of Norwich’s nine points this season having come in their last three matches.

Leeds remained three points ahead of the Canaries for the final position of safety after Marcelo Bielsa’s side unsurprisingly engaged in a goalless draw with the struggling Seagulls of Brighton and Hove Albion. Only Crystal Palace has drawn more games this season than Brighton and Leeds. Brighton remained ninth in the table after failing to win for an eighth consecutive outing.

Leicester trails the Seagulls on goal differential after the Foxes’ 4-2 win over Watford. Jamie Vardy scored a brace in the Leicester victory, moving within two goals of the league’s top scorer Mohamed Salah. Vardy also tied former Arsenal player Ian Wright for the most Premier League goals scored by a player after the age of thirty. Watford, meanwhile, is four points removed from the relegation zone after a third loss in their last four matches.

The league’s longest unbeaten streak entering the weekend ended when Crystal Palace fell to Aston Villa. Villa’s opening goal came on a set piece, the tenth such goal the Eagles have conceded this season. The Villans moved to a two-goal advantage, before a meaningless stoppage time goal by the Eagles, to give Aston Villa Manager Steven Gerrard his second win in as many games in charge. Aston Villa moved level on points with the 11th place Eagles.

Also climbing level with Crystal Palace on points was Brentford after the Bees defeated spiraling Everton 1-0. The Toffees have now lost five of six matches to drop to 14th in the table. 

The Week Ahead

Annual holiday fixture congestion begins this week with Match Week 14 being played Tuesday through Thursday to be quickly followed by Match Week 15 contests next weekend. The Manchester United drama continues when the Red Devils host surging Arsenal on Thursday. Who will be managing on the touchline for the hosts is an open question depending on Rangnick’s status. Curiously, the Red Devils have been unable to score in their last three league meetings with the Gunners.

A Wednesday Merseyside derby at Goodison Park between Everton and Liverpool carries heavy meaning for former Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez as he tries to turn around his failing tenure at Everton in front of the home Toffee fans against their most hated rival.

Chelsea makes a short trip to Watford to face the Hornets, Manchester City faces Aston Villa and undefeated manager Steven Gerard, and West Ham hosts anemic Brighton to complete the mid-week schedule for the top four squads.

At the bottom of the table, a key relegation scrap plays out Tuesday when Norwich visits winless Newcastle. A loss to the Canaries at St. James Park would already begin to cast a shadow on the barely started tenure of Magpie Manager Eddie Howe. Counterpart Dean Smith will look to remain undefeated in his third match in charge for Norwich. Leeds will try to stay out of the relegation battle for another week when it welcomes Crystal Palace to Elland Road. Southampton will look to end a two-match swoon when they host Leicester. Spurs and Burnley will hope to benefit from the extended rest provided by their cancelled weekend match when the two clubs face Brentford and Wolves, respectively.

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