Friday, October 28, 2022

Match Week 14 Preview: Potter Returns To Brighton; Spurs Look to Rebound; Hammers Look For Breakthrough at Old Trafford; Things Get Worse For Leeds’s Marsch; Gunner Firepower Will Test Forest

Graham Potter is undefeated as Chelsea’s manager. Roberto De Zerbi, Potter’s replacement as Brighton manager, has yet to win with the Seagulls after five attempts. The two managers meet Saturday in Potter’s first visit back to Brighton. Potter’s record at Chelsea has been helped by a friendly schedule as he continues to instill his principles. The Seagulls, meanwhile, continue to play entertaining football but have difficulty finishing, a problem that Potter will remember from his own time at the club.

Leeds Manager Jesse Marsch has not won since August and the Leeds fans are not happy. The winless run, which has seen Leeds settle into the relegation places, is unlikely to end Sunday when the Whites play Liverpool at Anfield. Liverpool, which advanced to the Champions League final sixteen during the week, will be keen to avoid a second consecutive league defeat to a club in the drop zone after the Reds’ stunning loss to Nottingham Forest last week.

Forest visits league leading Arsenal this weekend for another major challenge. The Gunners trail only Manchester City in goals scored this season and will face a Forest defense which has conceded the most goals in the league.

Work permit issues will prevent former Arsenal manager Unai Emery from manning the touchline when his new club, Aston Villa, faces Newcastle this weekend. Emery supposedly rejected overtures from Newcastle before the Magpies hired Eddie Howe last season. Emery can only hope to be as successful at Villa as Howe has been at Newcastle. The Magpies are flying under Howe and have climbed into the Championship League qualification places. Villa responded to the sacking of former manager Steven Gerrard with their best performance of the season last week in a win over Tottenham Hotspur.

Spurs, facing Bournemouth Saturday, have lost back-to-back matches in the league and were frustrated in a Champions League draw during the week. Bournemouth has also dropped two consecutive league matches after impressing during a six-match unbeaten run under interim manager Gary O’Neil.

Leicester has climbed out of the relegation zone with two consecutive wins, but the Foxes’ momentum likely ends Saturday when they host Manchester City. The Citizens have scored an eye popping 25 more goals than their opponents this season, an 11-goal advantage over the next most dominant club, Arsenal, despite the Gunners topping the table by two points over City. Pep Guardiola’s side leads the league in goals scored while only Bournemouth has conceded more goals than the Foxes.

Wolverhampton, meanwhile, has scored 31 fewer goals in the league than Manchester City. The toothless Wolves travel to Brentford Saturday to face a Bees’ side which was pummeled by Aston Villa last week. Brentford has been far better at home this season with only five clubs having accumulated more home points than the Bees. Wolverhampton has captured only one point on the road during their trying season to date.

Cheick Doucoure thankfully returns for Crystal Place when Southampton visits Selhurst Park Saturday. The young defensive midfielder missed last weekend’s match for the Eagles due to accumulated yellow cards and his absence was a factor in a 3-0 defeat to Everton. Crystal Palace and Southampton have each shown a propensity for comebacks this season.

The Eagles lead the league with nine points captured from losing positions with Southampton capturing just a point less in similar circumstances. While the grittiness of the two young rosters is to be admired, the comeback statistic also points to a certain inconsistency and tendency to dig a hole through early goal concessions. Both clubs are trying to swim clear of the relegation battle. Southampton is three points removed from the drop zone with Crystal Palace a point better than the Saints.

Only five points separates 10th place West Ham from the drop zone in the tightly congested Premier League table. West Ham has recovered from early season residency in the relegation places to now climb into the top half of the table. The Hammers are at Old Trafford on Sunday. Sixth place Manchester United is unbeaten in its last four home matches, winning three, after a season opening loss to Brighton. Raphael Varane is injured for the Red Devils and much maligned center back Harry Maguire could get a first league start since September. West Ham is seeking its first Premier League win at Old Trafford since 2007.

Fulham trails Manchester United by only two points in the table as the Cottagers’ look to further build on their surprising success when they host Everton Saturday. Fulham manager Marco Silva will be facing his old club for the first time since his 2019 sacking by the Toffees. Fulham and Everton have differing styles. Fulham can be lethal in attack but leaves itself open on the counter. Only Manchester City, Arsenal and Spurs have scored more goals than the Cottagers this season. Defensively, however, only Bournemouth, Leicester and Nottingham Forest have shipped more goals than Fulham. Everton, conversely, has been one of the league’s best defensive clubs, but goals have been difficult to come by. The Toffees shocked Crystal Palace 3-0 last weekend, only the second time this season the Toffees have scored two or more goals. Everton sits 12th in the table, five points below their Saturday opponent.

Premier League in Europe

Champions League

Three of the four Premier League clubs have secured their passage to the knockout round of Champions League competition. Spurs, however, need a win or draw at Marseilles next week to advance in the competition after a late Harry Kane goal was overturned on VAR review in a 1-1 draw with Sporting Lison. Incensed Tottenham Hotspur Manager Antonio Conte received a red card for his protestations and comments. The Italian manager will thus be banned from next week’s critical match. Manchester City clinched first place in its group with a goalless draw at Dortmund and will face a second-place qualifier in the next round. The Citizens, however, experienced a nervous moment when Erling Haaland limped from the pitch. The Norwegian striker is reported to have suffered a minor foot injury and was dealing with a fever. Manager Pep Guardiola was optimistic regarding Haaland’s prognosis and indicated the prolific goal scorer could even be available for the weekend league match with Leicester. Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah now leads this season’s competition with seven goals after the Egyptian forward scored in a 3-0 win at Ajax. Liverpool clinched second place behind Napoli in its group. To finish first in the Group, the Reds would need to defeat the Italians by four goals in their match next week. Chelsea clinched the top spot in its group with a 2-1 win over Salzburg on Tuesday. The Blues won for a third straight match after losing and drawing in their first two matches of the competition. 

Europa and Conference League

Cristiano Ronaldo returned to the pitch and scored a goal in Manchester United’s 3-0 thrashing of Sheriff Tiraspol. The Red Devils need to defeat Real Sociedad by at least two goals in Spain next week to top their group. Failing to do so will pair United in the next round with one of the clubs descending from the Champions League. Potential opponents in the next round, should Manchester United finish second in the group, include Barcelona, Juventus and Atletico Madrid after those clubs were eliminated from the top European competition. Arsenal could also face a playoff with one of the eliminated Champions League clubs after the Gunners lost 2-0 at PSV Eindhoven on Thursday. The Gunners need to defeat Zurich next week at the Emirates to secure the top spot in their group and a presumably easier draw in the next round. West Ham defeated Silkeborg 1-0 at London Stadium in their Europa Conference League match. The victory, secured with a Manuel Lanzini goal, clinches top spot in their group for the Hammers in  advance of next week’s final group stage match. 


Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Match Week 13 Results: Newcastle Surges Into Top Four As Spurs Fall Again; Liverpool Ambushed At Forest; Gunners Drop Points; Haaland Resumes Goal Barrage; Casemiro Gives Manchester United Late Point at Chelsea; Palace and Wolves Smashed; Villa Ignites As Emery Set For League Return

Newcastle moved into the Premier League’s top four with a decisive 2-1 victory at Tottenham Hotspur. Manager Eddie Howe’s Magpies won for a fourth time in their last five matches and are undefeated in seven matches since incurring their only loss of the season at Liverpool. Newcastle striker Callum Wilson opened the scoring with a controversial goal following a collision with Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.

Miguel Almiron then scored for a fifth time in his last five matches. Spurs received a consolation goal when Harry Kane scored for a tenth time this season, becoming only the fourth player in Premier League history to score in double digits in nine consecutive seasons. Spurs were unable to kick on, however, as the Newcastle defense held firm after Kane’s 54th minute goal. Newcastle has not lost since August while Spurs lost for a second time in the last five days.

The Magpies replaced Chelsea in the top four after Chelsea dropped points in a 1-1 draw with Manchester United at Stamford Bridge. An 87th minute penalty kick by Jorginho seemed to decide the match in favor of the home club but the Red Devils were not yet finished. Manchester United midfielder Casemiro headed in the equalizer in the fifth minute of stoppage time to salvage the point for his club and deny Chelsea a sixth consecutive clean sheet across all competitions. Chelsea remains undefeated under Manager Graham Potter but is suffering some of the same lack of offensive spark as experienced under Thomas Tuchel. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Raheem Sterling were notably quiet in Saturday’s match as Sterling continued his dubious record of never having scored against Manchester United.

Sterling’s former club, Manchester City, responded to its first loss of the season by defeating Brighton and Hove Albion 3-1. Erling Haaland, who was kept off the scoresheet in his club’s loss to Liverpool, resumed his scoring march with a brace against the Seagulls which brought his season total to 17 goals after just 11 matches. City won for a tenth consecutive time at the Etihad, scoring at least three goals in each of those home victories. The victory on Saturday moved Manchester City to within two points of table leading Arsenal. Brighton, meanwhile, remains without a win after five league matches under Manager Roberto De Zerbi.

Liverpool, which drew with De Zerbi’s squad in his league debut, looked ready to turn around a disappointing season two successive wins over Manchester City and West Ham. That momentum came to a screeching halt, however, when the Reds fell to previously bottom of the table Nottingham Forest in a shocking 1-0 loss at the City Ground.

Nottingham Forest goalkeeper Dean Henderson, on loan from Manchester United, was outstanding in frustrating the efforts of his parent club’s historic rival and perhaps less impressive in his family inappropriate gestures to Liverpool supporters after the match. Nottingham Forest won for just a second time this season to give its own supporters some survival hope. While remaining bottom on goal differential, Forest is now level on points with the other two relegation clubs, two points from safety and, remarkably, just five points from the top half of a tightly congested Premier League table. Liverpool finds itself five points removed from the Champions League places after its disappointing performance on the weekend. Manager Jurgen Klopp needs to go back to the drawing board to find the answers to his club’s puzzlingly poor season.

Southampton held league leading Arsenal to a 1-1 draw as Arsenal dropped points for only a second time this season. Stuart Armstrong equalized for the Saints in the 65th minute after Granit Xhaka had given the Gunners an early lead. The scrappy Saints have recovered to capture points from losing positions on eight occasions this season with only Crystal Palace having executed more comebacks. Arsenal had won 18 consecutive league matches when scoring the first goal.

Former Arsenal manger Unai Emery has been announced as the next manager at Aston Villa. Emery returns to the Premier League after a period of rehabilitation in Spain. While his league results in Spain were somewhat underwhelming, Emery once again proved himself a master of European competitions as his Villarreal side won a fourth Europa League Cup for the manager by defeating Manchester United in the 2021 final. Emery suffered communication issues during his much-criticized Arsenal reign and close attention will be focused on how his relationship with the Aston Villa players progresses. Those players were believed highly unhappy under former Manager Steven Gerrard and celebrated their freedom from the former Liverpool legend by winning 4-0 over Brentford in their first match since Gerrard’s sacking. The four-goal outburst was only the second time this season that Villa had scored more than a goal. The Bees, meanwhile, have been stung for at least three goals in a third of their games and are one of five teams to have conceded more than 20 goals this season.

Crystal Palace, playing without suspended defensive midfielder Cheik Doucoure, was also guilty of a poor defensive performance in a 3-0 defeat at Everton. The necessary insertion of Luka Milivojevic for the absent Doucoure significantly weakened the Eagle defense. The Toffees saw oft injured striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin score for a first time this season after one Milivojevic miscue. The Palace attack, meanwhile, was fruitless against an Everton defense which has conceded the joint third fewest goals in the league.

Wolverhampton has scored the fewest goals in the league and added horrendous defense to its repertoire in a 4-0 pasting at the hands of Leicester. The Foxes moved out of the relegation zone as Jamie Vardy scored his first goal of the season. Wolves, Leicester, and Nottingham Forest now lead the league with a dubious seven losses apiece. Leeds is gaining in the loss column, however, after losing for a fourth consecutive time in a 3-2 home loss to Fulham. The managerial tenure of Jesse Marsch  hangs by a thread after the home supporters at Elland Road were vociferous in their condemnation of the American manager after another poor performance dropped Leeds into the relegation places. Fulham’s fifth win in twelve league contests matches the win total for the entirety of the Cottagers’ last season in the Premier League in 2020/21.

West Ham moved into the top half of the table for a first time this season with a 2-0 win over Bournemouth as Said Benrahma and Kurt Zouma notched their first goals of the season for the Hammers. Bournemouth lost, while failing to score, for a second consecutive match as the successful new manager bounce associated with interim manager Gary O’Neil appears to be ebbing.

Friday, October 21, 2022

Match Week 13 Preview

Manchester United can break into the top four with a win at Chelsea Saturday. The Red Devils have won six of their last eight league matches, losing just once over that stretch. Fourth place Chelsea has won four of their last five matches after a Wednesday draw at Brentford. The two clubs have produced draws in their last four meetings. Cristiano Ronaldo is excluded from the Manchester United squad for the match at Stamford Bridge after his unprofessional exit during the Red Devils’ win over Spurs.

Table leading Arsenal and their closest pursuer, Manchester City, are both on the South coast this weekend. The Gunners visit Southampton while Manchester City are at Brighton. The Gunners hold a four-point advantage over Manchester City in the title race.

A top six battle is on the cards when Newcastle visits Tottenham Hotspur Sunday. Third place Spurs have yet to defeat a top six club this season and received a reality check in a loss to Manchester United during the week. Newcastle will be another formidable challenge with the sixth place Magpies having won three of their past four matches.

Seventh place Liverpool will be looking for a third consecutive win when the Reds visit bottom of the table Nottingham Forest. Resurgent Liverpool is now four points from the Champions League places.

Struggling Leeds has captured all eight of its points this season at home and the Whites return to their friendly Elland Road confines to host Fulham Sunday. A home loss to the Cottagers in front of the Elland faithful would be highly damaging to the job security of Leeds’s American manager Jesse Marsch. His club has officially thrown its hat into the relegation ring after five losses in seven. Only goal differential has the Whites currently safe as they share the point total of 18th place Wolves. Fulham has surprised to date as the newly promoted side has remained in the top half of the table under Manager Marco Silver.

Another promoted side, Bournemouth has also achieved beyond expectations since parting ways with manager Scott Parker. The 12th place Cherries travel to West Ham this weekend to face a Hammer side which has disappointed for much of this season.

Crystal Palace will be seeking a third win in its last four matches when the Eagles visit Goodison Park to take on Frank Lampard’s Everton. Lampard had been receiving kudos for the improvement shown by Everton, particularly in defense, earlier this season. A lack of goal production has undercut that improvement and the Toffees now find themselves falling into another relegation fight as supporters are painfully reminded of last season’s close escape. Crystal Palace supporters like what they’re currently seeing as the Eagles’ younger players are beginning to produce and veteran Wilfried Zaha is flashing his top form.

The bottom of the table sees a face-off between two relegation contenders when Leicester visits Wolverhampton. Both clubs have earned their current standing in the table. Wolves have scored the fewest goals in the league. Leicester has allowed the most goals in the Premier League. 

Match Week 12 (Midweek) Results: Manchester United Wins, Ronaldo Pouts; Alisson Saves Liverpool; Villa Sacks Gerrard After Loss To Fulham; Bournemouth Streak Ends; Brighton Futility Continues; Almiron Leads Newcastle; Foxes Exit Basement; Eagles Overtake Wolves

Manchester United posted one of its best efforts of the season in defeating Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 on Wednesday. Headlines for the victory, however, needed to be shared with the petulant actions of club legend Cristiano Ronaldo. Once ascertaining he would not be entering the contest as a substitute, the Portuguese striker headed for the tunnel before match end. Ronaldo’s childish display detracted from the Red Devil performance which saw goals by Bruno Fernandes and Fred ensure the second loss of the season for Spurs. United moved to within one point of the Champions League qualification places with the win. Ronaldo, meanwhile, will not be part of the squad facing Chelsea this weekend and will likely face a hefty fine as well. The situation is becoming untenable for club and player but there are few options until the next transfer window and potentially few options even then.

Steven Gerrard also made a noteworthy exit this week as the Aston Villa manager was sacked after a crushing 3-0 loss to Fulham, a tenth consecutive league match in which Gerrard’s club failed to score more than a goal. Aston Villa has scored but seven goals in its eleven matches, an unacceptable tally for a club with proven scorers and creative talents on its roster. No Villa player has more than one league goal for the 17th place Villans this season. Fulham striker Aleksandar Mitrovic scored a penalty on Thursday to give him one more goal for the season than the entire Villa team.

Liverpool needed just a single goal for a second consecutive league victory. The Reds survived 1-0 versus West Ham as Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson stopped a penalty kick by the Hammers’ Jarrod Bowen. Liverpool’s second consecutive clean sheet came despite a clumsy foul by center back Joe Gomez which provided Bowen the opportunity to equalize after Darwin Nunez had scored his first Anfield goal for Liverpool.

Newcastle was also a 1-0 winner as Miguel Almiron scored his fifth goal of the season to defeat a punch less Everton side. Almiron has scored in three of his last four matches, all victories for the Magpies. Everton, meanwhile, lost a third consecutive match and the Toffees are just a point above the relegation places. The Toffees have failed to register a shot on target in two consecutive matches as an anemic attack has betrayed a formidable defense.

Brighton and Hove Albion remain winless in four matches under Manager Roberto De Zerbi after a goalless draw with Nottingham Forest. The Seagulls have failed to score in three consecutive matches after a promising 3-3 draw in De Zerbi’s debut.

Forest fell into the league’s basement despite the point as Leicester won for only the second time this season. The Foxes defeated spiraling Leeds 2-0. Leeds Manager Jesse Marsch is under pressure after his side lost to the feeble Foxes for Leeds’s third consecutive loss and fifth in the club’s last seven matches.

The potential rewards of managerial change was demonstrated by Bournemouth’s six match unbeaten run under interim manager Gary O’Neil following the sacking of Scott Parker. That streak ended Wednesday when the Cherries lost 1-0 to Southampton. The victory moved the Saints to within two points of 12th place Bournemouth.

Graham Potter is still undefeated as Chelsea manager after a goalless draw at Brentford. Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizbalaga notched his fifth consecutive clean sheet across all competitions.

Crystal Palace won in comeback fashion for a third time at home this season as the Eagles scored twice in the second half to erase an early Wolves lead. Michael Olise crossed to Eberechi Eze for the equalizer and then Crystal Palace star Wilfried Zaha delivered the victory with his fifth goal of the season. Palace moved to 11th place in the table with their second consecutive win at Selhurst Park. Wolves are in the relegation zone after a fourth loss in five matches.

The originally scheduled match for midweek between Arsenal and Manchester City was postponed as Arsenal played a rescheduled Europa League match versus PSV Eindhoven. The Gunners prevailed in their European contest when Granit Xhaka scored the only goal of Thursday’s match between the sides. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Match Week 12 Preview

Match Week 12 of the Premier League season will play out Tuesday through Thursday of this week. An originally scheduled blockbuster match between Arsenal versus Manchester City is postponed but the third and fourth place clubs are in action as Chelsea engages in a London derby at Brentford and Tottenham Hotspur travels to Old Trafford to face fifth place Manchester United. Newcastle can move past Manchester United in the table if the Magpies enjoy a better result in their home match versus Everton than the Red Devils experience against Spurs.

Liverpool remains home after their big win at Anfield over City on the weekend. Wednesday the Reds will host West Ham.

Former Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard could find himself in dire job jeopardy if his Aston Villa side can’t produce a result at Fulham.

Gerrard’s former Liverpool Manger, Brendan Rodgers, has his own issues as Leicester will try to win for only a second time this season when the relegation bound Foxes host Leeds. Leeds is vulnerable after losing three of their past four matches.

Bournemouth face Southampton at the Cherries’ Vitality Stadium in a south coast matchup which supporters of both clubs refuse to acknowledge as a derby. Tenth place Bournemouth are five points better than relegation bound Southampton.

Brighton is also in action on the south coast as the Seagulls host Nottingham Forest. Brighton Manger Roberto de Zerbi should have his best chance yet to secure his first Premier League victory as his club faces a Nottingham Forest side which has lost seven times in ten league tries this season with only Leicester having tasted failure so often.

Crystal Palace has struggled to convert chances this season, but host even more offensively challenged Wolverhampton on Tuesday at Selhurst Park.

Match Week 11 Results: Liverpool Topples Manchester City; Arsenal Extends Lead By Beating Leeds; Spurs and Chelsea Win; Goalless At Old Trafford; Wolves Score !

Liverpool announced its season is far from done as the Reds toppled Manchester City in a tense 1-0 contest at Anfield. The much-maligned Liverpool defense played its best match of the season in shutting down the league’s leading scorer Erling Haaland. Virgil van Dijk was once again a force in the heart of the Reds’ defense, fellow center back Joe Gomez improved on his recent poor performances, and 36-year-old James Milner, filling in for Trent Alexander-Arnold, worked tirelessly at right back to thwart the City attack. Mohamed Salah, his confidence boosted by a midweek Champions League hat trick, scored the winner for Liverpool in the 76th minute.

Salah’s goal came off a long ball assist from goalkeeper Allyson in a reminder of the difference in style between the two clubs as Manchester City much prefers to work from the back via short passes. Erling Haaland’s record breaking goal scoring exploits were temporarily put on pause and the striker was also guilty of a foul which negated a goal by teammate Phil Foden. The debatable infraction by Haaland seemed inconsistent with referee Anthony Taylor’s willingness to allow other marginal fouls to go uncalled in the hotly contested match. Emotions flared on the pitch and in the stands throughout the match with Liverpool Manager Jurgen Klopp being sent off late for his protestations of an uncalled foul against Salah. Counterpart Pep Guardiola, meanwhile, was vocal after the match regarding the Haaland foul which deprived his club of a point.

Arsenal extended its lead in the table to four points over Manchester City with a 1-0 win at Leeds. Leeds striker Patrick Bamford missed a first half penalty which would have put his club in front. The match was then temporarily halted for an extended period due to a power outage at Elland Road. Bukayo Saka scored for the Gunners when the clubs returned to the pitch and Arsenal survived a late scare when a potential penalty committed by Arsenal defender Gabriel, which would have provided Bamford with a chance to make amends, was overruled by VAR in stoppage time. Arsenal won a fourth consecutive match and for a ninth time in ten matches this season.

Tottenham Hotspur remained four points behind the Gunners and are now level on points with Manchester City after a 2-0 defeat of Everton. A scoreless first half was followed by a Harry Kane second half penalty, his fifth goal in his last five matches, and a clinching 89th minute goal by Spurs’ Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg.

Spurs’ 23 points after 10 matches represents the highest point total at this stage in the club’s Premier League history. Everton will rue missing two first half scoring opportunities before a second half in which the Toffees were unable to put a shot on target.

Graham Potter remains undefeated as Chelsea manager after a 2-0 win at Aston Villa. Mason Mount scored a goal in each half to provide the margin in Chelsea’s fifth consecutive win across all competitions under Potter. Aston Villa failed to score for a fourth time this season and have the joint second lowest goal total in the league as the pressure increased on Manager Steven Gerrard. Mauricio Pochettino has recently emerged as a rumored replacement possibility for the embattled Gerrard.

A goalless draw between the clubs at Old Trafford kept fifth place Manchester United one point ahead of visiting Newcastle. A frustrated Cristiano Ronaldo put two balls in the net, but both were disallowed, the first for a conventional offside infraction but the second disallowance occurring in a much more unusual manner. Ronaldo snatched up a ball residing at the feet of Newcastle goalkeeper Nick Pope and fired into the net as everyone else on the pitch looked on in confusion. Ronaldo’s contention that another Newcastle player had put the ball in play before Pope prepared to take an awarded free kick was rejected by the referee who rendered a yellow card on Ronaldo for his ambitious, but time-wasting action. Newcastle earned a point at Old Trafford for the first time in seven years.

Brighton lost a second consecutive match to remain winless under Manager Roberto de Zerbi as the Seagulls fell 2-0 at Brentford. Ivan Toney scored twice for the Bees to further make the case that he should be included in England Manager Gareth Southgate’s World Cup plans. Brentford ended a three-match winless run to move back into the top half of the table, just a point below Brighton.

Fulham came form behind twice to secure a 2-2 draw at Craven Cottage versus Bournemouth. Fulham striker Aleksandar Mitrovic labored throughout the match with an injured foot before securing the point with his second half penalty kick. Fulham remained a point behind 10th place Bournemouth as the Cottagers ended a two-match losing run. The Cherries, meanwhile, remain undefeated in six matches under interim manager Gary O’Neil.

Declan Rice saved a point for West Ham when his second half goal equalizer delivered a 1-1 draw at Southampton. Complaints regarding referee decisions voiced by West Ham Manager David Moyes could not mask what was a poor performance by the Hammers who would have hoped for more from their visit to the coast. Southampton snapped a string of four consecutive defeats as left back Romain Perraud scored his first Premier League goal.

Wolves increased their season’s goal total by a third in a 1-0 victory over Nottingham Forest. Wolverhampton’s fourth goal of the season came on a second half Ruben Neves penalty kick which lifted his club from the relegation places.

Forest dropped to the league basement, trailing Leicester on goal differential after the Foxes grabbed a point in a lackluster goalless home draw with Crystal Palace. Supporters at King Power expressed their frustration both vocally and with banners asking for action from the Leicester Board as the job security of Manager Brendan Rodgers seems to hang by a thread. Crystal Palace was poor as well despite earning an away point. The Eagles generated just a solitary shot on target.

Friday, October 14, 2022

Match Week 11 Preview: Shine Off Liverpool v. Manchester City Matchup? Newcastle Chance To Prove It Belongs; Fulham and Bournemouth A Clash of Overachievers; Hammers Look To Continue Climbing

Manchester City travels to Liverpool this weekend to visit its wounded rival. Manchester City is chasing yet another Premier League title and has arguably become a better club after adding the prolific goalscoring of Erling Haaland. Liverpool, meanwhile, has fallen on hard times in the league and is looking up from 10th position in the table. Manchester City has outscored Premier League opponents by 24 goals in nine matches this season. Absent an anomalous 9-0 battering of Bournemouth, Liverpool would have a negative goal differential this season. While a mismatch on paper, the rivalry of recent years and the Anfield support for Liverpool should ensure a lively affair and perhaps a chance for the Reds to reverse their fortunes.

Manchester City, however, is still chasing Arsenal in the table and will be keen to avoid dropping points Sunday to its once most formidable rival. Arsenal holds a slim one-point lead over Manchester City as the league leaders head to Elland Road this weekend to face Leeds. The Gunners have responded with three consecutive wins after suffering their only loss of the season to Manchester United. Leeds, meanwhile, is reeling a bit after suffering a third loss in five matches last weekend versus Crystal Palace. Colombian winger Luis Sinisterra returns from suspension for Leeds. Arsenal rested Gabriel Jesus for its midweek Europa League match, but Arsenal’s leading scorer should again be leading the line at Elland Road this weekend.

Graham Potter is undefeated across all competitions as Chelsea manager as he takes his club to Aston Villa Sunday where opposing manager Steven Gerrard is under fire. Villa has been unproductive in the final third this season, scoring more than a goal in just one match. Chelsea has scored at least two goals in each of its three league matches under Potter and striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang seems to offer the consistent goal threat the Blues have been lacking in recent seasons. Chelsea has moved into the top four, just four points behind third place Tottenham Hotspur which has played one more match than Potter’s side.

Spurs are home to Everton on Saturday where Manager Antoinio Conte’s club will look to extend a current seven match winning run at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Richarlison will be anxious to put in a performance versus his former club, perhaps capped by his first Premier League goal for Spurs. Everton are squarely mid table with the Toffees four points removed from both the European places and the relegation zone. Manager Frank Lampard received criticism for the performance of his defense as Chelsea manager, but his Everton side has conceded the joint fewest goals in the Premier League this season.

Sixth place Newcastle will attempt to leapfrog fifth place Manchester United at Old Trafford Sunday. Newcastle has rolled its last two opponents by an aggregate 9-2 margin. Miguel Almiron has contributed three goals in those two matches while Bruno Guimares registered a brace in the Magpies’ last match. Manchester United responded to a crushing defeat at Manchester City two weeks ago by nipping Everton on a Cristiano Ronaldo goal last week.

Fulham and Bournemouth finished first and second in the Championship division last season and the two promoted clubs are both surprisingly now in the top half of the Premier League table. Eighth place Bournemouth visits Fulham this weekend with the Cherries yet to taste defeat under interim manager Gary O’Neil. A five-match unbeaten run has moved the Cherries one point ahead of Fulham in the table. The Cottagers have hit a rough patch, losing three of their past four matches after a strong start to the season. The fitness of Fulham’s Aleksandar Mitrovic could be the deciding factor Saturday. Mitrovic is questionable for the match at Craven Cottage with a foot injury which caused him to miss the Cottagers’ loss at West Ham last week.

Brentford have won only one of their last seven Premier League matches as the Bees prepare to host Brighton in a Friday match. That lack of success has dropped Brentford to 11th in the table, but the Bees are still only four points behind seventh place Brighton. The Seagulls will be looking to win their first match in a third try under new manager Roberto de Zerbi. Ivan Toney leads the scoring for the Bees with a six-goal tally to date which includes a hat trick versus Leeds. Leonardo Trossard leads the Seagulls with five goals, including a hat trick against Liverpool.

West Ham has moved within four points of the European places after two consecutive victories have lifted the Hammers from the relegation zone. Manager David Moyes will expect his charges to continue to climb the table by capturing a result at Southampton this weekend. The Hammers’ attack, somnolent for much of the season, has awakened in recent weeks with improved performances from goal scorers Jarrod Bowen and Gianluca Scamacca. The Saints, meanwhile, have lost four consecutive matches to drift to within a point of the drop zone and allow Manager Ralph Hasenhuttl to make rapid strides in the Premier League sack race.

Crystal Palace has another opportunity to distance itself from the relegation clubs when the Eagles visit Leicester Saturday. Crystal Palace Manager Patrick Vieira saw goals from Odsonne Edouard and Eberechi Eze defeat Leeds last week for just the Eagles’ second win of the season. Production from players not named Wilfried Zaha is critical for the Eagles to keep moving up the table. Leicester risks losing to Crystal Palace for a first time under Manager Brendan Rodgers. The Foxes are bottom of the table and have conceded the most goals in the league.

The two clubs sharing the relegation spaces with Leicester are Wolverhampton and Nottingham Forest. Those two clubs face off on Saturday in a battle of resistible force versus movable object. Wolverhampton’s three goals from their nine matches make them the least dangerous club in the league. Nottingham Forest, meanwhile, has given up the second most goals, after Leicester, this season. Forest, however, is also less than offensive powerhouse as only Wolves have scored fewer times than Manager Steven Cooper’s squad. One can only fear for those supporters feeling obligated to view this Battle Royale between the relegation rivals.

Premier League in Europe

Champions League

Erling Haaland rested, and Manchester City failed to score in a goalless draw with Copenhagen. Manager Pep Guardiola sat his biggest star in advance of his club’s Premier League matchup with Liverpool this coming weekend. The offensive prospects for the Citizens were further damaged Tuesday when they were reduced to 10 men after a Sergio Gomez red card in the 30th minute. Manchester City, however, clinched qualification for the knockout round with the underwhelming draw in Denmark. Liverpool had no problem scoring goals in a 7-1 rout of Glasgow Rangers in Scotland. The win puts Liverpool in a comfortable second place position behind Napoli in its group while Rangers are yet to take a point in the competition. Mohamed Salah came in as a second half substitute Wednesday with Liverpool already comfortably ahead and proceeded to score the quickest hat trick in Champions League history over a 13-minute span of the second half. Salah now has 38 Champions League goals for Liverpool which surpasses Didier Drogba and Sergio Aguero for most career goals in Champions League by a player for any English club. Liverpool supporters can only hope that Wednesday’s offensive outburst represents a turning point in Salah’s frustrating season. Chelsea completed a double over AC Milan with a 2-0 win at legendary San Siro Stadium. AC Milan failed to score in its two group matches against Chelsea and were doomed on Tuesday by an 18th minute red card assessed against former Chelsea defender Fikayo Tomori. Jorginho converted the penalty and Pierre-Emerick later sealed the match for Chelsea with a goal against a club he once played for . The win moved Chelsea to the top of a very tightly contested group where all four clubs still have opportunity to advance. Son Heung-min scored goals before and after a Harry Kane penalty kick to power Tottenham Hotspurs’ 3-2 victory over Eintracht Frankfurt. The German side refused to surrender easily, however, with an 87th minute goal narrowing the margin amid a frenetic late match attacking storm by the Bundesliga club. Spurs moved top of their group with the victory. 

Europa and Conference League

Arsenal and Manchester United posted 1-0 victories over Bodo/Glimt and Omonia, respectively. The Gunners’ icy visit to the Arctic Circle proved successful when Bukayo Saka scored the winner in the 24th minute to keep Arsenal perfect in Europa League competition. Manchester United’s fortunes remained in the balance against Omonia until stoppage time despite the Red Devils dominating play and taking 34 shots. Scott McTominay’s 93rd minute winner provided a positive result to a frustrating afternoon at Old Trafford against the Cypriot side. Manchester United are a comfortable second in their group to Real Sociedad with two matches left to play. Said Benrahma and Jarrod Bowen gave West Ham a two-goal advantage which survived a late 89th minute penalty conversion by Anderlecht in a 2-1 Europa Conference League victory by the Hammers. West Ham remained perfect in the competition and has now clinched advancement to the knockout stage with two group matches yet to be played. Much of the action Thursday occurred in the London Stadium stands which were the site of chair and flare throwing by overly raucous supporters of the two clubs. The intervention of riot police was required to restore order off the pitch.

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Match Week 10 Results: Gunners Remain Top With Defeat of Liverpool; Manchester City Rolls the Saints; Chelsea Returns To Top Four After Slaying Wolves; Ronaldo’s 700th Keys Manchester United Win; High Scoring Newcastle Moves Into Top Six; Palace Makes it Look Eze

Arsenal’s Gabriel Martinelli scored one minute into the match and Bukayo Saka captured victory with his 76th minute penalty as Arsenal posted a 3-2 win over a stubborn Liverpool squad in a tense match at the Emirates. League leading Arsenal proved itself once again by defeating a quality opponent one week after its win over Spurs in the north London derby. Sunday’s match was a tense encounter with Liverpool twice coming back to tie the match. Emotions boiled over and nearly led to chaos on a controversial foul on Gabriel Jesus leading to Saka’s game winning kick. Argument led to some laying of hands and some inappropriate comments between the players in an incident which has been referred to the English Football Association for investigation. Saka’s game winner was his second of the match. Darwin Nunez and Bobby Firmino were the goal scorers for a Liverpool squad which showed grit but failed to win for a sixth time in its eight league matches to date. Arsenal, meanwhile, won its eighth consecutive home match. The two clubs are traveling different paths as Arsenal continues to lead the league and a struggling Liverpool now sits 10th in the table.

Manchester City remains a point behind Arsenal as Erling Haaland continues to break records. The Citizens easily defeated Southampton 4-0 as Haaland scored his 15th goal of the season to make him the fastest to that mark in Premier League history. Manchester City as a team has accounted for 33 goals in nine league matches, 10 more goals than next highest scoring Arsenal. Kevin De Bruyne has been integral in fueling the City attack with his assist of a Phil Foden goal against the Saints giving the Belgian midfielder nine for the season versus the four assists of the league’s next nearest set up man. Joao Cancelo and Rodri also contributed goals in the demolition of Southampton as Manchester City remained the only undefeated club in all four divisions of English football. The Saints, meanwhile, lost a fourth consecutive match and seemed entirely focused on just keeping the score down Saturday versus the Manchester City juggernaut.

Tottenham Hotspur responded to its loss in the north London derby last week by downing Brighton 1-0 on a header by Harry Kane. The English captain has now registered a goal in four consecutive Premier League appearances.

Spurs emerged from an emotional week which saw the passing of fitness coach Gian Piero Ventrone. Brighton fell to seventh in the table with the loss.

Replacing Brighton in the top four, four points behind third place Spurs, is a resurgent Chelsea side. The Blues had little difficulty in a 3-0 win at Stamford Bridge over goal poor Wolverhampton. Chelsea’s starting  lineup saw seven changes from the side that defeated AC Milan midweek. US Men’s National Team star Christian Pulisic started for just a second time this season and delivered his first Premier League goal of the current campaign. Pulisic has struggled for playing time and his goal could make the case for further minutes under new manager Graham Potter. Kai Havertz, starting as Potter rested Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, notched the opener for Chelsea in first half stoppage time. Second half substitute Armando Broja scored his first goal in a Chelsea shirt. Wolverhampton failed to score for a sixth time in its last nine matches and came away without a victory for the fifteenth time in their last sixteen matches.

Manchester United are fifth in the table, just a point behind Chelsea, after the Red Devils’ 2-1 win at Everton. Cristiano Ronaldo’s 700th career goal in club competition provided the winner for Manchester United.

The Portuguese legend was fittingly assisted on his goal by former Real Madrid teammate Casemiro who made his first Premier League start for Manchester United. An opening goal by Everton’s Alex Iwobi was earlier negated when Antony scored for a third time in three league appearances for the Red Devils.

Newcastle has now scored nine goals in two matches after a resounding 5-1 home win over Brentford which moved Manager Eddie Howe’s side to sixth in the Premier League table. A Bruno Guimares brace and tallies by three other Magpies overwhelmed a Brentford side which lost for a second time in three matches. The Bees winless run versus Newcastle at St. James Park now extends to 88 years.

Nottingham Forest moved off the bottom of the table as  Manager Steve Cooper celebrated his new contract by watching Forest end a five-match losing run in a 1-1 draw with Aston Villa. Aston Villa has exceeded one goal in only one match this season as stars such as Philippe Coutinho, Danny Ings, and Ollie Watkins have failed to produce.

Leicester’s 2-1 loss to Bournemouth dropped the Foxes back to the league’s basement while the Cherries extended their unbeaten run to five matches since the appointment of interim manager Gary O’Neil. Bournemouth has moved from 17th to 8th in the table under O’Neil’s stewardship.

Fulham fell to ninth in the table after sustaining its third loss in four matches in a 3-1 defeat at West Ham. West Ham’s London derby win was a second consecutive victory for the Hammers who have moved up the table to 13th after spending much of this season in the relegation zone. Gianluca Scamacca and Jarrod Bowen each scored for a second consecutive match while Michail Antonio sealed the win over Fulham with a stoppage time goal.

Crystal Palace secured a much needed 2-1 victory over Leeds when Eberechi Eze scored in the 76th minute for his first goal of the season. The Eagles had fallen behind early on a goal by Leeds’s Pacal Struijk before Odsonne Edouard began the Palace comeback at Selhurst by scoring for a second consecutive league match. Crystal Palace won for just a second time this season and are level on points with Leeds and Aston Villa, just three points removed from the drop zone. Leeds lost for a third time in a five-match winless run.

Premier League in Europe

The reverse fixtures of first legs played last week will unfold Tuesday thru Thursday in all three European club competitions. Manchester City and Liverpool head to Copenhagen and Rangers, respectively, after convincing wins in the first leg of their Champions League ties with those opponents. Chelsea travels to Italy to face AC Milan after a Blues win over the reigning Serie A champions at Stamford Bridge last week. Tottenham Hotspur is home to Eintracht Frankfurt after the clubs’ goalless draw in Germany last week. Arsenal is away to Bodo/Glimpt and Manchester United is home to Omonia in Europa League matches after victories by both Premier League clubs in opening legs last week. West Ham, undefeated in the Europa Conference League to date, is at London Stadium for its rematch with Anderlecht.

Friday, October 7, 2022

Match Week 10: Preview

A confident Arsenal team faces a shaky Liverpool side at the Emirates on Sunday. The Gunners are coming off a resounding victory over rival Tottenham Hotspur in the north London derby and continue to lead the table by a point over Manchester City. Liverpool is searching for answers, having won but twice in its seven league matches to date. Manager Jurgen Klopp changed things up in Champions League during the week when he went to a four forward front line. That strategy could prove dangerous against the Gunners who have the firepower to capitalize by exposing frailties in Liverpool’s midfield and defense. Arsenal has won seven consecutive Premier League matches at the Emirates and the table leaders will be anxious to reverse a run of form against Liverpool which has seen the Gunners win but one of the last 14 league matchups with the Reds.

Manchester City continues its chase of Arsenal when the Citizens welcome Southampton to the Etihad. Manchester City striker Erling Haaland has 14 Premier League goals already, twice as many as next leading scorer Harry Kane. Southampton is on a miserable run where the Saints have lost four of their last five matches.

Chelsea are home to Wolverhampton which will play its first match under interim manager Steve Davis following the sacking of Bruno Lage. Former Chelsea star Deigo Costa could make his first Premier League start since 2017 as Wolves search for a solution to their striker issues. Chelsea can overtake Brighton for fourth in the table with a win over Wolves and if the Seagulls are unable to defeat Tottenham Hotspur.

Spurs visit Brighton Saturday for a match between the current third and fourth place clubs in the table. The Seagulls played well in their first match under Manager Roberto de Zerbi in Brighton’s 3-3 draw at Liverpool. Spurs, meanwhile, are looking to rebound from their defeat in the north London derby and a frustrating draw in Champions League during the week. Tottenham Hotspur Manager Antonio Conte was undefeated in four meetings with de Zerbi when both managed in Italy’s Serie A.

Manchester United will hope to revive its top four hopes when the Red Devils visit Goodison Park to face Everton this weekend. Former Real Madrid defensive midfielder Casemiro could see his first league start for United after Manager Eric ten Hag saw his defense concede six goals to rival Manchester City in last week’s derby. Everton, meanwhile, has conceded the fewest goals this season of any Premier League club and will present a stiff challenge for the Red Devils in front of the Toffees’ Goodison Park faithful.

Newcastle United and Fulham are both just one point behind Manchester United after Newcastle’s thumping of the Cottagers last week. Newcastle hosts Brentford this weekend while the Cottagers travel to London Stadium for a London derby versus West Ham. Newcastle has lost home matches only to Manchester City and Liverpool in the time that Eddie Howe has managed the Magpies. Brentford striker Ivan Toney should be extra motivated when facing his former club. Fulham could have problems against a West Ham side which is showing signs of life in attack. Striker Gianluca Scamacca scored his first Premier League goal last week and scored again in the Hammers’s midweek Europa Conference League victory. Fulham, meanwhile, could be without star striker Alexsandar Mitrovic who injured an ankle last week.

Crystal Palace have won only once this season and are squarely in the relegation battle as the Eagles welcome Leeds to Selhurst Park on Sunday. Leeds though have gained only a point from their previous three away matches this season and have not won at Selhurst Park since 2006.

Leicester will try to build on last week’s first win of the season when the Foxes visit Bournemouth Saturday. The Cherries are undefeated in their four matches under interim manager Gary O’Neil.

Nottingham Forest ownership has adopted a novel approach by rewarding Manger Steve Cooper with a contract extension in the week following the club’s stumble into the table basement. The expression of confidence in Cooper is remarkable after the club has lost six of its eight Premier League matches to currently sit 20 in the table. Three other clubs have already sacked their managers this season for poor results. Cooper gets his first chance to justify ownership’s faith when Forest faces Aston Villa in a home match at the City Ground on Monday.

Premier League in Europe

Champions League

Manchester City unsurprisingly thrashed Copenhagen by a 5-0 final as Erling Haaland added two more goals to his phenomenal season haul and Julian Alvarez scored his first Champions League goal for the Citizens. Graham Potter earned his first Champions League win as Chelsea manger in a dominating 3-0 win over AC Milan. The Italian champions were held to a single shot on target by Potter’s men as Wesley Fofana, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Reece James scored for the Blues. Tempering the elation for Chelsea supporters was an injury sustained by Fofana which could sideline the young defender for a number of weeks. Tottenham Hotspur played to a scoreless draw at Eintracht Frankfurt as Harry Kane and Son Heung-min missed chances which could have delivered the win for the London club. Spurs and their German opponent thus remained level on points in a group where they trail first place Sporting Lisbon. Liverpool Manger Jurgen Klopp changed his formation and elected to go with four forwards for the Reds’ match with Rangers. Liverpool came away with the win though neither of the goals in a 2-0 victory came from open play. A Trent Alexander-Arnold free kick and a Mohamed Salah penalty accounted for the Liverpool scoring

Europa and Conference League

Fabio Veira had a goal and assist as Arsenal outclassed Norwegian club Bodo/Glimt 3-0 in their Europa League match. Manager Mikel Arteta took advantage of the mismatch to rotate players and provide minutes for reserves such as Vieira, forward Eddie Nketiah and defender Rob Holding. All three players scored in the Arsenal win. Manchester United needed to come back after falling behind in the third minute of a 3-2 win against Omonia Nicosia, a club that had won just once in more than 20 previous European matches. Marcus Rashford scored a brace after entering as a second half substitute to spark the Red Devils. The close call against marginal competition, however, did nothing to remove the self-doubt created by United’s recent rout in the Manchester derby. West Ham striker Gianluca Scamacca scored less than ten minutes after his 70th minute substitution to give the Hammers a 1-0 Europa Conference League victory over Anderlecht. The Hammers remain perfect in the competition, winning all three of their matches to date.