Friday, December 29, 2023

Premier League Preview Match Week 20

No rest for the weary as the Premier League embarks on the second half of its season this Saturday. Match Week 20 could see the first occupancy change in the relegation zone since Everton made its escape in early December. Luton Town is a point behind Everton, two points below Nottingham Forest, as the Hatters prepare to host Chelsea at Kenilworth Road. Chelsea has proven to be capable of any kind of performance and the Blues’ young roster could be affected by the raucous atmosphere at the Hatters’ tiny venue.

Everton will try to avoid a third consecutive defeat when the Toffees travel to Wolverhampton. Nottingham Forest will host Manchester United as Nuno Espirito Santo seeks his first win at the City Ground as the manager of the Tricky Trees.

The Red Devils surprised on the weekend with their combativeness in coming back against a good Aston Villa side. Was the win at Old Trafford an anomaly or a sign of better things to come?

Tottenham Hotspur limps back to London after being thrashed at Brighton. Things do not get any easier as Manager Ange Postecoglou will be without suspended winger Dejan Kulusevski when his club hosts streaking Bournemouth on Sunday. The two clubs directly in front of Spurs in the table both face relegation zone opposition this weekend.

Aston Villa is home to Burnley while Manchester City hosts Sheffield United. Arsenal, meanwhile, will try to get back on track with a London derby win at Fulham.

Supporters will have to wait until Tuesday for one of the more intriguing matches of Match Week 20 when Brighton can leapfrog West Ham into the top six if the Seagulls win at London Stadium. Brighton had been inconsistent and lackluster in recent weeks until its surprising domination of Tottenham Hotspur on Thursday. West Ham, meanwhile, has impressed in winning six of its last eight league matches to rise from 12th to 6th in the Premier League table, three points above the Seagulls.

The Premier League leader, Liverpool, plays host to struggling Newcastle at Anfield on Monday. Liverpool has not lost at home all season. Newcastle has lost five of its last six league matches.

Two clubs who could soon find themselves in the relegation fight square off on Saturday when Brentford visits Selhurst Park to face Crystal Palace. The Bees are spiraling, dropping four consecutive matches and six of seven. Brentford has scored only three goals in those six losses as an injury to forward Bryan Mbeumo has proved devastating for a side already missing elite striker Ivan Toney to suspension. Crystal Palace has not won since November 4th. The Eagles are three points above the relegation line with Brentford just a point above 15th place Palace.

Premier League Results Match Week 19: Liverpool Leads At The League’s Halfway Mark; Reds Prevail Over Burnley as Arsenal Hammered; Young Guns Key Manchester United Come Back Versus Aston Villa; Seagulls Knock Spurs Down Pecking Order; Newcastle Felled By Trees; Wolves Feast On Bees

Liverpool is the Premier League leader at the season’s halfway mark. The Reds had little problem cruising 2-0 by Burnley on Tuesday, making it six wins in as many Premier League Boxing Day contests for Manager Jurgen Klopp. The Reds then sat back to enjoy Arsenal’s 2-0 defeat to West Ham on Thursday. The new table leaders will be encouraged by the club scoring multiple goals without Mohamed Salah making the scoresheet. The club has been overly reliant on the Egyptian forward at times this season. On Tuesday, the scorers were Darwin Nunez and Diogo Jota, assisted by linemates Cody Gakpo and Luis Diaz, respectively. If Salah’s attack brethren can continue to click, the possibilities are endless when matched with the proficiency of a Liverpool defense which has conceded the fewest goals in the Premier League.

The Arsenal attack sputtered in its home loss to West Ham. Thirty shots failed to seriously trouble West Ham goalkeeper Alphonse Areola as Arsenal became the first Premier League club in six years to take that many shots and fail to score. Futility in finding the net is becoming a trend which endangers the Gunners’ title chances. Arsenal has taken 81 shots in its last four matches to produce just three goals. Unsurprisingly, Arsenal has won just one of those matches. West Ham Manager David Moyes earned his first ever away win at Arsenal as his charges delivered a master class in his preferred style of play. The Hammers scored on two of their three shots on target while conceding 74% of the possession to Arsenal.

Aston Villa also lost ground in the title chase as Manchester United came back from two goals down to defeat Villa 3-2 at Old Trafford. Performances by its young attackers will have lifted the spirits of Red Devil supporters. Nineteen-year-old Alejandro Garnacho scored a second half brace to bring Manchester United level after Aston Villa had led 2-0 at halftime. Twenty-year-old Rasmus Hojlund then scored his long awaited first Premier League goal to complete the comeback win.

That other Manchester side, defending Premier League champion Manchester City, also came from behind in a 3-1 win at Everton. The Citizens spotted the Toffees a first half goal before scoring three of their own in the second half to hand Everton a second consecutive league loss. The Manchester City victory, combined with Tottenham Hotspur’s loss at Brighton, moved the Citizens back into the Premier League’s top four. Everton has now lost to Spurs and Manchester City in consecutive matches to again raise the specter of relegation for the Toffees.

Luton Town has won back-to-back matches to move within a point of 17th place Everton. The Hatters won their relegation six pointer at Sheffield United on Tuesday, 3-2, when the Blades committed two late own goals to hand the match to Luton Town.

There was little drama in Brighton’s 4-2 defeat of Tottenham Hotspur. The Seagulls soared to a four-goal lead as of the 80-minute mark before two late goals by Spurs made the scoreline more respectable. Two of the Brighton goals came by way of penalty kicks converted by the Seagulls’ Joao Pedro. Sloppy defensive play, evidenced in the fouls leading to both penalty kicks, was all too characteristic for a Spurs side which has conceded the most goals in the Premier League since the start of November. The Brighton victory was just its second in the last six league matches for the Seagulls while the loss ended Tottenham Hotspur’s three match winning run.

Newcastle lost for a fourth time in their last five Premier League matches in a sobering 3-1 loss to Nottingham Forest at St. James Park. Manager Eddie Howe deserves some scrutiny as he has stubbornly played a consistent outfield lineup, refusing to rotate his players selections despite a congested fixture list in recent weeks. Howe will point to a thin roster impacted by injuries. Other clubs, however, are dealing with the same issues and the fatigue factor brought about by Howe’s decisions has factored in the club’s horrendous form. Nottingham Forest Manager Nuno Espirito Santo, meanwhile, was left to savor his first victory in charge of the Trees. Former Newcastle player Chris Wood was subdued in celebrating each of his three goals for Forest out of respect for his former club. The win was essential for Forest as a loss would likely have meant the relegation zone. Nottingham Forest is currently safe by two points with a single net goal advantage on 18th place Luton Town.

Bournemouth, once part of the relegation battle this season, continued its remarkable turn of fortune with a 3-0 defeat of Fulham. The Cherries won their fourth consecutive match and sixth in a seven-match unbeaten run. Dominic Solanke had a penalty kick versus the Cottagers for his fifth goal in the Cherries’ last three matches. The former Chelsea and Liverpool forward now has 12 goals for the season which ties him with Mohamed Salah for the joint second most in the Premier League behind Erling Haaland’s 14 goals.

Chelsea fielded the youngest starting side in the club’s Premier League history as the Blues defeated Crystal Palace 2-1 in a London derby. Injuries and suspensions forced Chelsea Manager Mauricio Pochettino to reach deep into his bench with little used substitute Noni Madueke scoring the winning penalty kick in the 89th minute.

Brentford could be headed for trouble after the Bees were ravaged by Wolves 4-1 on Wednesday. Manager Thomas Frank’s side has now lost four in a row and six of its last seven to fall from a comfortable ninth place in the table to within four points of the relegation line following the loss to Wolves. Hwang Hee-Chan had a brace for Wolves, the ninth and tenth goals of the season for the Korean international.  

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Premier League Results Match Week 18: Arsenal Stay Top With Point At Liverpool; Luton Town, Burnley Surprise With Wins; Spurs Return To top Four; Frustration Continues For Manchester United and Newcastle

Arsenal maintained its position at the top of the Premier League table by earning a point at Anfield in a 1-1 final with Liverpool. Gabriel Magalhaes quickly drew first blood when the defender headed in the free kick of Arsenal captain Martin Odegaard to give the Gunners a lead in the fourth minute of play. A solitary moment of brilliance by Liverpool stars Trent Alexander-Arnold and Mohamed Salah salvaged the point for the Reds in the 29th minute. Alexander-Arnold found Salah with a pinpointed pass from distance which the Egyptian international blasted past Arsenal goalkeeper David Raya. That ended the scoring, however, as Liverpool was held to a draw for a second consecutive league match at Anfield. Arsenal, meanwhile, are top of the Premier League table at Christmas for the second consecutive year.

Aston Villa would be in first place but for a disappointing draw against bottom of the table Sheffield United on Friday. Villa instead stays level on points with Liverpool, both clubs one point behind league leading Arsenal. The Blades were on the brink of a stunning victory after former Aston Villa player Cameron Archer found the net in the 88th minute to give Sheffield United an improbable lead.

Only a 97th minute goal by substitute Nicolo Zaniolo salvaged a point for third place Villa against their 20th place opponent. The draw snapped a fifteen-match winning run for the home side at their Villa Park fortress. All three of the current relegation zone occupants got a result on the weekend as the two clubs immediately above Sheffield United both earned rare victories.

Luton Town took to the pitch before its Kenilworth road home supporters for the first time since captain Tom Lockyer experienced his cardiac event. The Hatters responded with a 1-0 defeat of Newcastle. Former Newcastle, Spurs and Crystal Palace player Andros Townsend scored the 25th minute winner for the Hatters, assisted by former Everton and Chelsea player Ross Barkley. The lethargic play of a fatigued Newcastle squad is officially becoming a crisis as the Magpies lost for the fifth time in their last six matches across all competitions.

Burnley’s previous two victories this season were over fellow relegation zone dwellers Luton Twon and Sheffield United. Saturday’s victory 2-0 at Fulham was thus the most impressive outing of the season for the Clarets. Goals by Wilson Odobert and Sander Berge fueled the Clarets’ unexpected victory which capped a productive five match run by Burnley which has largely gone under the radar. Seven of Burnley’s 11 points this season have come from its two victories and a draw in the last five matches. Fulham, meanwhile, were whitewashed for a second consecutive losing outing after outscoring opponents 10-0 in two victories preceding its current drought.

In the north of London, Tottenham Hotspur moved past idle Manchester City and into the top four by pouring cold water on the formerly hot Toffees of Everton. The 2-1 final at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium saw Richarlison and Son Heung-min provide the goals which ended Everton’s four match winning run in the Premier League.

West Ham moved into sixth place in the table with a 2-0 win over Manchester United as the Hammers jumped over both the Red Devils and Newcastle with their win at London Stadium. Jarrod Bowen and Mohammed Kudus delivered goals  in the 72nd and 78th minute, respectively, to defeat punchless Manchester United. The Red Devils have now failed to score in four consecutive matches across all competitions.

Nottingham Forest was able to score twice but was still defeated 3-2 by Bournemouth in Nuno Espirito Santo’s debut as manager of the not so Tricky Trees. The new manager was not helped by a second yellow card  assessed defender Wily Boly which reduced Nottingham Forest to 10 men after just 23 minutes. The Trees fell for a sixth time in seven matches to creep within two points of the relegation zone. Dominic Solanke scored all three goals for Bournemouth, including the winner four minutes into stoppage time. Solanke, a former Liverpool striker, now is joint third in Premier League scoring with 11 goals. Bournemouth has moved from the relegation zone all the way to 12th place in the table by winning six times in a seven-match unbeaten run.

The Cherries are level on points with both Wolverhampton and Chelsea after Wolves’ 2-1 home win over the Blues. Chelsea missed on a plethora of opportunities as it fell behind by two goals before Christopher Nkunku scored in the 96th minute to make the score respectable. Wolves recorded a second consecutive league win against Chelsea for the first time in almost 50 years. Chelsea’s EFL Cup win over Newcastle earlier in the week proved to be a false positive as the Blues quickly reverted to the form which has seen the once proud club lose more matches than any other Premier League club in calendar year 2023.

Brighton rescued a late point last Thursday against Crystal Palace when Danny Welbeck scored in the 86th minute to draw Brighton level 1-1 at Selhurst Park in the M23 derby.

Boxing Day sees five matches across the Premier League as the busy holiday fixture list picks up momentum with additional matches on Wednesday and Thursday. Thursday’s final contest of Match Week 19 could be the most interesting as Arsenal tries to stay top of the table when it hosts a London derby against West Ham. The Hammers have won three of four and have only lost once in their last seven Premier League matches.

Thursday, December 21, 2023

Premier League Preview Match Week 18: Arsenal At Liverpool Dominates Weekend Schedule

Week 18 in the Premier League begins early when Brighton visits Crystal Palace on Thursday. The Seagulls should expect the usual rude welcome at Selhurst Park as the two improbable rivals renew their geographically incompatible “M23 derby.” Brighton has moved to a new level in recent years with the Seagulls now competing in Europe while Crystal Palace continues to muck about in midtable as Brighton once did. The Eagles can still surprise on occasion, however, as evidenced by last weekend’s draw with Manchester City.

Friday’s schedule sees Aston Villa looking to extend its record 15 match home winning run when Sheffield United visits. Sheffield United remains the only Premier League club not to have won an away match this season.

The match of the weekend, of course, occurs Saturday at Anfield with top of the table Arsenal looking to inflict the first home loss of the season upon second place Liverpool. Arsenal will be the better rested side after Liverpool’s Wednesday defeat of West Ham in EFL Cup play. The Gunners, however, have not won a Premier League match at Anfield since 2012. Snapping that ignominious streak could not come at a better time with its potential to bolster Arsenal’s title bid. Manchester United, while failing to win, demonstrated that Liverpool’s fearsome attack can be blunted by holding the Reds scoreless at Anfield last weekend. Unlike the Red Devils, Arsenal brings an impressive attack of its own to Anfield on Saturday and the match holds the promise of a rollicking affair.

Manchester United is on the undercard Saturday when Manager Eric ten Hag and his club are on the road again, this week at London Stadium to face West Ham. The Hammers could be fighting fatigue as the club plays a second match in four days after Wednesday’s EFL Cup loss to Liverpool. In truth, however, West Ham did not seem to exert itself much in Wednesday’s drubbing. Manchester United will have Bruno Fernandes available after his one match suspension was served last weekend.

Saturday’s action includes another interesting matchup between streaking Everton and resurgent Tottenham Hotspur. The Toffees have won four straight Premier League matches while Tottenham Hotspur has patched together back-to-back wins to revive its hope of a top four finish. Richarlison has been key to Spurs’ recent success with three goals over the two victories.

Former Tottenham Hotspur Manager Nuno Espirito Santo makes his debut in charge of Nottingham Forest when the Tricky Trees host Bournemouth. Santo’s mission is to move Forest away from the relegation scrap. The Trees have drawn alarmingly close to the drop line by virtue of the recent poor run which put an end to former manager Steve Cooper’s employment. Bournemouth can serve as a model as to how to separate from the bottom stragglers. The Cherries were mired in the relegation zone before winning five of their last seven matches under Manager Andoni Iraola.

Luton Town will take to the pitch for the first time since the frightening cardiac arrest incident suffered by captain Tom Lockyer. Newcastle visits Kenilworth Road where the atmosphere of the Hatters’ intimate little stadium could play into the match against a Newcastle side which has proven vulnerable on the road. The Magpies have won just one of their eight Premier League away matches. Injuries and increased weariness from a midweek EFL Cup loss will be working against Newcastle and its superior roster against the 18th place Hatters.

Chelsea will be buzzing after its EFL Cup victory over the Magpies. There’s little time to celebrate, however, as the Blues head to Wolverhampton on Sunday. The match will prove yet another litmus test for the London side. The late equalizer by the much-maligned Mykhailo Mudryk and Chelsea’s subsequent penalty shootout conquest was exciting for supporters. Newcastle’s Keiran Trippier singlehandedly presented that victory to the Blues, however, with his giveaway for the Mudryk goal and subsequent missed shootout kick. A win over well-organized Wolverhampton would point to Chelsea truly having turned a corner.

Fulham were also EFL quarterfinal winners this week, dispensing with Everton at Goodison Park in penalty kicks. The Cottagers are back home at Craven Cottage on Saturday to face Burnley. Fulham has won its last two league home matches by identical 5-0 scores as it prepares to face the relegation bound Clarets who have conceded the second highest number of goals in the Premier League.

Manchester City’s originally scheduled home match versus Brighton has been postponed due to The Citizens’ Club World Cup victory during the week in Saudi Arabia.


Liverpool are the clear EFL Cup favorites after the Reds defeated West Ham 5-1 at Anfield on Wednesday to advance to the semifinals. Curtis Jones scored twice in the Liverpool rout of a Hammer side which fell apart in the second half. West Ham Manager David Moyes has still never won at Anfield in 21 attempts and could not have enjoyed seeing Liverpool find the net five times against the Hammers at Anfield for the first time in 25 years. Liverpool moves on to face Fulham which needed penalties to get past Everton on Tuesday.

Everton pushed the Cottagers to the penalty shootout when the Toffees’ Gomes Betuncal scored in the 85th minute to equalize a match which had seen an own goal by Everton’s Michael Keane give the Cottagers a first half lead. There was to be no happy ending for Everton, however, as Tosin Adarabioyo converted his penalty try after a miss by Everton’s Idrissa Gueye. Fulham’s 7-6 advantage on kicks sent the Cottagers into their first domestic cup semifinal in 22 seasons.

Chelsea also advanced on penalty kicks Tuesday after a mistake filled match which saw Newcastle eliminated from the EFL Cup. Chelsea defender Benoit Badiashile gifted Newcastle a goal in the 16th minute on a confused bit of slapstick where he lost his dribble to Newcastle’s Callum Wilson who deposited the ball in Chelsea’s net. Newcastle was quite happy to defend from that point onward and seemed home free as the match entered final stoppage time. Unfortunately for the Magpies, Newcastle defender Kieran Trippier returned Chelsea’s earlier favor by losing control in his own box. Chelsea’s Mykhail Mudryk was quick to pounce on the loose ball and tie the match with his goal. Trippier then helped finish off the disappointment for Newcastle by missing the net on his penalty kick try in the subsequent shootout. Chelsea goalkeeper Djordje Petrovic also made a save on the Magpies’ Matt Ritchie to give the Blues a 4-2 kick advantage and send them into the semifinals. Chelsea will meet Middlesbrough, managed by former Manchester United player Michael Carrick, in the semifinals after the Championship division side easily put aside Port Vale 3-0 on Tuesday.

The two leg EFL Cup semifinals will be played  on January 9th and January 23rd.

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Premier League Match Week 17: Gunners Go Top As Liverpool, Manchester United Draw; Villa Wins Late As Watkins Stings Former Club; Manchester City Drops Points Again; Newcastle Stops The Rot; Cooper Uprooted After Trees Fall To Spurs

Manchester United grabbed an unexpected point at Anfield where a frustrated Liverpool was held to a goalless draw which knocked Manager Jurgen Klopp’s side from their perch at the top of the Premier League. The wasteful home side launched 34 shots without success, there being no efficiency to its attack. Fifteen of Liverpool’s shots came from distance as the number of total attempts without scoring established a new club record. Manchester United, meanwhile, were happy to sit back and absorb the pressure. The Red Devils had just a single shot on target and not a single corner kick versus the 12 corner opportunities which Liverpool failed to capitalize upon. The ugly match continued Manchester United’s scoreless run at Anfield which now extends to five years, but it was the Red Devils who were smiling at the end.

Liverpool fell to second in the table as Arsenal handled Brighton in a 2-0 win at the Emirates. The Gunners dominated the proceedings but failed to break though until a Gabriel Jesus header in the 53rd minute. The contest then remained in the balance until an 87th minute Kai Havertz goal sealed the victory with the former Chelsea player’s fourth goal in his last seven appearances. The midfield of Havertz, Odegaard and Rice seems finally to be clicking as Manager Mikel Arteta had envisioned.

The clean sheet put an end to 32 consecutive Premier League matches in which Brighton had scored. The Seagulls were likely weary from their Thursday Europa League victory as Brighton deals with the rigors of European competition for the first time. Brighton has failed to win five consecutive Premier League matches which followed a midweek Europa League match. Arsenal moved back to the top of the table after their stumble at Aston Villa the week before.

Aston Villa are level on points with second place Liverpool, both clubs trailing the Gunners by a point, after a come from behind 2-1 victory at Brentford. The Villans scored twice after Brentford’s Ben Mee’s 71st minute red card. Alex Moreno equalized six minutes after Mee’s departure and Ollie Watkins scored the winner in the 85th minute, his ninth goal of the season. Watkins once played for Brentford and punctuated his goal celebration by pointing at a Brentford supporter who had purportedly been heckling the striker throughout the match. Villa’s Boubakar Kamara would be red carded late in final stoppage time of a chippy contest which saw a player from each side sent off, ten different players booked, and both managers cautioned.

The malaise for Manchester City continued as the Citizens dropped points for the fifth time in their last six Premier League matches in a 2-2 come from ahead draw with Crystal Palace. The defending Premier League champions were ahead by two goals after 75 minutes of play. Despite the absence of the injured Erling Haaland, all was fine with the Manchester City attack as goals by Jack Grealish and Rico Lewis seemed to have Manchester City coasting to victory against out of form Crystal Palace. It is Manchester City’s defense, however, which could jeopardize its title defense. Jean-Philippe Mateta’s 76th minute goal put Crystal Palace within striking range, the French striker capitalizing on the work of Jeffrey Schlupp who broke free of the Manchester City defense and found Mateta in front of the Citizens goal. Mateta would then draw a stoppage time foul in the box from City’s Phil’s Foden. Michael Olise proceeded to deliver the game’s tying penalty kick to capture the point for the Eagles and stun Manchester City supporters who witnessed a third consecutive home draw in league competition. Manchester City’s 34 points after 17 matches is Manager Pep Guardiola’s worst start to a Premier League campaign. Crystal Palace, meanwhile, now has two draws and two wins in its last six visits to the home of the Citizens.

Tottenham Hotspur has back-to-back league wins for the first time since October after defeating Nottingham Forest 2-0 at the City Ground. Richarlison scored for the third time in his last two matches and Dejan Kulusevski had a goal and an assist as Spurs moved to within just a point of Manchester City in the table. The one fly in the ointment for Manager Age Postecoglou was an ill-advised red card by midfielder Yves Bissouma, his second of the season. His suspension further complicates the holiday fixture schedule for a Spurs side already stretched by injury. Nottingham Forest lost for the fifth time in six matches and Manager Steve Cooper paid the price with his reported sacking on Tuesday. Fan favorite Cooper was increasingly at risk during a thirteen-match run which had seen the club win just once and descend into the relegation discussion. The Tricky Trees are 17th, five points from the drop after the weekend. Cooper’s replacement is expected to be former Wolverhampton and Tottenham Hotspur Manager Nuno Espirito Santo.

Newcastle leapfrogged Manchester United into sixth place in the Premier League table with a much needed 3-0 victory over Fulham which ended a three-match losing run across all competitions for the Magpies. A 22nd minute red card by Fulham’s Raul Jimenez smoothed the way for Newcastle’s victory. Initially assessed a yellow card, Jimenez was given the hook after VAR determined his airborne challenge of Newcastle’s Sean Longstaff was deserving of an early shower. Newcastle didn’t immediately gain traction with its manning advantage but cruised to the victory with three second half goals against the Cottagers. Lewis Miley, who joined the Newcastle academy at the age of seven, scored his first goal for the senior team in the win.

West Ham responded to last week’s clean sheet whipping at Fulham by hammering Wolverhampton 3-0 at London Stadium on Sunday. Mohammed Kudus scored twice to help move the Hammers past Brighton into eighth place in the Premier League table.

Everton would be level on points with Brighton and potentially competing for a European berth but for its ten-point penalty levied by the league. The Toffees 2-0 defeat of Burnley on Saturday was a fourth consecutive victory as Everton suddenly has the longest current winning run in the league. Amadou Onana and Michel Kean provided the goals which ensured a triumphant return by Everton Manager Sean Dyche to Turf Moor where he patrolled the technical area for almost ten years. Burnley, meanwhile, seems destined for relegation after registering yet another dismal performance in a season which has seen the Clarets lose 13 of their 17 Premier League matches, winning just twice. Burnley’s two wins have come against fellow relegation zone occupants Sheffield United and Luton Town.

The Blades brought a little sunshine to Chelsea supporters at Stamford Bridge on Saturday as Chelsea scored a rare home win in a 2-0 subjugation of Sheffield United. Cole Palmer was the star for Chelsea, scoring the Blues’ first goal and then setting up Nicolas Jackson to tap in Chelsea’s insurance goal.

Luton Town was tied at a goal apiece with Bournemouth on Sunday when tragedy nearly struck. Luton captain Tom Lockyer suffered a cardiac event just seven months after a similar incident befell him in a Championship playoff in May. Fortunately, medical personnel were again heroic and Lockyer was responsive before being stretchered from the pitch for transport to a local hospital. The Welsh international is reported to be in stable condition. The match between Bournemouth and Luton town was abandoned, to be rescheduled for a future date.


The EFL Carabao cup quarterfinals will be played Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. Newcastle visits Stamford Bridge on Tuesday where Chelsea will try to string together three consecutive winning home matches (across all competitions) for the first time this season. Newcastle, however, smashed the Blues in a league match at St. James Park less than a month ago. Fulham visits streaking Everton in the other Tuesday quarterfinal matchup of Premier League teams. The Toffees have been white hot, running off four consecutive victories in the Premier League. Fulham, meanwhile, had been scoring goals for fun during a four-match run where the Cottagers scored 16 goals. That run ended with a 3-0 whitewashing by Newcastle on the weekend. Port Vale hosts Middlesbrough in the only Tuesday quarterfinal not involving a Premier league side. Wednesday’s final quarterfinal match will see Liverpool back at Anfield, the site of its goalless draw with Manchester United on Sunday. The challenge midweek for the Reds will be a potentially tough out in West Ham. The Hammers dumped Arsenal out of the Carabao cup to advance to the quarterfinals and have subsequently clinched first place in their Europa League group. West Ham has also won four of its last six Premier League matches, losing only in an anomalous blowout defeat to Fulham during that run. Liverpool, which won the tournament two years ago, holds the record for the most EFL/Carabao Cup trophies with nine. Despite the sting of last weekend’s home draw, Liverpool is yet to lose at Anfield in any competition this season.

Champions League Draw

Monday’s Champions League Draw saw Manchester City matched with Copenhagen and Arsenal paired with Porto for their Round of 16 two leg ties. Copenhagen placed second to Bayern Munich in a group which saw Manchester United finish bottom and be eliminated from European football. Porto, meanwhile, won four of its six group stage matches to finish level on points with its group winner Barcelona.

Friday, December 15, 2023

Premier League Preview Match Week 17

The current leaders of the Premier League table anxiously await their historic rival to visit Sunday when Liverpool plays host to a reeling Manchester United. Liverpool moved into the top spot with last week’s win over Crystal Palace and Arsenal’s defeat at Aston Villa. All is misery meanwhile for Manchester United Manager Eric ten Hag whose team was embarrassed by Bournemouth last weekend and then was booted out of Europe midweek by Bayern Munich. The Red Devils have now lost more matches than they have won across all competitions this season. Manchester United has to be anxious facing this match. Their visit to Anfield last year resulted in a 7-0 drubbing. This year, Liverpool has scored exactly twice as many goals in league play as their opponent. The Manchester United attack gets little production from its forward players. Striker Rasmus Hojlund has yet to score a Premier League goal. Marcus Rashford has just one goal from open play all season. In defense, the backline has been a revolving door, part due to injury and part due to manager decisions hinting of locker room issues. Previously out of favor Champions League winner Rafael Varane is now back in the lineup while 35-year-old Jonny Evans is likely forced to start as once out of favor, now back in favor Harry Maguire was injured in the midweek Champions League loss. Liverpool, meanwhile, boasts an intimidating strike force of five forwards capable of scoring at  any time. Only Manchester City is more proficient in attack than Liverpool and only Erling Haaland has more Premier League goals than Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah this season. While a recent injury to center back Joel Matip will test Liverpool’s depth, the Red’s defense has conceded the joint lowest number of goals in the league this season. Manchester United captain Bruno Fernandes, a much-criticized figure in last season’s debacle for his club at Anfield, will miss this year’s contest due to accumulated red cards.

Second place Arsenal will try to keep the pressure on Liverpool when the Gunners take on Brighton at the Emirates. Strangely, Brighton has been kryptonite for Arsenal at the Emirates. The Seagulls have won on their last three visits and effectively ended Arsenal’s title bid last May with victory at the home of the Gunners. The Seagulls, however, scored a critical victory on Thursday against Marseilles to clinch their Europa League qualifying group and could have trouble with the recovery time for Sunday’s match. Arsenal, meanwhile, was able to heavily rotate its squad for its non-consequential Tuesday Champions League match.

Aston Villa will try to build on the momentum of league wins over Manchester City and Arsenal in consecutive weeks when Unai Emery takes his squad to Brentford on Sunday. The Villans have crept up to third in the table, just two points behind leaders Liverpool. The Bees, meanwhile, were stung by bottom of the table Sheffield United in their last outing. An overmatched Brentford side on Sunday will hope to ride its strong home form (three wins in their last four home league matches) against a potentially fatigued Aston Villa which played in Conference League on Thursday.

Manchester City should have little problem dispensing with Crystal Palace on Saturday despite past success by the Eagles at the Etihad. Crystal Palace has won twice and drawn once in their last five trips to visit the Citizens. Palace, however, is missing key players across its lineup and is starting its third-choice goalkeeper against the defending champions.

Tottenham Hotspur is three points behind Manchester City and a top four spot as  the north London side begins the Premier League weekend with a visit to Nottingham Forest on Friday. Spurs hopes to have turned a corner by ending a five-match winless run with a rout of Newcastle last weekend. Nottingham Forest Manager Steve Cooper, meanwhile, stayed one step ahead of the sack by earning a point at Wolves last weekend. The Tricky Trees have won but once in their last 12 Premier League matches. They will see a familiar face in Spurs forward Brennan Johnson Friday. The 22-year-old former Nottingham Forest academy player was instrumental in the club’s promotion to the Premier League.

Fulham has surprisingly been one of the highest scoring teams in the league of late with 16 goals in their last four matches. The Cottagers head to the northeast on Saturday to face Newcastle which has lost its last two league matches while conceding seven goals. Neither of those matches, however, was at St. James Park where the Magpies have won six consecutive league matches while conceding only one goal at their home fortress.

West Ham were coldcocked by Fulham in a 5-0 pasting last weekend. The Hammers believe that result to be an anomaly, marking the only defeat for Manager David Moyes’ in the last eight matches across all competitions. In any event, Sunday’s home match against Wolverhampton should be closer, with neither of these sides noted for attacking firepower. West Ham may be tired from its Thursday Europa League match, but Wolves have lost three consecutive Premier League away matches and the Hammers have taken all three points in four of their last five appearances at London Stadium.

Across town in London, meanwhile, Chelsea Manager Mauricio Pochettino faces a potential must win match when basement dwelling Sheffield United visits Stamford Bridge. Chelsea’s lack of success and Pochettino’s calls for further additions to an already expensively assembled side have not endeared him to club supporters. Chelsea has won just two of their eight matches at home this season.

Bournemouth Manager Andoni Iraola, meanwhile, is now seeing success with his Cherries who take a five-match unbeaten run, including four victories, into Saturday’s first ever top-flight meeting between Bournemouth and Luton Town. The Hatters have taken fewer points in their last 10 matches than any other Premier League side.

Everton has moved past Luton Town and out of the relegation zone with a three-match winning run. Manager Sean Dyche revisits his old club, Burnley, on Saturday as the Toffees try to continue clawing their way back up the table after a points deduction temporarily put them in the drop zone. Burnley is ahead of only basement dwelling Sheffield United, on goal differential, as it has been a rough transition to the Premier League for Manager Vincent Kompany’s club. 

Premier League In Europe

Manchester United and Newcastle are out of European football entirely after losses in Champions League play this week. Both clubs finished last in their group, the first time that two Premier League clubs have finished bottom of their Champions League qualifying group in the same season. A 70th minute goal by Kingsley Coman proved the winner in Bayern Munich’s 1-0 defeat of Manchester United as the Premier League side lost for the fourth time in its six group matches. The Red Devils went meekly, managing just a single shot on target. Injury was also added to insult as Harry Maguire sustained a groin injury which will cause him to miss this weekend’s Premier League match versus Liverpool. Newcastle secured last place in its group with a 2-1 come from ahead loss at St. James Park to AC Milan. Following a first half which saw a Joelinton goal give the Magpies a lead and qualification hope, Cristian Pulisic scored the equalizer for the Italian side in the 59th minute, assisted by former Chelsea teammate Olivier Giroud. AC Milan’s Samuel Chukwueze’s 84th minute goal then secured a Europa League playoff berth for AC Milan and knocked Newcastle out of Europe entirely.

Arsenal and Manchester City had already clinched the top spot in their groups before this week’s matches which saw the Gunners share points with PSV 1-1 and Manchester City defeat Crvena Zvezda 3-2. The draw for the knockout stage of the Champions League for the surviving 16 teams is on Monday, December 18th. A lot rides on the future progression of Arsenal and Manchester City for their Premier League brethren as well as themselves.

A fifth qualification spot is available to two of the top five European domestic leagues for next year’s competition. The award of the spots will be predicated on this year’s European performance. The early elimination of Manchester United and Newcastle means the Bundesliga and Serie A are first in line right now for those additional qualification berths. While counting less in the formula, the Premier League’s performance in the lesser European competitions can also help the cause to secure an additional Champions League berth for the league.

Brighton and West Ham clinched the top spots in their Europa League qualification groups with wins on Thursday. Joao Pedro scored the winner in in the 88th minute to defeat Marseille and allow the Seagulls to avoid a two-leg playoff with a club descending from the Champions League. That fate now falls to second place Marseilles. The scenario was the same with West Ham’s 2-0 defeat of Freiburg, the English side clinching automatic qualification while Freiburg enters a playoff matchup. Edson Alvarez was the star for West Ham, assisting on Mohammed Kudus’ opening goal and then scoring his first goal as a Hammer to close out the scoring. Liverpool had already clinched the top spot in its group before the Reds played some of their youngsters in a 2-1 loss Thursday to Union Saint-Gilloise.

In Europa Conference League play Aston Villa got the point it needed, clinching its group with a 1-1 draw with Srinjski. Nicolo Zaniolo scored his first goal in an Aston Villa shirt to produce the needed result.

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Premier League Results Match Week 16: Villa Does It Again; Liverpool Leaps Into First; Cherries Smash Manchester United; Spurs Return To Win Column; Fulham Gone Wild; Wilder And Blades Subdue Bees; Everton Makes It Three In A Row; Does Forest Point Mean Reprieve For Cooper?

Just a week after defeating Manchester City, Aston Villa has done it again by defeating Arsenal Saturday by the same 1-0 scoreline. The victory, which helped Liverpool move to the top of the Premier League table, was historic for Aston Villa as Manager Unai Emery’s side established a new club record in winning its 15th consecutive home match. John McGinn had the winning goal just seven minutes into the contest, assisted by the goal scorer against Manchester city, Leon Bailey. Villa frustrated Arsenal from then on until a seeming breakthrough in final stoppage time. Kai Havertz scored but VAR review declared a handball and Arsenal were done with the Gunners incurring just their second loss of the season. Aston Villa, meanwhile, have now won their opening eight home matches of a topflight season for the first time since 1932/33.

Liverpool’s 2-1 victory over Crystal Palace moved the Reds past Arsenal into first place. The Gunners now trail the new league leaders by a point with Aston Villa just one point further back in third. Manchester City is fourth, four points behind leader Liverpool. Liverpool’s win on Saturday came late as the Reds engineered a come from behind win for the fifth time this season. Crystal Palace scored the first goal by penalty kick, awarded after an unusually long VAR review, in the 57th minute. Unfortunately for the Eagles, Jordan Ayew would receive a second yellow card, reducing Crystal Palace to 10 men in the 75th minute. Two minutes later the match was tied on a goal by Mohamed Salah, his 11th Premier League goal of the season. Salah then assisted Harvey Elliot’s winner in stoppage time to dash Crystal Palace hopes of a surprise result.

There was little drama but for the saga of an embattled manager at Old Trafford where Bournemouth dominated Manchester United 3-0. Despite some underwhelming performances, Manchester United had won six of its last eight Premier League matches before this past weekend. Bournemouth’s easy run to its first ever win at Old Trafford, however, now increases the pressure on a manager already dogged by poor European results and off-the-pitch controversies. Across all competitions, Manchester United has lost as many matches as it has won this season. Bournemouth, meanwhile, has completely turned around its season. After failing to win any of the first nine matches, losing six during that run, Bournemouth has won five of its last seven matches, losing only to Manchester City (an admitted drubbing) and drawing with Aston Villa. Saturday’s win extended an unbeaten run in the league for the Cherries to five matches. Dominik Solanke scored his eighth goal of the season, Marcos Senesi scored for a second consecutive match and Marcus Tavernier had two assists in the romp at Old Trafford.

Manchester City, playing without an injured Erling Haaland, needed two second half goals by Bernardo Silva and Jack Grealish to come from behind and beat Luton Town 2-1 at Kenilworth Road. The victory ended a string of four winless matches for the Citizens.

Tottenham Hotspur ended a five-match winless run, including four losses, as Ange Ball proved too much for Newcastle to deal with in a 4-1 win for the home side at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Richarlison scored twice and Son Heung-min had two assists and a penalty kick goal to lead Spurs back into the win column. The north London club remain three points outside the top four with renewed hope after Sunday’s victory for crashing back into that elite group. Newcastle, meanwhile, looks tired. Magpies Manager Eddie Howe has started the same ten outfield players for five matches in a row as the club now looks to a critical Champions League match in just a matter of days.

Fulham, meanwhile, is having tons of fun as the Cottagers won for the third time in four matches in a 5-0 rout of West Ham. It was the second consecutive 5-0 victory for a Fulham side which has scored 16 goals in its last four matches. Five different Cottagers scored on Sunday. One of those goal scorers was Raul Jimenez who has now scored four times in the Cottagers’ last five Premier League matches. It’s gratifying for league fans to see the Mexican forward back to getting results after a three-year journey back from a serious skull fracture suffered while playing for Wolverhampton. The recent four goal in five match explosion by Jimenez marks as many goals as he had registered in his previous 49 matches. The Cottagers moved to tenth in the table with Sunday’s win, three points behind the Hammers.

While Fulham is to be applauded, Everton would be above the Cottagers in the table if not for a ten-point deduction levied by the league. The Toffees won a third consecutive match and fourth in their last five league outings, with a 2-0 whipping of Chelsea at Goodison Park. Abdoulaye Doucoure and substitute Lewis Dobbin scored second half goals to defeat the visitors. Everton has won nine of its last 13 matches as Manager Sean Dyche’s team has galvanized behind an us against the world mantra after the draconian penalty was levied against the Toffees by the league. Chelsea manger Mauricio Pochettino is rightfully coming under some fire after another poor performance by his expensively crafted roster. The London club is both wasteful in the attacking third and often negligent along its back line. The two most expensive players in the Premier League, midfielders Moises Caicedo and Enzo Fernandes are invisible for large portions of Chelsea matches.

Sheffield United Manager Chris Wilder secured the first win in his second run as Blades skipper in a 1-0 home victory over Brentford. The Blades secured their first clean sheet and second league win as James McAtee’s goal in first half stoppage time proved the winner. The Bees, meanwhile, have lost their sting with the recent injury to Bryan Mbeumo and ongoing suspension of Ivan Toney severely limiting their attack.

Burnley captured a point in a 1-1 draw at Brighton that kept the Clarets ahead of 20th place Sheffield United on goal differential. Brighton’s Simon Adingra scored the equalizer in the 77th minute as the Seagulls were quite likely caught looking ahead to Thursday’s key Europa League match with Marseilles.

Nottingham Forest Manager Steve Cooper may have extended his employment with a 1-1 draw at Wolverhampton. The result snapped a four-match losing run which put Cooper on the hot seat. He’s not home free, however, as the Tricky Trees are still just five points clear of the drop line. Wolverhampton, meanwhile, are level with three other clubs on 19 points positioned 11th through 14th in the table.

Premier League in Europe

Manchester City and Arsenal have already clinched the top spot in their Champions League groups as they play their final group matches this week against PSV and Crvena Zvezda, respectively. Liverpool is in the same catbird seat in Europa League competition as it faces Union Saint-Gilloise Thursday. Manchester United’s hopes of advancing in the Champions League hang by a thread. The Red Devils need to beat Bayern Munich and Harry Kane at Old Trafford on Tuesday and bank on a draw between Copenhagen and Galatasaray. Newcastle’s chances aren’t much better. The Magpies must defeat AC Milan at St. James Park Wednesday while PSG fails to win versus group leader Borussia Dortmund. In Europa League, Brighton and West Ham are qualified to keep playing after the group stage, but this week’s results will determine whether they move on as group winners or enter a playoff against clubs dropping down from Champions League. Brighton needs to defeat Marseilles on Thursday to clinch the top spot. West Ham must similarly prevail over Bundesliga side Freiburg. Aston Vila needs just a point to clinch the top spot in its Europa conference League group when Manager Unai Emery’s side face Bosnian club Srinjski Thursday.

Friday, December 8, 2023

Premier League Preview Match Week 16

Aston Villa, fresh from its smashing victory over Manchester City, will try to extend its home winning streak to 15 matches when league leading Arsenal visits Villa Park. Villa’s winning home run will be tested by an Arsenal side which has lost only twice in its last 21 visits to Villa Park. The Gunners, in fact, are comfortable visiting any venue. Arsenal has the most points, wins and clean sheets in away matches of any Premier League team. Suspended Arsenal Manager Mikel Arteta, however, will be absent from the touchline as the Gunners seek a fifth consecutive league victory. The manager received his third yellow card of the season while celebrating Declan Rice’s late winner against Luton Town last weekend. Aston Villa’s attack could present problems for Arsenal. Only Manchester City has scored more goals than Aston Villa this season. Ollie Watkins has eight goals this season and 20 goals in calendar year 2023, one short of the club record. Leon Bailey, who had the winner versus Manchester City, has five goals this season which matches the combined total for his first two seasons with the club.

The other two clubs in the top four should have easier times this weekend. Second place Liverpool visits reeling Crystal Place at a very unhappy Selhurst Park. Crystal Palace is trying to avoid a relegation battle, but its traditionally thin roster has struggled to compensate for injuries to key players such as Eberechi Eze, Cheik Doucoure and Micheal Olise. Olise, at least, is available for limited minutes as he makes a slow return from a muscle injury which has cost him most of the season to date. Liverpool has defeated Crystal Palace ten times in their last twelve meetings, drawing the other two contests.

Fourth place Manchester City will travel to Kenilworth Road to face newly promoted Luton Town. The Hatters, winners of just two matches this season, gave Liverpool a good tussle at home during the week, but Manchester City will be chomping at the bit to end a four-match winless run and will have both Rodri and Jack Grealish back from suspension. The last time the two sides met was 24 years ago in an English third tier match.

Tottenham Hotspur will be trying to avoid a fourth consecutive home loss when it hosts Newcastle on Sunday. Some of the glow from the club’s early season success has now dimmed for Spurs during a five-match winless run. Injuries have been a huge factor but the refusal of Manager Ange Postecoglou to adjust in any way to injuries or match circumstances is raising some eyebrows. Spurs has dropped 14 points from winning positions since the beginning of November. The possible injury absence of Son Heung-min on Sunday could present another need for adjustment by the Australian manager. Son will be a match day decision on his availability after suffering a back injury during the week, Newcastle, meanwhile, was shocked at Everton during the week and have the league’s fifth worst away record this season, winning just once away from the friendly confines of St. James Park. The match at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium could have ramifications for European places. Seventh place Newcastle is just a point behind fifth place Spurs.

Sitting between those two clubs in the table is Manchester United which hosts Bournemouth on Saturday. The match at Old Trafford will feature two clubs on strong runs of recent results. Only Arsenal has a better league record than Manchester United since the beginning of October. Only Arsenal and Liverpool have more points from their last six matches than the Cherries.

West Ham is on a four-match unbeaten run as the Hammers travel to Fulham for a London derby on Sunday. The Hammers have won five and drawn one of their last six meetings with the Cottagers.

Manager Steve Cooper’s job could be on the line when Nottingham Forest travels to Wolverhampton. The Tricky Trees have tumbled down the table with four straight losses and are just four points from the drop zone. Worse yet, the Trees have just one win away from home this season. Wolves’ leading scorer Hwang Hee-Chan is an unhospitable host, scoring seven goals in his last eight league matches at Molineux Stadium.

Masked by the cloud of their 10-point penalty assessment by the league is the fact that Everton are an improved side this season whereas their Sunday opponent, Chelsea, is not. Excluding the 10-point deduction, Everton is six points better after 15 matches than a year ago. Chelsea’s Mauricio Pochettino, meanwhile, has accumulated 5 points less than Thomas Tuchel and Graham Potter garnered over the first 15 matches of last season. Everton have won eight of their last twelve matches across all competitions.

Bottom of the table Sheffield United hosts Brentford on Saturday. What normally would be a mismatch is tempered somewhat by the injury absence of Brentford’s Bryan Mbeumo and his club leading seven goals for the Bees.

Nineteenth place Burnley visits Brighton where the Seagulls will have both Lewis Dunk and Mahmoud Dahoud back from suspension. Brighton will be trying to stay unbeaten for a club record seventh league home match. Burnley has lost five consecutive league away matches. 

Premier League Results Match Week 15: Villa Stuns Manchester City; Hammers Defeat Spurs; Arsenal Survives Scare From Hatters; McTominay Sinks Chelsea; Everton Moves To Safety With Upset of Newcastle; Liverpool Spoils Wilder Welcome; Forest Flummoxed by Fulham

Aston Villa defeated Manchester City 1-0 to move past the defending champions into third place in the Premier League table. A 74th minute goal by Leon Bailey capped a stellar all-around effort for the Villans as they equaled a club record 14th consecutive league victory at Villa Park. The 22 shots by Aston Villa were the most Manchester City has faced during Pep Guardiola’s term as manager. The Citizens themselves, meanwhile, managed only two shots on target as they extended their winless league run to four matches. With his first win in 14 tries facing Guardiola, Aston Villa Manager Unai Emery has his club just four points behind league leading Arsenal as the clubs prepare to collide at Villa Park on Saturday.

The Gunners survived a wild shootout at Kenilworth Road to prevail 4-3 over Luton Town. Arsenal was trailing in the 60th minute when Kai Havertz equalized with his third goal in his last four appearances across all competitions. It then looked like the clubs were headed for a draw before Declan Rice struck in the 97th minute to snare all three points for Arsenal and keep the Gunners two points ahead of second place Liverpool.

Liverpool spoiled the return of former manager Chris Wilder to the touchline at Bramall Lane with a 2-0 victory at Sheffield United. Virgil van Dijk’s first half goal was the only scoring until Dominik Szoboszlai notched a second for Liverpool four minutes into second half stoppage time. Despite Sheffield United’s 12th loss in its 15 matches this season, Wilder will take heart in a competitive match which saw the Blades still battling for a possible point before Szoboszlai’s insurance goal for the Reds.

An undefeated 10 match run to open the season has now turned to ash for Tottenham Hotspur. Spurs relinquished another early lead in losing its London derby to West Ham 2-1. It was the first time in history that a Premier League side has failed to win after taking a 1-0 lead in five consecutive matches. Despite a bad run of injuries, Manager Ange Postecoglou’s stubborn adherence to an overly aggressive style of play is doing the club no favors of late. Ninth place West Ham is now only three points behind their London rival in the table after second half goals by Jarrod Bowen and James Ward-Prowse delivered the comeback win for the Hammers.

Kudos to Everton and Manger Sean Dyche after the Toffees blasted Newcastle 3-0 at Goodison Park. The victory moved the Toffees back out of the relegation zone despite its 10-point deduction levied by the Premier League. Newcastle was staggered by a late onslaught from the Toffees which saw all three goals Everton come in the 79th minute or later. Two uncharacteristic giveaways by Newcastle’s Kieran Trippier opened the floodgates for an Everton side which had missed a number of earlier chances. Without the ten-point penalty, Everton, rather than Chelsea, would be tenth in the Premier League table.

A pattern of one step forward and two steps back continued for Chelsea in a 2-1 defeat at Manchester United which ended any enthusiasm taken from last weekend’s win over Brighton and marked a second loss in three matches for the Blues. Scott McTominay continued his renaissance for the Red Devils by scoring both goals to defeat the Blues. The Scottish international, once out of favor with Manager Eric ten Hag, ironically may have lessened the pressure on his manager with his game winning form. McTominay leads Manchester United with five goals this season. Chelsea’s Cole Palmer also scored his fifth goal of the season to level the match late in the first half. Goalkeeper Robert Sanchez and Palmer kept Chelsea temporarily in the match despite a first half marked by 18 Manchester United shots, Sanchez’s penalty kick save on Bruno Fernandez and numerous missed goal opportunities by Palmer’s teammates. McTominay’s 69th minute game winner, however, ended any hopes that Chelsea had turned the corner in its frustrating season. Manchester United meanwhile, moved into sixth place in the table, just three points from the top four, as its league form, in terms of results if not the attractiveness of play, seems to belie all the criticism heaped on its manager. Only Arsenal has garnered more Premier League points than the Red Devils since the beginning of October.

Brighton rebounded from its loss to Chelsea by defeating Brentford 2-1. Eighteen-year-old Jack Hinshelwood scored his first senior goal for the Seagulls to complete a comeback victory for eighth place Brighton. Brentford lost for the third time in four matches and lost forward Bryan Mbeumo to an ankle injury after his penalty kick gave the Bees an early lead.

Nottingham Forest Manager Steve Cooper could be looking over his shoulder as he leads the sack race following a 5-0 loss to Fulham. The Tricky Trees are at risk of being pulled into the relegation fight after losing a fourth consecutive match, conceding 12 goals during that damaging run.  The Trees are four points clear of the drop zone. Fulham, meanwhile, has scored 11 times in its last three matches, winning twice and dropping a 4-3 heartbreaker to Liverpool. Raul Jimenz and Alex Iwobi each scored a brace in the win over Forest.

Crystal Palace Manager Roy Hodgson is also purportedly on the hot seat after the Eagles lost for a fifth time in their last five matches, falling 2-0 to Bournemouth. An unfortunate post-match incident, as the Eagles were booed from the pitch by the home fans, saw a dissatisfied supporter throw an object from the stands at the venerable manager. Hodgson didn’t help his current popularity by claiming that his fan base has been spoiled in recent years by the Eagles’ continued existence in the Premier League. How quickly things can change as Bournemouth Manager Andoni Iraola was on the hot seat himself not so long ago. Now the Cherries have won four of their last six matches after going winless in their first nine matches of the season. Bournemouth’s run of form has seen the Cherries move seven points clear of the drop zone and close to within a point of 15th place Crystal Palace.

Burnley remains mired in the relegation zone after its latest 1-0 loss at Wolverhampton. The Clarets have beaten only fellow promoted sides Luton Town and Sheffield United this season. Wolverhampton’s Hwang Hee-Chan’s scored his club leading eighth goal of the season to secure all three points a Molineux Stadium.