Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Matchweek 21 Results: Nketiah Brace Leads Arsenal Over Manchester United; Haaland And City Ravage Wolves; Newcastle Drops Points At Crystal Palace; Liverpool and Chelsea in Snooze Fest; West Ham Escapes Drop Zone With Bowen Double; Everton Sacks Frank Lampard

Eddie Nketiah is serving as more than a satisfactory replacement for the production of injured Gabriel Jesus. The young striker first countered an opening goal by Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford to tie matters at the Emirates before later deciding the match with a 90th minute winner for the 3-2 Arsenal victory. Arsenal maintained a five point advantage over Manchester City, with a game in hand, by avenging its only loss of the season which occurred back in early September to the Red Devils at Old Trafford. Marcus Rashofrd continued his goalscoring spree by putting the Gunners on their heels with a 17th minute goal for the visitors. Nketiah responded seven minutes later for the first of two deadlocks before his late winner put an exclamation point on a well played match by both top four clubs.

There does need to be concern on the part of Manchester United regarding its attack should Marcus Rashford cool off from his current goal scoring spree. Antony was again ineffective for a Manchester United side which remains without enigmatic Jason Sancho. Wout Weghorst, the striker just acquired on loan in the January window, is unlikely to strike fear in opponents despite his towering size. Arsenal’s young stars again rose to the challenge as the Gunners continue to set the pace at the top of the table. Bukayo Saka had the second goal for Arsenal and terrorized the Red Devils over the course of the second half, barely missing a brace of his own when hitting the post with a late chance. 

Manchester United and Newcastle are deadlocked at 39 points for third and fourth place in the table after the Magpies grabbed an away point at Crystal Place. Newcastle kept a sixth consecutive league clean sheet but frustratingly dropped points against a Crystal Place side more than content to play for the dreary draw. Newcastle’s ninth draw of the season ties it with Brentford for the most non-decisions in the league this season, no other clubs having more than six draws. Crystal Palace took a point from two top four clubs inside a space of four days despite generating little threat. The Eagles problematically lost star Wilfried Zaha to a hamstring pull versus the Magpies. 

Manchester City had little trouble in maintaining its distance behind Arsenal as the Citizens rolled over Wolverhampton 3-0 with Erling Haaland finding the net for his 23rd goal of the season. Haaland’s goal total after 20 matches would have tied him for the full season Golden Boot award in the Premier League last season. 

Harry Kane, meanwhile, scored his 266th career goal for Tottenham Hotspur, tying the club’s all-time record and propelling his side to a much needed 1-0 victory over Fulham in a London derby played Monday.

The three points moved Tottenham Hotspur to within three points of fourth place Manchester United though the London club has played one additional match than the Red Devils. Fulham’s second consecutive loss by a 1-0 margin dropped the Cottagers to seventh in the table, trailing sixth place Brighton on goal differential. 

The Seagulls surprisingly picked up only a point in a 2-2 draw at struggling Leicester. The Foxes snapped a four-match losing run to lessen some of the pressure on Manager Brendan Rodgers though all three points were there for the taking by his club. Brighton needed an 88th minute goal from substitute Evan Ferguson to salvage the point at King Power. It was the third Premier League goal of the season by the 18 year old Ferguson. 

The pressure is off for Everton Manager Frank Lampard as the Chelsea legend was sacked after the Toffees 2-0 defeat to West Ham. Lampard inherited a difficult situation at Everton but was unable to make a bad situation any better as the club is in a relegation battle for a second straight year. Everton majority owner Farhad Moshiri attended Saturday’s match, his first game day appearance during Lampard’s tenure, and got a firsthand view of the dysfunctional side which has driven Everton supporters to outright revolt as they are face to face with the first Premier League relegation for their historic club. Lampard was hired one year ago and lost 24 of 44 matches while in charge, winning only 12. The Toffees had won just once in their last 14 outings. Rumored replacements for Lampard comprise a diverse slate of possible candidates such as Wayne Rooney, Sam Allardyce, Marcelo Bielsa and Sean Dyche. West Ham emerged from relegation and moved three points ahead of the Toffees thanks to two first half goals by Jarrod Bowen. It was the Hammers first win in their last nine matches. 

Only Southampton is south of Everton in the table after the Saints were beaten 1-0 by Aston Villa. Ollie Watkins scored in the 77th minute to keep the Saints looking up at all 19 of the other Premier League squads. 

Aston Villa is 11th in the table, just a point behind both Liverpool and Chelsea. Those two diminished giants played to a miserable scoreless draw at Anfield. The match was largely devoid of creative energy as both attacks struggled. Perhaps the sole bright spot for either side was the play of Chelsea’s recently signed Mykhailo Mudryk whose initiative on his 55th minute introduction provided a stark contrast to his teammates. Liverpool’s recent transfer addition Cody Gakpo unfortunately has yet to make much impact for Jurgen Klopp’s Reds. 

An under the radar signing by Bournemouth sparked a rare point for the Cherries in a 1-1 draw with Nottingham Forest. Dango Quattara, a 20-year-old Burkina Faso international acquired from FC Lorient last Thursday, helped end a seven hour goal drought for Bournemouth when he assisted on Jaidon Anthony’s 28th minute goal for the Cherries. The lead didn’t last, however, and the point was not enough to prevent Bournemouth from falling into the relegation zone after a long descent down the table. Sam Surridge, a former Bournemouth academy product, scored the equalizer in the 83rd minute which, combined with West Ham’s win over Everton, relegated Bournemouth to the bottom three. Saturday’s draw delivered just the 5th earned point for the Cherries out of an available 33 from their last 11 league matches. Surridge’s late goal extended a four-match unbeaten run for Nottingham Forest which has seen the club climb to 13th in the table. 

In a crowded bottom half of the table, Leeds is just three points back of Nottingham Forest but only one point above the drop zone after a goalless draw with Brentford. In a game which Brentford will want to quickly move on from, the Bees failed to register a single shot on target against the normally vulnerable Leeds defense. Despite the dropped points, Brentford remained just two points behind seventh place Fulham and Europa Conference League qualification.

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