Friday, January 6, 2023

Premier League Results Matchweek 19: Newcastle Takes Point At Arsenal; City Closes In As Chelsea Slide Continues; Rashford Scores Again In Manchester United Win; Spurs Smash Crystal Palace; Bees Sting Liverpool To Extend Unbeaten Run; Everton Tumbles Into Drop Zone

Arsenal dropped points for only the third time in 17 matches this season as Newcastle held the Gunners in check during a scoreless duel at the Emirates. The Magpies delivered their eighth draw of the season at the home of the league leaders as Manager Eddie Howe’s side posted a fourth consecutive clean sheet. The tense match saw seven yellow cards and Arsenal Manager Mikel Arteta lost his mind on multiple occasions, screaming and gesticulating at match officials and Newcastle staff alike over uncalled penalty grievances, time wasting actions by the Magpies and too little time added by the referee to regulation. It was a well-earned point, however, by defensively superb Newcastle.

Manchester City took advantage of Arsenal’s dropped points with a 1-0 win over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Pep Guardiola, disappointed with his club’s first half performance, changed out three players at halftime. Two of those subs then combined for the winning goal as Jack Grealish set up Riyad Mahrez for the winner.

Manchester City moved back to within five points of league leading Arsenal with the win. Chelsea, meanwhile, is a shocking 10th place in the Premier League table after capturing only is of its last 24 points available in league play. Supporters are calling for manager Graham Potter’s head which would already have rolled under Chelsea’s former ownership. The new ownership, however, shares responsibility with Potter for Chelsea’s currently dismal state. Chelsea forward and former Arsenal star Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang entered the match for the injured Raheem Sterling and played so poorly that he himself was yanked by Potter. Aubameyang and fullback Marc Cucurella are two of the higher profile transfer misses to date of Chelsea’s new ownership. Chelsea are now ten points behind Manchester United for fourth place and the final Champions League qualifying spot.

Marcus Rashford continued his outstanding run of form as he scored for a third consecutive league match in Manchester United’s 3-0 win over Bournemouth. The victory was a fourth straight win for the Red Devils who have lost but once since early October. The Cherries, meanwhile, fell to within a point of the relegation zone by posting a third straight loss without scoring a goal.

Everton fell into the drop zone after the Toffees put on an embarrassing home performance in a 4-1 loss at Goodison Park to Brighton. Everton conceded the first four goals of the match before a meaningless penalty kick in stoppage time provided little consolation for supporters who have become increasingly vocal in their demands for change from the Everton board. Manager Lampard hangs by a string but truthfully is working with a poor roster in desperate need of refurbishment. The Everton financial condition does not make such repair likely in the upcoming window. Brighton responded to their loss to league leading Arsenal by winning for the fourth time in the Seagulls’ last six league matches under Manager Roberto De Zerbe. Brighton youngster Evan Ferguson scored against both the Toffees and Gunners as the 18-year-old became the youngest player to score in consecutive Premier League matches in more than a decade. Ferguson also had an assist in the lopsided win over Everton.

The Seagulls moved to within just a point of sixth palace Liverpool after the Reds put in a poor defensive performance in a 3-1 loss at Brentford. Liverpool defenders were no match for the swarming Bees. Ibrahima Konate, returning to Liverpool from World Cup duty, was victimized for an opening own goal and then was muscled aside by Brentford’s Bryan Mbeumo on the Bees’ final goal. Center back Virgil van Dijk also played poorly before being removed for a reported hamstring pull. Brentford extended their league unbeaten run to six matches despite the absence of injured striker Ivan Toney. The victory marked the first win for the Bees over Liverpool since 1938. Liverpool, meanwhile, have dropped more points to date than the entirety of last year’s Premier League season.

Tottenham Hotspur remained two points behind Manchester United for the final Champions League slot as Harry Kane struck for a brace and Son Heung-min made the scoresheet for just the second league match this season in a 4-0 rout of Crystal Palace. Kane broke open the match after a scoreless first half with goals in the 48th and 53rd minute in what was his 300th Premier League appearance. After Matt Doherty scored his first goal of the season, stretching the advantage to three goals, Kane assisted on Son’s goal to cap the scoring. Crystal Palace has conceded seven goals in its two losses since the break which bracketed a win over helpless Bournemouth.

Nottingham Forest escaped the relegation zone for the first time since August with a 1-0 win over Southampton. Taiwo Awoniyi  scored the winner as Forest won away from home for a first time this season. Manager Steve Cooper’s side has captured eight of the last 15 points available to the club to emerge from the drop zone. Southampton, meanwhile, lost a sixth consecutive match as the Saints appear to have no prayer of surviving this season.

Wolves took a point in a 1-1 draw at Aston Villa to improve their own survival chances. Wolverhampton looked poised to take all three points before Danny Ings came to Villa’s rescue with a 78th minute goal. Wolves moved to just one point back of currently safe West Ham and are now only three points behind three clubs tied for 13th place in the congested bottom half of the Premier League table.

One of those clubs, Leicester, lost a third consecutive match, falling 1-0 at home to Fulham as the Cottagers won a third consecutive match to maintain their seventh-place position in the table. Aleksandar Mitrovic’s 11th goal of the season was the match winner for Manager Marco Silva’s men.

West Ham is ahead of Everton and relegation infamy by the thinnest of goal differential margin after the Hammers dropped more points at Leeds in a 2-2 draw at Elland Road. Rodrigo’s 70th minute goal salvaged the draw for Leeds which is two points ahead of the Hammers in the bottom of the table scramble. Notable in the match was how Leeds dominated the midfield despite the presence of West Ham and England midfielder Declan Rice. Leeds is also getting a spark from 19-year-old Serie A product Wilfried Gnonto who not only scored against the Hammers but has been consistently bringing additional energy to the already frenetic Leeds attack. Leeds supporters already have a song for Gnonto, though club management would prefer the lyrics of the raunchy ballad to be more family friendly. 


FA Cup Third Round

The Premier League clubs enter the fray effective with the third round of the FA Cup this weekend. All 20 top tier clubs are in action in the domestic cup as the hectic Premier League schedule is temporarily paused. Five FA Cup matches pit Premier League rivals against each other. Headlining those matches is a rematch between Manchester City and Chelsea following their Thursday league clash. The action shifts from Stamford Bridge to the Etihad as the Citizens look to repeat their league success and Chelsea Manager Graham Potter gets another chance to try to dampen calls for his ouster. Frank Lampard is another manager under the microscope as he brings his reeling Everton squad to Old Trafford on Friday. Any game in any competition is vital now for the embattled Lampard who has guided the descent of the proud franchise into its current relegation zone position. To his credit, Lampard has pulled off the occasional unexpected result with the Toffees when things have been dark before. Everton fell into the Premier League relegation zone this past week after a brutal defeat to Brighton. Manchester United, conversely, is on a four-match winning run in the league as Marcus Rashford has been superb for the Red Devils, finding the net in three consecutive league matches. Manager Eric ten Hag’s squad rotation will be interesting for his club. Captain Harry Maguire has been relegated to a substitute’ role but may have opportunity to capture minutes on Friday. Saturday’s schedule includes a London derby as West Ham visits Brentford. The Hammers have been dreck in the league where only three clubs have scored fewer goals. The Bees came away with a 2-0 league win at West Ham little more than a week ago. Liverpool begins defense of its 2021/22 FA Cup title when the Reds host Wolves on Saturday. Another successful FA Cup run could be the high-water mark for the struggling Reds who have fallen down the league table, are already eliminated from the Carabao Cup, and face a tough Champions League matchup with defending champions Real Madrid. Jurgen Klopp would normally be tempted to heavily rotate his side for Saturday’s match but could be rethinking that approach as an FA Cup run takes on greater importance. Crystal Palace is home to Southampton in a match of interest only to supporters of the two clubs. The combined goal output in league play for these two clubs equals that of Brighton. Southampton is on a six-match losing run and Crystal Palace has been blasted in two of its three Premier League matches since the break. Premier League leader Arsenal caps the weekend action with a Monday FA Cup match versus League One side Oxford. 

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