Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Premier League Results Match Week 13: Arsenal Moves To Top of The Table As Manchester City Draws With Liverpool; Aston Villa moves Into Top Four As Spurs Continue Spiral; Garnacho Golazo As Manchester United Heaps More Misery on Everton; Chelsea Embarrassed at Newcastle; Young Premier League Stars Shine

Arsenal has climbed to the top of the Premier League ladder, defeating Brentford 1-0 over the weekend while Manchester City and Liverpool battled to a 1-1 draw. Kai Havertz made his first meaningful contribution to the Gunners in a big way as he scored in the 89th minute to grab the victory and a place at the head of the table. The former Chelsea man was a quizzical acquisition for Arsenal but perhaps showed a glimmer of what Manager Mikel Arteta was thinking when striking the decisive goal, his first from open play for Arsenal. The German’s contribution was critical in a match where Gabriel Jesus and Martin Odegaard showed rust in their return from injury in a less than scintillating overall performance by the Gunners.

The result can’t be quibbled with, however, as the London side moved a point beyond Manchester City. The Citizens were victimized by Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold when his 80th minute strike equalized matters at the Etihad. The versatile Alexander-Arnold struggled at times in defense but once again displayed prowess in augmenting his club’s attack in his hybrid role. Liverpool’s equalizer came long after Erling Haaland gave Manchester City the early lead with his 14th goal of the season in the 27th minute. The goal was the 50th by Haaland as he became the Premier League’s fastest to that mark, achieving it in just 48 Premier League matches. Manchester City will rue the dropped points at home, however, as all credit to Liverpool for grabbing a point at the home of the defending champions.

Aston Villa is now level on points with Liverpool, having crashed into the top four with a 2-1 victory at Tottenham Hotspur. Only Manchester City and Arsenal can match the nine wins for Villa this season. Saturday’s victory came on an Ollie Watkins winner in the 61st minute, the striker’s seventh league goal of the season. Villa now resides in the top four after 13 matches for the first time in 14 years, two points ahead of descending Spurs.

The spiral continues for Spurs as Manager Ange Postecoglou lost for a third consecutive time, squandering a lead in each of those matches, after an undefeated first ten matches of the season. Despite another negative result, Tottenham Hotspur competed well on Saturday as “Angeball” continues to create opportunities for the London side. Three balls which found the net off the foot of Tottenham Hotspur’s Son-Heung-min were negated by offside decisions.

Coming up fast in Tottenham Hotspur’s rear-view window is the club currently demonstrating the best run of results in the Premier League. Surprisingly, that club is Manchester United. Despite unceasing criticism of its manager and admittedly discombobulated play at times, the Red Devils have won four of five matches after a 3-0 domination of Everton at Goodison Park. Everton fans, numbed by a ten-point deduction assessed by the league over the break, were barely in their seats before Manchester United’s 19-year-old Alejandro Garnacho stunned everyone with an overhead kick into the net in the third minute of play. The bicycle kick instantly becomes a contender for goal of the season. Garnacho’s 18-year-old teammate Kobbie Mainoo also had a moment when he cleared an Everton chance from the goal line in his debut for the Red Devils.

Another youngster figured in things at St. James Park as 17-year-old Lewis Miley assisted on Newcastle’s opening goal in a 4-1 shellacking of Chelsea. Alexander Isak was the beneficiary of Hall’s threaded pass as the striker quickly scored in his return from an injury absence. Chelsea was thoroughly embarrassed by a Newcastle side ravaged by injuries and facing a critical mid-week Champions League match versus PSG. Chelsea was guilty of failed marking, giveaways and missed goal opportunities as Manager Mauricio Pochettino watched the mess unfold as he sat in the stands due to accumulated yellow cards. A lack of discipline seems pervasive throughout Chelsea, captain Reece James next to be disciplined by the league after being red carded in the loss to the Magpies.

Brighton and Hove Albion were fortunate to survive some late indiscretions of their own in a 3-2 win at Nottingham Forest. The Seagulls enjoyed a two-goal advantage and seemed to be coasting towards their first win since September until a 73rd minute red card to defender Lewis Dunk. Three minutes later the Brighton lead was cut in half after a penalty kick by Morgan Gibbs-White. The undermanned Seagulls then barely held onto all three points when goalkeeper Bert Verbruggen made a critical save deep into stoppage time. On a day when younger players seemed to shine throughout the league, 19-year-old Evan Ferguson had one of the three Brighton goals.

Burnley improved its relegation chances with a late collapse at home against an undermanned West Ham. The Hammers were missing both Michail Antonio and Jarrod Bowen who were injured over the international break. A 49th minute Jay Rodriguez penalty kick had Burnley ahead after 85 minutes. Then disaster struck. Pressure from West Ham’s Divin Mubama, a 19-year-old forward forced into action by the injuries upfront, caused Burnley’s Dara O’Shea to misdirect a ball into his own net. Tomas Soucek then found the winner for West Ham in stoppage time to seal Burnley’s doom. The Clarets, who remain in the league basement, have lost seven consecutive matches on their home pitch.

Another newly promoted side won their first match at home this season as Luton Town downed Crystal Palace 2-1 at Kenilworth Road. The Hatters moved four points clear of the drop zone with their second  league victory of the season. Some concern is beginning to rise at Crystal Palace after four losses in the last five matches. The Eagles, however, are still hovering 10 points above the drop zone.

Fulham and Wolverhampton are both level on points with the Eagles after Fulham’s 3-2 win at Craven Cottage over visiting Wolves on Monday. Willian converted on two penalty tries for the Cottagers, his second providing the winner in stoppage time.

Don’t look now but Bournemouth has won three of its last four matches after a 2-1 win at Sheffield United.  Manager Andoni Iraola’s job had looked in dire jeopardy after the Cherries were defeated by Iraola’s predecessor Gary O’Neil and Wolverhampton to extend a then winless drought to nine matches. No more, as the Cherries have moved seven points clear of the drop with their recent run of success.

Premier League in Europe

All eyes are on Paris as Newcastle plays PSG Tuesday in Champions League action. The Magpies knocked off the Parisians at St. James Park but desperately need to repeat that result if Newcastle is to advance to the next round. The Magpies are currently last but trail second place PSG by two points in a tightly contested group. Manchester United is also bottom of its group as Manager Eric ten Hag takes his squad to Turkey to face Galatasaray Wednesday. Three clubs are within a point of each other in United’s group, well behind runaway group leader Bayern Munich.

Arsenal is leading its Champions League group and can avenge its only loss in group play when the Gunners host French side Lens Wednesday. Lens, having defeated Arsenal in the first match between the two, is locked in a battle with PSV for second in the group and automatic qualification to the next round. Manchester City has won all four of its group matches to date. The Citizens face second place RB Leipzig on Tuesday. Both clubs are assured of advancement with the Germans eight points clear of the other two group clubs with two matches to play.

West Ham and Liverpool lead their Europa League qualification groups as the Hammers travel to face Serbian side Backa Topola on Thursday while the Reds are home to Austrian club LASK. Brighton faces a key qualification battle against AEK Athens. The Seagulls, currently second in the group, lead the Athenians by three points but lost to the Greek side in their first meeting. Brighton’s injury list grew longer over the weekend with Ansu Fati and Tariq Lamptey taken off in the first half versus Nottingham Forest. Aston Villa is home on Thursday to face Legia Warszawa. The two clubs jointly lead their qualification group with the other two clubs trailing the leaders by six points. The Polish club won the first contest at home versus Aston Villa. 

Friday, November 24, 2023

Premier League Preview Match Week 13: Manchester City Hosts Liverpool; Everton Returns To Pitch 10 Points Lighter

The Premier League returns to a crowded title chase and a major change at the bottom of the table. The weekend begins with a blockbuster match for its first scheduled contest on Saturday. League leading Manchester City is home to second place Liverpool with the lead in the table at stake. Liverpool and Arsenal are both just one point behind the defending champions with Arsenal visiting Brentford later Saturday. Manchester City returns after a wild 4-4 result at Stamford Bridge. Can Mohamed Salah and his linemates also exploit a potentially vulnerable Manchester City defense? Keeping Erling Haaland and Manchester City’s other weapons quiet on the other end of the pitch, however, remains a daunting task. Winning as an opponent at the Etihad is also just a little bit difficult. Manchester City will be seeking a 24th consecutive home win across all competitions on Saturday. A win will  eclipse the consecutive victory record for an English topflight club which dates all the way back to 1892. Other historic marks which could be reached in this match include Mohamed Salah scoring for the 150th time and Erling Haaland for the 50th time in the Premier League.

Arsenal Manager Mikel Arteta, meanwhile, will be in charge of the Gunners for his 200th match on Saturday and already has more wins than any other Arsenal manager to that point in their managerial tenure. The Gunners’ match-up on Saturday is with a Brentford side which Liverpool spanked 3-0 just before international break. Gabriel Jesus and his finicky hamstring remain a doubt for Arsenal. The Brazilian is just back in town after testing that hamstring over 90 minutes in his country’s defeat to Argentina.

When last we left off, Tottenham Hotspur were spiraling amidst injuries, suspensions and losses. Manager Ange Postecoglou’s magical season was experiencing its first rough patch as the club dropped from first to fourth with consecutive losses before the break. It won’t be an easy return to the pitch when fifth place Aston Villa visits Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday with a chance to leapfrog their opponent into the top four. James Maddison remains out till January and Spurs desperately miss his creativity. Villa, meanwhile, can struggle a bit away from its Villa Park fortress where the club has won all six Premier League home matches this season. The Villans have won only two of their last 10 away contests.

Nottingham Forest is undefeated at the City Ground as they prepare to host Brighton this weekend. Goals on Saturday could be hard to come by, however, for the Tricky Trees. Striker Taiwo Awoniyi aggravated his groin issue over the break and is out for months after undergoing surgery. Manager Steve Cooper has no like for like option who can replace the pace and physicality of Awoniyi who had scored in 10 of his last 14 appearances. The goals haven’t been coming for Brighton of late. The flowing attack which scored 18 goals in the first six games of the season has seemed to dry up with the Seagulls finding the net only seven times in the last six matches. The Seagulls have drawn four of their last five matches and the dropped points have seen Brighton fall to eighth in the table.

The earthshaking news over the break that Everton would be penalized 10 points for violating financial fair play rules violations changes the face of the table. The Toffees descend into the relegation zone in the current rankings because of the penalty. It’s a gut punch for an Everton side which had played well in recent weeks and seemed bound for a relatively comfortable survival season after tumultuous relegation battles the last two years. So much for that. The Everton news also can’t help but raise the anxiety level for Manchester City and Chelsea who are also under review for possible violations in more complex financial investigations. In the meantime, Everton Manager Sean Dyche needs to pick up the pieces and soldier on with the Toffees now two points from safety as they host Manchester United on Sunday.

Chelsea was showing signs of life before the break, capturing four of six points against league leading clubs Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City in the two weeks preceding international break. A win at Newcastle on Saturday would go a long way to ascertaining that success wasn’t a temporary anomaly for Mauricio Pochettino’s Blues. St. James Park is a difficult place to play but injuries have made the Magpies vulnerable of late, evidenced in a 2-0 loss to Bournemouth heading into the break.

Bournemouth visits Sheffield United this weekend in what could be an important relegation battle. Bournemouth has kicked clear of the drop zone with two victories in its last three matches, the first two wins of the season for the Cherries. The south coast club now has a four-point advantage over 18th place Sheffield United. The Blades, however, have grabbed four of their five points this season in their last two matches. A win by the Blades on Saturday could move the Blades out of the relegation places for the first time since the third week of the Premier League season.

Burnley remains in the league basement despite Everton’s penalty. The Clarets, level on points with the penalized Toffees, have a goal differential of -21 versus -3 for Everton. Burnley hosts West Ham this week hoping to earn its first home points of the season at Turf Moor.

Luton Town will try to remain clear of the drop when the Hatters host Crystal Palace at Kenilworth. The Hatters moved out of the relegation place by virtue of Everton’s penalty induced descent. Crystal Palace has lost three of its last four matches, two of those defeats coming at home. The Eagles have proven road warriors this season though with three wins in their six road matches representing the fifth best away record in the league this this season.

Wolverhampton, like Crystal Palace, is comfortably safe right now with both clubs standing on 15 points, 10 points clear of 18th place Sheffield United. Manager Gary O’Neil’s side travels to London Monday to face Fulham. The Cottagers have earned 12 points to date, but the arrow is turning down. The London club has lost three of four, scoring just twice during that run. Worse yet, they have won just once in their last 14  league meetings with Monday’s opponent. 

Monday, November 20, 2023

Premier League Stars Feature In South American World Cup Qualifying

World Cup qualifiers feature an array of Premier League stars performing for their South American countries this international break. Despite an easier qualification path for the expanded 48 team 2026 World Cup, the South American qualifiers are no less intense given historical rivalries.

Perhaps the fiercest of those rivalries resumes Tuesday as Brazil hosts Argentina. The Brazilians have struggled in the qualifying rounds to date, winning just two of their five matches to date.

The Selecao lost to Colombia 2-1 last Thursday, victimized when two late goals from Liverpool’s Luis Diaz overcame a fifth minute score by Arsenal’s Gabriel Martinelli. Brazil thus sits fifth in qualifying, five points behind leader Argentina.

Six teams from South America automatically qualify under the expanded format with a seventh entering an international playoff. The previous World Cup qualifying format automatically qualified only four clubs with a fifth entering the playoff. Brazil may benefit from the more lenient rules as the Selecao are currently only two points ahead of eighth place Chile and an unthinkable non-qualification.

Desperate measures may be called for by the Brazilians, much to the distress of Arsenal fans. Gabriel Jesus, still nursing an injured hamstring, may be forced into the starting line-up after Real Madrid’s Vinicius Jr. was hurt versus Colombia. Arsenal Manager Mikel Arteta is sure to be livid if that’s the case as the Premier League club voiced strong objection to Jesus even being named to the Brazil squad after missing much of the Premier League season first to a knee injury and, more recently, to the hamstring injury suffered in the Champions League match at Sevilla.

Brighton’s Jao Pedro, meanwhile, is another forward option for Brazil. Should Brazil Manager Fernando Diniz elect to go with a more conservative formation and bolster his midfield, Aston Villa’s Douglas Luiz could get the call to line up in a midfield that already includes countryman Bruno Guimares of Newcastle. Brazil faced 22 shots from Colombia, 10 of those coming off the foot of Liverpool’s Diaz who has responded to his family crisis by scoring three goals across his last three outings across all competitions. Diaz’s parents are now safe after their release by kidnappers in Colombia. Diaz’s Liverpool teammate Nunez has tallied three goals in the World Cup qualifying rounds to lead the South American group along with Lionel Messi and Uruguayan teammate Nicolas de la Cruz. Uruguay is two points behind Argentina after defeating Messi and friends last week, one point ahead of Diaz’s third place Colombia. Messi is surrounded on the Argentina team with numerous Premier League stars. Manchester City’s Julian Alvarez lines up at forward. The Argentina midfield includes Chelsea’s Enzo Fernandez and Liverpool’s Alexis Mac Allister. Between the sticks is Aston Villa’s Emi Martinez who won the Golden Glove for World Cup winning Argentina. Martinez, however, may not even be the best goalkeeper on Thursday with Liverpool’s Alison Becker guarding the goal for Brazil. With uncertainty for Brazil in attack, Becker could hold the key if Brazil is to avoid a first ever home defeat in World Cup qualifying at Rio de Janeiro’s storied MaracanΓ£ stadium.

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Premier League Match Week 12 Results: Wild One At The Bridge; Spurs Ambushed By Wolves; Liverpool and Arsenal Draw Closer With Weekend Wins; Bournemouth Shocks Newcastle

Chelsea refused to quit and came back three different times to take a point at Stamford Bridge in an action packed 4-4 draw with Manchester City. A result against a Premier League table leader for a second consecutive week lends some credibility to the notion that the Chelsea project could be turning the corner. Chelsea has scored 14 goals in its last five Premier League matches after finding the net just seven times in its first seven league games.  Former Manchester City players Raheem Sterling and Cole Palmer were integral to Chelsea’s fortunes on Sunday. Sterling scored Chelsea’s second goal while Palmer converted a 95th minute penalty to secure the point for Chelsea. Erling Haaland scored twice for Manchester City to add to his league leading goal total, but his club looked vulnerable to Chelsea’s aggressive tactics. Rather than sit back as many teams do against City, Chelsea employed its speed to keep the pressure on its visiting opponent while also conceding opportunities and goals to the defending champion. The dropped points by Manchester City tightens the race at the top of the table where the first five clubs are now separated by just three points.

Tottenham Hotspur, beaten by Chelsea for its first loss in the league last week, lost a second consecutive match with a late collapse at Wolverhampton. Seemingly in control of a match they led for 87 minutes following  Brennan Johnson’s first goal with his new club, Manager Ange Postecoglou’s side were victimized by two stoppage time goals in a 2-1 loss at Molineux Stadium. Whether suffering from fatigue, lack of focus or both, Spurs were caught off guard by a quick throw-in leading to the equalizer and then were left flatfooted by a quickly taken restart leading to Mario Lamina’s 97th minute winner. Spurs dropped to fourth in the table, two points behind league leading Manchester City and a point ahead of fifth place Aston Villa.

Liverpool and Arsenal, meanwhile, are both just a point behind Manchester City after taking care of business this weekend. Mohamed Salah scored twice, his 9th and 10th Premier League goals of the season, in Liverpool’s 3-0 win over Brentford. Liverpool is undefeated in six matches at Anfield and Salah has scored in each to become the fourth player in Premier League history to have scored in each of his club’s opening six home matches.

Arsenal kept pace with a 3-1 victory over Burnley at the Emirates. Leandro Trossard starred for the Gunners, striking for Arsenal’s first goal and assisting on the second. Arsenal’s third goal also developed from a Trossard corner kick.

Burnley fell into the Premier League basement with its sixth consecutive loss, and a league high tenth defeat of the season, as former cellar dweller Sheffield United captured a point in a 1-1 draw at Brighton. The Blades have looked much sharper of late, winning for a first time last week, but needed the generosity of Brighton to capture Saturday’s point. The Seagulls went down to 10 men on a 69th minute red card to Mahmoud Dahoud and Brighton’s Adam Webster then handed the Blades their point with a 74th minute own goal. It was the third consecutive 1-1 draw for a Brighton side which hasn’t won since September.

Newcastle lost 2-0 for a second time this week as the suddenly vulnerable Magpies lost at Bournemouth just days after their Champions League loss to Dortmund. Manager Eddie Howe was missing 11 players entering the match and then saw Miguel Almiron injure his hamstring before halftime. Dominik Solanke struck for a second half brace to move the Cherries out of the relegation zone with their second win of the season. The surprise loss to Bournemouth ended a seven-match unbeaten run in the league for Newcastle.

Aston Villa extended its winning run at home to 13 matches with a 3-1 defeat of Fulham at Villa Park. An own goal by the Cottagers Antonee Robinson gave Aston Villa an early lead before John McGinn and Ollie Watkins extended the Villa lead. Raul Jimenez’s first Premier League goal since March 2022 proved too little, too late for the Cottagers.

Manchester United moved to sixth in the Premier League table with a harrowing 1-0 win at Old Trafford over newly promoted Luton Town. Victor Lindelof was the unlikely goal scorer, finding the net for the first time in three seasons and for only the fourth time since joining the club for the 2017/18 season. Manchester United has needed to look for alternate sources of goal production as its forwards have been almost entirely unproductive in the league this season. Marcus Rashford’s solitary goal is the only one scored by a Manchester United forward this Premier League season. Rasmus Hojlund, scorer of five goals in the Red Devils’ Champions League matches, has yet to score in the Premier League. The Red Devils, however,  have won four of their last five league matches, each win coming by a single goal.

West Ham ended a three-match losing run in the league and moved back into the top half of the table with a 3-2 win at London Stadium over Nottingham Forest. James Ward-Prowse assisted on two of the Hammer goals, including Tomas Soucek’s 88th minute winner. Lucas Paqueta and Jarrod Bowen scored the other West Ham goals. Bowen’s eighth goal of the season is the joint third highest total in the Premier League this season. Nottingham Forest lost for the fifth time in their seven road matches.

A back-and-forth match which featured two goals in the first five minutes ended in a 3-2 Everton win at Crystal Palace. Idrissa Gueye struck the winner in the 86th minute for an improving Everton side. The Toffees have taken 10 of their last 15 available points in the league as Manager Sean Dyche’s club has removed itself, at least temporarily, from the relegation discussion.

Friday, November 10, 2023

Premier League Preview: Match Week 12

Manchester City is now back atop the table, winning three consecutive matches after a brief two match stumble had given hope to the rest of the league. The Citizens travel to London on Sunday to face a Chelsea side which may, or may not, have turned a corner at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Monday. The game against Manchester City will provide an acid test as to whether Chelsea was just enjoying  the fortune of a two-man advantage versus Spurs or whether supporters saw the first signs of their club returning to competitive respectability. Stamford Bridge has been the scene of too many poor matches by Chelsea of late, the Blues having won only one of their last 13 home matches.

Spurs, knocked from the top of the table and the ranks of the unbeaten by Chelsea, could be vulnerable at Wolverhampton on Saturday due to missing players. Three starting defenders will be absent for the match at Molineux. Cristian Romero and Destiny Udogie are suspended. Mickey van de Ven is injured. Worse news was received Friday when Manager Ange Postecoglou revealed that James Maddison, the architect of so much of Spurs’ creative play, will be out for the remainder of the year with his ankle injury. The hope remains that midfielder James Maddison can shake off the ankle knock he suffered on Monday and take the pitch versus Wolves. Wolverhampton is coming off its worst performance of the season after losing to previously winless Sheffield United last week.

Brentford will try to hand Liverpool its first home defeat of the season when the Bees visit Anfield Saturday. Manager Thomas Frank will have his men well drilled to stop the potent Liverpool counterattack. The Bees narrowly fell 1-0 at Anfield last season while downing the Reds 3-1 at home. Third place Liverpool is three points behind Manchester City. Brentford is ninth in the league and on a run of three consecutive victories.

West Ham has lost three matches in a row after last week’s defeat to the Bees and are home to Nottingham Forest on Saturday. The Trees, one point behind 12th place West Ham in the table, ambushed Aston Villa last weekend at the City Ground. Only Sheffield United, however, has lost more away matches this season than the Tricky Trees.

Sheffield United will try to make it two consecutive victories when the Blades visit Brighton on Saturday. The more likely outcome, however, is that Brighton wins for the first time since September 30th as both clubs perform closer to  their true potential this weekend. 

Aston Villa will be back at Villa Park this weekend hoping to put the shock road loss to Forest behind them when Fulham visits Sunday. The Cottagers have the fewest goals of any club not currently in relegation zone as they have been hard hit by the transfer loss of striker Aleksander Mitrovic. The Villans, meanwhile, have no such problems with only Manchester City and Newcastle finding the net more often than Emery’s sharpshooters.

 

Newcastle might normally be expected to bolster its goal total on Saturday’s visit to Bournemouth as only Sheffield United has conceded more often than the Cherries. The Magpies, however, are struggling with injuries right now. Callum Wilson could join forward Alexander Isak in the stands after hurting a hamstring against Borussia Dortmund during the week. Harvey Barnes remains out and Bruno Guimares is suspended for the match on the south coast. Gambling man Sandro Tonali, of course, is suspended until next season for the Magpies.

Burnley’s miserable season is unlikely to get any better on Saturday. The Clarets, losers of nine of their 11 Premier League matches this season, will be at the Emirates to face Arsenal which lost for the first time last weekend. Good luck, Vincent Kompany.

Luton Town can deal a historic blow to Manchester United at Old Trafford on Saturday. A win by the Hatters would mean six Manchester United losses in its first 11 home matches across all competitions this season. That’s never happened before. Hopefully the Hatters will not play with too big a head after drawing Liverpool last week.

Everton have played better in recent weeks as the Toffees travel to Selhurst Park to face Crystal Palace on Saturday. Selhurst has proved far less than a fortress for the Eagles as they’ve won just one of their five home matches this season. 

Premier League in Europe

Manchester United and Newcastle are both at the bottom of their Champions League qualification groups after losses this week. The Red Devils 4-3 loss at Copenhagen was blamed upon poor officiating by embattled Manchester United Manager Eric ten Hag. That excuse doesn’t tell the whole story of  a galling loss to a lesser opponent which hadn’t won a Champions League match in seven years. Rasmus Hojlund had a brace inside of 30 minutes to put ten Hag’s club on course for an expected victory. Marcus Rashford, however, was assessed a red card to put the English team down a man. Copenhagen then rallied to knot the score, the equalizer coming in first half stoppage time via penalty kick after a Harry Maguire handball. As well as Maguire is capable of playing at times, he so often seems to be at the center of unfortunate moments for the Red Devils. Manchester United then received their own penalty kick opportunity which Bruno Fernandes converted to retake the lead in the 69th minute. Defensive lapses, however, by Diogo Dalot and Raphael Varane led to two late goals for the Danes. The dagger for the Red Devils came off the foot of Copenhagen’s 17-year-old Swedish midfielder Roony Bardghi. The pressure is mounting on Eric ten Hag whose post-match references to officiating issues and the impressive fighting spirit of his team were largely dismissed by those who saw his club essentially lose the same game twice.

Newcastle lost in more straightforward fashion as it dropped a second consecutive group match to Borussia Dortmund. The 2-0 loss in Germany followed a 1-0 loss to the Germans at St. James Park. As a result, Dortmund sit atop the group and Newcastle is looking up at the German side as well as AC Milan and PSG in a highly competitive group.

Manchester City and Arsenal took care of business as expected. The Citizens coasted 3-0 margin by Young Boys at the Etihad. Erling Haaland showed no signs of his ankle issue as he scored a brace. Arsenal defeated Sevilla 2-0 on goals by Leandro Trossard and Bukayo Saka. Both City and Arsenal lead their qualification groups.

In Europa League action on Thursday, Liverpool was shocked at Toulouse by a 3-2 margin in a match that was nothing like Liverpool’s lopsided 5-1 win over the French squad just weeks ago. Liverpool rescued a point with a late goal against inferior opposition in Luton Town last weekend. The Reds tried that script again when Diogo Jota scored in the 89th minute in France but an even later equalizer by Jarell Quansah was disallowed due to a handball by Alexis Mac Allister in the buildup. Toulouse moved to within two points of group leader Liverpool.

West Ham avenged their earlier loss to Olympiacos in Greece by defeating their Europa League foe 1-0 at London Stadium. Lucas Paqueta’s goal put West Ham in position to top their qualification group with one point from their final two group matches. In a match that was tense from the start, Paqueta’s goal was ruled  good by VAR after an on-field offside decision.

Brighton’s day in the Europa League was far less stressful than its fellow Premier League brethren. On loan Barcelona youngster Ansu Fati scored in the 14th minute for the Seagulls and Simon Andringa provided the second half insurance goal. Brighton can clinch a place in the tournament’s next round with a win at AEK Athens in their next match.

Ollie Watkins scored in the 84th minute to lead Aston Villa past AZ Alkmaar in Europa Conference League play. Watkins and friends moved level on points in their group with Legia Warsaw which defeated Aston Villa earlier in group play.  

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Premier League Week 11 Results: Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal Knocked From Ranks Of Undefeated; Manchester City Tops The Table After Doku Record Performance Smashes Cherries; Aston Villa and Liverpool Surprised On The Road; Blades Win!

There are no longer any undefeated teams left in the Premier League. Just two days after Newcastle defeated Arsenal on a controversial goal, an explosive London derby saw table leader Tottenham Hotspur reduced to nine men and beaten at home by Chelsea. Spurs Manger Ange Postecoglou remained true to his principles by continuing to play a high line despite a two-man disadvantage. Chelsea was unable to time their runs correctly until late in the match when Nicolas Jackson put together a hat trick with his first goal coming in the 75th minute. Tottenham Hotspur defenders Cristian Romero and Destiny Udogie were long gone before Jackson’s initial goal, the defenders having been dismissed in the 33rd and 55th minute respectively. The physical and undisciplined match was epitomized by Romero’s red card which saw Chelsea tie the match on Cole Palmer’s penalty kick. Eight minutes of VAR review was required to dissect numerous collisions and a hand ball by Chelsea in a chaotic phase of play which included Romero’s dangerous foul on Chelsea’s Enzo Fernandez. The officials were heavily involved in the frenetic back and forth play as five different goals were chalked off in addition to the five goals that stood. The match could mark a significant turning point for both teams. Chelsea can hopefully build on their win over previously undefeated Spurs as Manager Mauricio Pochettino returned to face his former club for the first time. The hat trick by Jackson could be enormously valuable should it instill some much needed confidence in the 22-year-old striker who has struggled to lead the line for Chelsea.

Spurs could face ramifications far beyond Monday’s match result. Key players James Maddison and Mickey Van de Ven both left the match with injuries. Van de Ven’s hamstring injury looked particularly serious and, combined with Romero’s suspension, will leave the club short on center backs in the next few weeks. Postecoglou was remarkably gracious in post-match comments despite seeing two of his players dismissed in a match where play was stopped for over twenty minutes of aggregate VAR review.

Arsenal Manager Mikel Arteta provided quite a contrast after the Gunners’ 1-0 loss at Newcastle. A controversial Anthony Gordon goal in the 64th minute proved the difference as Newcastle blanked Arsenal 1-0 at St James Park. Gordon’s goal was reviewed by VAR for three potential concerns. Not only was there review for a possible offside call, but additional scrutiny focused on whether the ball was out of play in the buildup and also whether there was a possible foul in the sequence by Gordon’s Newcastle teammate Joelinton. All was found to be in order by the VAR official, however, much to the chagrin of an angry Arteta who referred to the officiating decision as an “embarrassment” and “an absolute disgrace.” Newcastle’s defense may have been just as influential as any officiating decisions in a match where the Gunners were held to only a single shot on target. Arsenal is fourth in the table after a rough week which also saw the Gunners eliminated from the Carabao Cup. Newcastle is four points back of Arsenal in sixth position.

Jeremy Doku equaled the Premier League single game assist mark and added a goal of his own as Manchester City trashed Bournemouth 6-1 to land the Citizens back on their accustomed perch at the top of the league. Two of Doku’s record four assists led to Bernardo Silva goals as the Citizens ran riot at the Etihad. Erling Haaland, however, was goalless and was removed after the first half due to an ankle injury. The injury could keep him out of Tuesday’s Champions League match but isn’t thought to be a long-term issue. Bournemouth, meanwhile, collapsed back into the relegation zone with the defeat, just one week after recording their first league victory of the season.

Liverpool was shockingly down a goal at Luton Town before Luis Diaz rescued a point for the Reds in the 95th minute of play. Following his goal, an emotional Diaz lifted his jersey to reveal a message calling for the release of his kidnapped father. The elder Diaz was to have been released by Colombian rebels last week but is yet to receive his freedom. Diaz’s heroics negated a gritty performance by Luton Town which had taken the lead with an 80th minute Tahith Chong goal. The Hatters kept Liverpool off the score sheet for 94 minutes despite conceding 74% of the possession. As consolation for the late disappointment, the Hatters moved out of the relegation zone, ahead of Bournemouth on goal differential, with Sunday’s point.

Perhaps an even greater surprise occurred at the home of another newly promoted side. Bramall Lane was the venue as Sheffield United won for the first time this season with a 2-1 defeat of Wolves. The Blades seemed well on their way to ending their miserable winless run on a 72nd minute goal by Cameron Archer. Wolves struck for the equalizer, however, when Jean-Ricner Bellegarde found the net with just a minute left in regulation time. Nine minutes of stoppage time elapsed before Wolverhampton’s Fabio Silva  fouled the Blades’ Geroge Baldock in the box. Blades’ captain Oliver Norwood then converted the penalty kick for the fourth latest winning goal in Premier League history, igniting bedlam at Bramall.

Sheffield United remains in the league basement on goal differential but drew level on four points with Burnley which lost a sixth consecutive match at Turf Moor in a 2-0 home loss to Crystal Palace. Sam Johnstone, the Crystal Palace goalkeeper, made five saves to deliver his joint league high fifth clean sheet of the season for the Eagles.

Aston Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez won the Yashin Trophy as the world’s best goalkeeper as part of last Monday’s Ballon d’or awards. The World Cup winner looked far from his best on Sunday, however, as the Argentine muffed a strike by Orel Mangala for Nottingham Forest’s second goal in a 2-0 win by the Tricky Trees. The defeat handed Aston Villa its first Premier League loss since September 3rd. Nottingham Forest benched American goalkeeper Matt Turner for the match at the City Ground after the American started each of the prior 10 league matches. His replacement, Odysseas Vlachodimos, posted a clean sheet against an Aston Villa side which entered the weekend as the league’s joint highest scoring club.

Everton extended Brighton’s winless run in the league to five matches in a 1-1 draw at Goodison Park. The Seagulls were fortunate to salvage the point when an own goal by the Toffees’ Ashley Young in the 84th minute negated a 5th minute Vitaliy Mykolenko goal for Everton.

West Ham lost its third consecutive Premier League match in a 3-2 defeat at Brentford. Nathan Collins’ first goal in a  Brentford shirt proved the winner in a match which saw striker Neal Maupay open the scoring for Brentford with his first goal after a 45 match Premier League drought.

A Bruno Fernandes goal in the first minute of stoppage time gave Manchester United a much-needed win at Fulham. Despite a firestorm of criticism enveloping Manger Eric ten Hag, United are six points outside the top four after winning for the third time in their last four Premier League matches. 

Premier League in Europe

Newcastle heads to Germany Tuesday looking for a better result in its reverse fixture than the 1-0 defeat to Borussia Dortmund it suffered at St James Park three weeks ago. The Magpies are flying after beating Arsenal on the weekend while their German foe was blitzed by Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga Saturday. The other Premier League team in action on Tuesday is Manchester City which will try to avoid yawning when it hosts Young Boys. The Citizens  won in Switzerland 3-1 when the teams last met. Manchester United will be in Denmark on Wednesday to face Copenhagen. A Harry Maguire goal was the difference when the Red Devils won the first match at Old Trafford. Arsenal is home to Sevilla on Wednesday after defeating the La Liga club in their first group meeting in Spain. Ajax is the only club that Brighton has beaten in its last eight matches across all competitions. The Seagulls will hope to once again feast on the Dutch club in their Europa League rematch in Amsterdam on Thursday. Liverpool will also be on the road to face Toulouse after the Reds triumphed by a 5-1 margin at Anfield in the first meeting. West Ham will be at home hoping to avenge its earlier 2-1 loss to Olympiacos in Greece. Europa Conference League action will see Aston Villa host AZ Alkmaar. Villa defeated the Dutch side 4-1 in their first meeting in the Netherlands.  

Friday, November 3, 2023

Premier League Week 11 Preview

Arsenal puts its undefeated Premier League record on the line when the Gunners travel to Newcastle on Saturday. The Gunners are one of two undefeated clubs and trail similarly undefeated rival Tottenham Hotspur by two points in the table. The Magpies, meanwhile, have won four of their five matches this season at St. James Park, stumbling only in a one goal loss to Liverpool.

League leading Spurs must wait till Monday to take the pitch in the much-awaited Mauricio Pochettino derby. The Chelsea manager returns to Tottenham Hotspur Stadium to face his former side, which is experiencing wild success, so far, under Manager Ange Postecoglou. The Australian manager has delighted fans with an aggressive attacking style that has more than compensated for the departure of striker Harry Kane. After experimenting early on with Richarlison leading the line, Postecoglou has been playing Son Heung-min at center forward with the Korean international notching eight Premier League goal so far this season, joint second in the league. Pochettino, meanwhile, is yet to find a consistent scoring threat at Chelsea. Raheem Sterling leads a floundering attack with three goals for the Blues. While Postecoglou has Spurs leading the table, Pochettino’s side are struggling in 11th place with a return to the European places seeming to be a longer project than expected.

Third place Manchester City and league leading scorer Erling Haaland host Bournemouth on Saturday. The Cherries, winners in the league for a first time last week, face a daunting challenge against a Manchester City club which has won all its 21 Premier League and Cup matches played at the Etihad in 2023. It’s unlikely that Bournemouth will find its first ever win against Manchester City this weekend.

The other current top four club, Liverpool is on the road but will also be a heavy favorite Sunday at newly promoted Luton Town. The Reds will be seeking a fifth consecutive victory across all competitions and have scored at least twice in their last six matches. Luton Town has scored nine times in the Premier League this season versus the 23 league goals of Liverpool.

Aston Villa is only a point behind Liverpool in the table as Manager Unai Emery’s side travels to Nottingham Forest for Sunday’s other Premier League match. Villa’s seven wins in its first 10 matches marks the best start by the club in a top tier league season in 70 years. Nottingham Forest, however, can be stubborn at home as they currently have a seven-match unbeaten league run at the City Ground.

Brighton has failed to win in its last four league matches, dropping the Seagulls from the top four into their current seventh place position in the league. Injuries to Solly March, Pervis Estupian, and Danny Welbeck have factored in slowing the momentum of Manager Roberto De Zerbi’s side. Only Estupian is expected to return anytime soon but even that won’t happen this weekend when the Gulls face a resurgent Everton side which has won three of its last five Premier League matches. The Toffees’ recent trio of wins is more than they had accomplished in their previous twenty league games. The return to fitness and form of striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin has been a key to Everton’s recent success.

West Ham, 1-0 losers to Everton last weekend, travel to Brentford on Saturday. The Hammers have lost two in a row and have only a solitary win over relegation bound Sheffield United to their credit over their last six league matches. Manager David Moyes will hope that a midweek Carabao Cup win over Arsenal can change the trajectory of his squad in the league. The task won’t be easy against a Bees’ side which has won its last two Premier League matches by an aggregate 5-0 margin. Each of the Bees’ last eight league wins have been against London sides as they enter Saturday’s derby versus the Hammers.

Manchester United will be in London Saturday hoping to improve on its current eighth place position in the table. The capital city hasn’t been kind to the Red Devils as they’ve won just once in their last 11 visits to London. That one victory, however, was against Fulham last November and Craven Cottage will again be the site when the two sides face off on Saturday.

The bottom two clubs in the table will both be at home this weekend as they try to improve their lot. Burnley will host Crystal Palace. Both the Clarets and Eagles have struggled to score eight goals this season. Burnley, however, has conceded 25 times versus the 13 goals allowed by Crystal Palace.

Bottom of the table Sheffield United, meanwhile, has scored a league low seven goals and conceded a league high 29 goals as one of the worst Premier League sides of all time. The Blades are home to Wolverhampton on Saturday. Wolves will be trying to extend its unbeaten run in the league to six matches against the cellar dwelling Blades. 

Carabao Cup

The Round of Sixteen provided a surprise when West Ham defeated visiting Arsenal 3-1. Gunners’ Manager Mikel Arteta rotated his line-up and received a disappointing performance from those squandering the opportunity to impress. Kai Havertz continued to struggle with his new club. Aaron Ramsdale did himself no favors in his ongoing battle with David Raya to be the preferred goalkeeper for the Gunners. Among the others failing the test for Arsenal were Zinchenko, Jorginho, Reiss-Nelson and Fabio Viera. The Gunners fell victim to the typical David Moyes game plan as West Ham prevailed despite controlling only 28% of the possession and failing to put a shot on target until the second half. After being gifted a first half own goal by Arsenal, Jarrod Bowen and Mohammed Kudus found the net in the second half for the Hammers. Former West Ham captain Declan Rice only entered the match as a second half substitute to a mixed reaction from West Ham supporters. West Ham wins the dubious privilege of travelling to Liverpool for the next round after a Darwin Nunez goal eliminated Bournemouth 2-1. Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp rotated eight of his eleven starters in the winner over the Cherries.

It probably doesn’t matter who Manchester United Manager Eric ten Hag puts on the pitch as nothing seems to be working for the Red Devils. Old Trafford was the scene of a second consecutive 3-0 defeat as the Red Devils lost their cup tie to Newcastle by the same scoreline as the Manchester derby loss last weekend. A heavily rotated Newcastle side had no problem in dispatching their woeful opposition. Former Chelsea academy players Lewis Hall and Tino Livramento impressed for the Magpies, Hall scoring and Livramento registering an assist.

Newcastle will face Chelsea in the cup semifinal after Chelsea defeated Blackburn Rovers 2-0 at Stamford Bridge. Defender Benoit Badeashile scored for Chelsea in his return from a lengthy injury absence with Raheem Sterling also finding the net against Chelsea’s Championship tier opponent.

Everton will host Fulham in the semifinals after the Toffees defeated Burnley 3-0 and the Cottagers triumphed 3-1 at Ipswich Town. The other semifinal draw matches lower tier Port Vale and Middlesbrough.

The Carabao Cup semifinals take place December 19th and 20th.