Premier League

Premier League Round-Up: Matchdays 17 &18

  1. MANCHESTER CITY (52 pts, GD + 44)
    LAST GAMES: 4-0 W at Swansea, 4-1 W vs. Tottenham
    NEXT GAME: vs. Bournemouth

What else is there to say other than that City is on a completely different level. Coming off a 2-1 derby win over United in which City controlled 80 percent of the game, Pep Guardiola and Co. cruised easily against a hapless Swansea side. Then at the weekend, City made easy work of Spurs, the only team with the play style and the talent to end City’s run. Manchester City has won 16 straight PL games, which is three wins shy of the European record of straight league win (which is 19, set by Pep’s Bayern Munich.)

In every game this season against title rivals, City have blown the other team away.
City v Liverpool—5-0 W
City v Chelsea—1-0 W
City v Arsenal—3-1 W
City v United—2-1 W
City v Tottenham—4-1 W

What’s most impressive about this City team, at least to me anyway, is how adaptable they are to any situation. In the Tottenham game, Spurs hit City with their famous high press, but City easily turned up the intensity and speed and ran Tottenham ragged. In the derby, City was patient and deliberate in their passing to break down a staunch defense. City is so versatile and well-conditioned that they can play multiple styles in a single game and blow the other team away. This is unprecedented play for any English side and City fans are enjoying the ride.

  1. MANCHESTER UNITED (41 pts, GD +27)
    LAST GAMES: 1-0 W vs. Bournemouth, 2-1 at West Brom
    NEXT GAME: at Leicester

The scores may not reflect it, but United won both games pretty comfortably. The happier sight for United fans is that Lukaku scored in both games. After going goalless for almost two months, if Lukaku can get hot and start scoring again, he can keep United on City’s trail.

United have Leicester, Burnley and Southampton in their next three games. At this point, United and the rest of the league honestly, can only hope that City drop points.

  1. CHELSEA (38 PTS, GD +18)
    LAST GAMES: 3-1 W at Huddersfield, 1-0 W vs. Southampton
    NEXT GAME: at Everton

Another dominant week for Antonio Conte and Chelsea. After a tough derby loss to West Ham, Chelsea bounced back with a dominant performance over Huddersfield and Southampton. Despite dropping points to West Ham two weeks ago, Chelsea has a small lead over the teams fighting for fourth and are only three points behind United.

Conte said it is now impossible to defend their title from last season and at 14 points behind City, he’s probably right.

  1. LIVERPOOL (34 PTS, GD +18)
    LAST GAMES: 0-0 D vs. West Brom, 4-0 at Bournemouth
    NEXT GAME:  at Arsenal

Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah, Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino have been fantastic this season. Though Liverpool has struggled at times this season, who knows where Liverpool would be without their Fantastic Four. Klopp has his men and sitting in fourth before their biggest game of the season. If they can win their match at the Emirates, Liverpool will have some breathing room in the top four at Christmas.

History will be in favor of Liverpool when they travel to north London. Arsenal hasn’t beaten Liverpool in their last five league games. With their 4-0 thrashing of Bournemouth, Liverpool became the first team in the English top-flight history to have won four consecutive road games by at least three goals.

  1. ARSENAL (33 PTS, GD +11)
    LAST GAMES: 0-0 D at West Ham, 1-0 W vs. Newcastle
    NEXT GAME: vs. Liverpool

Because of Mesut Ozil’s fantastic volley on Saturday, Arsenal got back on track and picked up their first win in four games. Ozil has been directly involved (either a goal or assist) in six goals in his last five Premier League games at the Emirates. After his clean sheet in the win, Petr Cech now has 199 top-flight shutouts. With City’s thrashing of Spurs, the Gunners are two points above their neighborhood rivals but still sit outside the top four.

Next weekend’s game against Liverpool is going to be the game of the season for both teams. If Arsenal can pull off a win at home against Liverpool, they’ll jump into the top four at Christmas, which is a big milestone for the season.

  1. BURNLEY (32 PTS, GD +4)
    LAST GAMES: 1-0 W vs. Stoke, 0-0 D at Brighton
    NEXT GAME: vs. Tottenham

Burnley just keeps hanging around. The Clarets are legitimate contenders for Europe. Sean Dyche has his team sitting ONE point outside of the top five. According to Bleacher Report via the Sporting Intelligence Global Sports Salaries Survey 2017, the average weekly wage for Burnley is £26,375. Compare it to the other teams in the top seven:

Manchester City: £100,691
Manchester United: £100,792
Chelsea: £85,600
Arsenal: £77,639
Liverpool: £70,190
Tottenham: £60,667 

Here is another alarming stat, Real Madrid, who won the FIFA Club World Cup for the third time in four years over the weekend, sit fourth in La Liga with 31 points. Burnley, are currently in sixth with 32. What a remarkable year it’s been for Burnley.

  1. TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR (31 PTS, GD +13)
    LAST GAMES: 2-0 W vs. Brighton, 4-1 L at Man. City
    NEXT GAME: vs. Burnley

Next weekend’s game is going to be tough for Spurs. They need to bounce back after that tough loss at the Etihad and Burnley is playing really well. Despite their struggles over the last month and a half, Spurs are still only three points outside of the top four and they are still alive in the Champions League.

  1. LEICESTER CITY (26 PTS, GD +1)
    LAST GAMES: 4-1 W at Southampton, 3-0 L vs Palace
    NEXT GAME: vs. United

Leicester’s four-game winning streak came to a shocking end last weekend when the Foxes were dominated by Crystal Palace at home. Before the loss, Leicester was one of the hottest teams in the country and was looking like the team that won the title two years ago. You would expect this team to play better at home, but Leicester was dominated by Palace at the King Power Stadium.

In Leicester’s next games against United, the world will see just how much a difference Claude Puel has made in his short time at the KP.  It will be the first time his Leicester team will need to bounce back after a bad result.

  1. EVERTON (25 PTS, GD -6)
    LAST GAMES: 1-0 W at Newcastle, 3-1 W vs. Swansea
    NEXT GAME: at Chelsea

The Big Sam revival is well underway. After getting a massive point in the Merseyside Derby, Everton got a much needed three points at St. James’ Park against Newcastle. Then last weekend, Everton thrashed bottom-dwellers Swansea. Everton now sits in ninth and their fears of possibly being relegated are a thing of the past.

The Toffees are playing with a sense of excitement, belief and togetherness that was not seen under Ronald Koeman. If Everton can keep up this pace, there is a very real chance that the Toffees could again fight for a Europa League spot.

  1. WATFORD (22 PTS, GD -6)
    LAST GAMES: 2-1 L at Palace, 4-1 L vs. Huddersfield
    NEXT GAME: at Brighton

Three red cards in three straight league games and nine red cards since the beginning of last season for Watford is more than any other PL team. Those red cards are devastating to any team. Watford has lost their last three league games and a team that was threating the top four is now 11 points off fourth place. Marco Silva was one of the managers of the season candidates, but now he needs to re-establish discipline in his team. These red cards need to stop if Watford wants to turn these results around.

  1. HUDDERSFIELD TOWN (21 PTS, GD -14)
    LAST GAMES: 3-1 L vs. Chelsea, 4-1 W at Watford
    NEXT GAME: at Southampton

The bottom of the table is so close, that one win can save your season at this point. With the Terriers wild and action-packed win at Vicarage Road, they sit in 11th and six points clear of the relegation zone. Just a few weeks ago, Huddersfield was just two spots ahead of the drop. The holiday period is almost over and if Huddersfield can finish it towards the top half of the table, Terrier fans will feel very confident that they can stay in the Premier League.

  1. SOUTHAMPTON (18PTS, GD -7)
    LAST GAMES: 4-1 L vs. Leicester, 1-0 L at Chelsea
    NEXT GAME: vs. Arsenal

It was a bad week for Mauricio Pellegrino and the Saints.  They were minutes away from beating Arsenal until Olivier Giroud rescued Arsenal in the 88th minute. What followed was a horrible 4-1 loss at home against Leicester and a 1-0 loss to Chelsea where the Blues dominated the entire game. After last week, Southampton only sits three points above the relegation zone despite sitting in 12th.

  1. BRIGHTON AND HOVE ALBION (18 PTS, GD -9)
    LAST GAMES: 2-0 L at Tottenham, 0-0 D vs. Burnley
    NEXT GAME: at Huddersfield

It’s been since November 4th since the Seagull won a league game. At that time, Brighton was sitting in eighth and enjoying life in the Premier League. What’s followed has been zero wins, three ties and four losses. For now, Brighton sits in 13th, but the bottom of the table is so congested, they are only three points above the relegation zone. If results don’t turn around soon, Brighton might find themselves going down.

Brighton should have won the game against Burnley. The Clarets struggled all day and never had a decent effort on goal. The best chance of the game came from the penalty spot, but Brighton’s Glenn Murray blasted his shot over the bar.

  1. CRYSTAL PALACE (17 PTS, GD -13)
    LAST GAMES: 2-1 W vs. Watford, 3-0 W at Leicester
    NEXT GAME: at Swansea

I told you about a month ago that Palace was just getting warmed up and look at them now.  After losing their first six games of the season without scoring a single goal, the Eagles have picked up 11 points out of their last seven games. Palace had a fantastic week this past week. First, it was two goals in the last three minutes of the game to pick up all three points at home against Watford. Then just five days later, Palace picked up their first road win (and road goals) of the season in a dominating 3-0 over Leicester.

In Palace’s 3-0 win, Christian Benteke finally got back on the scoresheet. He’s been battling injuries for a while, but if he can stay healthy start scoring some more goal, Palace could find themselves back in the top half of the table soon.

Roy Hodgson, the former England manager, has turned this team around and they are playing with energy and swagger that hasn’t been seen in south London for some time. Palace now sits in 14th when just five weeks ago, they were dead last in the league. They are only three points above the drop still, but this is an entirely different team than who started the season.

  1. WEST HAM UNITED (10 PTS, GD -19)
    LAST GAMES: 0-0 D vs. Arsenal, 3-0 W at Stoke
    NEXT GAME: vs. Newcastle

A very, very good week for David Moyes and West Ham. Back-to-back London derbies against Chelsea and Arsenal and the Hammers picked up four vital points. Then three days later, West Ham get a big and convincing win at Stoke. West Ham is now in 15th after being one point above last place just three weeks ago. That’s how tight it is in the bottom half of the table. If West Ham can keep up this form in their next three games against Newcastle, Bournemouth and West Brom (all of which are very winnable games) and West Ham will be back in the top half of the table.

  1. AFC BOURNEMOUTH (16 PTS, GD -9)
    LAST GAMES: 1-0 L at United, 4-0 L vs Liverpool
    NEXT GAME: at Man. City

A rough week for Bournemouth. It was an entertaining 2-2 draw against Palace, but the Cherries really needed three points because they had to face United and Liverpool in a span of four days. Bournemouth loss both of the games with a combined score of 5-0.

It doesn’t get any easier for Bournemouth either, as they travel to the Etihad and have to find a way to stop City. Something needs to change on the south coast and fast. Bringing back Jermaine Defoe clearly hasn’t worked. Eddie Howe needs to go shopping for a striker in January or their run in the Premier League will be coming to an end.

  1. STOKE CITY (16 PTS, GD -20)
    LAST GAMES: 1-0 L at Burnley, 3-0 L vs. West Ham
    NEXT GAME: vs. West Brom

The last three games have been ugly if you’re a Stoke City fan. The Potter have been dominated and outclassed in their last three league games. I don’t condone anyone losing their job, but I’m a little surprised Mark Hughes still has one. The Potters are only one point ahead of the relegation zone and are sinking fast.

  1. NEWCASTLE (15 PTS, GD -11)
    LAST GAMES: 1-0 L vs. Everton, 1-0 L at Arsenal
    NEXT GAME: at West Ham

Trouble on Tyneside. Newcastle has only taken one out of the last 27 possible points and is sinking faster and faster. The club is in limbo while they are in the process of a new owner taking over. Regardless of when the new owner takes over, he will need to open his wallet to give Rafa Benitez the money he needs to improve the squad. If there is no improvement in the January transfer window, Newcastle will be heading straight back down to the Championship.

  1. WEST BROMWICH ALBION (14 PTS, GD -11)
    LAST GAMES: 0-0 D at Liverpool, 2-1 L vs. Man. United
    NEXT GAME: at Stoke

Four games in charge for Alan Pardew and he’s only taken two out of a possible 12 points. Because of that, the Baggies are only two points above last place and two points away from safety. With tough games against Stoke, Everton, and Arsenal coming up, West Brom must pick up points or their fate could be sealed before the new year.

  1. SWANSEA CITY (12 PTS, GD -15)
    LAST GAMES: 4-0 L vs. Man. City, 3-1 L at Everton
    NEXT GAME: vs. Palace

I am surprised Paul Clement still has a job. Swansea has looked leagues apart against their opposition so many times this season that it is not surprising that they find themselves at the bottom of the table and four points from safety. The Swans seemed disconnected and unorganized on the field. Swansea has won relegation battles in the past, but because of their disconnection on the field, many Swansea fans are starting to believe that this is the year they are going down.


@claybenjamin_ for @CincySoccerTalk

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