Monday, 8 January 2018

Premier League Picks Of The Week 22

Sports - Football - Premier League - Week 22

The 22nd week of the Premier League action saw:

29 goals - most by Leicester & Man City = 3 each
269 shots - most by Bournemouth = 26
89 on target - most by Bournemouth = 8
118 corners - most by Bournemouth = 12
202 fouls - most by Brighton = 13
28 yellow cards - most by West Ham, Stoke & Arsenal = 3 each
0 red cards
0 penalties

What a game! I got out of breath watching Brighton against Bournemouth on New Year's Monday lunch time, neither side holding back, end-to-end stuff, brilliant to watch, 41 shots attempted between the two, the most in a single Premier League match so far this season. It ended 2-2 at the Falmer Stadium, a couple of beautiful team goals by the home side, Anthony Knockaert converting José Izquierdo's unselfish pass nicely and Glenn Murray with a smashing shot, Steve Cook heading in the equaliser in-between, lots of close chances for both sides and a scruffy second leveller by Callum Wilson to finish it off for the visitors. Great entertainment, the sides finishing 12th and 13th respectively.
Wednesday night's London derby was a thriller-and-a-half too at the Emirates, it all happened in the second half. Arsenal and Chelsea shared out 33 chances between each other, but it was Héctor Bellerin's injury-time strike that decided the result, a 2-2 draw, a point each. Gunners boss Arsène Wenger was not happy with the Blues' penalty that got them back into the match, Eden Hazard with the spot-kick a couple of minutes after Jack Wilshere had given his side the lead with a stunning high-fired strike. Antonio Conte's men must have thought they had nicked the perfect comeback when Marcos Alonso netted Davide Zappacosta's low cross to make it 1-2 in the 84th minute. But Bellerin spoilt that show with a superb half-volley to grab a point for the home side. Zappacosta saw a shot bang off the crossbar in the dying seconds, but it stayed 2-2. Breathtaking end.

What a team! 38 seconds into the game, Raheem Sterling broke the deadlock unmarked. After the fastest goal in the Premier League this season, Watford had no chance at Manchester City! Marco Silva's side have lost four out of the last five, whilst Pep Guardiola's men made it 20 wins out of 22 league games, 15 points clear at at the top. End of the crises after last week's dip.
At the other end of the table, West Brom are now 20 games without a win as Andy Carroll's double, his first two goals of the season, including the last-minute winner completed a dramatic turnaround for West Ham. Hammers boss David Moyes went mad celebrating the escape out of the drop zone. Baggies manager Alan Pardew was heart-broken by another late defeat, blaming his side's tired minds after only two days rest compared to the opposition's week off. That does not excuse their long miserable run though, which sees them drop down to 19th, level on points with bottom side Swansea.

What a man! Mark Hughes saved some of his players in the thrash against Chelsea on Saturday, to then go on and lose at home against Newcastle a couple of days later, thanks to Ayose Pérez's goal, and their keeper Karl Darlow with some spectacular saves. How much longer will he be Stoke manager as they are sliding down further and further with their worst run in over three decades?! And this result could have been even worse if Ciaran Clark wouldn't have missed a sitter from a couple of yards out... (And as I am editing and publishing this belatedly, my question was answered and the inevitable happened, Hughes sacked after Potters got kicked out of the FA Cup third round at League Two side Coventry City.)
And Crystal Palace are in form with only one loss in the last 11 after they made a great comeback at St Mary's beating Southampton 1-2. Shane Long's first goal in 11 months was not enough as James McArthur and Luka Milivojević replied to turn the game around with a gutsy response and performance. Saints slip down to 17th after nine games without a win whilst Palace are booming. Is Mauricio Pellegrino the right man for the Saints? Roy Hodgson certainly is for Palace! Wow!

What a goal! It was a great right-footed take by Riyad Mahrez to give Leicester the lead against Huddersfield, some sloppy defending beforehand helped though, too. Islam Slimani doubled the lead for the Foxes with his first goal for the club. And Marc Albrighton made it three goals and three points for Claude Puel's men.
Liverpool's Sadio Mané broke the deadlock at Burnley with a smacker from the edge of the box, left-footer on the turn, after a very frustrating hour of football in the pouring rain. There was some late drama with two goals in the last few minutes, but the German boss Jürgen Klopp ended up all smiles. Click here for my full match report.
Antony Martial's opener for Manchester United at Everton was also a great individual unstoppable hit from the edge of the box. Jesse Lingard doubled the Red Devils' lead with a similar smacker into the right top corner of the net. Two great goals, three points for José Mourinho's side, leaving Big Sam loud and fuming, his side not even recording a shot on target, his record against the Red Devils remaining miserable with only one win in the last 22 meetings.

What the hell?! The linesman at Swansea must have his eyes and/or football knowledge tested. Spurs took the lead thanks to Fernando Llorente - who was clearly offside. The visitors had another chance, headed high - with a group of Mauricio Pochettino's men offside! But no flag was in sight. It didn't get any better after the break. Dele Alli, who doubled Tottenham's lead and sealed the three points late on, should have been booked for diving. Davinson Sánchez should have been sent off for a second bookable offence. Referee Bobby Madley and his colleagues had a stinker!!! What a nice welcome to the Premier League it was for new Swans boss Carlos Carvahal in his first home game in charge!!! The pouring rain certainly fit the mood in Wales!!!

My Predictions - Actual Results
Brighton 1:0 Bournemouth - 2:2
Burnley 0:1 Liverpool - 1:2 or my match report
Leicester 2:1 Huddersfield - 3:0
Stoke City 1:0 Newcastle - 0:1
Everton 0:1 Man United - 0:2
Southampton 2:1 Crystal Palace - 1:2
Swansea 0:2 Tottenham - 0:2
West Ham 2:0 West Brom - 2:1
Man City 3:1 Watford - 3:1
Arsenal 0:0 Chelsea - 2:2

Tottenham 2:1 West Ham - 1:1 postponed from week 21, Son Heung-min and Pedro Obiang with two stunning long-range strikes. 31-3 shots, 8-1 on target, 7-1 corners, 10-6 fouls, 0-2 yellow cards, Spurs will have been left wondering how the hell they did not get more out of that game!!!

Click here for my previous Picks Of The Week.

All pictures, facts and stats were taken from the BBC match reports, MOTD, Twitter and SFR coverage.

Late Drama & LFC Winner At Burnley

Sports - Football - Premier League - BUR 1:2 LIV

Late drama with two goals in the final minutes saw Liverpool destroy any kind of Burnley fight back and clinch a 1-2 win at Turf Moor.

The Reds were sloppy in the goalless first half, Sadio Mané especially wasting and giving away the ball a lot.

The Clarets had a couple of chances, tight tight tight, challenging the Reds in their dominance of possession.

The weather did not help, wet wet wet, players slipping all over the place.

The only stop Nick Pope had to make in the first half was against Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

And Simon Mignolet denied Scott Arfield with an easy dive to his right, the only other shot on target before the break.

With an hour gone, finally a breakthrough came for the visitors, Mané turning on the edge of the box and sending a rocket into the back of the net with his left foot to make it 0-1, his eighth goal of the season.

Red youngster Trent Alexander-Arnold stretched Pope to the keeper's top left, a brilliant save with just over 15 minutes left in the game.

Ashley Barnes put a chance wide for the home side late on, testing the Reds again and again.

The Ox got denied by Pope after Liverpool took too long to make something out of the ball in the Burnley box.

Substitute Sam Vokes' header was kept out and away by Mignolet shortly afterwards. The biggest drama was left for last.

Three minutes left on the clock, Vokes' wide header to his right found Berg Gudmundsson who made no mistake of a diving header past the back post to make it 1-1, the Reds defense caught sleeping.

With four minutes added on, Clarets manager Sean Dyche was much more on his toes, whilst Reds boss Jürgen Klopp looked more frustrated.

In the dying seconds, man of the match Dejan Lovren's header off a free-kick found Ragnar Klavan who headed the ball in to make it 1-2.

It was the first goal scored by an Estonian player in Premier League history.

Relief for Liverpool, after recording their 16th game unbeaten, grief for Burnley, losing after they fought so hard till the end.

HT Stats: BUR 0-0 LIV
Possession: 37%-63%
Shots: 6-7
On target: 1-1
Corners: 1-1
Fouls: 2-8
Action areas: BUR 18.3%-57.2%-24.5% LIV

FT Stats: BUR 1-2 LIV
Possession: 42%-58%
Shots: 13-19
On target: 4-5
Corners: 3-9
Fouls: 4-12

Burnley Goal: Gudmunsson 87'.

Liverpool Goals: Mané 61' & Klavan 90'+4.

Burnley Team: 29 Pope, 26 Bardsley, 5 Tarkowski, 6 Mee, 3 Taylor, 17 Berg Gudmunsson, 4 Cork, 16 Defour, 37 Arfield (21 Wells 86'), 13 Hendrick (9 Vokes 71'), 10 Barnes.
Subs not used: 2 Lowton, 18 Westwood, 19 Walters, 22 Lindegaard, 28 Long.

Liverpool Team: 22 Mignolet, 66 Alexander-Arnold, 6 Lovren, 17 Klavan, 12 Gomez, 23 Can, 5 Wijnaldum, 19 Mané (9 Firmino 72'), 20 Lallana (7 Milner 86'), 21 Oxlade-Chamberlain (32 Matin 90'+6'), 29 Solanke.
Subs not used: 1 Karius, 26 Robertson, 28 Ings, 58 Woodburn.

Referee: Roger East
Man of the match: Dejan Lovren
Ground: Turf Moor
Attendance: 21,756

Click here for my last LFC match report.

All pictures, facts and stats were taken from the BBC match report, MOTD, Twitter and SFR match coverage.

Premier League Picks Of The Week 21

Sports - Football - Premier League - Week 21

The 21st week of the Premier League action saw:

16 goals - most by Chelsea = 5
200 shots - most by Chelsea = 21
65 on target - most by Chelsea = 12
91 corners - most by Man United = 10
195 fouls - most by Huddersfield, Burnley, Watford, Crystal Palace & West Brom = 14 each
41 yellow cards - most by Crystal Palace = 5
0 red cards
3 penalties - 2 scored (Willian for Chelsea, Rodriguez for West Brom)

What a game! Swansea turned the game around at Watford with two goals in the last four minutes! André Carrillo had headed the home side ahead early on, before Jordan Ayew netted the equaliser from close range late on and Luciano Narsingh found the winner even later after Heurelho Gomes had saved Nathan Dyer's attempt. It was an explosive end and turnaround, the Welsh side's fourth win from 21 Premier League games, whilst Marco Silva's men slipped to their fifth defeat from six league games.
Bournemouth climbed out of the relegation zone in big style, all the way up to 14th, after beating Everton 2-1 and ending Sam Allardyce's unbeaten run thanks to Ryan Fraser's double. Jordan Pickford saved against Callum Wilson and Jordon Ibe, so, the scoreline could have been much worse. With the win, Eddie Howe's men avoided going nine league games without a win and denied Big Sam being the first Toffees manager to go unbeaten in his first seven Premier League games.

What a team! Crystal Palace should have won against Manchester City, but keeper Ederson denied Luka Milivojević from the spot, giving his side an "air of invincibility about them" as Gary Lineker put it on Twitter. Bang on. The league leaders' winning streak was finally halted after 18 games. Crises? The Sky Blues are still unbeaten and 14 points clear at the top, I don't think Pep Guardiola will have lost much sweat, tears nor sleep. But the ex Barca man was less optimistic, not believing his side are or will stay untouchable nor unbeatable. Let's wait and see, I can't see anything or anyone stopping them at the moment!
Manchester United didn't look like they were at home against Southampton, grinding out a goalless draw at Old Trafford. Boss José Mourinho just complained about the referee Craig Pawson not giving a penalty against Maya Yoshida, ignoring the fact that this draw has stretched his side's winless run to three games, the Red Devils just unable to make or break a real game or an opposition. Saints manager Mauricio Pellegrino will be much happier with this point despite his team now being eight games without a win. Better than nought.

What a man! Mohamed Salah's double turned the game around for Liverpool after Jamie Vardy had given Leicester the lead early on at Anfield. The Egyptian star man completed the perfect comeback with his 16th and 17th Premier League goal, Reds manager Jürgen Klopp calling his side's reaction to going a goal down the best he has ever seen. The Foxes aren't the German's favourite opponent, having lost three times against them already, more than any other club since he took over in October 2015. Liverpool have scored 77 goals in 30 games so far this season, their highest total at this stage of the campaign as a top-flight club. Nicht schlecht! Vielen Dank!

What a goal! Danny Drinkwater's take and shot into the top right corner of the goal to make it 2-0 for Chelsea against Stoke City was like scripted out of a football movie. Beautiful. The game was just too easy for the Blues. Davide Zappacosta made it five slashing the ball in from the edge of the box, wham bang thank you ma'am. Potters manager Mark Hughes was under heavy fire and pressure already, this thrashing will not have helped. Injuries have not helped the old boss either, but resting quite a few because of the tight schedule, fans and board will say enough is enough at some point if their dire run continues this way. 20 points after 21 games is their worst-ever total at this stage of the Premier League.

What the hell?! West Brom should never have come back into the game against Arsenal, the last-minute penalty should not have been. Yes, the ball came off Calum Chambers' arm, but the arm was on the chest, so, the ball would have come off the chest anyways, the arm did not make a difference. He can not beam his arm away! It ended a goal and point each at The Hawthorns, Jay Rodriguez easily beating Petr Čech from the spot, making up for James McClean's own goal off Alexis Sánchez's free-kick. Even Baggies boss Alan Pardew conceded it was a generous decision. It certainly soured Arsène Wenger's record 811th league match as Gunners boss.
And Huddersfield keeper Jonas Lössl said there was contact between him and Burnley's Jeff Hendrick and he said so much to the referee, a clear penalty not given, the game ending goalless at the John Smith's stadium. Terriers boss David Wagner admitted his side's luck staying in 11th, leaving the Clarets winless in their past four games and Sean Dyche more than disappointed, but still in seventh.

My Predictions - Actual Results
Bournemouth 2:2 Everton - 2:1
Chelsea 2:1 Stoke City - 5:0
Huddersfield 1:1 Burnley - 0:0
Liverpool 1:1 Leicester - 2:1
Newcastle 0:1 Brighton - 0:0
Watford 1:0 Swansea - 1:2
Man United 1:1 Southampton - 0:0
Crystal Palace 1:2 Man City - 0:0
West Brom 0:1 Arsenal - 1:1

Tottenham v West Ham was postponed to Thursday 4th January.

Click here for my previous Picks Of The Week.

All pictures, facts and stats were taken from the BBC match reports, MOTD, Twitter and SFR/BT/Sky Sports coverage.

Friday, 29 December 2017

Premier League Picks Of The Week 20

Sports - Football - Premier League - Week 20

The 20th week of the Premier League action saw:

35 goals - most by Tottenham & Liverpool = 5 each
295 shots - most by Bournemouth & Chelsea = 25 each
103 on target - most by Bournemouth = 10
117 corners - most by Chelsea = 13
206 fouls - most by Southampton = 15
38 yellow cards - most by Burnley = 7
0 red cards
0 penalties

What a game! It didn't even take two minutes for Burnley to take the lead at Old Trafford, Ashley Barnes poking home the ball after a bit of ping pong in the box, messy, Manchester United shocked. Steven Defour doubled the Clarets' lead with a lovely curled unstoppable free-kick over the wall and into the top corner. Mourinwho?! Jesse Lingard pulled one back with a cheeky back-footer shortly after Nick Pope denied the substitute tipping the ball over excellently. But not long after the visitors had a goal disallowed, Fergie Time came, as the same sub netted the equaliser for the Red Devils in the 91st minute, sparing José's side from their first home defeat on Boxing Day in 39 years. Cruel. Lucky. Or both. Still doesn't hide all the negativity around a certain Portuguese...
Arsène Wenger's 810th Premier League match as Arsenal manager equalled Sir Alex Ferguson's total of games at Manchester United and was sweetened by Alexis Sánchez's double to secure three points at hard-fighting Crystal Palace. It was an entertaining derby on Thursday night at Selhurst Park, end-to-end stuff, both sides at each other. Shkodran Mustafi opened the scoring in the first half before Andros Townsend levelled the score shortly after the break. The Chilean Gunner scored two goals in four minutes with just over an hour gone, but James Tomkins' late header set up a tense finish to the game, Roy Hodgson's men not going down easily. The win pushes Arsenal within a point of fourth-placed Liverpool, level with Tottenham in fifth, whilst the Eagles drop to 16th, just one point separating them from the drop zone.

What a team! Liverpool thrashed managerless bottom side Swansea 5-0 at Anfield in the late kick-off on Boxing Day, a dominant home victory that consolidated their place in the top four. Click here for my full LFC match report.
Manchester City less than impressed at Newcastle on Wednesday, the one time I put money on them, Sergio Agüero and co dominated but struggled and just about scraped out a 0-1 win thanks to Raheem Sterling's scruffy goal. Rafael Benítez's tactics showed but didn't bare any fruit, tight tight tight, cover cover cover, but no points to show for it. That's what champions are made of, not always nice, but wins wins wins, their 18th consecutive league win to be exact, moving them 15 points clear at the top, whilst the Magpies are moving closer and closer to the drop zone after recording their fifth consecutive home defeat for the first time since October 1953.

What a man! Harry Kane made it eight hat-tricks and 39 Premier League goals in 2017, a new record, smashing Alan Shearer's 1995 tally, helping Spurs smash aside a poor Southampton side 5-2 at Wembley in the early kick-off on Boxing Day. The Tottenham striker is the first player to score six Premier League hat-tricks in a calendar year, bringing his goals total in all competitions in 2017 to 56, surpassing Lionel Messi (54), Cristiano Ronaldo (53), Edinson Cavani (53) and Robert Lewandowski (53). And it won't get any easier for Mauricio Pellegrino's men with Manchester United next on the fixture list at Old Trafford on Saturday evening. Who needs Virgil van Dijk, ey?!

What a goal! It was all about the misses (and howlers) on Boxing Day afternoon. Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting missed from two yards for Stoke at Huddersfield. Jamie Vardy tried to be too clever for Leicester at Watford, through on goal, but his cheeky chip went wide. Kasper Schmeichel will not have liked the one he let squirm through under him to make it 2-1, his own goal handing Watford their first win in six games even though the Hornets only got one shot on target themselves.
Salomón Rondón was through on goal but slipped for West Brom against Everton, stretching his side's winless run to 18 league games. And Asmir Begović's slip whilst trying to clear handed Marko Arnautović an easy equaliser for West Ham at Bournemouth before the Austrian forward netted a late winn... Nope. Bournemouth nicked a point with an injury time equaliser. But was it handball?! And/or offside?! It looked like both...

What the hell?! ... Hammers boss David Moyes was certainly not happy with the controversial equaliser for the Cherries in the 93rd minute, Callum Wilson diverting in Nathan Aké's header, which was disallowed before referee Bobby Madley gave it after speaking to the linesman. Confused? Me too!!! Replays showed it was a close call, a hint of handball and offside. And the linesman did raise his flag, but the referee overruled it. Either way, Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe was very happy with his side's spirit, not giving up and scoring for the first time in four league outings despite missing Jermain Defoe due to his ankle injury. The draw still keeps the Cherries in the drop zone and without a win in eight (D4, L4), one point behind West Ham in 17th. Tight.

My Predictions - Actual Results
Tottenham 2:1 Southampton - 5:2
Bournemouth 1:2 West Ham - 3:3
Chelsea 2:0 Brighton - 2:0
Huddersfield 1:0 Stoke City - 1:1
Man United 3:1 Burnley - 2:2
Watford 0:1 Leicester - 2:1
West Brom 0:1 Everton - 0:0
Liverpool 4:0 Swansea - 5:0 or my match report
Newcastle 0:3 Man City - 0:1
Crystal Palace 1:2 Arsenal - 2:3

Click here for my previous Picks Of The Week.

All pictures, facts and stats were taken from the BBC match reports, Twitter and SFR coverage.

Thursday, 28 December 2017

Liverpool Crush Sorry Swans 5-0

Sports - Football - Premier League - LFC 5:0 SCFC

Liverpool thrashed managerless bottom side Swansea 5-0 at Anfield in the late kick-off on Boxing Day, a dominant home victory that consolidated their place in the top four.

Philippe Coutinho captained the Reds in Jordan Henderson's absence.

The Brazilian Barcelona target opened the scoring with a perfectly timed whip, curled into the top corner from 20 yards out, with just six minutes gone.

Caretaker player-manager Leon Britton had organised the Welsh side well though to keep the home side at bay and cover cover cover, the lead staying just 1-0 at the break.

Liverpool had made four changes to the side that drew against Arsenal on Friday. It was a first Premier League start for Swansea frontman Oliver McBurnie.

But the home side soon took over and their opposition out, Roberto Firmino doubling the lead six minutes after the break, firing home Coutinho's free kick.

Scouse youngster Trent Alexander-Arnold made it three with his first Premier League goal for the club, smashing the ball in off the bar from close range, with his family watching.

Firmino tapped home the fourth a couple of minutes later, off Mohamed Salah's fine cut back, his fifth in four Premier League appearances against the Swans.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain made it five in the final ten minutes, pouncing on a poor clearance by Jordan Ayew.

And it could have been more, substitute Dominic Solanke coming close a few times,keeping stopper Lukasz Fabianski stretched left, right and centre.

Salah was not on the scoreboard for a change, wasting a few good chances but providing a couple.

The Welsh side had crumbled to bits after working oh so hard, Britton crying out for help and changes, quickly.

LFC manager Jürgen Klopp was a very happy man, but pointed out the hard work of the first 55 minutes.

And then the fun started for the Reds, "the last half an hour was fantastic, a joy to watch, a deserved win." Indeed.

It was the 10th time Liverpool have scored 5+ goals in 128 matches in all competitions under their German boss (6th time in the Premier League, 4th at home)

Keeper Simon Mignolet can also be very happy, keeping a clean sheet on his 200th Liverpool appearance after making a great fingertip save denying Tammy Abraham with the last touch of the game.

Since getting thrashed by Tottenham on the 22nd October, the Reds have been unbeaten in 14 games (9W, 5D), scored 45 goals and conceded 10.

Klopp's men have scored 72 goals in all competitions this season, way ahead of the likes of Barcelona (67), Manchester United (63), Chelsea (60) and Real Madrid (59).

The Brazilian duo have 43 goal involvements between them this season, man of the match Firmino with 15 goals and 7 assists, Coutinho 13 and 8 respectively.

And at home, Liverpool have only been behind for three minutes all season, conceding just three goals in the league at Anfield this season, the best defensive record in the Premier League.

But somehow it still feels like there is room for improvement, too many times the Reds have been shaken and dropped points disappointingly.

And with the January transfer window moving closer and closer, the rumours and talks are heating up once again.

But first things first, next on the fixture list are Leicester at Anfield on Saturday.

Liverpool Goals: Coutinho 6', Firmino 52', Alexander-Arnold 65', Firmino 66', Oxlade-Chamberlain 82'.

Liverpool Team: 22 Mignolet; 26 Robertson (7 Milner 75'), 17 Klavan, 32 Matip, 66 Alexander-Arnold; 5 Wijnaldum, 23 Can, 21 Oxlade-Chamberlain; 10 Coutinho, 9 Firmino (29 Solanke 68'), 11 Salah (20 Lallana 69'). 4-3-3
Subs not used: 1 Karius, 6 Lovren, 12 Gomez, 19 Mané.

Swansea Team: 1 Fabianski; 16 Olsson (booked 56'), 6 Mawson, 33 Fernandez, 26 Naughton; 14 Carroll, 51 Mesa (17 Clucas 65'), 8 Fer (35 Renato Sanches 78'); 62 McBurnie (10 Abraham 62'), 18 Ayew, 15 Routledge. 4-3-3
Subs not used: 5 van der Hoorn, 12 Dyer, 13 Nordfeldt, 22 Rangel.

HT Stats: LFC 1-0 SCFC
Possession: 52%-48%
Shots: 8-3
On target: 2-2
Corners: 1-0
Fouls: 3-4
Yellow cards: 0-0

FT Stats: LFC 5-0 SCFC
Possession: 55%-45%
Shots: 22-7
On target: 9-4
Corners: 4-2
Fouls: 5-8
Yellow cards: 0-1

Referee: Kevin Friend
Man of the match: Roberto Firmino
Ground: Anfield
Attendance: 52,850

Click here for my previous LFC match report.

All pictures, stats and facts were taken from the BBC match report, Twitter and SFR coverage.

Sunday, 24 December 2017

Premier League Picks Of The Week 19

Sports - Football - Premier League - Week 19

The 19th week of the Premier League action saw:

31 goals - most by Man City = 4
250 shots - most by Chelsea = 25
86 on target - most by Liverpool = 9
102 corners - most by West Brom = 11
203 fouls - most by Leicester = 19
23 yellow cards - most by Everton & Crystal Palace = 3 each
1 red card - Daniel Amartey for Leicester
3 penalties - 2 scored (Newcastle's Rob Elliot denied West Ham's Andre Ayew, Luka Milivojevic scored for Crystal Palace, Harry Kane for Tottenham)

What a game! Defenders seemed to have already gone on their Christmas break! Three goals in 388 crazy seconds saw Arsenal come back from two goals down, but Liverpool grabbed a third to make it 3-3 and a point each in a gob-smacking encounter at the Emirates on Friday Night Football. Click here for my full match report.
The first win in ten games for Newcastle came against West Ham, a five-goal thriller at the London Stadium, and it could have been many more, the woodwork was hit twice, a penalty saved, is that Rafael Benítez's job saved after two miserable winless months? The three points have moved the Magpies out of the relegation zone.
And the late and last kick-off of a very busy Saturday definitely had it in it. Leicester produced some class to take the lead, top stuff by Jamie Vardy, but Manchester United came back thanks to Juan Mata's double. The Fox mascot and Santa Clause ended up celebrating in the King Power crowd when Harry Maguire found the late late equaliser beating the Red Devils bus after playing just over 20 minutes down to ten men thanks to substitute Daniel Amartey's sending off after being just 16:09 minutes on the pitch. Even Claude Puel had a big fat smile on his face when the final whistle blew! José Mourinho less so. But that's nothing new.

What a team! Manchester City cruised to victory against Bournemouth, their 17th win on the trot, which ended up looking like a training game. Sergio Agüero netted his 100th at the Etihad, followed by City's 100th Premier League goal in 2017. They are the first English top-flight team to score 100 goals in a calendar year since Liverpool in 1982 (106). Raheem Sterling and sub Danilo added a couple more in-between and after the great Argentine respectively, the match ending 4-0, if I kept count correctly. Who can the way Pep Guardiola's men are going?! On fire! Unstoppable! Halfway through the season now, the Citizens are 13 points clear of United after their draw mentioned above, the biggest points gap between first and second place at Christmas in English top-flight history! It's the same gap (of 13 points) between Everton in ninth to Swansea at the bottom!!! Unbelievable!

What a man! Everton boss Sam Allardyce was once again scary to watch on the sideline at Goodison Park, shouting his face off and going mental watching his side put ten men back to frustrate the hell out of Chelsea and earn a point, keeping his unbeaten run going. Skipper Phil Jagielka cleared the ball off the line twice within seconds to make sure the game remained goalless! The Toffees failed to have a shot on target in a Premier League home game for the first time since December 2011, 2211 days ago, against Stoke. The Big Sam effect?
Stoke City boss Mark Hughes was a relieved man after seeing his side beat West Brom 3-1, only their second win in nine Premier League games, avoiding the drop into the relegation zone. The Baggies meanwhile are on their worst run, 18 games without a win in all competitions, 17 in the league (D8, L9), worst run since Aston Villa in 2016 (19 games without a win) and we all know what happened with them... Alan Pardew's side remain 19th, three points from safety.

What a goal! It was a great finish by Pascal Groß for Brighton to finally record a win again, their first in eight, and only their second goal in seven, at Watford's cost, their fourth league defeat in a row and fifth in their last six games, keeping Marco Silva's side stuck in tenth, whilst the Seagulls have gone up to 12th. Huddersfield manager David Wagner's double change immediately payed off when Laurent Depoitre headed in the equaliser at Southampton, Tommy Smith the provider seconds after coming on. Another super sub was Jordan Ayew for managerless Swansea, levelling out Crystal Palace's penalty by Luka Milivojević to make it 1-1 moments after replacing Luciano Narsingh. Temporary player-manager Leon Britton will celebrate that point for sure after Paul Clement was sacked during the week... Roy Hodgson meanwhile could celebrate his club's eighth unbeaten Premier League game, their longest run in the top-flight since October 1990!

What the hell?! Tottenham's Dele Alli got booked within the opening four minutes for a reckless challenge, to go on and win one of the softest of the soft penalties just a couple of minutes later, for Harry Kane to give Mauricio Pochettino's side the lead at Burnley. Double ARGH for Sean Dyche and every other neutral watching! But the top striker finished off the hard-fighting Clarets with a hat-trick, his seventh in 2017, equalling Alan Shearer's record of most Premier League goals in a calendar year (36 in 1995), and moving to the top of the league scoring list this season, level with Mohamed Salah on 15. Only Lionel Messi has scored more goals this year, 54 in all games played, just one more than the Spurs forward. The Argentine has no games left to play this year, whilst Kane has Southampton at home on Boxing Day. ⚽️👊🏻⚽️👊🏻⚽️

My Predictions - Actual Results
Arsenal 2:2 Liverpool - 3:3 or click here for my match report
Everton 1:1 Chelsea - 0:0
Brighton 1:1 Watford - 1:0
Man City 4:0 Bournemouth - 4:0
Southampton 3:2 Huddersfield - 1:1
Stoke City 1:1 West Brom - 3:1
Swansea 1:1 Crystal Palace - 1:1
West Ham 1:0 Newcastle - 2:3
Burnley 1:1 Tottenham - 0:3
Leicester 1:2 Man United - 2:2

Click here for my previous Premier League Picks.

All pictures, facts and stats were taken from the BBC match reports, Twitter and SFR live coverage.

Saturday, 23 December 2017

Crazy Six-Goal Draw At Arsenal

Sports - Football - Premier League - AFC 3:3 LFC

Three goals in 388 crazy second-half seconds saw Arsenal come back from two goals down, but Liverpool grabbed a third to make it 3-3 and a point each in a gob-smacking encounter at the Emirates on Friday Night Football.

The Reds bossed the Gunners around in the first half and could have been three or four goals up at the break.

Despite losing captain Jordan Henderson early on due to a suspected hamstring injury, James Milner replacing him, the visitors dominated.

But only Philippe Coutinho's first headed goal for the club separated the two sides at half time, both Sadio Mané and Mohamed Salah missing a couple of sitters.

The great Egyptian doubled the visitors' lead after the interval with a deflected strike after another one of his great individual runs, recording his 15th league goal of the season.

It looked like Jürgen Klopp's side were going to crush the home side, such was their command.

But suddenly Arsène Wenger's men woke up!

Alexis Sánchez headed in Hector Bellerin's cross from close range before Simon Mignolet failed to save Granit Xhaka's powerful strike from 25 yards.

A couple of minutes later Mesut Özil clipped the ball over Mignolet off Alexandre Lacazette's cheeky back heel to make it 3-2 and turn the game on its head.

Liverpool were gob-smacked. Frozen, zoned-out defence + slow, insecure keeper = three goals conceded in 388 seconds, their confident two-goal lead out the window.

It was end-to-end stuff after that goal-rush, both sides looking to add more to the scoreboard.

The Reds had the final say thanks to man of the match Roberto Firmino's powerful finish, Arsenal keeper Petr Cech could only slow it down but not stop it from bouncing over the line.

So, 3-3 it ended, the point keeping Liverpool in fourth and Arsenal in fifth, a point between the two.

Under Klopp, the Reds have lost 43 points in the league from winning positions, the most of any team in Europe.

There is no doubt in their strike force, the "Fab Four", but it's the back that crumbled and leaked too much once again.

But hey, we're used to goals galore between these two sides!

There have been 27 goals scored in the past five Premier League meetings (10 for Arsenal, 17 for Liverpool), an average of 5.4 goals per game!

Liverpool have scored 54 away goals in all competitions in 2017, their most in a calendar year since 1982 (66).

And since Klopp's first Premier League game in October 2015, the Reds have seen 279 goals in their games (174 scored, 105 conceded), more than any other side.

I don't know whether to cheer or cry or both, because we're so awesome and useless at the same time (front and back respectively, contrast).

Something/someone has to change in January to make sure these insecurities don't end up costing and make us drop out of the top four!

Arsenal Goals: Sánchez 53', Xhaka 56', Özil 58'.

Liverpool Goals: Coutinho 26', Salah 52', Firmino 71'.

Arsenal Team: 33 Cech; 24 Bellerin, 6 Koscielny (c), 18 Monreal (20 Mustafi 45'), 30 Maitland-Niles; 10 Wilshere, 29 Xhaka; 17 Iwobi (booked 58') (23 Welbeck 78'), 11 Özil, 7 Sánchez (14 Walcott 89'); 9 Lacazette. 4-2-3-1
Subs not used: 13 Ospina, 31 Kolasinac, 34 Coquelin, 35 Elneny.

Liverpool Team: 22 Mignolet; 12 Gomez, 6 Lovren, 17 Klavan, 26 Robertson; 14 Henderson (c) (7 Milner 13'), 23 Can; 11 Salah, 10 Coutinho (21 Oxlade-Chamberlain 84'), 19 Mané (5 Wijnaldum 80'); 9 Firmino. 4-2-3-1
Subs not used: 1 Karius, 20 Lallana, 29 Solanke, 66 Alexander-Arnold.

HT Stats: AFC 0-1 LFC
Possession: 52%-48%
Shots: 4-8
On target: 0-4
Corners: 3-3
Fouls: 4-4

FT Stats: AFC 3-3 LFC
Possession: 54%-46%
Shots: 11-14
On target: 4-9
Corners: 7-8
Fouls: 9-11
Yellow cards: 1-0

Referee: Martin Atkinson
Man of the match: Roberto Firmino
Ground: Emirates
Attendance: 59,409

Click here for my previous LFC match report.

All pictures, facts and stats were taken from the BBC match report, Twitter and SFR coverage.