Monday, 31 December 2018

Premier League Picks Of The Week 20

Sports - Football - Premier League - Week 20

The 20th week of the Premier League action saw:

27 goals - most by Liverpool = 5
220 shots - most by Burnley = 17
87 on target - most by Liverpool = 10
100 corners - most by Leicester = 10
224 fouls - most by Watford = 17
32 bookings - most by West Ham = 4
2 red cards - Højbjerg for Southampton, Bailly for Man United
4 penalties - 2 scored (Salah and Firmino for Liverpool)

What a game! Having scored eleven goals in the last two games, and after watching Harry Kane give Tottenham the lead with a 25-yard screamer (22’), everyone must have had that “here-we-go-again” feeling, expecting another thrashing. But hell no, Wolves did not let that happen. After being totally dominated and outplayed in the first half, Nuno Espírito Santo turned the table on Spurs, bringing on Hélder Costa (59’) and João Moutinho (68’) after the break. Willy Boly equalised for the visitors with a powerful header (72’) and Raúl Jiménez poked the Wanderers ahead beating Hugo Lloris totally unmarked in the box (83’). Sub Costa put the icing on the Christmas cake with a nice run and clinical low finish to make it 1-3 at Wembley (87’). Mauricio Pochettino’s men did not record a single shot in the second half, after bashing in ten chances before the interval. The result sees the London side’s title hopes dented, falling back down to third, nine and two points behind Liverpool and Manchester City respectively. More to the top two’s wins below. Wolves meanwhile, are in dreamland, up to seventh.

What a team! League leaders Liverpool took Arsenal apart, thrashing them 5-1 at Anfield in the evening kick-off on Saturday. The Gunners started strong, taking an early lead thanks to Ainsley Maitland-Niles (11’), his first goal for the club. It was the first time Jürgen Klopp’s men had fallen behind in a Premier League game at Anfield in 2018. But the Reds hit back hard and quick, Roberto Firmino with two goals in two minutes, one easy tap-in (14'), the other a great individual run and finish (16'). Sadio Mané extended the home side’s lead off Andrew Robertson’s long cross (32’), before Mohamed Salah made it 4-1 from the spot in the final seconds of the first half (45’+2’). The great Egyptian handed the ball to the awesome Brazilian after Liverpool won a softer than soft penalty following Sead Kolašinac’s push on Dejan Lovren (65’). Firmino made no mistake, netted the penalty to bag himself his first career hat-trick and his side a very convincing 5-1 win. Records keep tumbling, oppositions crumbling, hoping and waiting for the Reds to slip up and fall at some point. But so far, so awesome, 20 games unbeaten, seven points clear at the top. But what a difference a month makes: LFC are 16 goals and nine points better off than the Citizens (since week 15 = the last five games). Next on the list is another big test: Manchester City at the Etihad. 
Pep Guardiola’s men returned to winning ways against a clumsy ten-man Southampton with a 1-3 victory at St Mary’s. Pierre-Emile Højbjerg had equalised for hosts (37’) after David Silva’s early opener (10’). But then the Saints crumbled to bits with an own goal (Ward-Prowse 45’) and Sergio Agüero’s header (45’+3') putting the visitors in command before the interval. Højbjerg’s lunging tackle on Fernandinho added more misery on to the hosts, having only just returned from suspension, the goal scorer was sent packing, his side dropping to 17th, whilst the Sky Blues climbed back up to second, seven points behind the league leaders.

What a man! Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford has conceded 15 goals in the Premier League in December, as many as he had in August, September, October and November of this season combined. It’s been a funny couple of weeks for the Toffees, from 2-6 home thrash against Tottenham (week 18), to 1-5 winners at Burnley (week 19), to this week’s frustrating 1-0 defeat at Brighton. Marco Silva and Christ Hughton will have contrasting New Year’s celebrations and resolutions, their sides in sour 10th and sweet 13th respectively.
Manchester United made it 12 goals and three wins in their first three games under caretaker boss Ole Gunnar Solskjær, Paul Pogba starring and dancing with his brace (5’, 33’) making it 4-1 against Bournemouth. The win takes the Red Devils just three points behind the Gunners in fifth. Much better and brighter times at Old Trafford, but surely, bigger tests are still ahead. More to the side and game below.

What a goal(keeper)! There were a couple of crucial late goals at the bottom of the table. Both Aleksandar Mitrović and Víctor Camarasa scored stoppage time winners for Fulham and Cardiff City against Huddersfield and Leicester respectively. It was the Bluebirds’ first away win of the season thanks to a curling stunner. The more shocking it was for the Foxes after their wins against Chelsea and City in their previous two matches, and watching James Maddison denied from the spot by star keeper and man of the match Neil Etheridge. The Cottagers were double-relieved after watching Aboubakar Kamara miss his spot kick, following feisty discussions with usual taker Mitroviç, just minutes before his team mate’s winner. David Wagner will be glad to see the back of 2018, his Tigers just recording five league wins, 24 defeats! They remain bottom after their seventh successive defeat, equalling their 1955 club record.
Another crucial win in the relegation zone was recorded by Burnley. Manager Sean Dyche made some crucial changes, keeper Tom Heaton starring in place of Joe Hart, and youngster Dwight McNeil starting and doubling the Clarets’ lead against West Ham (34’), after Chris Wood’s opener put the hosts in charge (15’). The win keeps Burnley in 18th, but puts them level on points with Southampton in 17th.

What the hell?! This was the ninth time this season that Crystal Palace have been drawing 0-0 at half-time and failed to win on each and every one of those occasions... And their late flourish was too little too late against Chelsea, not a single shot on target in the whole game is just not good enough. It ended up being an easy win for the Blues against the team that beat City not even a week ago (week 18), thanks to N'Golo Kanté's strike (51'), keeping them in fourth but increasing the gap to Arsenal in fifth to five points.
As mentioned above, the Red Devils are on a winning run, kicking and clicking much better since José Mourinwho’s departure. But they had the officials to thank in this win against Southampton as well, seeing a goal disallowed, high kick in the box overlooked, and their lines bent in build-up to one of their goals. (This Tweet got it bang on.) It’s still early days post-Miserinho. The spirit and force has returned, yes, indeed. The question is, however, how long will it last? And where the hell was it beforehand?! The same players that were so dire and depressing to watch a couple of weeks ago?! Now dancing and prancing and banging them in... Something is still very wrong there in my eyes...

My Predictions - Actual Results 
Brighton 1:1 Everton - 1:0
Fulham 1:1 Huddersfield - 1:0
Leicester 2:0 Cardiff - 0:1
Tottenham 3:1 Wolves - 1:3
Watford 1:2 Newcastle - 1:1
Liverpool 3:1 Arsenal - 5:1
Crystal Palace 1:1 Chelsea - 0:1
Burnley 1:3 West Ham - 2:0
Southampton 0:3 Man City - 1:3
Man United 3:1 Bournemouth - 1:4

Click here for last week’s Premier League Picks.

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

Friday, 28 December 2018

Premier League Comparison Table

Sports - Football - Premier League - Week 19

So, halfway through the season, how much better/worse is your side off? 

Here’s the comparison table, the sides are listed in their current positions, with how many goals, points and places they are better (or worse) off compared to at this stage last season (= after 19 games): 

1) Liverpool: +2 goals scored, -16 conceded, +16 points, up 2 places
2) Tottenham: +8 scored, 0 conceded, +11 points, up 3 places 
3) Man City: -9 scored, +3 conceded, -11 points, down 2 places
4) Chelsea: +5 scored, +2 conceded, +1 point, down 1 place
5) Arsenal: +7 scored, +2 conceded, + 4 points, up 1 place
6) Man United: -4 scored, +17 conceded, -10 points, down 4 places
7) Leicester: -5 scored, -6 conceded, + 1 point, up 1 place
8) Everton: +7 scored, -1 conceded, +1 point, up 1 place
9) West Ham: +8 scored, -7 conceded, +10 points, up 8 places
10) Watford: -1 scored, -7 conceded, +5 points, same place
11) Wolves: promoted
12) Bournemouth: +12 scored, -5 conceded, +10 points, up 6 places
13) Brighton: +6 scored, +4 conceded, +1 point, down 1 place
14) Crystal Palace: +1 scored, -4 conceded, +1 point, up 2 places
15) Newcastle: -5 scored, -3 conceded, -1 point, same place
16) Southampton: +2 scored, +10 conceded, -4 points, down 3 places
17) Cardiff: promoted
18) Burnley: +1 scored, +26 conceded, -20 points, down 11 places
19) Fulham: promoted 
20) Huddersfield: -5 scored, +3 conceded, -12 points, down 9 places

Main gainers: 
Liverpool (+16 points, -16 conceded)
Tottenham (+11 points)
West Ham (up 8 places, +10 points)
Bournemouth (+10 points, +12 scored)

Newly promoted Wolves need a mention as they are sitting nicely in 11th!

Main losers:
Burnley (down 11 places, -20 points, 26 more conceded)
Huddersfield (-12 points)
Man City (-11 points, -9 scored)
Man United (-10 points)

Click here for the Premier League Picks Of The Week 19.

All stats were taken from my own notes.

Premier League Picks Of The Week 19

Sports - Football - Premier League - Week 19

The 19th week of the Premier League action saw:

32 goals - most by Tottenham and Everton = 5 each
249 shots - most by Crystal Palace = 31
94 on target - most by Man United = 10
94 corners - most by Crystal Palace = 12
177 fouls - most by Everton = 19
27 bookings - most by Everton = 4
1 red card - Delph for Man City
3 penalties - 3 scored (Sigurdsson for Everton, Salah for Liverpool, Hazard for Chelsea)

So, halfway through the season, how much better/worse is your side off? 
Click here to see the main gainers (and losers) in the comparison table. 

What a game! Manchester City lost again! After the shock home defeat against Crystal Palace last week, Pep Guardiola’s side could not keep hold of a lead again and ended up failing and falling 2-1 at Leicester. Bernardo Silva had opened the scoring for the champions (14’), but just five minutes later Marc Albrighton headed in the equaliser (19’). Ricardo Pereira’s blasting strike (81’) put the Foxes ahead, before Fabian Delph’s sliding tackle ended the afternoon early for the Bradford-born and any chance back into the match for his side, the defeat seeing City slide down to third. Their Spanish boss doesn’t like December, seeing six of their 11 league defeats in the month of Christmas. Claude Puel meanwhile, will be thinking he is dreaming, his change of formation was spot on. The 2016 champions are up to seventh after taking max points against top sides, when the Frenchman was being doubted and under fire most. 

What a team! Liverpool thrashed Newcastle 4-0 to extend their lead at the top to six points. Cheers were even louder at Anfield after hearing the result mentioned above come through from the King Power Stadium. An unmarked Dejan Lovren had opened the scoring with a belter from the centre of the box (11’). Mohamed Salah doubled the score from the spot (47’) after being pulled back in the penalty area by Paul Dummett. Xherdan Shaqiri (79’) and Fabinho (85’) doubled the score to complete the comfortable win, their 16th in 19 games, and secure their 12th clean sheet. It was Jürgen Klopp’s 100th win as LFC boss in his 181st match and the Magpies’ heaviest league defeat at Anfield since December 1987. The Reds are only the fourth Premier League team to be unbeaten at the halfway stage of a season after Arsenal 2003-04, Manchester United 2010-11 and Manchester City 2017-18. Each of those sides went on to win the title.
Tottenham are the closest chasers at the moment, moving up to second after they hammered Bournemouth 5-0 at Wembley. Boss Mauricio Pochettino remained humble though, pointing to Liverpool and City as “the real contenders”.

What a man! Manchester United caretaker boss Ole Gunnar Solskjær was all smiles after watching his side make it back-to-back wins under him with a convincing 3-1 win against Huddersfield, making Old Trafford bounce again. The Red Devils were on fire, much more open, positive, liberal and riveting, with ten shots on target. Paul Pogba scored twice, a nice sweeper (64’) and 30-yard rocket (78’), after Nemanja Matić poked one home earlier on (28’). The French world champion has been directly involved in four goals in two league games under the Norwegian (2 goals, 2 assists), the same total he registered in his last 12 matches under The Sacked One (José Mourinwho).
Eden Hazard became only the tenth Chelsea player to reach the landmark of 100 goals for the club, his brace (45’+1’, 58’ pen) was enough to secure a win at Watford and keep his side in fourth. 

What a goal! Everton shook off the 2-6 home embarrassment against Tottenham last week by thrashing Burnley to bits 1-5 at Turf Moor. Lucas Digne’s long-range effort gets the pick, a smacker to complete his brace (13’, 71’) and add to man of the match Yerry Mina’s early opener (2’) and Gylfi Sigurðsson’s spot kick (22’). Ben Gibson had pulled one back for the home side before the break (36’), but Richarlison came off the bench to add a late goal to the Clarets’ misery (90’+3’). The win takes the Toffees up to eighth, whilst Sean Dyche watched his side trying hard but suffering and failing harder, the defeat keeping them stuck in 18th, having conceded 41 goals after 19 games, two more than they shipped in the whole of last season (39).

What the hell?! Crystal Palace had 31 shots against Cardiff, their highest number since 2003-4, including last week's hero Andros Townsend and Luka Milivojević hitting the crossbar and post respectively, but it somehow stayed goalless. Frustrating for manager Roy Hodgson, who was left rueing all the missed chances. But the former England boss can be more than happy with four points from the two last to games after beating the champions last week. Neil Warnock can still be satisfied as well, watching his side staying stubborn, keeping a clean sheet and collecting only their second point on the road this season. The sides remain 14th and 17th respectively. This was the first-ever Premier League meeting between two managers aged over 70 (Warnock 70y 25d, Hodgson 71y 139d on the day of the game).
Three goals in nine minutes decided the only clash left on the day after Boxing Day. Southampton went ahead against West Ham thanks to Nathan Redmond scrappy finish (50), before Felipe Anderson’s brace decided the encounter, one low strike (53’) and a powerful shot (59’). Injury-hit Hammers held on to the lead to secure their fifth win in six games, taking them up to ninth, whilst the Saints remain 16th.

My Predictions - Actual Results 
Fulham 0:1 Wolves - 1:1
Burnley 1:2 Everton - 1:5
Crystal Palace 2:1 Cardiff - 0:0
Leicester 1:1 Man City - 2:1
Liverpool 3:0 Newcastle - 4:0
Man United 4:0 Huddersfield - 3:1
Tottenham 3:1 Bournemouth - 5:0
Brighton 2:2 Arsenal - 1:1
Watford 2:2 Chelsea - 1:2
Southampton 0:0 West Ham - 1:2

Click here for last week’s Premier League Picks.

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

Tuesday, 25 December 2018

Premier League Picks Of The Week 18

Sports - Football - Premier League - Week 18

The 18th week of Premier League action saw:

34 goals - most by Tottenham = 6
241 shots - most by Man City = 19
91 on target - most by Man United = 9
97 corners - most by Man City = 13
200 fouls - most by Brighton = 18
33 bookings - most by Burnley = 5
1 red card - Dunk for Brighton
5 penalties - 5 scored (Milivojevic for Palace, Ings for Southampton, Deeney for Watford, Camarasa for Cardiff, Lingard for United)

What a match! 15th-placed Crystal Palace absolutely stunned champions Manchester City with a comeback-and-a-half, ending up 2-3 winners in the Saturday afternoon encounter at the Etihad. Andros Townsend’s smacker from 30 yards out made it 1-2 (35’) after İlkay Gündoğan had given the Citizens the lead (27’) and Jeffrey Schlupp equalised (33’), making it three goals in eight minutes and adding up to a very juicy half of football. The home side dominated but the visitors kept control and made their few chances count (three shots on target = three goals). Luka Milivojević added to the Eagles’ lead making it 1-3 from the spot after the break (51’) before Kevin De Bruyne pulled a nice one back late on - intentional or not - with a cross/shot from distance (85’). It’s the London side’s first win at City for exactly 28 years, taking them up to 14th, six points clear of the drop zone, Roy Hodgson called it “one of those bonanza days”. It’s a very unusual feeling for Pep Guardiola, whose side were 13 points clear at the top last Christmas, but now trail leaders Liverpool by four points after their second defeat in their past three Premier League games - as many losses as in their previous 61 league matches combined. More to the Reds’ top form below.

What a team! Liverpool kept their unbeaten run going on the very rainy Friday night, ending up very wet but quite comfortable 0-2 winners at Wolves. Man of the match Mohamed Salah scored the opener (18’), making the Egyptian the top scorer in the league, and set up the other, Virgil van Dijk and the Dutchman's first goal for the club (68’). No discrediting the home side, they tried, and got the Reds shaking a couple of times, but it was not to be. The 15th win and 11th clean sheet of the season kept Jürgen Klopp’s side at the top for Christmas, with a record of only seven goals conceded after 18 games.
Tottenham took Everton to bits on the only Super Sunday match, thrashing the Merseysiders 2-6 at Goodison Park, taking them to just two points off City in second. Son Heung-min (27’, 61’) and Harry Kane (42’, 74’) starred with a brace each, Dele Alli (35’) and Christian Eriksen (48’) adding their part to the bash. The Toffees are one point worse off after 18 games than after Ronald Koeman’s sacking and Big Sam’s appointment last season. Slipping down to eleventh, does Marco Silva have to be worried? Just a little bit.

What a man! Ralph Hasenhüttl has won two of his three Premier League match in charge after Southampton beat Huddersfield 1:3 - only one victory fewer than Mark Hughes managed in 22 attempts as Saints boss, earning him the nickname “Klopp of the Alps”. Big celebrations for the big Austrian, taking his side up to 16th, three points clear from the drop zone, whilst huge problems are piling up for his counterpart David Wagner after his side's fifth consecutive league defeat keeps them stuck in 19th, four points away from safety. 
Former United stopper Ben Foster saved all seven shots on target, denying West Ham any way back into the match, Watford leaving the London Stadium 0-2 winners, taking them up to seventh, whilst the Hammers fell down to 12th.
Ole Gunnar Solskjær could not have asked for a better start as Manchester United interim manager, watching his side thrash Cardiff 1-5 in Wales. It was the first time since Sir Alex's last match in charge back in 2013 that the Red Devils scored five. Much in contrast to last week, the players looked less chaotic, passive and negative, much better, more organised, liberal, working, positive, taking initiative and control - winning! Mourinwho?!

What a goal! Townsend's belter for Palace mentioned above has to be listed and pointed out here again. You Beauty! 
Marcus Rashford's stunning free-kick opened the scoring for United against the Blue Birds after just three minutes, showing straight away where the afternoon was going at the Cardiff City Stadium. What a difference a week makes.
David Brooks produced two sublime finishes to make it 2-0 and an easy win for Bournemouth against ten-man Brighton, taking the sides to eighth and tenth place respectively. The opener was a low finish with his left foot (21’), the other a teasing flicking header up and over and in (77’) to bag and seal the three points. 
Jamie Vardy’s first-time finish in the box was a whacker of a winner (51’) and made his 250th appearance for Leicester so much sweeter, downing Chelsea 0-1 at Stamford Bridge, the Blues’ first home defeat of the season. Maurizio Sarri called it “mental confusion” after watching his side blasting and wasting plenty of chances and losing out in the end, the result lifting the Foxes up to ninth, whilst the London club trail the Reds at the top by eleven points. Next on the fixture list for Claude Puel’s men: Manchester City.

What the hell?! Sean Dyche was a very unhappy man reeling down the decisions that have gone against his side after Arsenal beat Burnley 3-1, and he had more than a point. It was the first time this season the Gunners led at the interval thanks to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (14'), but cannot deny a lot of refereeing calls went their way. The Gabonese striker doubled the score shortly after the break (48') before Ashley Barnes pulled one back (63'). It was the latter who got an elbow in the face without any consequences and plenty other diving and close calls clearly went against the visitors at the Emirates. The Clarets have gone 61 Premier League games without a penalty, and with only 12 points after 18 games, it’s their worst start to a top-flight campaign since 1970-71 (10 points), when they ultimately got relegated. Damned.
The dire 0-0 draw at Newcastle was Fulham's first clean sheet in 22 Premier League games! Rafa Benítez watched his side create zero attempts on target. Claudio Ranieri on the other hand, could be much more relieved, a point is better than nothing. Standards.

My Predictions - Actual Results
Wolves 0:3 Liverpool - 0:2
Arsenal 3:0 Burnley - 3:1
Bournemouth 1:1 Brighton - 2:0
Chelsea 2:1 Leicester - 0:1
Huddersfield 1:1 Southampton - 1:3
Man City 4:1 Crystal Palace - 2:3
Newcastle 2:1 Fulham - 0:0
West Ham 3:2 Watford - 0:2
Cardiff 2:2 Man United - 1:5
Everton 1:2 Tottenham - 2:6

Click here for last week's Premier League Picks.

All pictures, facts and stats were taken from the BBC match reports and live notes.

Friday, 21 December 2018

Premier League Picks Of The Week 17

Sports - Football - Premier League -  Week 17

The 17th week of the Premier League action saw:

28 goals - most by Man City, Watford, Southampton and Liverpool = 3 each
238 shots - most by Liverpool = 36
76 on target - most by Liverpool = 11
90 corners - most by Liverpool = 13
187 fouls - most by Wolves = 15
25 bookings - most by Southampton = 3
0 red cards
0 penalties

What a match! Liverpool played Manchester United off the park on Sunday. The Reds’ 3-1 win at Anfield was a let-off for the Red Devils, they could and should have been thrashed by much more, they were so bad, 36-6 shots, 11-2 on target! The opening goal was created by Fabinho with a beautiful cross and finished with a lovely take off the chest and shot in by Sadio Mané (24’). The visitors only got back into the game thanks to Alisson’s spill, netted by Jesse Lingard (33’), the hosts bossed it before and after. But it was substitute Xherdan Shaqiri who made the difference, with his brace shortly (= 144 seconds) after coming on (73’, 80’), both times helped by deflections, winning it for the Scousers. The Swiss is only the second LFC player to score at least two goals in their first game against United, the first since Nigel Clough in January 1994. The win extended the unbeaten run for Jürgen Klopp’s men and took them back to the top, a record 19 points ahead of their bitter rivals, whilst José Mourinho’s side’s misery continues, equalling their worst start to a top-flight season after 17 games back in 1990-91 (also 26 points). Even the Portuguese conceded how much better the opposition were in the match and are in general. Full. Stop.
Hence, it came to no surprise when the news broke on Tuesday, of the former Chelsea, Real Madrid and Inter Milan manager's dismissal. The more of a surprise was his replacement, former United forward Ole Gunnar Solskjær.

What a team! Manchester City made an easy recovery from their first league defeat last weekend, brushing aside Everton 3-1 at the Etihad in the early kick-off on Saturday. Gabriel Jesus’ brace (22’, 50’) and Raheem Sterling’s header minutes after coming off the bench (69’) were enough to down the Toffees, Dominic Calvert-Lewin with the only response (65’) against the dominant Citizens. The win put Pep Guardiola’s men back to the top of the table, at least for the day, whilst Marco Silva was left disappointed, with his main men Richarlison and Gylfi Sigurdsson firing blanks and missing sitters, wasting the little and few chances they had, seeing them fail and fall down to eighth. 

What a man! Ralph Hasenhüttl was entertaining to watch on the sideline in his first match as Southampton manager and could not have asked for a better start, shocking and beating Arsenal 3-2 at St Mary’s. The surprise result ended the Saints’ 14-game winless streak and the Gunners’ 22-match unbeaten run. Charlie Austin’s 85th minute winning header ended a cracking contest, that saw Danny Ings (20’, 44’) and Henrikh Mkhitaryan (28’, 53’) keep the competitive encounter going with a brace each for either side, strong headers and capitalising takes. Juicy footy. The victory took the Saints out of the drop zone, up to 17th, their Austrian boss left apologising to his counterpart Unai Emery after forgetting to shake hands as emotional celebrations took over. Who can blame him after that epic win?!
Eden Hazard scored one (33’) after having assisted the opener (Pedro 17’) to make sure Chelsea ended up 1-2 winners at Brighton on Sunday, leaving boss Maurizio Sarri relieved and full of praise for the 27-year-old. Blues defender Marcos Alonso was a very lucky man to remain on the pitch after fouling Solly March late on, who had pulled one back for the home side (66'), making the last half an hour a tense affair. Tough luck for the Seagulls.

What a goal! Captain Luka Milivojeviç's stunning strike from 25 yards out gave Crystal Palace the lead against Leicester and ended up securing a much-needed win for Roy Hodgson’s side. It's the first time the Foxes haven’t scored on the road in the league this season. Jamie Vardy got so close, the ball coming back from the inside of the post and back to the keeper. It stayed 1-0 at Selhurst Park to make it three wins on the trot for the home side, taking them up to 15th, two consecutive defeats for the visitors, pushing them down to 12th.
Salomón Rondón scored his 40th PL goal for his club, Newcastle’s first second-half goal of the season, at Huddersfield. With that the Magpies edged past the Terriers, against the run of play, to move six points clear of the drop zone. David Wagner’s side are falling further and further after their fourth successive defeat despite all the chances they created (15-8).
And it was a delightful day for Watford against Cardiff, youngster Domingos Quina making it 3-0 with a lovely turning curler (68’). It could have been double that score if it weren’t for Neil Etheridge’s solid and exemplary display and saves. The Welsh side hit back late on though and got one beautiful curler of their own back to make it 3-1 (Junior Hoilett 80’). Bobby Reid’s back-heeler was deflected, but poked back in (was it offside though?), making it two goals in two minutes and 3-2 (82’). Too little, too late.
Robert Snodgrass’ opening goal from 20 yards put West Ham ahead at Fulham (17’) in the evening kick-off on Saturday. Michail Antonio doubled the Hammers’ lead from close range (29’), the Cottagers unable to defend and keep control at the back. Or the front. They didn’t offer much after that, an easy win and crucial three points for the Hammers, the Cottagers remaining slumped and dumped at the bottom of the table.

What the hell?! How did Dele Ali miss that last-minute chance for Tottenham against Burnley?! Super sub Christian Eriksen made up for it though, to his team mates' relief, scoring the winner moments later in added time, finally breaking Sean Dyche’s men’s resistance, who failed to record a single shot on target at Wembley. Mauricio Pochettino will be a very happy man, being the first Spurs boss to record 100 PL wins in 169 games (10 matches quicker than a certain Arsène Wenger), and a club-record total of PL points after 17 games = 39.
Bournemouth suffered their sixth defeat in seven at Wolves, who won for the third time in a row in the top flight for the first time since March 1980. Worrying times for one, down to tenth, relieving and encouraging for the other, up to seventh.

My Predictions - Actual Results
Man City 1:0 Everton - 3:1
Crystal Palace 0:1 Leicester - 1:0
Huddersfield 1:1 Newcastle - 0:1
Tottenham 4:1 Burnley - 1:0
Watford 3:1 Cardiff - 3:2
Wolves 0:2 Bournemouth - 2:0
Fulham 2:2 West Ham - 0:2
Brighton 1:1 Chelsea - 1:2
Southampton 2:2 Arsenal - 3:2
Liverpool 2:1 Man United - 3:1

Click here for last week’s Premier League Picks.

All pictures, facts and stats were taken from the BBC match reports, Gillette Soccer Saturday, MOTD, Twitter and Sky Sports match coverage.

Friday, 14 December 2018

Premier League Picks Of The Week 16

Sports - Football - Premier League - Week 16

The 16th week of the Premier League action saw:

28 goals - most by Liverpool and Man United = 4 each
234 shots - most by Man United = 20
75 on target - most by Man United = 11
111 corners - most by Man City = 13
233  fouls - most by Huddersfield = 20
40 bookings - most by Wolves and Arsenal = 5 each
2 red cards - Zambo Aguissa for Fulham, Yedlin for Newcastle
2 penalties - 1 scored (Kamara for Fulham)

What a match! Chelsea shocked Manchester City 2-0 at Stamford Bridge on Saturday evening, becoming the first team to beat Pep Guardiola’s men in the league this season and knock them off the top spot. The Blues were very well organised, stood back and weathered the storm, stubborn and professionally. The Citizens dominated, but the hosts hit back on the counter when it mattered most, N’Golo Kanté (45’) and David Luiz (78’) finding the gaps and pouncing on them, netting a strong right-footed strike and from a corner (that should have been a goal kick - VAR material) respectively. The more surprising and relieving the result was for the London club after Maurizio Sarri’s side’s shambolic defensive display against Tottenham and defeat at Wolves the previous weeks. 

What a team! Liverpool are the last team left in the country standing unbeaten in the league after thrashing Bournemouth 0-4 at Dean Court thanks to a Mohamed Salah hat-trick (25’, 48’, 77’) and Steve Cook's own goal (68’). The great Egyptian showed great character, staying up and scoring rather than tumbling and rolling on the floor whining after being fouled by Cook, and last but not least, sharing his man-of-the-match award with James Milner after his 500th Premier League match. Respect. Jürgen Klopp’s men went into their crucial Champions League decider against Napoli at Anfield on Tuesday much more confident, top of the Premier League, with their firing boots fit and set and yet another clean sheet on record. And the Reds made it through to the last 16, maybe not comfortable, but solid and deserved.

What a man! Paul Pogba looked a very sad and lonely man not featuring at all in Manchester United’s confident and comfortable 4-1 win against struggling Fulham at Old Trafford. Much in contrast to that, Juan Mata starred with his 50th Premier League goal that made it 2-0 and his 50th league assist. Manager José Mourinho did not shy from complimenting the Spaniard and pointing out the difference - “the quality, the brain,... he plays for the team.”. Something the Portuguese has been missing from the Frenchman and club record £89 million signing. Even Romelu Lukaku ended his goalless drought of 997 minutes at home in all competitions, scoring his first goal at Old Trafford since March that made it 3-0 before the break and easy going from there for the hosts.

What a goal! Lucas Torreira left it late at the Emirates but his winning goal was a spectacular acrobatic take and the only starring light in a very dozy, grey and gloomy day, game and display for Arsenal against Huddersfield (83’). The result takes the Gunners' unbeaten run to 21 games in all competitions, their longest since 2007. Unai Emery’s men are yet to have a league game where they lead at the break though, only two games off West Ham’s and Cardiff’s season total records of 18 games in 1994-5 and 2013-14 respectively, totalling 17 points after 16 games, whilst Arsenal are on 34 points. Worrying? Not really, it is the result that matters most. No?
Felipe Anderson’s sublime finish made it 3-2 and completed a fine comeback for West Ham against Crystal Palace (65’). The Brazilian winger’s fifth in six games added to Robert Snodgrass’ (48’) and Javier Hernández’s (62’) goals to overturn James McArthur’s early opener (6’). Jeffrey Schlupp pulled one back for Roy Hodgson’s men (76’), but it was too little too late. It’s the Hammers’ third win on the trot for the first time in two years and scoring three goals in three consecutive games for the first time in 36 years!

What the hell?! Ten-man Newcastle fell to their seventh home defeat in nine thanks to Matt Doherty’s 94th minute header to make it 1-2 to Wolves at St James' Park. Rafael Benítez was fuming, pointing out VAR cannot come soon enough, and understandably so. Referee Mike Dean was annoyingly inconsistent, sending off Magpies defender DeAndre Yedlin for pulling back Diogo Jota, even-though he was not the last man, but letting off Wolves defender Willy Boly scot-free despite elbowing Ayoze Pérez in the face. The result sees Rafa’s men remain 15th, three points above the drop zone, Nuno Espírito Santo’s side tenth. 
The former LFC and CFC Spaniard is not the only one counting down to VAR time!!! Watford manager Javi Gracia insisted the dramatic late 2-2 draw at Everton on Monday night would have definitely ended differently if the most crucial calls would have been made correctly, like the Toffees’ offside opening goal by Richarlison (15’) and Yerry Mina escaping a red card. Lucas Digne’s delightful curl five minutes into stoppage time earned the home side the point at Goodison Park, leaving the Londoners reeling after a dramatic game that saw two goals and a missed penalty in five action-packed minutes with just over an hour gone. The result takes the Hornet's winless run on the blue side of the Mersey to 13 in the league (D2 L11). Damn.

My Predictions - Actual Results
Bournemouth 1:2 Liverpool - 0:4
Arsenal 3:1 Huddersfield - 1:0
Burnley 1:1 Brighton - 1:0
Cardiff 2:1 Southampton - 1:0
Man United 2:1 Fulham - 4:1
West Ham 2:1 Crystal Palace - 3:2
Chelsea 1:3 Man City - 2:0
Leicester 1:2 Tottenham - 0:2
Newcastle 2:1 Wolves - 1:2
Everton 1:1 Watford - 2:2

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All pictures, facts and stats were taken from the BBC match reports, Times newspaper, MOTD, BT and Sky Sports coverage.