Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Premier League Picks Of The Week 36

Sports - Football - Premier League - Week 36

The 36th week of the Premier League action saw:

22 goals - most by Crystal Palace = 5
229 shots - most by Liverpool & Man City = 19 each
70 on target - most by Palace = 9
77 corners - most by Liverpool & Man United = 9 each
202 fouls - most by Brighton = 17
23 yellow cards - most by Southampton = 5
1 red card - Albrighton for Leicester
1 penalty - 1 scored (Benteke for Palace)

What a game! Arsenal have not won at Old Trafford in the league for a decade and José Mourinho has never lost a home league game against Arsène Wenger. No surprise then when the Gunners suffered their sixth away defeat in a row for the first time since January 1966 losing 2-1 late on against United on Sunday afternoon. That means the Londoners are the only side left in the top four divisions in England without a single point on the road in 2018 (P6 W0 D0 L6). The French boss lined up the youngest starting eleven (average age 24y 67d) in the league since August 2011 - when they were thrashed 8-2 at the same ground. The match was not much of a contest, unlike the rivalry battles from the past as recounted in the previews and buildup, more like a training game, not much speed nor physicality. Paul Pogba fired the home side ahead after 16 minutes before former Red Devil Henrikh Mkhitaryan levelled the score soon after the interval and it looked like the visitors were able to get something out of the game. But Maroune Fellaini smashed in the winner in injury time seconds after Marcus Rashford had a goal disallowed, serving Wenger a bitter final farewell. “We want you to stay!” was the chant from the home fans. OUCH!

What a team! It was not Leicester’s day on Saturday afternoon at Selhurst Park. Crystal Palace led comfortably in the first half thanks to man of the match Wilfried Zaha and James McArthurMarc Albrighton’s last-man tackle earned him a straight red and added to his side’s misery shortly after the break. Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Patrick van Aanholt sealed the deal 4-0 later on, Christian Benteke topped it 5-0 from the spot, their joint-biggest win in the top-flight since December 1972 (when they thrashed Manchester United 5-0), thank you very much, leaving Roy Hodgson and co all smiles after going up to 11th with this win, 99.9% safe. What relegation worries?! Who would have thought a couple of months ago?! Claude Puel meanwhile, after his side's third defeat in the last four games, is under hotter than hot fire walking on super-thin melting ice...
Newcastle didn’t have much to cheer about either on Saturday afternoon losing 0-1 to West Brom thanks to Matt Phillips, the season trickling away for the Toons with their second defeat on the trot, whilst the bottom side are experiencing a remarkable upturn in form since Darren Moore has taken over as caretaker, four games unbeaten. Shame it has all come a bit too late for the Baggies, needing a miracle to survive, five points from safety with two games left to play and some other teams with a game in hand.

What a man! Dušan Tadić was outstanding for Southampton in their crucial 2-1 win against Bournemouth on Saturday. The Serb’s brace made the difference, the first a low finish after a counter attack, the second a superb run and drilled-in winner after Joshua King had fired in an equaliser for the visitors. Mark Hughes seems to be making a difference for the Saints, this win being vital in their fight for safety, taking them to just one point behind the Swans in 17th.
Huddersfield were pulled closer to the relegation zone after Everton beat them too comfortably at home, Cenk Tosun and Idrissa Gueye sealing the 0-2 win for the Toffees. What was all the negative fuss around Big Sam when he took over at Goodison Park?! The Toffees went up to eighth with this win, totalling 14 points from the last seven games as the boss himself pointed out as he departed from the post-match interview. Point. Made. David Wagner and his Terriers meanwhile are dangling in 16th, just three points from the drop with Chelsea, Man City and Arsenal left to play. TRIPLE OUCH!!!

What a goal! Most of the goals at the London Stadium were just comical, Manchester City all over West Ham. First Leroy Sané’s cross/shot was deflected in by former Red Devil Patrice Evra’s head, then Declan Rice and Pablo Zabaleta ping ponged Kevin De Bruyne’s low cross into the back of their own net. The Hammers did hit one back, Aaron Cresswell curling a free kick in nicely around the ball (which should have actually been a penalty as the foul was committed inside the box), but crumbled to bits after that. Gabriel Jesus and Fernandinho were too quick and netted two more from close range after the restart, th-r-ash - and the Citizens could have had a penalty in between as well, Raheem Sterling chopped to ground. It ended 1-4, taking Pep’s men’s total to 102 goals in the PL and leaving no question who’s on top, all sorts of records tumbling (goals, points, away and in total). But the only downer was that it seemed like the ref didn’t know any rules - what’s offside? And what are the lines and box for?! Pf. More to the flopping refereeing standards below.
It was a scrappy one at Wembley on Monday night, Watford keeper Orestis Karnezis handing Dele Alli the opener before Harry Kane doubled Tottenham’s lead and secured the three points to the home side, moving them one step closer to Champions League qualification, 4th placed, five points ahead of Chelsea in 5th and just one point behind Liverpool in 3rd with a game in hand on the Reds. The Hornets meanwhile are still not completely safe, in 13th, six points clear from the drop zone, but other teams with games in hand. Next week will be crunch time for a lot of teams, top and bottom four/five/six/seven/eight/you get my drift...

What the hell?! The refereeing was below par once again as mentioned above, at Anfield as well, not excusing Liverpool’s tired display against Stoke City, but just pointing out how crucial the officials’ decisions can be and are. Click here for my full LFC match report of the frustrating goalless lunchtime kickoff on Saturday. ARGH!!!
Burnley had a couple of penalty appeals waved away as well, both clear handballs, Brighton grabbing a point from them at Turf Moor, the prior needing just one more point to secure their place in the Europa League, whilst the latter slip to 14th, five points clear of the relegation places.
Chelsea’s Gary Cahill was a very lucky man not to concede a spot kick for his tackle on Swansea’s Nathan Dyer in Wales in the Saturday evening kickoff. The Blues ended up 0-1 winners thanks to Cesc Fàbregas’ early goal and bad refereeing, leaving the Swans dangling just one point above the drop zone, all the questionable decisions keeping the battle to safety wide open, as detailed above.

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

Click here for last week’s Premier League Picks.

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

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