Throughout the Premier League season, Sebastian Noren will provide analysis from the week of games, talking about the good, the bad, and the bizarre.
The 19th week of Premier League action is over and fans were treated to another round of some great games, some bad games and some bizarre situations. Arsenal went top of the table as Leicester were held to a draw by Manchester City, Liverpool took another win thanks to Christian Benteke and Manchester United are still looking for a win as they played a scoreless draw at home to Chelsea.
United Fail To Win Again
What Happened: Manchester United’s poor form continues as the team had to settle for a scoreless draw against Chelsea on Monday at Old Trafford. United did look a little better going forward, but they were unable to get a ball past Thibaut Courtois in the Chelsea net. Juan Mata hit the bar and Anthony Martial hit the inside of the post in the first half, but that was as close as they would get to a goal.
Manager Louis van Gaal’s future at the club is still in doubt, as the team is on a run of eight winless games.
Seb’s Take: Sure, United looked a little better, a little bit more free going forward, but the lack of scoring still remains and they were playing a Chelsea team than has been awful this season and is only three points above the relegation zone. It remains to be seen if van Gaal will be able to keep his job.
Another Draw For Palace Against Swansea
What Happened: Crystal Palace played their second scoreless draw in a row as they failed to find the back of the net against Swansea on Monday. Both teams had some chances, but one of the best was a free kick from Swansea midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson that forced Wayne Hennessey to make a great save.
Seb’s Take: Crystal Palace still sit in 5th place–since United failed to beat Chelsea–with 31 points, four points behind Manchester City in that final Champions League spot. With an addition of a striker in the January transfer window they might be able to stay in the race for an Europa League spot. Right now their leading goalscorer is midfielder Yohan Cabaye who has five goals so far.
Stoke Wins Seven-Goal Thriller Against Everton
What Happened: Stoke grabbed a late winner thanks to a penalty by Marko Arnautovic as the Potters took a 4-3 win over Everton at Goodison Park. The game is an early contender for game of the season, as it was high intensity and goals galore right from the start. Xherdan Shaqiri had a great game for Stoke and opened up the scoring in the 16th minute. Romelu Lukaku has been in fine form and the Belgian international tied the game up in the 22nd minute. Shaqiri would get on the scoreboard again right before halftime with a beautiful goal. Lukaku then scored his second goal of the game in the 64th minute to tie the game once more. Everton took the lead through Gerard Deulofeu in the 71st minute.
But Stoke made a comeback of their own as Joselu tied the game at 3-3 in the 80th minute. Arnautovic scored the winning goal in added time from the penalty spot after John Stones committed a foul inside the penalty area.
Seb’s Take: Stoke has put together a string of good results and has several players like Arnautovic that are bound to draw attention from bigger clubs. With 29 points in 19 games, the Potters are only two points behind Crystal Palace in 5th place.
Norwich Grabs Win Over Lowly Villa
What Happened: Newcomers Norwich City bounced back from the 3-0 defeat to Tottenham on Boxing Day by beating bottom of the table Aston Villa 2-0 on Monday at Carrow Road. Jonathan Howson gave the home side the lead in the 24th minute with his second goal of the season. Villa had a slight edge in possession but had troubles creating scoring chances.
Dieumerci Mbokani made it 2-0 in the 87th minute to close out the game. The win gave Norwich three much needed points as they fight to stay up in the Premier League. The Canaries sit in 15th place with 20 points. Villa are stuck at the bottom with 8 points, 11 points up to Swansea above the drop zone.
Seb’s Take: Norwich has a couple of interesting players and veteran Wesley Hoolahan had another good game. Villa were the victim of their own mistakes as defender Alan Hutton had a horrid game and was responsible for one of the goals. Unless Remi Garde gets some shopping money in January, then Villa seems doomed for relegation.
Son Scores Late Winner For Spurs Against Watford
What Happened: Heung-Min Son became the hero for Tottenham as Spurs grabbed a 2-1 away win over newcomers Watford on Monday. Son’s goal came in the 89th minute and was the second of the season in the league for the South Korean international. Erik Lamela gave Tottenham the lead in the 17th minute. The Argentine winger has steadily gotten better ever since joining the club in 2013 from AS Roma.
Seb’s Take: With their current form, Tottenham has the possibility to make a push and make themselves a part of the title race. They will surely look to bring in a striker in coming transfer window to complement Harry Kane so they don’t have to play him for 90 minutes every game.
West Bromwich Albion Snaps Five-Game Winless Streak
What Happened: West Bromwich Albion finally got back in the win column as Darren Fletcher scored the lone goal of the game in the 1-0 win over Newcastle on Monday. The goal came in the 78th minute and was the Scottish midfielder’s first of the season.
WBA’s form had been a bit suspect heading into this fixture, having posted just one win in the last eight matches.
Seb’s Take: Both teams could very well end up being in or around the relegation zone. Not all things are well at WBA as Saido Berahino has been benched and looks to be on his way out in January. Newcastle sits in 18th place and are two points away from safety.
Ozil The Mastermind Behind Arsenal’s Win Over Bournemouth
What Happened: Mesut Ozil had a goal and an assist as Arsenal defeated newcomers Bournemouth 2-0 at the Emirate Stadium on Monday. Gabriel Paulista scored his first goal in a Gunners shirt on a pass by Ozil in the 27th minute, and in the 63rd minute the German midfielder found the back of the net for his third goal of the season to go along his league-leading 16 assists.
Seb’s Take: Arsenal bounced back after suffering a heavy 4-0 defeat to Southampton on Boxing Day, and they will have to try and limit the slip-ups going forward if they are to challenge for the league title. Ozil is carrying the side and has been one of the Premier League’s best players during the first half of the season together with Leicester’s Riyad Mahrez.
West Ham Snaps Eight-Game Winless Streak By Beating Southampton
What Happened: West Ham United has only lost two out of the last 10 games, but have only mustered two wins in the same period. The 2-1 win over Southampton was much appreciated by the fans after drawing the previous five straight games. An own goal by Carl Jenkinson gave Southampton the lead in the 13th minute. West Ham turned things around in the second half with goals by Michail Antonio in the 69th minute and Andy Carroll 10 minutes later.
The win took the Hammers up to 8th place with 29 points, just six points off the Top 4.
Seb’s Take: West Ham has had troubles with injuries and have shown themselves to be difficult to beat, but they will need to rack up some more three-pointers if they are to challenge for a European cup spot. They’ve been saved a bit by how unpredictable and tight the league has been so far this season.
Leicester Held To A Draw By Man City
What Happened: Leicester City managed to get a point against Manchester City on Tuesday at the King Power Stadium as the game ended in a scoreless draw. Leicester held their own against a very good and star-studded City team. The Foxes were threatening on the counterattack, as City had most of the ball possession. City had a bunch of corners (13) in the game but failed to get a ball in behind Kasper Schmeichel in the Leicester net.
Seb’s Take: A pretty good scoreless draw, both teams had their opportunities and the performance by Leicester pleased manager Claudio Ranieri, whose team scraped together 39 points in 19 games. It’s time to start looking at Leicester as legitimate title contenders and not just a fluke.
Benteke To The Rescue For Liverpool (Again)
What Happened: For the second game in a row, Christian Benteke found himself scoring the winning goal for Liverpool. The Reds took a 1-0 victory over Sunderland on Wednesday after the Belgian international found the back of the net early in the second half. Benteke now has six goals on the season and is starting to look the striker that Liverpool paid Aston Villa a hefty £32.5 million this summer.
The win took Liverpool up to 7th place with 30 points, which puts them just five points off of Tottenham in 4th place and that final Champions League spot.
Seb’s Take: Liverpool have looked much more solid since Jurgen Klopp took over and it’s starting to show in the standings now. As the players get more and more comfortable with Kopp’s system, they could definitely make a push for a Top 4 finish. Still, there are a lot of rumors that they are looking to bring in a new goalkeeper, and if they can land a high caliber goalkeeper that would make them even more dangerous.
The Good: Mesut Ozil
Ozil has been one of the brightest shining stars so far this Premier League season, and the German midfielder is well on his way to to break the league record for assists. He’s already up to 16 helpers so far and we are only halfway through the season.
If Ozil can keep this level of play and Arsenal gets a couple of players back from injury along with bringing in a player or two during the January transfer window, the Gunners will be the frontrunners for the title.
The Bad: Aston Villa
Villa showed a little more gusto in the draw against West Ham United on Boxing Day, but that was all gone in the game against newcomers Norwich, where they once again looked lackluster. The team is all but doomed to go down unless manager Remi Garde can pull off a miracle in the second half of the season. If they go out on the market in January and acquire a new goalkeeper, a new right back, a new central midfielder and a goalscorer, then maybe they’ll be able to pull it off.
The Bizarre: Manchester United
The fact that Louis van Gaal is still in charge at Old Trafford is truly mind-boggling. The Dutchman has failed miserably this season despite spending enormous amounts of money. Some of the blame should be put on Ed Woodward as well, as the executive vice-chairman has shown that he shouldn’t be in charge of transfers.
Sure, United looked better going forward against Chelsea, but they are not going to be able to challenge for a title playing the system that van Gaal has them playing. Seeing a scoreless draw against a Chelsea that has been pretty awful themselves this season as a step forward is just sad.