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Premier League

Premier League Matchday 12: The Good, Bad And The Bizarre

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 12th 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. Top teams Manchester City and Arsenal both dropped points, Chelsea lost again, and Crystal Palace handed Jurgen Klopp his first loss as Liverpool manager.

Newcastle Lucky In Win Over Bournemouth

What Happened: Newcastle somehow managed to get a 1-0 win on the road over Bournemouth on Saturday. The Magpies only had one shot on goal, but that was all they needed as Ayoze Perez’s strike was enough to get the three points. Bournemouth dominated the game, having over 60 percent of the ball possession and 13 shot attempts with five on target. The win put Newcastle above Bournemouth in the standings and got the Magpies out of the relegation zone as they now sit in 17th place with 10 points.

Seb’s Take: Newcastle fans will take the three points and run, but it must be worrisome to be dominated by newcomers Bournemouth, a side that has a slew of injuries on key players.

Man United Score Twice In Win Over WBA

What Happened: Manchester United has been under fire after playing three straight games without scoring. But they broke that dire trend in the 1-0 win over CSKA Moscow in the Champions League on Tuesday. The Red Devils followed that up with getting two goals in the 2-0 win over West Bromwich Albion on Saturday. Youngster Jesse Lingard opened up the scoring in the 52nd minute, and Juan Mata made it 2-0 on added time from the penalty spot. The win keeps United in 4th place in the Premier League standings with 24 points.

Seb’s Take: United played a solid game. The team is extremely good defensively, but they aren’t creating enough offensively to please the fans at the moment. United fans are used to a more free-flowing attacking brand of soccer, that was the calling card during the Sir Alex Ferguson era. Current manager Louis van Gaal has a more defensive approach to the game as he wants to shore things up in the back first and then work on the attacking side of the game. With only two points up to leaders Manchester City, the results are going van Gaal’s way.

Leicester Keeps On Winning

What Happened: Leicester City keeps on being the big surprise of the season. The Foxes sits in 3rd place(!) and picked up a 2-1 win over Watford on Saturday after goals by N’Golo Kante and Jamie Vardy. After a scoreless first half, Kante gave Leicester the lead in the 52nd minute with his first goal for the club. Jamie Vardy then made it 2-0 from the penalty spot in the 65th minute. Vardy now has 12 goals in 12 games and has a four-goal lead in the scoring race. Behind Vardy, there’s a trio of players that include teammate Riyad Mahrez on seven goals (Romelu Lukaku and Odion Ighalo also have seven goals). Troy Deeney pulled one back for Watford, but the Foxes held out for the win.

Seb’s Take: There not enough good things you can say about this Leicester side. They keep on attacking and manager Claudio Ranieri should get a lot of credit for the work he has done. I never thought that they would do this well, but I didn’t think they would be anywhere near the relegation zone this season, and so far I’m right in my prediction.

Norwich Squeeze Out Win Over Swansea

What Happened: Newcomers Norwich City welcomed Swansea City to Carrow Road on Saturday. The Canaries won the game 1-0 after a goal by Jonathan Howson in the second half. The goal was Howson’s first of the season. Swansea dominated the ball possession, but it was Norwich that created most of the chances as they did a good job playing on the counter attack.

Seb’s Take: Good job by Norwich to take a very important win that meant that they climbed to 15th place with 12 points. The Canaries are great going forward, but have been a bit shaky on defense, so the clean sheet will surely act as a confidence boost. Swansea’s form keeps being a bit sketchy, with only one win in the last eight league games.

Tadic Penalty Secures Win For Southampton Against Sunderland

What Happened: Southampton has been in good form as of late, and although they didn’t impress against Sunderland on Saturday, they managed to get a 1-0 win after a goal by Dusan Tadic from the penalty spot. The win puts Southampton in 7th place in the standings with 20 points after 12 games. The Saints now have three wins and two draws in the last five league games. Sunderland are still struggling and find themselves in 19th place with six points, four points from safety.

Seb’s Take: Ronald Koeman has done a great job since he took over Southampton. Despite losing several key players over the last two summers, he keeps putting out a very competitive side that can go toe-to-toe against some of the best teams in the league.

Lukaku Goal Gives Everton A Point Against A Strong West Ham

What Happened: West Ham United has been another positive surprise this season. Manager Slaven Bilic has his team playing a very attacking-minded style of play that has resulted in some great wins and a place in the upper half of the table. On Saturday against Everton, the Hammers had to settle with a 1-1 draw. Manuel Lanzini gave West Ham the lead in the 30th minute, but Everton top scorer Romelu Lukaku tied up the game in the 43rd minute. With no score in the second half, the teams left the Boleyn Ground with one point each. West Ham sits in 6th place with 21 points, for points ahead of Everton in 9th.

Seb’s Take: West Ham plays some of the most entertaining soccer in the league, and they have a knack of being involved in a lot of great games. They will need to improve their home form a little if they are to stay in the race for a spot in the European cups.

Stoke Piles On The On The Misery For Chelsea

What Happened: Stoke City took a 1-0 win over reigning champions Chelsea in the late game on Saturday. The Potters win sent Chelsea down to 16th place with only 11 points, and the Blues have now lost seven out of 12 league games. Marko Arnautovic scored the lone goal of the game in the second half with a nice volley from inside the penalty area. Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho was not at the game as he was serving a one-game stadium ban.

Seb’s Take: Chelsea’s form has been absolutely horrible. A team with those kind of players shouldn’t be able to be this bad, and it remains to be seen how much patience owner Roman Abramovich has with Mourinho. Stoke sits in 12th place with 16 points.

City Drops Points In Scoreless Draw

What Happened: League leaders Manchester City were unable to break down the Aston Villa defense, as the early Sunday game at Villa Park ended in a 0-0 draw. City dominated the game, and Villa’s American goalkeeper Brad Guzan had to make a couple of sweaty saves to keep Villa from going down. The game was the first one for new Villa manager Remi Garde, and the Frenchman will surely be happy to get a point against a team like City. As Arsenal drew against Tottenham later in the day, City stay on top of the table with 26 points. Villa are still at the bottom with five points, five points away from safety.

Seb’s Take: Give Villa credit for being able to keep City from scoring, but they aren’t going to win any games playing like that, so it will be interesting to see what Garde can change in the offensive game for Villa going forward. This was a mere blip on the radar for City as they will continue to push for the Premier League title.

No Winner In North London Derby

What Happened: Arsenal hosted Tottenham Hotspurs in the North London Derby at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday. A thrilling game with plenty of chances for both sides ended in a 1-1 draw after a goal by Harry Kane for the Spurs and Kieran Gibbs for the Gunners. Kane gave the Spurs the lead in the 32nd minute after a well-placed shot from inside the penalty area after a great pass by Danny Rose. Gibbs tied the game in the 77th minute, just three minutes after coming off the bench. The tie means that Arsenal stay level on points (26) with leaders Manchester City. Tottenham sits in 5th place with 21 points. For more on the North London Derby, click here.

Seb’s Take: This was the best game of the weekend, as there was plenty of action on both ends of the field, and it was nice to just enjoy some great soccer. Kane is back in scoring form, something that the Spurs desperately need if they are to push for a Champions League spot this season. Arsenal has a lot of injuries, so the international break will surely be welcomed by the Arsenal camp.

Palace Hands Klopp First Loss As Liverpool Manager

What Happened: Crystal Palace took another impressive victory as they beat Liverpool 2-1 at Anfield on Sunday. Yannick Bolasie gave the visitors the lead in the 21st minute after some back and forth inside the Liverpool penalty area. Palace has become a really solid side under the guidance of manager Alan Pardew, and Bolasie credited the win to his manager’s tactics after the game. Philippe Coutinho tied the game up with a nice shot in the 42nd minute, but Liverpool fan Scott Dann scored the winner in the 82nd minute. The win puts Palace in 8th place with 19 points. Liverpool sits in 10th with 17 points.

Seb’s Take: Palace is not a team that anyone can take lightly this season. They have a clear idea of how they need to play, and Pardew should be given a lot of credit for the transformation the team has undergone since he took over during last season. Liverpool are still working out the kinks and fans should just keep the faith that Klopp is the right man to return the Reds to their former glory days.

The Good: Leicester City

The Foxes refuse to conform. Pundits all over had Leicester struggling and a lot of experts had them getting relegated. Sure, we are only 12 games in, but the way that Leicester keeps on winning games and scoring goals, it’s hard to see them completely falling off the map.

Jamie Vardy has gotten a real breakthrough with 12 goals in 12 games, and he’s making a strong case for getting a spot in Roy Hodgson’s England squad next summer for Euro 2016.

The Bad: Chelsea

Seven losses in 12 games as reigning champions is a catastrophe. Almost any other manager besides Jose Mourinho would have gotten fired by now if they were in his position. Chelsea are 15 points off the lead, and currently sits in 16th place in the Premier League standings. They are only three points away from the relegation zone.

There’s no shame in losing to Stoke City, but the freefall of Chelsea in the league continues. At some point owner Roman Abramovich must ask himself if a change in leadership is needed in order to salvage the season.

The Bizarre: Newcastle

Newcastle only had one shot on goal against Bournemouth, but they still managed to steal three points as Ayoze’s shot went in and that was all that was needed in the 1-0 win. It rare to see a team play that poorly and still somehow manage to walk away with a win.

The win is surely a big boost for the team as they are out of the relegation zone for the first time this season, but the way they played must be a concern for manager Steve McClaren.

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