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Premier League

Premier League Matchday 15: The Good, Bad and Bizarre

(Andy Thompson/Actionplus/Icon Sportswire)

Throughout the Premier League season, Sebastian Noren will provide analysis from the week of games, talking about the good, bad and bizarre.

The 15th 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. Leicester City is back on top after a Riyad Mahrez hat trick against Swansea. Stoke shocked Manchester City, and Newcastle beat Liverpool.  

 

Stoke Shock Manchester City

What Happened: Stoke City shock league leaders Manchester City in the early game on Saturday, as the Potters took a 2-0 victory after a brace by Marko Arnautovic in the first half. The Austrian striker had a great game, and could easily had walked away with three or four goals as he had several more good opportunities to score. Arnautovic put Stoke ahead in the seventh minute and then added a second eight minutes later.

City had a couple of opportunities, but Jack Butland stood tall in the Stoke net. Stoke were dominant going forward, as the City defense struggled to keep up.

Seb’s Take: City were playing without Vincent Kompany, Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero, but they still have enough talent to beat Stoke. It’s worrisome how poor the defense is without Kompany.

 

Another Draw For Manchester United against West Ham

What Happened: Manchester United’s offensive struggles continued as the Red Devils only mustered a 0-0 draw at home against West Ham. The fans at Old Trafford let the players and manager Louis van Gaal know what they thought of the performance as there were booed off the pitch after the final whistle.

West Ham hit the post twice in the first half, and were closest to getting the three points. Marouane Fellaini started up top for United and had a great opportunity in the second half, but his effort from close range was pushed aside by Adrian in the West Ham net.

Seb’s Take: Untied can’t afford to be dropping points at home. West Ham’s form has been questionable since losing Dimitri Payet, but it becomes more and more evident that United must go on the transfer market in January and find a proven goalscorer if they are to make a run at the Premier League title.

 

Giroud Scores On Both Ends As Arsenal Beats Sunderland

What Happened: Arsenal are finally back on the winning track after beating Sunderland 3-1 at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday. The Gunners snapped a three-game winless streak and moved up to second place in the table. Joel Campbell gave Arsenal the lead in the 33rd minute after a great pass by the assist king Mesut Ozil. Ozil leads the league in assists with a tally of 12.

Olivier Giroud scored an own goal right before halftime to tie the game. But the French striker would redeem himself in the second half as he scored in the 63rd minute to put Arsenal back ahead. Aaron Ramsey then sealed the deal with a goal in added time.

Seb’s Take: Arsenal is riddled with injuries, so being able to get a win will surely be huge for the players’ confidence. They have a tough game ahead of them on Wednesday when they take on Olympiacos in a must-win game in the Champions League. Sunderland on the other hand is still in the relegation zone and will be looking to bounce back with a good result against Watford next weekend.

 

Close But No Cigar For Villa Against Southampton

What Happened: It looked like Aston Villa were heading toward their first victory since Opening Day, but they had to settle with one point as the game at St. Mary’s Stadium ended in a 1-1 draw. Southampton dominated the game throughout, but it was Aston Villa that took the lead right before halftime through Joleon Lescott who scored from close range after a Villa corner. It was the first goal for Lescott in a Villa shirt since joining the team in the summer from West Bromwich Albion.

Villa kept Southampton at bay until the 73rd minute when Oriol Romeu tied the game up and salvaged a point.

Seb’s Take: Villa still look extremely poor, and they will continue to struggle unless new manager Remi Garde can find a way for the team to shore things up defensively and steal some points by playing on the counter attack. Southampton had a much better showing compared to what they put up in the 6-1 defeat to Liverpool in the Capital One Cup, and will be kicking themselves for not getting all three points.

 

Leicester Back On Top After Win Over Swansea

What Happened: Leicester City are back at the top of the table after a solid 3-0 win over Swansea City on the road on Saturday. Riyad Mahrez scored a hat trick and showed once again why he’s one of the most hyped players in the league right now. Swansea’s struggles continue as they have lost four out of the last five games.

All eyes were on Leicester striker Jamie Vardy as he had a chance to extend his scoring run to 12 straight games after setting a new record last weekend. But Vardy showed a lot of team spirit when he opted to pass Mahrez on his third goal despite having a chance to take a shot at goal himself. With City losing to Stoke, the Foxes sit alone at the top of the table on 32 points.

Seb’s Take: Leicester continues to impress, and manager Claudio Ranieri is always very grounded in his post-match comments, stressing that the main goal for his side is to get 40 points and be safe from relegation. As long as they keep Mahrez and Vardy, which I believe they will unless they receive an absurd amount of money, Ranieri should start aiming higher.

 

Watford Breaking Into The Top 10 With Win Over Norwich

What Happened: Watford grabbed a 2-0 win over fellow newcomers Norwich City on Saturday at Vicarage Road. Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo have been one of the more effective striker pairings this season and both of them got on the scoresheet against Norwich.

Deeney opened up the scoring from the penalty spot in the 30th minute. Watford controlled the action from that point on, and in added time Ighalo scored his ninth goal of the season to make it 2-0. Watford sits in 10th place with 22 points in 15 games.

Seb’s Take: Watford is showing a lot of positive stuff, and it feels like they have too much quality to get drawn into a relegation battle like the other two newcomers Norwich and Bournemouth.

 

Tottenham Held To A Draw By West Bromwich Albion

What Happened: Tottenham had a chance to gain some ground on the teams in the top four, but the Spurs failed to get a win away to West Bromwich Albion and had to settle with a 1-1 draw. With Manchester United drawing and Manchester City losing, Tottenham could have ended the weekend being just one point away from the top four, instead they sit three points back of United in fourth — Tottenham sits in fifth with 26 points.

Dele Alli gave Tottenham the lead in the 15th minute after a great run on a long cross by Toby Alderweireld. Alli got on the end of it inside the penalty area and put it into the back of the net with a volley shot. James McClean tied things up in the 39th minute with a powerful header inside the penalty after a cross by Darren Fletcher from the righthand side.

Seb’s Take: Tottenham is still in very good form, having only lost one game so far in the league and that was on Opening Day against Manchester United, but they are drawing too many games right now, and if they want to get into the title race they need to start picking up wins.

 

Chelsea Stunned By Bournemouth

What Happened: Chelsea’s abysmal season in the Premier League continues as the reigning champions lost 1-0 at home at Stamford Bridge to newcomers Bournemouth. Glenn Murray became the hero for the Cherries as he headed home the lone goal of the game in the 82nd minute. Murray had been on the field for less than two minutes, having replaced Joshua King.

Chelsea dominated the game, but were unable to find a way to get the ball past Artur Boruc in the Bournemouth net. Thibaut Courtois made his comeback in the Chelsea goal after missing three months with a knee injury. Courtois’ poor clearance on the corner, ultimately lead to Murray getting the opportunity to score.

Seb’s Take: Chelsea are now just two points off the relegation zone as reigning champions, and it’s mind boggling to see a title-defending team look this poor. Jose Mourinho has tried many different things to get this team going, but when he comes out and says that the team’s goal now is to finish top-six, then you know things are bad.

 

Newcastle Upset Liverpool

What Happened: Liverpool was coming off a dominating 6-1 midweek win over Southampton in the Capital One Cup, but Newcastle brought Jurgen Klopp’s men back to Earth as the Magpies took a 2-0 win over the Reds at St. James’ Park on Sunday. Liverpool dominated possession, but failed to convert that into clear goalscoring opportunities. Christian Benteke had a great chance around the 21 minute mark, but managed to put the ball over the bar from just a couple of yards out.

Instead it was Newcastle that took the lead in the 69th minute when Martin Skrtel deflected a shot by Georginio Wijnaldum into the back of his own net. Wijnaldum would get on the scoresheet in added time when he made it 2-0.

Seb’s Take: Liverpool might have been a bit too confident after the impressive win over Southampton earlier in the week. They might also have been a bit fatigued, as it didn’t seem like they had the same pep in their step.

 

Hard-Fought Draw Between Everton and Crystal Palace

What Happened: In a highly entertaining game at Goodison Park on Monday, Everton and Crystal Palace played a 1-1 draw. The game really picked up in the second half and we saw several good chances for both sides along with a pair of goals. Scott Dann gave Palace the lead in the 76th minute with a powerful header. Liverpool-born Dann also scored in Palace win over Liverpool and now has goals against both the Reds and the Toffees.

Romelu Lukaku had several great chances, including one shot off the post in the first half and a shot off the bar in the second, and he finally got on the scoresheet in the 81st minute when he tied the game at 1-1.

Seb’s Take: Great game overall, and it’s always nice to see games where both teams are going for it. What’s even better is that all eyes are on the game as it was the lone game of the day in the Premier League.

 

The Good: Riyad Mahrez

Mahrez has 10 goals and six assists after the hat trick performance against Swansea. The 24-year-old Algerian international has gotten his big breakthrough and is showing that he has the qualities to be a very good Premier League player.

He’s sure to have other clubs sniffing around to see if they can get him during the January transfer window, but he still has several years left on his contract with Leicester, so it will take one hell of a bid for the Foxes to let him go.

 

The Bad: Manchester City’s Defense

Manchester City had another poor defensive performance against Stoke this weekend. Without Vincent Kompany, the back line has conceded seven goals in the last three league games. Kompany is one of the best central defenders in the league, but it’s amazing how everything just seems to fall apart without him there. It’s clear that Nicolas Otamendi needs more time to adjust to the Premier League, and that Martin Demichelis shouldn’t be anywhere near the lineup. And although 17-year-old Cameron Humphreys-Grant is a very highly-touted prospect, City might want to look on the transfer market for another central defender when the January transfer window opens up.

 

The Bizarre: Chelsea

Never in my 20 or so years of following the Premier League have I seen a defending champion play as poorly as Chelsea, aside from Blackburn back in 1995/96. The team is jam-packed with star players, but they just can’t get things going.

Sure, they have had some injury problems, but they still have enough quality on paper to be a lot better than 14th place after 15 games. The Blues have lost eight games already, compared to a total of three last season.

Jose Mourinho has benched every single player and tinkered with the lineup and formation of his side, but nothing seems to work. He almost sounded defeated as he gave his post-game interview after the loss to Bournemouth and said that the goal now is a top-six finish. I’m not even sure that they’ll be able to crawl their way into the top-10 with the way they’re playing right now.

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