Big Winners, Serial Bottlers
The English Premier League matchday 27 served up some interesting matches. There was the Manchester derby, West Ham against Leeds, Chelsea welcoming Everton, and a mini London derby. The shock result of course was Fulham inflicting a 6th consecutive home defeat on Liverpool. English Premier League Champions Liverpool now sit in 8th place on the table after a despicable run of home form.
Granit Xhaka provided the mother of all gaffes as Arsenal continue to be agents of averageness after another damp showing against Sean Dyche’s Burnley. Chelsea continued their fantastic new manager bounce with a victory over top 4 rival Everton. Impressively, their defense looks as tight as ever, conceding only 2 goals in the 11 games Thomas Tuchel has been in charge of the London side. West Ham continue to fight for a European place after defeating Leeds United with 34% possession. Take that tiki-taka!
We highlight the 5 major talking points from the latest round of games.
Liverpool Are Walking Alone
The Reds are the first Premier League title holders to lose six home matches in a row after their loss to Fulham. It leaves the side 8th on the table. They may finish out of European places altogether at this rate. Liverpool are now seven games without a win at Anfield. They drew with West Brom and Manchester United before a run of losses against Burnley, Brighton, Manchester City, Everton, Chelsea, and now Fulham.
Mario Lemina scored the only goal of the game before half-time. Liverpool dominated proceedings but Fulham scored the goal as Liverpool’s attack continued to look a shadow of itself.
Even Jurgen Klopp does not have a magical answer. “It would be a masterpiece to find out how we change that overnight,” he said in one of his latest interviews. Next, they face Wolves who have not won any of their last 3, it will be interesting to see if their current misery will continue at the Molineux.
When Will Granit Xhaka Cut the Mistakes?
He did it again fellas! He did it again! Granit Xhaka did it again. Arsenal took the lead over Burnley in the 6th minute with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scoring & continuing his fine form of recent. You can argue that Nick Pope could have done better but Arsenal got the goal. They dominated the game as Bukayo Saka missed a glorious chance to score after playing a 1-2 with the Gabonese striker.
It was going well until a moment of pure madness from Xhaka aided by Bernd Leno evened the scores. The Arsenal backline was trying to build out from the back while being pressed hard and Leno should have gone long. Just ask Kelechi of Arsenal Fan TV and Martin Keown. Xhaka tries to assuage the situation by sweeping the ball out wide but he is boxed in and on his weaker foot. He plays the ball into Chris Wood and it goes into the net. Another awful error to add to Granit Xhaka’s massive collection of gaffes in London.
1 error leading to a shot, 2 errors leading to goals in the English Premier League this season. He has 1 red card too. Xhaka is the player with the most errors leading to goals since he arrived in the EPL in 2016/2017. He leads with 8 and next on the board is also an Arsenal player, Cedric Soares. Hilarious, but you’d imagine a lot of these errors were from his time at Southampton.
VAR Rears Its Ugly Head Again
As Arsenal sought to take the lead again over Burnley, VAR would poop on the party with its inconsistency. The new handball rules are an ambiguous point of contention in these situations too. Nicholas Pepe came on and was trying to use his tricks to get away from Erik Pieters when the ball made contact with the Dutch defender’s arm. Twice. VAR took a check and decided it was not a penalty.
It was a perplexing decision that could have been even worse when the left-back’s thunderbolt nearly caught Leno off guard minutes later. The German goalkeeper stretched upwards to save. Erik’s hand was far away from his body and Pepe would have gone past him without the arm in the way and it still went uncalled. Shocking! it wouldn’t be a weekend these days without a shambolic VAR call.
You Are A Wizard Harry Kane
It is time for the annual “Why doesn’t Harry Kane leave Tottenham?” takes. The English striker put in a magical performance as Tottenham put Crystal Palace aside 4-1 on Sunday. He assisted two goals for Gareth Bale before putting in two of his own. The second goal was assisted by Son Heung-Min setting a record for most goal combinations in a Premier League season. 16 goals and 13 assists in the English Premier League this season alone for Harry Kane. The Englishman was on fire against Crystal Palace. Rummaging in positions between a typical number 9 and a typical number 10, Kane creates and scores with ease.
His first goal was a stroke of beauty and magnificence as he wired a Doherty cut-back into the top corner past a stretched Vincente Guita. Harry Kane is the only player to have made 30+ tackles, made 30+ shot attempts, and created 30+ shots in the Premier League. Kane has scored 159 goals in the EPL for Tottenham and 213 in total. What a player!
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Schools Pep Guardiola Again
It was barely 30 seconds into the game before Gabriel Jesus tripped Anthony Martial in the box. An action branded as stupid by Roy Keane. Bruno Fernandes put the penalty away to give United the lead. A terrific Luke Shaw run and finish doubled United’s advantage early in the second half, as the Reds brought an end to Manchester City’s 21-game winning run in all competitions.
Pep Guardiola’s men remain a massive 11 points ahead of nearest rivals United with 10 Premier League matches remaining but this is the 4th time OGS is defeating Pep Guardiola who has only won thrice against the Norwegian. Dean Henderson and the United defense also kept a very impressive clean sheet against a side that scored 20 goals in their last 7 games.
This was not Guardiola overthinking things. It was his tactics playing into the hands of his neighbors. Once again United sat back and hit City on the counter, and it worked.