8 Things We Learnt From Premier League GW20
24 Jan 2023
This week’s round of fixtures saw a huge clash at the top of the table, as well as a six-pointer that saw a sacking for a side in the relegation zone. Here is our round up of things we learnt from game week 20 of the Premier League:
Arteta Inspires Arsenal To Statement Win Over United
Arsenal managed to snatch all three points from Manchester United right at the death thanks to Eddie Nketiah’s last gasp finish at the Emirates. In a game that saw two of the most in-form sides matching up against each other, Arsenal possessed better quality across the pitch and deserved to come out victorious.
Erik Ten Hag however will be pleased with the way that his side applied themselves, especially in the first half. Marcus Rashford continued his rich vein of form in front of goal and gave Ben White nightmares down the left hand side, forcing him to be subbed off at half time. Their pressing caused Arsenal to turn the ball over in midfield and counter quickly, but the lack of quality personnel in midfield proved to be the sticking point between the two teams.
The loss of Casemiro was huge for United, and Christian Eriksen was forced into taking on a defensive assignment that was too much for him. Bukayo Saka was sensational throughout and gave both Shaw and Eriksen all sorts of problems when he cut inside. Mikel Arteta also has to take a lot of credit for his game management, as he made timely substitutions that helped get his team over the line.
Arsenal are on centurion pace right now, and if it wasn’t for the prowess of Pep Guardiola and Erling Haaland, most would think they have the league sewn up already. The two fixtures between these two teams could well be momentous in deciding whether the Gunners can end their nearly 20 year Premier League drought. Arteta’s side have navigated a tricky run of fixtures excellently and he seems to have instilled a winning mentality that has been missing at the Emirates for years.
Chelsea Show Improvement In Mid-Table Stalemate
Chelsea v Liverpool has provided some historic clashes, including those famous Champions League semi-finals. However, these sides have been far from historic and have underperformed hugely this season. Graham Potter has had a tough time at the Bridge with many already calling for his head,
while some are saying it may be time for Jürgen Klopp’s reign to end. It made for an interesting fixture, and despite the lack of goals had some fine moments.
The Blues had the best of the chances and after a dangerous corner wasn’t dealt with and Kai Havertz scored a rebound, they thought they were in front. Sadly, for them, VAR found Havertz was offside, and the goal was disallowed. They would come close again from new man Benoît Badiashile’s header that was saved well by Alisson, as well as through a bit of magic from another new boy.
Mykhailo Mudryk has been much talked about due to his high price tag, and he blitzed past the likes of Joe Gomez and James Milner, only to not deliver on the finish. Liverpool were pretty woeful in front of goal, with Cody Gakpo and Trent Alexander-Arnold both blasting over their best chances.
Chelsea will be disappointed to not take the three points but looked a lot better both in defence and attack. The new signings looked good, and they will get a nice break before a rematch against Fulham at home. The Reds were pretty poor again and saved by Alisson from yet another defeat. Brighton away in the cup and then Wolves away in the league will not be easy, and Klopp has some work to do to get his team motivated. While Liverpool fans are dreading what has been a poor season, Chelsea fans may finally have some football to look forward to on the weekends.
Brighton Battle Back Against Faltering Foxes
Brighton are undoubtedly one of the best teams to watch in the Premier League, a reputation largely built by now Chelsea manager Graham Potter. For anyone who watched Potter’s Brighton, their ability to excite and frustrate in equal measure was a real hallmark of his tenure. New man De Zerbi seemed to have cracked the code on the Seagull’s profligacy this
season but against a middling Leicester side it felt like a return to old ways.
Man of the moment Kirou Mitoma kicked off proceedings with a wonder goal in the 27th minute but Brighton were pegged back through a Marc Albrighton close-range finish just 11 minutes later and found themselves behind just past the hour mark when Harvey Barnes swept home.
It looked like Leicester would see out the heavy Brighton pressure for an unexpected victory before Pervis Estupiñán fired in a cross from the left wing which substitute Evan Ferguson steamed through the area unmarked to connect with, planting his header against the far post and into the back of the net.The young Irishman has been a revelation to a side who have struggled to find a consistent goalscorer, netting 4 goals in 8 first team appearances this season.
Brendan Rodgers’ team again looked unconvincing and sit on a tightrope dangerously flirting with the drop zone. With other clubs starting to make managerial and player changes as we enter the second half of the season Leicester look desperate for a new spark.
Bowen Delivers Hammer Blow To Lampard’s Everton Reign
Frank Lampard’s struggling Everton side travelled to the Olympic Stadium this weekend, in a game that it is safe to say was a must-win for both sides.
Despite having a whopping 68% possession throughout the game, it is yet again the final third that has proved to be a major issue for Everton, and consequently the issue that resulted in Frank Lampard’s sacking just yesterday. West Ham managed to cruise to a 2-0 victory at home – with two first half strikes from Jarrod Bowen proving the difference between the two struggling sides. No real response from the Toffees show that the issue lies way beyond just the manager – the players don’t seem to be playing for the badge. Five shots, only three on target throughout the 90 minutes with an XG of 0.55 says it all, with West Ham having double the chances with a lot less of the ball.
David Moyes would have been leaving the pitch ecstatic with the three points given the possession statistics – however with Everton failing to penetrate the Hammer’s defence at all, it would have felt like a deserved victory. Everton now start their process to find a new manager, looking to turn around their 15 points from 20 games – firmly rooted in the relegation zone.
Kane Shows Class Amid Contract Discussions
Harry Kane got Tottenham out of their slump with a fine finish against Fulham that proved to be the difference between the two sides. The goal saw the England captain equal Jimmy Greaves’ tally of 266 goals, making him the joint record scorer for the club.
Spurs however continue to look unconvincing and Fulham had chances either side of Kane’s strike to get something out of the game. Hugo Lloris somewhat returned to form and pulled off some good stops to keep Fulham at bay. The West London side more than matched Spurs and it does not feel like there is much a gap in quality between the two teams, a testament to Fulham’s recruitment and playing style since their promotion last season.
A win for Spurs was much needed as they look to make their way back into the Champions League spots. However, with uncertainty around Antonio Conte’s future, it does seem odd that Harry Kane is reportedly open to signing a new contract to extend his stay in North London. Spurs seem as far away as ever to winning a Premier League, and their inconsistency does not bode well for cup competitions. If Kane wants to win trophies before his career is over, he may have to look to leave his current club.
Haaland Hat-Trick Gives City Win Over Wolves
Despite Arsenal being five points clear with a game in hand, Manchester City hosted Wolves this weekend, with no room for error in regards to what is left of a potential title race.
With recent inconsistency showing in Guardiola’s side, City were back on top form, with star man Erling Haaland shining yet again. Comfortably controlling the game and cruising to a 3-0 win, the Norwegian international managed to bag his fourth hat-trick of the season – with goals in the 40th, 50th and 54th minute seeing his season tally rise to 25 goals already at only the half way mark. Without a doubt Haaland has to be the signing of the season, and will maybe even go down as signing of the decade should he keep up his form over the next couple of seasons and stay injury free. Wolves didn’t have it all bad however, holding up 45% possession and having a fair amount of shots as well – however the Cityzen’s proved just too strong for Julen Lopetegui’s side.
Wolves currently sit in 17th, just outside of the relegation zone based on goal difference. In what’s proved to be a very inconsistent season for those who find themselves in the bottom half of the table right now, the fans at Molineux will be hoping for a lift in form and performance over the next few weeks.
Leeds Look For Goals After Battling Brentford
On paper Leeds vs Brentford had the potential to be a cracking fixture. Both sides play aggressive and coordinated styles of football, they both have respectable attacking talent and both teams set up to go for the win. So the drab 90 minutes served up instead by the two came as a real surprise to those who tuned in at 2pm on Sunday.
As expected the majority of the game was played in transition with both sides pressing hard high up the pitch. Brentford goalkeeper David Raya was certainly the busier of the two, having been warmed up with a few speculative efforts before being forced into a trio of smart saves in the second half from Rodrigo, Jack Harrison, and Wilfried Gnoto respectively.
For Brentford this draw ends a run of three consecutive wins in the league. The bees were far from their best, only occasionally threatening to hit the home side on the counter and ending the game without a shot on target. Leeds can’t seem to overcome this winless run but on a brighter note for Jesse Marsch, his team were markedly better in defence, with new defensive recruit Max Wober looking solid on his premier league debut.
The American coach will be hoping his new club record signing Georginio Rutter will have a similar instant impact at the other end of the pitch and finally add the cutting edge Leeds have been crying out for all season.
Palace Earn Point Against Misfiring Magpies
Newcastle looked to continue their unbeaten run but had scored once in their previous 3 games. They faced a Crystal Palace side who have been poor of late, but thanks to a Michael Olise wonder free-kick snatched a point against Manchester United. Many would have thought this would be an easy
win for the Toon, but their lack of finishing cost them three points.
Newcastle had chance after chance throughout the game with Sean Longstaff, Joelinton, Callum Wilson, and Alexander Isak all connecting with the goalkeeper’s gloves. Joelinton would have their best chance as Vicente Guaita made a reactive save from a corner.
The best chance of the game however fell to Palace with Jean-Philippe Mateta’s effort saved well by Nick Pope. He’s now not conceded in
the league since November, showing he is in world-class form.
That is now 3 times in 4 games that Newcastle has drawn 0-0, but they are 3rd and three points clear of 5th place Tottenham with a game in hand. After two legs against Southampton for a place in the League Cup final, they face a struggling West Ham United. Another draw for Palace takes them further away from the relegation zone and they have a break before they reunite against Manchester United at Old Trafford. Palace will continue to fight for their survival, but Newcastle need to find some form to secure their place in Europe’s biggest competition.