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[EPL] MatchWeek 15 – Midweek Festive Football Is Back

What a weekend just went by! Man, the three derby’s more than lived up to the hype and the the table saw some amazing movement too! So, with City stamping authority at the top once again, it comes down to the rest of the pack and two main objectives right now – The Race For The Champions League and The Race to Avoid Relegation. Forget about the Premiership in the meanwhile! If Man City don’t win it from here it will be the greatest disaster in modern day sports.

With that, midweek festive football is finally back and the EPL serves up an excellent round of games Wednesday and Thursday. The headline act is undoubtedly the clash between Manchester United and Arsenal – while not quite at the same level of hostility as Ferguson vs Wenger, this will be the first managerial meeting between Unai Emery and Jose Mourinho on English soil. The rest of the title challengers all have contests they will be expected to win but cannot be taken lightly.

Week 14 saw Arsenal move into the top four after a stunning 4-2 comeback win over Spurs, and Cardiff emerged from the Premier League catacombs with a home win over Wolves. City went five points ahead with Liverpool facing Everton the following day. Once again it was a case of anything you can do so can we as a late, late Divock Origi goal settled the 232nd Merseyside Derby in Liverpool’s favour to return the gap to two points after beating Everton 1-0. In the race for the Champions League, Chelsea returned to winning ways after the defeat against Spurs with a gritty win against Claudio Ranieri’s Fulham side, Arsenal pushed Spurs out of the top four after coming out on top of a six-goal thriller at The Emirates, leaving them unbeaten in 19 matches. The outside shot for the Champions League remains Manchester United. Jose Mourinho told the press that his side had the nuts to make it into the top four before Christmas, and has since gone on to draw with Crystal Palace and Southampton. The Saints took a two-goal lead at St Mary’s only for United to pull level thanks to strikes from Romelu Lukaku and Ander Herrera.

The Race to Avoid Relegation – From the deer hunters to the deer, and it looks like we’re going to witness a rambunctious relegation fight this year. Cardiff moved out of the relegation zone for the first time in aeons after coming from behind to beat Wolves at the Cardiff City Stadium with Burnley replacing them in the bottom three after losing away at Crystal Palace. Elsewhere, Southampton remains in the bottom three after losing that two-goal lead at home to Man Utd, and Huddersfield lies one point above them after losing at home to Brighton. 

The biggest news though is that Mark Hughes has left his post as manager of Southampton. Hughes had been in charge at St Mary’s since March, when he took over with the south-coast club lying one point above the relegation zone after one win in 17 matches. The 55-year-old former Blackburn Rovers, Manchester City, Fulham, Queens Park Rangers and Stoke City manager successfully fulfilled the task of preserving Saints’ top-flight status, by securing two wins from their last four matches. However, Saints have struggled for form this season. Despite earning a 2-2 draw at Manchester United on Saturday, Southampton are third from bottom in the Premier League table with nine points from 14 matches.

MATCHWEEK 14 – RESULTS

MATCHWEEK 15 – SCHEDULE

MatchWeek 15 Points Table 

What we learned in MatchWeek 14
From Zanka’s quickfire strike to Chelsea’s landmark goal, here are the standout stats from the weekend

Cardiff City 2-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers
Cardiff have won consecutive home matches in the same top-flight season for the first time since 1961/62
Crystal Palace 2-0 Burnley
Crystal Palace mustered 29 shots, more than they have managed in any Premier League match since 2003/04
Huddersfield Town 1-2 Brighton & Hove Albion
Zanka’s goal for Huddersfield, on 55 seconds, was the fastest goal scored in the PL since 31 January, when Christian Eriksen struck after 11 seconds for Spurs v Man Utd
Leicester City 2-0 Watford
Since the start of the 2014/15 season, Jamie Vardy has won 14 penalties in the PL, more than any other player
Manchester City 3-1 AFC Bournemouth
Since the start of last season, Man City’s Leroy Sane, with 20, has provided the most assists in the Premier League
Newcastle United 0-3 West Ham United
Felipe Anderson has scored four goals in his last four PL matches, having netted just once in his opening 10 appearances in the competition
Southampton 2-2 Manchester United
Cedric Soares is the seventh player to score a direct free-kick for Southampton in the PL and the first since James Ward-Prowse against West Brom in February 2018
Chelsea 2-0 Fulham
Pedro’s goal for Chelsea was their 1,000th at home in the Premier League. Only Manchester United and Arsenal have also reached this landmark.
Arsenal 4-2 Tottenham Hotspur
Lucas Torreira is the fourth Arsenal player to score his first Premier League goal for Arsenal v Spurs, after Nicklas Bendtner, Mikael Silvestre and Per Mertesacker
Liverpool 1-0 Everton
Liverpool’s five winners in the 90th minute or later against Everton in the Premier League are more than they have scored against any other side in the competition 

MatchWeek 15 Stats: Watford eye hat-trick over champions
Hornets face Manchester City after having beaten title-holders at home in each of the past two PL seasons

AFC Bournemouth vs Huddersfield
Huddersfield Town are targeting their first top-flight win in midweek (Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday) since March 1971. They have drawn six and lost eight fixtures since
Brighton vs Crystal Palace
Wilfried Zaha has scored five goals against Brighton in all competitions, more than against any other opponent
West Ham vs Cardiff
West Ham United will look to end a run of defeats in each of their last three home Premier League matches against promoted teams
Watford vs Man City
Watford have defeated the defending champions at home in each of the last two PL seasons, beating Leicester City 2-1 in 2016/17 and Chelsea 4-1 last term
Burnley vs Liverpool
Liverpool are unbeaten in their last 16 PL matches played on a Wednesday, winning 11 and drawing five. They last lost at Stoke City on Boxing Day in 2012
Everton vs Newcastle
There have been 18 penalty goals in PL matches between Everton and Newcastle United, more than in any other fixture in the competition
Fulham vs Leicester
After scoring a penalty in Leicester’s last two PL matches, Jamie Vardy could become only the sixth player to net from the spot in three consecutive PL appearances
Wolves vs Chelsea
Eden Hazard has been directly involved in 12 PL goals this season, scoring seven times and providing five assists. Only Raheem Sterling has been involved in more, with 14
Man Utd vs Arsenal
Manchester United can secure a third consecutive victory over Arsenal for the first time since November 2012
Spurs vs Southampton
Harry Kane has scored six goals in his last five PL matches against Southampton, including a hat-trick in this fixture last season Courtesy – PremierLeague.com

Game Review – Our Super 8
BOURNEMOUTH VS HUDDERSFIELD TOWN
A fixture that has produced plenty of goals in the last few seasons, there have been four or more goals in four of the past six meetings and it would not be at all surprising if that run continues.

Last season Bournemouth won 4-0 at home and went down at Huddersfield 4-1 and the numbers suggest there could be a similar scoreline on the cards here. The Cherries are looking to extend their stay in the top ten and bounce back after a rough run of results.

Huddersfield on the other hand have experienced a minor resurgence of late and will want to keep gaining ground on other sides in the relegation battle. The problem for Huddersfield is that goals have been a real issue for them all season and it is hard to see them keeping pace with Bournemouth here.

Our Super 8
Bournemouth: Ryan Fraser, Simon Francis, Joshua King, Callum Wilson
Huddersfield: Phillip Billing, Aaron Mooy, Steve Mounie, Mathias Jorgensen

BRIGHTON AND HOVE ALBION VS CRYSTAL PALACE
After four years between meetings, these sides are now preparing for their fourth clash in just over 12 months. With a draw, and a win each, everything about this clash, including the market has this highlighted as an even matchup.

Brighton have been battling at home and have managed to win three while drawing two of their six games at the Amex Stadium, despite plenty of low scoring battles. Palace have lost four of seven away from home and it certainly looks like this form will continue when these sides face off here.

Our Super 8
Brighton: Mat Ryan, Solly March, Anthony Knockaert, Glen Murray
Crystal Palace: Patrick van Aanholt, Luka Milivojevic, Andros Townsend, Wilfried Zaha

WEST HAM VS CARDIFF
Out of all the Premier League fixtures on Wednesday morning, this is one of them. Two sides lingering close to the bottom of the table face off at the London Stadium and West Ham enter this game as heavy favourites.

Both sides have conceded plenty of goals so expect plenty of chances in this one, the question is whether the strikers have the capacity to take advantage of them when presented. West Ham have won the last six meetings between these sides and it would be a big surprise if they did not make it seven here.

Our Super 8
West Ham: Issa Diop, Felipe Anderson, Chicharito, Marko Arnautovic
Cardiff: Sol Bamba, Callum Paterson, Josh Murphy, Sean Morrison

WATFORD VS MANCHESTER CITY
Now comes the weekly search for a value play in a Manchester City game where they are heavy favourites.

Since Watford’s most recent promotion in 2015, City have won six in a row against the Hornets and have scored three or more goals in each of the last three games. In all competitions City have won all eight meetings and Watford’s last win head to head came in Division Two in 1989.

There is not a lot to be said about this game other than it is highly likely to be another mismatch, even if City look to rotate their squad a bit.

Our Super 8
Watford: Isaac Success, Abdoulaye Doucouré, Jose Holebas, Roberto Pereyra
Man City: Aymeric Laporte, Leroy Sane, Raheem Sterling, Sergio Aguero

BURNLEY VS LIVERPOOL
Things just go from bad to worse for Burnley after their loss to Crystal Palace at the weekend.

As a follow up act to that disappointment they face the still unbeaten Liverpool who have the best defensive record in the competition. They did pick up a draw away to Liverpool last season but recent form does not make for a pleasant read.

Unfortunately, it’s going to be a big ask for Burnley to get anything out of this game so a Liverpool win with a clean sheet.

Our Super 8
Burnley: Ashley Barnes, Sam Vokes, Chris Wood, Johann Berg Gudmundsson
Liverpool: Trent Alexander-Arnold, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane, Mo Salah

EVERTON VS NEWCASTLE
Newcastle’s winning run is over, but was last week’s loss to West Ham an aberration or a sign of things to come?

Everton meanwhile have to back up after a huge derby disappointment and try to get things back on track. This has been a favourable fixture for the Toffees lately winning the last five meetings and eight of the last nine.

Even so, with the residual mental hangover from the Derby defeat they should be able to shake off that disappointment and come away with a win here.

Our Super 8
Everton: Yeri Mina, Seamus Coleman, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Richarlison
Newcastle: Ciaran Clark, Ayoze Perez, Salomon Rondon, Joselu

FULHAM VS LEICESTER CITY
On the plus side for Fulham in this game, they are at home, where they have recorded both of their wins this season. On the downside for Fulham, they are facing a Leicester side with a decent away record and will have no problems heaping pressure on a side still adapting to a new manager.

As a weird twist of fate, this will be their first Premier League meeting since 2004, although they have played four Cup ties since then and if this game is a replica of any of those contests then we are in for a treat.

The lowest scoring game was a third round FA Cup match that finished 2-2 with Fulham claiming the replay 4-3 with the sides also taking part in two high scoring League Cup ties in the last decade. Despite playing away from home, Leicester are the more talented side and despite Caludio Ranieri wanting to beat his former employer, a Foxes win is the play here.

Our Super 8
Fulham: Ryan Sessegnon, Calum Chambers, Andre Schurrle, Aleksandar Mitrovic
Leicester: James Maddison, Ben Chilwell, Demarai Gray, Jamie Vardy

WOLVERHAMPTON VS CHELSEA
Chelsea make the trip to the Molineux Stadium for the first time in the Premier League since January 2012. Their last two meetings have come in Cup competitions with Chelsea recording comfortable wins without conceding a goal. In fact, in the Abramovich era, this has been a very profitable fixture for Chelsea with plenty of victories and plenty of goals coming in these games.

Chelsea have scored three or more goals in half of the games and look like it should continue.

Our Super 8
Wolves: Rui Patricio, Matt Doherty, Raul Jimenez, Rúben Neves
Chelsea: Marcos Alonso, Ross Barkley, Pedro, Eden Hazard

MANCHESTER UNITED VS ARSENAL
The temptation here would be to massively overreact to both side’s most recent results. Arsenal pulled off a spectacular win in the North London Derby while United were left frustrated after more dropped points against Southampton.

Unai Emery is yet to record a head to head win against Mourinho as a manager, losing three and drawing the other meeting. While every Arsenal fan would love to add to United’s misery with a big win away from home, they will likely have to settle for a draw here.

Our Super 8
Man Utd: Luke Shaw, Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial, Romelu Lukaku
Arsenal: Lucas Torreira, Aaron Ramsey, Alexandre Lacazette, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

TOTTENHAM VS SOUTHAMPTON
How will Tottenham backup from their North London derby against Arsenal?

Southampton have been little more than a speedbump for them in the past six seasons, dropping points in just three games in that time.

While Tottenham’s busy fixture list is likely to catch up to their small squad at some point soon, this won’t be the week, they should handle Southampton easily.

Our Super 8
Spurs: Erik Lamela, Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli, Harry Kane
Southampton: Stuart Armstrong, Cedric Soares, Danny Ings, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg

It’s a huge week of action in the EPL and there’s plenty of vital points on offer. It’s a great opportunity for several clubs that were unlucky not to win last weekend, to respond.

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