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[EPL] MatchWeek 16 – No Rest For The Wicked

It’s been a busy week of football at the EPL and this weekend’s fixtures will be the third round in a span of seven days. A weekend that sees Liverpool kickoff the action early despite playing on Wednesday night by attempting to keep their stunning run of form alive at the expense of Bournemouth, a game five weeks ago that would have been outstanding, but it’s tough imagining Bournemouth competing with Liverpool for the full 90, even off the back of a win. In other key games, West Ham host Crystal Palace in the sole London Derby with a great chance of making it three wins in a row to continue their ascent up the table, while Arsenal have a favourable home match to break back in to the top four and Chelsea, unbeaten until a few weeks ago and having now lost two, host a Manchester City side showing no signs whatsoever of losing their unbeaten record.  

All this after Manchester City survived a strong Watford fight back in MW15 to keep their lead at the top of the table whilst Liverpool kept pace with a comeback victory of their own at Burnley. Chelsea dropped more crucial points – this time at Wolves – whilst Manchester United and Arsenal played out a classic 2-2 draw at Old Trafford. Southampton slipped back into the relegation zone after losing at Tottenham whilst Fulham and Burnley make up the bottom three as it stands. A first victory since October meant Wolves are 12th with 19 points, while Chelsea are down to fourth on 31 points and Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane’s ninth Premier League goal of the season saw Spurs beat Southampton 3-1 to move  up to third place in the table.

The big one of MW16 is scheduled to take place at 11.00pm on Saturday when league-leaders Manchester City travel to Stamford Bridge to take on Chelsea. After a hot start to the season, the Blues have now won just one of their last four games and have dropped to fourth on the EPL table behind Man City, Liverpool and Tottenham.

Manchester City have been basically perfect in 2018 so far. They sit atop the EPL table with a 13-2-0 record and have only dropped points to Wolverhampton and Liverpool away from home, which both ended in low scoring draws. Manchester City already boast big wins over Arsenal, Burnley, Tottenham, Manchester United and Bournemouth and will be looking to add another big scalp this weekend.

MATCHWEEK 15 – RESULTS

MATCHWEEK 16 – SCHEDULE

MatchWeek 16 Points Table 

What we learned in MatchWeek 15
Including a joint-club record for Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson, see the best stats from the midweek fixtures

AFC Bournemouth 2-1 Huddersfield Town
Callum Wilson has both scored and assisted in three different PL matches this season (level with Raheem Sterling). No player has done so on more occasions
Brighton & Hove Albion 3-1 Crystal Palace
Glenn Murray has scored the opening goal in five different PL matches this season. Only Mohamed Salah has done so in more, with six
West Ham United 3-1 Cardiff City
Lukasz Fabianski has saved the last three PL penalties he’s faced, having stopped just two of his previous 19 in the competition
Watford 1-2 Manchester City
Man City’s goal difference of +38 is the best recorded by an English top-flight team after the first 15 matches of a season since Sunderland in 1892/93 (+39)
Burnley 1-3 Liverpool
Alisson has remained unbeaten in his opening 15 PL matches for Liverpool; equalling the club record set by Javier Mascherano in November 2007
Everton 1-1 Newcastle United
Salomon Rondon has netted three goals in his last four PL appearances, as many as he managed in his previous 18 in the competition
Fulham 1-1 Leicester City
James Maddison has been directly involved in more PL goals (seven – five goals, two assists) than any other Leicester City player this season
Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-1 Chelsea
Morgan Gibbs-White (18 years and 312 days) became the youngest player to assist a PL goal against Chelsea since Francis Jeffers for Everton in November 1999 (18 years and 298 days)
Manchester United 2-2 Arsenal
Anthony Martial is just the second Man Utd player to score a PL goal on his birthday, after Wayne Rooney in October 2004 (also v Arsenal)
Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 Southampton
At 18 years and 79 days, Oliver Skipp is the youngest player to debut for Spurs since Gareth Bale did so at 18 years and 40 days against Man Utd in August 2007  

MatchWeek 16: 10 key facts
Harry Kane aims to maintain his scoring record against Leicester and Ralph Hasenhuttl targets a winning start at Southampton

AFC Bournemouth vs Liverpool
James Milner could make his 500th PL appearance, becoming the 13th player to reach the landmark and the second-youngest after Gareth Barry
Arsenal vs Huddersfield
Arsenal have won 16 of their last 17 PL matches played at 15:00 UK time on a Saturday, including each of the last nine
Burnley vs Brighton
Brighton’s Florin Andone could become only the third Romanian to score in three consecutive PL appearances after Dan Petrescu and Adrian Mutu
Cardiff vs Southampton
Ralph Hasenhuttl is looking to be the first out of eight permanent Southampton managers to win his opening PL match in charge
Man Utd vs Fulham
Man Utd have won 21 of their last 23 home matches against Fulham in all competitions, with their only defeat in this sequence coming in the PL in October 2003
West Ham vs Crystal Palace
The side scoring first in 14 PL fixtures between West Ham and Crystal Palace have never lost, winning 10 and drawing four
Chelsea vs Man City
Man City are aiming to be the first defending PL champions to beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in the league since April 2002, when Man Utd triumphed 3-0 there
Leicester vs Spurs
Harry Kane has scored 13 goals in 11 appearances against Leicester in all competitions, more than against any other opponent
Newcastle vs Wolves
Both teams have scored in all six PL meetings between these sides. It is the most-played fixture in the competition without a clean sheet
Everton vs Watford
Watford are looking for their first away league win on a Monday in 10 attempts. Their last was in 2011 in the Championship, while their last in the top flight was in 1986                                                                  Courtesy – PremierLeague.com

Game Review – Our Super 8
BOURNEMOUTH VS LIVERPOOL
Bournemouth arrested a four-game losing streak with their 2-1 home win over Huddersfield midweek. They scored twice in the opening 22 minutes to set up the win and jump to seventh. But the Cherries face a tall order to go back-to-back.

Second-placed Liverpool are still unbeaten with 12 wins and three draws. They took a while to get going at Turf Moor midweek, but scored three time in the last half-hour to down Burnley 3-1. Burnley’s opener was just the sixth goal the Reds have conceded all season – the best record in the EPL.

After Bournemouth chalked up a home win and an away draw against Liverpool in the 2016-17 campaign, Liverpool won both clashes last season by a combined 7-0. Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino both scored in both games.

Our Super 8
Bournemouth: Ryan Fraser, Simon Francis, Joshua King, Callum Wilson
Liverpool: Trent Alexander-Arnold, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane, Mo Salah

ARSENAL VS HUDDERSFIELD TOWN
Two different classes of team will be stepping out at The Emirates when Arsenal host Huddersfield. Arsenal maintained their 13-game unbeaten streak with a 2-2 draw against United at Old Trafford midweek. But they will be a touch disappointed with that result after twice taking the lead, only to allow Man U to equalise minutes later. They have conceded nine goals in the past five games, but their sizzling attack is keeping them in touch with the front-runners.

Huddersfield are hovering a point above the relegation zone after losing consecutive games to Brighton and Bournemouth by 2-1 scorelines. Scoring goals is Town’s foremost issue – they have found the back of the net a league-low 10 times.

Huddersfield’s last win over Arsenal was in 1971. Last season the Gunners defeated promoted Town 5-0 at home and 1-0 on the road.

Eight of Arsenal’s last 14 games have produced four goals or more – and with the attacking mood Unai Emery’s side are in, expect another high-scorer.

Our Super 8
Arsenal: Lucas Torreira, Aaron Ramsey, Alexandre Lacazette, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Huddersfield: Phillip Billing, Aaron Mooy, Steve Mounie, Mathias Jorgensen

BURNLEY VS BRIGHTON
This looms as a great opportunity for both clubs, particularly the lowly Burnley who will be aiming to capitalise on a Brighton side without Shane Duffy and likely, prolific goal scorer Glenn Murray. Aussie Mat Ryan has been an absolute wall for Brighton, but its tough imagining them having a huge impact away from home without several key players.

Brighton have stormed into the top half with five wins in their last eight games – including back-to-back victories over Huddersfield (2-1) and Palace (3-1) in the past week. Romanian striker Florin Andone scored in both.

Burnley and Brighton have produced a remarkable streak of five straight draws. Both of last season’s stalemates were scoreless.

But on current form, leaning towards slight favourites Brighton shapes as the obvious way to go.

Our Super 8
Burnley: Ashley Barnes, Sam Vokes, Chris Wood, Johann Berg Gudmundsson
Brighton: Mat Ryan, Leon Balogun, Anthony Knockaert, Florin Andone

WEST HAM VS CRYSTAL PALACE
The weekend’s only London Derby will see the Hammers host the Eagles and it should be an excellent fixture. The Hammers have seemingly snapped an inconsistent run of form by winning their two most-recent matches, while Palace were comfortably beaten by a ten-man Brighton on Wednesday morning.

Last for the opening month of the season, West Ham continue to creep up the EPL ladder. They are now 12th after losing just one (to Man City) of their last six and having racked up back to back wins at Newcastle (3-0) and at home to Cardiff (3-1) in the past week.

Crystal Palace continue to hover near the danger zone after picking up just five points from their past nine games. Their drought-breaking 2-0 win over Burnley in MW14 was negated by a 3-1 loss at Brighton midweek.

Our Super 8
West Ham: Lukaksz Fabianski, Robert Snodgrass, Felipe Anderson, Lucas Pérez
Crystal Palace: Patrick van Aanholt, Luka Milivojevic, Andros Townsend, Wilfried Zaha

CARDIFF CITY VS SOUTHAMPTON
Two of the Premier League’s bottom feeders square off in search of three valuable points to spark floundering campaigns in Wales when Cardiff host Southampton. The Bluebirds have been noticeably better of late and while they do enter this match off the back of an away loss to West Ham, they’ve won two of their last four fixtures. Southampton have struggled for goals and face another tough assignment.

Cardiff have won five of their last six against Southampton at home. They have also been far more formidable at Cardiff City Stadium this season, grabbing three wins and a draw with a comparatively acceptable -4 goal differential. The Welsh side look handy value as slight underdogs.

Our Super 8
Cardiff: Sol Bamba, Callum Paterson, Josh Murphy, Sean Morrison
Southampton: Charlie Austin, Cedric Soares, Danny Ings, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg

MANCHESTER UNITED VS FULHAM
Two completely different class of teams and regardless of United’s apparent inability to win a match recently, they should be returning to winning form against the last-placed Cottagers.

Fulham are in last spot but have shown some promise lately, beating Southampton and drawing with Leicester either side of a 2-0 loss at Chelsea in their last three. Less encouragingly, they have just one draw and a -15 for-and-against from eight away games this season.

Fulham are winless in their last 10 games against Man United. They have won just once at Old Trafford since 1963.

Surely, mercifully, this is the game embattled United get back in the winner’s circle.

Our Super 8
Man Utd: Luke Shaw, Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial, Romelu Lukaku
Fulham: Ryan Sessegnon, Calum Chambers, Andre Schurrle, Aleksandar Mitrovic

CHELSEA VS MANCHESTER CITY
This is set to be an outstanding match, particularly at Stamford Bridge and it’s about as close to even money as you’ll get for Manchester City all season. The Cityzens really have been a cut above again and they enter this match off the back of another classy win over Watford, while Chelsea were last-start losers to Wolves.

Chelsea’s recent stumbles have taken the sting out of this blockbuster somewhat. After going undefeated for the opening 12 rounds, Chelsea have lost to Tottenham (3-1) and Wolves (2-1) on the road in the past three games. They are yet to lose at Stamford Bridge, however, and downed PAOK (4-0, Europa League) and Fulham (2-0, EPL) at home last week.

Man City have been held to just two draws and are on a seven-game winning streak. After disposing of Bournemouth 3-1 on the weekend, they eased past Watford 2-1 in their away Week 16 assignment. They have scored 18 goals in their last five league games with seven different goal-scorers.

The Citizens are on a three-game winning streak against the Blues. They chalked up 1-0 wins at home and away last season, while a Sergio Aguero brace powered City to a 2-0 win over Chelsea in the FA Community Shield at Wembley in August.

A few weeks ago we could have seen Chelsea nabbing a draw against City at home, but on the strength of the rivals’ recent form the Blues’ unbeaten run at home looks set to end.

Our Super 8
Chelsea: Marcos Alonso, Ross Barkley, Pedro, Eden Hazard
Man City: Riyad Mahrez, Leroy Sane, Raheem Sterling, Sergio Aguero

LEICESTER CITY VS TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR
This should be one of the better contests in MW16 and there’s a case to be made for both clubs. The Foxes have been extremely consistent of late and are undefeated in the league for five weeks. Spurs are one of the league’s better clubs, however and atoned for a loss to Arsenal with an easy win over Southampton midweek.

Though they have drawn with some low-level opposition, Leicester are currently on a six-game unbeaten run, including two wins. They have come from behind with late equalisers against West Ham, Brighton and midweek at Fulham. The ninth-placed Foxes’ attacking potency has been down a notch but they have conceded only 18 goals so far.

Tottenham responded to their 4-2 loss at Arsenal in a derby classic with a solid 3-1 home win over battling Southampton midweek. Harry Kane got on the scoresheet for the fourth time in five games, with Spurs scoring 12 times in total.

Leicester have managed two wins and three draws in their last eight clashes with Tottenham. Last season the Foxes scored a 2-1 upset at home, before being edged out 5-4 in an extraordinary Wembley encounter. Harry Kane, Erik Lamela and Jamie Vardy all scored doubles in the latter.

Another boilover could be in the offing here with Leicester proving a hard nut to crack in the wake of their owner’s tragic death.

Our Super 8
Leicester: James Maddison, Ben Chilwell, Demarai Gray, Jamie Vardy
Spurs: Erik Lamela, Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli, Harry Kane

NEWCASTLE UNITED VS WOLVES
Two clubs that are extremely difficult to trust will square off in the north of England with Wolves having pulled off a huge upset against Chelsea midweek, but losing to lowly Cardiff only days prior. Newcastle were flogged by West Ham at home but drew away with Everton.

Newcastle are a modest 14th, but after a seven-week stay in the bottom three things are looking up for the Magpies. They have manged three wins and two draws from their last six games, recovering from a 3-0 home loss to West Ham with a 1-1 draw at Everton midweek.

Twelfth-placed Wolverhampton ended a horror run that saw them pick up a solitary point from six games – culminating in dismal losses to Huddersfield and Cardiff – by upsetting Chelsea 2-1 midweek. Wolves trailed at halftime but Jiminez and Jota scored in the space of four minutes to secure the club’s biggest scalp since winning promotion.

Wolves have won just one of their last nine against Newcastle, though four of those clashes finished in a draw and they pulled off a 2-0 victory in their last visit to St James’ Park.

Wanderers’ momentous result midweek makes the teams tough to split at Newcastle.

Our Super 8
Newcastle: Ciaran Clark, Ayoze Perez, Salomon Rondon, Joselu
Wolves: Rui Patricio, Matt Doherty, Raul Jimenez, Rúben Neves

EVERTON VS WATFORD
The final match of MW16 will take place at Goodison Park on Tuesday morning and the home side can capitalise on the recent poor form shown by their opponents. The Toffees were unlucky to lose the Merseyside Derby last weekend and the Hornets are staring down the barrel of four-consecutive defeats.

Five places – but only three points – separate Everton and Watford in an intriguing Week 16 closer.

Sixth-placed Everton have been quiet achievers, with their only losses in the last nine rounds (in which they’ve notched five wins) being hard-fought away defeats to Man United and Liverpool. But they would have hoped for more than a 1-1 draw from their midweek clash with Newcastle.

Watford are 11th but their star is fading fast after picking up just one point from their past five games. Following their 2-0 loss at Leicester on the weekend, they arguably overachieved in a 2-1 home loss to Man City. But the fact remains they only have two goals from their last five outings.

Watford have chalked up two wins and two draws in their last six encounters with Everton. But the best the Hornets have managed in 13 visits to Goodison Park is one draw.

Our Super 8
Everton: Yeri Mina, Seamus Coleman, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Richarlison
Watford: Isaac Success, Abdoulaye Doucouré, Jose Holebas, Roberto Pereyra

The frantic pace of the EPL shows no signs of letting up as Everton and Watford get the most rest, with their match being played on Tuesday morning, while Liverpool play in the early kick-off on Saturday, despite playing on Wednesday night. There was personnel rotation galore for many of the teams, and we might see more of the same, as each manager tries to cope with the demanding winter schedule. All in all a great weekend of action that could have far reaching repercussions on the points table. 

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