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[EPL] MatchWeek 17 – Can Liverpool Hold On At The Top?

As we enter Week 17 of the jam-packed festive leg of the Premier League, there is a new leader atop the points table. Liverpool lead after Mohamed Salah’s hat-trick lifted them to a 4-0 win at Bournemouth on Saturday, while leaders and defending champs Manchester City suffered a 2-0 defeat on their trip to Chelsea. N’Golo Kante drove home the breakthrough at Stamford Bridge on the stroke of half-time, and David Luiz’s 78th-minute header sealed the three points for Chelsea. City’s first domestic defeat of the season also means Liverpool are the last undefeated team in the Premier League. Salah scored his second hat-trick in Liverpool colours—complemented by a Steve Cook own-goal—and became the second player to reach goals in the double digits this season alongside Arsenals Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

With the European commitments wrapping up for 2018 midweek and all six English clubs going through to the last 16 and 32 of the Champions League and Europa League on the continental stage, the next couple of months will be devoted solely to their domestic competitions, starting with the Premier League as fixtures start to come in thick and fast – six MatchWeeks in Five weeks!

This weekend is bookended by two tantalising fixtures with Everton facing Manchester City and Manchester United travelling to Anfield. We will have to wait until Sunday to find out if Liverpool can consolidate their position though with a match well and truly worth the wait. City will attempt to atone for their first loss off the season when they host Everton in the first game on Saturday evening, while Chelsea will look to continue their winning run of form against Brighton.



MatchWeek 17 Points Table 

MatchWeek 16: What We Learned
Lucas Digne joins the late, late club with his free-kick, plus more standout facts

AFC Bournemouth 0-4 Liverpool
Alisson has remained unbeaten in his opening 16 league matches as a Liverpool player. This is a club record, moving ahead of Javier Mascherano’s 15, set in November 2007
Arsenal 1-0 Huddersfield Town
Unai Emery has made 14 substitutions before the start of the second half this season, more than any other manager
Burnley 1-0 Brighton & Hove Albion
Burnley registered a clean sheet at Turf Moor for only the third time in their last 18 league matches there
Cardiff City 1-0 Southampton
Cardiff City have won four of their last five Premier League home matches, as many as they had in their previous 22 in the competition
Manchester United 4-1 Fulham
Juan Mata reached both 50 goals and 50 assists in the Premier League on Saturday, becoming the third Spaniard to get half centuries in both categories after Cesc Fabregas and David Silva
West Ham United 3-2 Crystal Palace
West Ham United have won three consecutive top-flight matches while scoring at least three goals in each for the first time since October 1982
Chelsea 2-0 Manchester City
Manchester City conceded more than one goal and suffered a Premier League defeat for the first time since a 3-2 loss to Manchester United in April, a run of 22 matches
Leicester City 0-2 Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham Hotspur’s tally of 36 points from 16 matches is their best start to a Premier League season
Newcastle United 1-2 Wolverhampton Wanderers
Wolverhampton Wanderers scored their second winning goal in the 90th minute or later this season. No team have had more. For Newcastle United, this was the second time they have lost to a 90th-minute goal, more than any other side this season
Everton 2-2 Watford
Lucas Digne’s equaliser for Everton was the second-latest goal in the PL this season at 95min 8sec, behind only Ross Barkley’s for Chelsea against Man Utd in October, which was timed at 95min 27sec 

MatchWeek 17 Stats: Liverpool trio seeking first strike against Man Utd
Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane all have yet to be involved in a goal against rivals

Man City vs Everton
Man City have not lost a PL match against an opponent who finished outside the top six since January 2017, but that defeat came against Everton. They have since won 139 points out of a possible 153 in these matches
Crystal Palace vs Leicester City
Wilfried Zaha has the chance to score in a third consecutive PL match against the same opponent for the first time
Huddersfield Town vs Newcastle United
Of Newcastle’s Premier League 13 goals this season, seven have been headed, the highest proportion in the division at 54 per cent
Spurs vs Burnley
Harry Kane has scored four goals in five PL appearances against Burnley, including a hat-trick in the last meeting, when Spurs won 3-0 last December
Watford vs Cardiff City
Troy Deeney is looking for a first goal against Cardiff at the seventh attempt. The Bluebirds could become the 45th different team he has scored against for Watford in all competitions
Wolves vs AFC Bournemouth
AFC Bournemouth’s last six PL goals have all come in the first half. They last scored after half-time against Fulham on 27 October
Fulham vs West Ham
West Ham are aiming for a first PL away win in eight attempts against a side starting the day bottom of the table, since beating Queens Park Rangers in 2012
Brighton vs Chelsea
Eden Hazard can provide an assist in a fourth consecutive PL match for the first time. Cesc Fabregas was the last Chelsea player to achieve the feat, in September 2014
Southampton vs Arsenal
Charlie Austin has scored in all four of his Premier League matches against Arsenal
Liverpool vs Man Utd
Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane will all be looking for a first goal or assist in a PL match for Liverpool against Man Utd after a combined total of 855 minutes’ playing time   Courtesy –

Game Review – Our Super 8
Manchester City vs Everton
History: Played 184: Man City 69 – 68 Everton (47 Draws)
Last meeting: March 31st, 2018: Man City 3 – 1 Everton at Goodison Park

Manchester City lost their first game – and the competition lead – via a 2-0 defeat away to Chelsea last week while seventh-placed Everton got out of jail at home against Watford, grabbing a goal and a 2-2 draw deep into stoppage time. The Toffees are winless in their last three.

The last seven meetings between the clubs were split two wins apiece, with three drawn. Everton were the only club to deny Man City the three points in the first 20 weeks of last season – nabbing a 1-1 draw at Etihad Stadium in Week 2 – but the Citizens powered to a 3-1 win at Goodison Park in Week 31.

City haven’t lost consecutive league games since December 2016, or even been prevented from winning two weeks in a row since the 2016-17 campaign. Expect a fierce response from the champs.

Our Super 8
Man City: Bernardo Silva, Gabriel Jesus, Leroy Sane, Raheem Sterling
Everton: Yeri Mina, Idrissa Gueye, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Richarlison

Crystal Palace vs Leicester City
History: Played 69 Leicester 26 – 25 Crystal Palace (18 Draws)
Last meeting: April 28th, 2018: Crystal Palace 5 – 0 Leicester at Selhurst Park

Crystal Palace appear destined to a season of staving off relegation, picking up just three wins and three draws from their 16 games to sit 16th. They lost their last two to Brighton (3-1) and West Ham (3-2).

Leicester City’s six-game unbeaten run ended with a 2-0 home defeat to Tottenham in Week 16, but they remain handily placed in ninth with six wins and four draws in the bank.

Despite finishing only 14th last season, Palace terrorised the Foxes – winning 3-0 at King Power Stadium and 5-0 at Selhurst Park. Christian Benteke and Wilfried Zaha scored in both thrashings.

The goals haven’t flowed as freely as usual for the Foxes they go in as underdogs against a battling Palace.

Our Super 8
Crystal Palace: Patrick van Aanholt, Max Meyer, Andros Townsend, Wilfried Zaha
Leicester: James Maddison, Ben Chilwell, Jonny Evans, Jamie Vardy

Huddersfield Town vs Newcastle United
History: Played 64: Newcastle 27 – 22 Huddersfield (15 Draws)
Last meeting: March 21st, 2018: Newcastle 1 – 0 Huddersfield at St James’ Park

There’s an ultra-valuable three points on offer when these two bottom-six teams do battle. Newcastle, who sit 15th, and 18th-placed Huddersfield have both endured a poor run of recent results.

The Magpies lost to West Ham (3-0) and Wolves (2-1) at home either side of a draw at Everton in the past three rounds. Town are on a three-game losing streak, going down to Brighton and Bournemouth by 2-1 scorelines, and Arsenal 1-0 – though it was a stoic effort to hold the Gunners scoreless until the 83rd minute.

Newcastle boast seven wins and four draws in their last 13 against Huddersfield. Both sides managed a 1-0 home win over the other last season.

With just 23 goals between them this season but better goals conceded stats than their ladder positions would suggest, it’s hard to go past a low-scoring draw in this one.

Our Super 8
Huddersfield: Jonas Lössl, Phillip Billing, Steve Mounie, Alex Pritchard
Newcastle: Ciaran Clark, Ayoze Perez, Jamaal Lascelles, Joselu

Tottenham Hotspur vs Burnley
History: Played 112: Tottenham 45 – 40 Burnley (27 Draws)
Last meeting: December 23rd, 2017 (EPL): Tottenham 3 – 0 Burnley at Turf Moor

This shapes as a bloodbath, though Burnley will be buoyed by snapping an eight-game winless streak with a 1-0 victory over Brighton last week.

Third-placed Spurs have won nine of their last 11 and took Southampton (3-1) and Leicester to the cleaners over the past fortnight. They also managed a 1-1 UCL draw away to Barcelona midweek thanks to a late Lucas Moura goal.

Spurs are unbeaten in their last eight against Burnley. Last season Burnley managed a 1-1 draw at Wembley but went down 3-0 to Tottenham at home.

Tottenham have scored 10 goals in their past four games and kept five clean sheets in their past 10 outings. Expect Hugo Lloris to keep Burnley – scoreless in four of their last eight – to nought at Wembley.

Our Super 8
Spurs: Son Heung-min, Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli, Harry Kane
Burnley: Ashley Barnes, James Tarkowski, Chris Wood, Johann Berg Gudmundsson

Watford vs Cardiff City
History: Played 55: Cardiff 22 – 19 Watford (14 Draws)
Last meeting: December 28th, 2014 (Championship): Watford 4 – 2 Cardiff at Cardiff City Stadium

Watford and Cardiff are separated by just two places on the EPL ladder, but the Hornets are seven points ahead of the Welsh outfit.

Twelfth-placed Watford are on the slide, however, going winless in their last six. They will also be ruing a late goal in a 2-2 draw at Everton, robbing them of a vital away win. Cardiff have been on an upswing lately with four wins from their last eight games, including a 1-0 defeat of Southampton last week. Cardiff’s problem, though, has been performing on the road – they have just a scoreless draw against Huddersfield in Week 3 to show for seven away games.

Watford have won only two of their last 13 against Cardiff, who boast two wins and four draws from their last seven visits to Vicarage Road.

Our Super 8
Watford: Isaac Success, Abdoulaye Doucouré, Jose Holebas, Roberto Pereyra
Cardiff: Neil Etheridge, Callum Paterson, Josh Murphy, Sean Morrison

Wolverhampton Wanderers vs AFC Bournemouth
History: Played 11: Bournemouth 6 – 3 Wolverhampton (2 Draws)
Last meeting: March 3rd, 2015 (Championship): Bournemouth 2 – 1 Wolverhampton at Goldsands Stadium

Wolverhampton have steadied their ship after suffering five defeats in six games. In the past fortnight Wolves have secured 2-1 victories over Chelsea and Newcastle to consolidate 10th spot on the ladder. Jota scored in both games, while Matthew Doherty’s 94th-minute strike snatched the win at Newcastle.

Eighth-placed Bournemouth are in a bit of a hole, losing five of their last six. They snapped a frustrating streak with a 2-1 home win over Huddersfield in Week 15 but crashed 4-0 against Liverpool. The Cherries are ranked seventh for goals scored (25) but 15th for goals conceded (26)

Bournemouth have won their last two at Wolverhampton. Wanderers are warm favourites to keep their roll going into a third straight win but Bournemouth should at least head home with a point from this one.

Our Super 8
Wolves: Rui Patricio, Matt Doherty, Raul Jimenez, Rúben Neves
Bournemouth: Ryan Fraser, David Brooks, Joshua King, Callum Wilson

Fulham vs West Ham
History: Played 101: West Ham 46 – 32 Fulham (23 Draws)
Last meeting: January 1st, 2014 (EPL): Fulham 2 – 1 West Ham at Craven Cottage

Last-placed Fulham appear destined for the drop, conceding a league-worst 40 goals – including a 4-1 drubbing at the hands of Man United last week. But a win or two could dramatically turn their campaign around.

West Ham – rock-bottom for the first month of the season – are on the march after losing just one (to Man City) of their last seven. They have racked up nine goals in winning their last three against Newcastle, Cardiff and Palace.

Fulham have won three of their last four at home against West Ham. But the Hammers have scooped eight points from a possible 15 in their last five home games and shouldn’t have too much trouble collecting another three here.

Our Super 8
Fulham: Ryan Sessegnon, Calum Chambers, Andre Schurrle, Aleksandar Mitrovic
West Ham: Robert Snodgrass, Felipe Anderson, Chicarito (Javier Hernández), Lucas Pérez

Brighton & Hove Albion vs Chelsea
History: Played 10: Chelsea 8 – 1 Brighton
Last meeting: January 20th, 2018 (EPL): Chelsea 4 – 0 Brighton at Amex Stadium

Brighton’s two-game winning streak came to an end via a disappointing 1-0 loss to struggling Burnley, but they are still well-placed in 13th – only two points off eighth. Their six wins is only three short of the club’s entire 2017-18 tally.

After stumbling with their first two losses of the season in the previous three rounds, Chelsea’s season hit a high point with a 2-0 win over unbeaten Man City. It was the Blues’ sixth clean sheet in 11 games and kept them in the top four. Chelsea took promoted Brighton to the cleaners last season, winning 2-0 at home and 4-0 at Amex Stadium. Eden Hazard scored a brace in the latter.

The Seagulls boast three wins and a draw from their last four home games, and this assignment may be a bit tougher for Chelsea than the odds suggest.

Our Super 8
Brighton: Mat Ryan, Leon Balogun, Anthony Knockaert, Florin Andone
Chelsea: David Luiz, Ross Barkley, Pedro, Eden Hazard

Southampton vs Arsenal
History: Played 95: Arsenal 49 – 20 Southampton 20 (26 Draws)
Last meeting: April 8th, 2018 (EPL): Arsenal 3 – 2 Southampton at Emirates Stadium

Southampton have just one victory to their name and are winless in their last 12 outings. Only five draws during that period is keeping the 19th-placed Saints off the bottom. Last week they went down 1-0 at Cardiff.

Conversely, Arsenal are on a 14-game unbeaten run, winning 10. After drawing 2-2 at Old Trafford, in Week 15, the Gunners held off Huddersfield 1-0 – only securing the win via Lucas Torreira’s 83rd-minute goal.

Southampton have conceded 11 goals in their last four games against Arsenal. Last season the Gunners were held to a 1-1 draw at St Mary’s Stadium but prevailed 3-2 at home.

Arsenal have four wins and two draws from seven games on the road this season, but only one of those was by a margin of more than one goal.

Our Super 8
Southampton: Charlie Austin, Cedric Soares, Danny Ings, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg
Arsenal: Lucas Torreira, Sead Kolasinac, Alexandre Lacazette, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Liverpool vs Manchester United
EPL History: Played 228: Man United 88 – 75 Liverpool (65 Draws)
Last meeting: March 10th, 2018 (EPL): Man United 2 – 1 Liverpool at Old Trafford

Man City’s loss last weekend leaves Liverpool at the top of the table as the only unbeaten team, winning 13 of their 16 games. They are on a five-game streak currently, outscoring their opposition 13-1 – including a 4-0 rout of Bournemouth last week. Mo Salah took his season tally to 10 goals with a hat-trick against the Cherries, but Liverpool’s defence – leaking just six goals so far – has been as crucial to their stunning run as their firepower-laden attack.

Man United may still be eight points off the top-four pace, but they broke the shackles with a 4-1 win over Fulham to end a four-game winless streak last weekend. That pressure-relieving result came on the back of a 2-2 draw with Arsenal. Anthony Martial has scored seven goals in their last nine league games.

Liverpool have won only one of their last 10 against United, though four of the last five finished in 1-1 or 0-0 draws. The heavyweights played out a scoreless stalemate at Anfield last season before United scored a 2-1 win at Old Trafford. The latter result broke a run of six matches between the sides that produced two goals or less.

Both sides come off midweek Champions League assignments and you can expect some fatigue to show in the final result.

Our Super 8
Liverpool: Alisson Becker, Andrew Robertson, Roberto Firmino, Mo Salah
Man Utd: Luke Shaw, Marcus Rashford, Juan Mata, Romelu Lukaku

The weekend’s big name fixture – both powerhouses of English football of the past four decades, one seemingly on their way back to glory days by taking charge at the top of the EPL last weekend, the other drifting further and further away from previous glory. Both sides went through to the Champions League knockout stage, in different circumstances. BARELY INTERESTING STAT: Liverpool have only won once at Old Trafford this decade.

A great game to kick off the weekend though, now that Manchester City are beatable perhaps Everton could give them a real go, and Everton didn’t have to play midweek football. They’ll have to overcome Manchester City’s unrivaled home form this season – 8 wins from 8 games and for and against on 30-5. Everton are down in 15th in away form. But they do have a decent record against Manchester City. BARELY INTERESTING STAT: Since the ownership of Sheikh Mansour at Manchester City in 2008, their EPL record against Everton is less impressive than you would have thought and stands like this. 8 Everton wins, 7 City and 5 draws. Even more interesting is the last three EPL fixtures in Manchester have ended in draws.

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