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[EPL] MatchWeek 19 – Boxing Day And Beyond

Festive football! How can you not love it? The Premier League just keeps on giving at Christmas time and less than three days after a power packed record breaking weekend of Premier League action,  we dive right into the traditional Boxing Day feast with all ten Premier League clubs back in action. While there aren’t any “big clashes” in this round of fixtures, no side will want to drop points as a single loss can turn into a losing streak pretty quickly at this time of year.

Bottom-of-the-table Fulham kick off proceedings against Wolverhampton Wanderers before Liverpool host Newcastle United, the Red Devils face struggling Huddersfield Town and Manchester City visit Leicester City as they look to return to winning ways. At Wembley, Tottenham Hotspur face-off with Bournemouth, Crystal Palace meet Cardiff City at Selhurst Park, Burnley clash with Everton at Turf Moor as Brighton welcome the Arsenal to the Amex Stadium. Boxing Day festivities conclude at Vicarage Road as Watford play Chelsea. On Thursday, Southampton will play host to West Ham in the last game of MW19.

MATCHWEEK 19 – SCHEDULE

Tottenham Hotspur rounded of a record breaking weekend at the Premier League on Sunday thrashing and overwhelming Everton 2 – 6 at Goodison Park in MW18. Son Heung-min and Harry Kane grabbing two apiece as Spurs joined Liverpool and Man City in the 40+ points club. Prior to that, Liverpool clinched top spot for Christmas in the first game of MatchWeek 18 as they earned a 2-0 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers – goals from Mohamed Salah and Virgil van Dijk in each half secured the three points for the Reds and ensured Jurgen Klopp and his squad tuck into their festive turkey as leaders of the English top-flight.

Overall, Saturday was a totally unpredictable day at the EPL. Man United responded to a change in coach by producing a rampant display to thrash lowly Cardiff 5-1 hours after leader City slumped to a first defeat at home, to struggling Crystal Palace 3-2. The last time United scored five goals was in Alex Ferguson’s last match in charge in May 2013, a 5-5 draw with West Bromwich Albion. Meanwhile, City’s loss brought to an end its 100 percent home record in the league, and left leader Liverpool four points clear at the top after 18 rounds.

In another upset, former England striker Jamie Vardy scored to guide Leicester to a 1-0 victory at Stamford Bridge and inflict on fourth-placed Chelsea its first loss at home, also. Arsenal drew level on points with Chelsea after easing past Burnley 3-1. Southampton won their second successive match under new coach Ralph Hasenhuttl when they defeated Huddersfield 3-1, while Watford ended West Ham’s run of four consecutive victories by winning at London Stadium 2-0. Bournemouth beat Brighton 2-0, and Newcastle’s home game with Fulham ended 0-0.

MATCHWEEK 18 – RESULTS

MATCHWEEK 19 Points Table 

MATCHWEEK 18: What we learned
Including Michael Obafemi’s landmark moment for Southampton, check out the standout stats

Wolves 0-2 Liverpool
Mohamed Salah has scored once in each of his last six Premier League matches against promoted opposition
Arsenal 3-1 Burnley
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has 22 goals in his 31 PL matches, five more than the next Arsenal player at the same stage, Thierry Henry with 17 goals
AFC Bournemouth 2-0 Brighton & Hove Albion
David Brooks has five goals in his last 11 league appearances, after just three in his previous 35
Chelsea 0-1 Leicester City
Jamie Vardy has scored 13 goals in his last 15 Premier League appearances against last season’s top-six sides
Huddersfield 1-3 Southampton
At 18 years and 169 days, Michael Obafemi is the youngest player to score in the Premier League for Southampton and the youngest PL goalscorer from the Republic of Ireland
Manchester City 2-3 Crystal Palace
Manchester City lost a PL match kicking off at 15:00 UK time on a Saturday for the first time since August 2014 v Stoke City, ending a run of 36 matches
Newcastle United 0-0 Fulham
Fulham have kept their first clean sheet in 22 PL matches, since winning 1-0 v Norwich City in April 2014
West Ham United 0-2 Watford
Gerard Deulofeu scored in consecutive Premier League appearances for the first time in his career
Cardiff City 1-5 Manchester United
Anthony Martial marked his 100th PL appearance for Man Utd with a goal. He is only the fourth Frenchman to reach a century of PL appearances for the club after Eric Cantona, Mikael Silvestre and Patrice Evra
Everton 2-6 Tottenham Hotspur
Harry Kane has scored at least twice in each of his last four PL appearances against Everton, levelling Michael Owen’s record of doing so against one specific opponent (vs Newcastle United)

MATCHWEEK 19: 10 key facts
The standout facts ahead of the PL’s fixtures for 26th and 27th December, as Ole Gunnar Solsjkaer seeks to join a rare cast of Man Utd managers

Fulham vs Wolves
Wolverhampton Wanderers have won six of their last eight league matches against Fulham, scoring three or more goals on five occasions
Burnley vs Everton
Everton’s only previous victory at Turf Moor in the Premier League was back in October 2014, helped by two goals from Samuel Eto’o. They’ve lost 2-1 there in each of the last two seasons
Crystal Palace vs Cardiff City
Cardiff manager Neil Warnock is unbeaten in his last nine away matches at Selhurst Park, winning six and drawing three
Leicester City vs Man City
Man City striker Sergio Aguero has scored five goals in his last three Premier League matches against Leicester
Liverpool vs Newcastle
Liverpool have not lost a home league match on Boxing Day since 1986/87 when Manchester United recorded a 1-0 victory at Anfield. The Reds have won eight and drawn three since then
Manchester United vs Huddersfield Town
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is looking to become only the fifth Man Utd manager to win both of his first two league matches in charge, after TJ Wallworth, Matt Busby, Dave Sexton and Jose Mourinho
Tottenham Hotspur vs AFC Bournemouth
Spurs striker Harry Kane has been directly involved in seven goals in five Premier League appearances against AFC Bournemouth, recording six goals and one assist
Brighton vs Arsenal
Arsenal have scored at least twice in all eight of their away Premier League matches this season. They could become the first team to score two goals or more in their first nine away fixtures in a single top-flight campaign
Watford vs Chelsea
The last four matches between these two sides in the Premier League have produced 21 goals, with Watford scoring 10 and Chelsea 11
Southampton vs West Ham United
Charlie Austin has never scored a PL goal on a Thursday but has done so on every other day of the week in the Premier League. He can become the 26th player to score on every day   Courtesy – PremierLeague.com

Game Review – Our Super 8
Fulham vs Wolves
Fulham remain anchored to the bottom of the EPL ladder, but they have taken steps recently to suggest their relegation is not a foregone conclusion. The Cottagers have managed a win and two draws in their last six outings – including a 0-0 result at Newcastle on the weekend.

Fellow promoted outfit Wolverhampton are handily placed in 10th, but their three-match winning streak was halted by a 2-0 home loss to Liverpool. On the road the season Wolves have won three and drawn two of eight matches.

Fulham carved out a 2-0 win at Craven Cottage last season to snap a six-game winless run against Wolves but scoring goals has been a major issue – they have tallied just 16, including only two in their last five games.

Our Super 8
Fulham: Sergio Rico, Calum Chambers, Andre Schurrle, Aleksandar Mitrovic
Wolves: Rui Patricio, Matt Doherty, Raul Jimenez, Rúben Neves

Burnley vs Everton
Burnley have picked up only four points in their last 10 outings, while their 3-1 defeat at Arsenal on the weekend saw them slide back into the bottom-three. After conceding a miserly 39 goals in the entire 2017-18 season, the Clarets have already leaked 36 in 18 games.

Eleventh-placed Everton are winless in their last five, struggling through a difficult section of their draw. Liverpool (1-0), Man City (3-1) and Tottenham (6-2) have accounted for the Toffees recently, with draws against Newcastle and Watford producing their only points in December.

After winning four of their previous five against Burnley, Everton lost both clashes last season – 1-0 at home and 2-1 at Turf Moor. They have been fairly prolific in front of goal this season though.

Our Super 8
Burnley: Ashley Barnes, James Tarkowski, Chris Wood, Sam Vokes
Everton: Yeri Mina, Lucas Digne, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Richarlison

Crystal Palace vs Cardiff
Crystal Palace have climbed to 14th after winning three of their last five and are looking to back up their king-sized 3-2 away upset of Manchester City. It has been a remarkable upswing for Palace, who won just two of their first 13 games.

Cardiff City, who had won four of their previous nine games, fell victim to a fortified Manchester United side last weekend, copping a 5-1 hiding at home. Meanwhile, 17th-placed Cardiff have picked up just one point from eight away games.

Palace defeated Cardiff in both matches by a combined 5-0 during the Welsh outfit’s last EPL campaign.

Brimming with confidence and momentum after last week’s performance in particular, it seems unlikely Palace will falter against travel-shy Cardiff.

Our Super 8
Crystal Palace: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Jeffrey Schlupp, Luka Milivojević, Andros Townsend
Cardiff: Neil Etheridge, Callum Paterson, Josh Murphy, Sean Morrison

Leicester vs Man City
Manchester City are in the highly unfamiliar position of having lost two of their last three games, crashing to Chelsea (2-0) and Crystal Palace (3-2) either side of a 3-1 win over Everton.

Man City are on a five-match winning streak against Leicester, but that run includes two penalty shootout victories in League Cup action in the past two Decembers. Last week Marc Albrighton levelled for the Foxes after Kevin De Bruyne’s early strike, but keeper Arijanet Muric got City through.

Meanwhile, Leicester are coming off a major upset result of their own, rolling Chelsea 1-0 at Stamford Bridge to end a two-game losing run in EPL action.

Leicester have scored more than one goal just once in their past 11 games. 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. The Citizens should bounce back hard at the Foxes’ expense.

Our Super 8
Leicester: James Maddison, Ben Chilwell, Jonny Evans, Jamie Vardy
Man City: Riyad Mahrez, Gabriel Jesus, Leroy Sane, Raheem Sterling

Liverpool vs Newcastle
Liverpool successfully took the Premier League lead into Christmas – traditionally a great omen – after extending their winning streak to eight games with a 2-0 victory over Wolves. The Reds remain unbeaten with 15 wins and three draws, incredibly conceding just seven goals so far.

Newcastle will be frustrated to have been held to a 0-0 draw by Fulham at home last week, but the 15th-placed Magpies have nevertheless suffered just two losses in their last nine games.

Newcastle have managed two wins and two draws in their last six games against Liverpool. Last season the teams drew 1-1 at Newcastle before Liverpool prevailed 2-0 at Anfield.

Scoring just 14 goals so far this season – second-last in the league – Newcastle simply don’t have the strikepower to trouble Liverpool.

Our Super 8
Liverpool: Nathaniel Clyne, Virgil van Dijk, Roberto Firmino, Mo Salah
Newcastle: Fabian Schär, Christian Atsu, Joselu, Salomon Rondon

Man Utd vs Huddersfield
Caretaker-coach Ole Gunnar Solksjaer enjoyed a dream start after taking over from the axed Jose Mourinho last week. Manchester United crushed Cardiff City 5-1 – just their second EPL win in seven games – and face a similarly straightforward assignment at home against second-last Huddersfield.

Town are on a five-game losing streak, including a 3-1 home loss to fellow battlers Southampton on the weekend, and have scored a league-low 11 goals.

Huddersfield ended a 65-year drought with a 2-1 home boilover against United last season. But the Red Devils responded with 2-0 wins in the EPL and FA Cup in the space of two weeks in February.

Expect United to ride their management-change momentum for at least another round.

Our Super 8
Man Utd: Luke Shaw, Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard, Paul Pogba
Huddersfield: Jonas Lössl, Phillip Billing, Steve Mounie, Alex Pritchard

Spurs vs Bournemouth
Tottenham have won four straight and truly flexed their trademark attacking muscle for one of the first times this season on the weekend, whipping archrivals Everton 6-2. Trump cards Harry Kane and Song Heung-min both picked up two goals in the rout. Yet to record a draw this season, Spurs are third with 14 wins from 18 games.

Floundering after six losses in their previous seven EPL games (along with a EFL Cup quarter-final loss to Chelsea last week), Bournemouth jumped back up to eighth via a 2-0 home win over Brighton. But they face a much taller order at Wembley opposite a Tottenham side they have had little prior success against.

The best Bournemouth have managed in six clashes with Spurs since being promoted to the Premier League is a scoreless draw at home in the 2016-17 season. Tottenham won the other five encounters by a combined 17-2.

Count on Spurs putting up another big score in this clash.

Our Super 8
Spurs: Son Heung-min, Christian Eriksen, Erik Lamela, Harry Kane
Bournemouth: Ryan Fraser, David Brooks, Joshua King, Callum Wilson

Brighton vs Arsenal
Thirteenth-placed Brighton have a handy buffer between them and the Premier League’s cellar dwellers, but they come into this daunting assignment on a three-game losing streak. Burnley (1-0), Chelsea (2-1) and Bournemouth (2-0) have taken the wind out of Brighton’s sails after they won five of their previous eight games.

Arsenal responded positively to their 14-game losing streak coming to a shock end at the hands of Southampton in Week 17. The Gunners accounted for Burnley 3-1, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scoring twice.Arsenal downed Brighton 2-1 at home last season, but the Seagulls responded with a 2-1 upset at Amex Stadium – their first win over the Gunners since 1982.

Brighton have been a far more formidable prospect at home this season; their only losses at Amex Stadium were 2-1 defeats to Tottenham and Chelsea. 

Our Super 8
Brighton: Matt Ryan, Solly March, Anthony Knockaert, Glenn Murray
Arsenal: Lucas Torreira, Laurent Koscielny, Alexandre Lacazette, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Watford vs Chelsea
Watford have moved from 12th to seventh in a fortnight courtesy of back-to-back wins over Cardiff (3-2) and West Ham (2-0).

Fourth-placed Chelsea will be brooding after a shock 1-0 home loss to Leicester that leaves them 11 points in arrears of the competition lead. It was the Blues’ third loss in six games.

Watford stormed to a remarkable 4-1 win over Chelsea at Vicarage Road last season, ending a 13-game winless run against the heavyweights. Chelsea prevailed 4-2 at Stamford Bridge earlier in the 2017-18 campaign.

Chelsea should get the bounce-back win, but they’re likely to be pushed to the 90th minute to achieve it.

Our Super 8
Watford: Abdoulaye Doucoure, Jose Holebas, Troy Deeney, Roberto Pereyra
Chelsea: Antonio Rudiger, Willian, N’Golo Kanté, Eden Hazard

Southampton vs West Ham
Southampton’s prospects of avoiding relegation are looking a lot brighter than they were a fortnight ago. Enduring a 12-game winless run that cost Mark Smith his job – and winning just one game in the opening 16 weeks – the Saints have chalked up consecutive wins over Arsenal (3-2) and Huddersfield (3-1) under new boss Ralph Hasenhutti and have inched to 16th place as a result.

Watford suffered a momentum-killing 2-0 loss at home to Watford on the weekend after winning their previous four games. Hammers have a decent away record this season, winning three and drawing two of eight games on the road.

Both sides scored a high-scoring home win over the other last season. Southampton got up 3-2 at St Mary’s Stadium, before West Ham racked up a 3-0 victory at London Stadium.

Watford have done a good job of putting away the league’s genuine strugglers this season, but Southampton appear rejuvenated.

Our Super 8
Southampton: Charlie Austin, Stuart Armstrong, Danny Ings, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg
West Ham: Robert Snodgrass, Felipe Anderson, Andy Carroll, Michail Antonio

One wonders how José Mourinho reacted to Manchester United’s first game after his dismissal. Did he watch it in a darkened room, gloomily trying to conjure a reason why this set of players could win with flair and freedom now? Or will he instead muster some self-awareness and connect the dots between him leaving and United’s players looking as if they were enjoying life again? The answer might be the key to his future career: if he changes his ways, there might still be a top job and success left in him. If he doesn’t … who knows? A few United players have expressed their “respect” for their former manager but then again they would look bad saying anything else. All said and done, MW18 has just proved that there is still fight left in the EPL with just about half a season still to go. Things can only hot up from here.

Merry Christmas All! 

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