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[EPL] MatchWeek 20 – Halfway Point

England is the only major league in Europe that does not take a break during the festive season and a congested festive schedule can often prove decisive in determining the destination of the Premier League title. The action-packed Boxing Day schedule also marked the halfway point of the league season with Liverpool surging into a six-point lead at the top. No time to toast the milestone however, as most teams are preparing for their third game in seven days with festive football commitments continuing. The headline match of the round is easily Arsenal visiting Liverpool as the table topping Reds look to back up after a couple of big wins. These sides have played out some absolutely fantastic clashes in the last few years with recent results favouring Liverpool – add in Liverpool’s unbeaten record and they will want to make another big statement with a win here.

Astonishing Boxing Day action saw Manchester City slip to third as the title race took a huge turn. City were stunned for the second match in a row as Leicester beat the champions 2-1, while big wins for both Liverpool and Tottenham ensured a big shift atop the ladder. Meanwhile, Everton smashed Burnley 5-1, Manchester United made it two from two under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with a 3-1 win over Huddersfield as Paul Pogba nabbed a double, Eden Hazard scored his 100th and 101st Chelsea goals as Maurizio Sarri’s men moved back into the Premier League top four by grinding out a 2-1 win at Watford and Juergen Locadia pounced on a defensive mistake as Brighton rallied to secure a draw with Arsenal 1-1 at home.

In the drop zone, Fulham climbed off the foot of the Premier League after drawing 1-1 at home to Wolves and Cardiff resisted intense pressure to secure only its second English Premier League point away from home in drawing at Crystal Palace 0-0.

The Reds destroyed Newcastle 4-0 at Anfield, while Spurs hammered Bournemouth 5-0 at home to leapfrog Pep Guardiola’s side into second place. It’s the first time since 2002 that the Merseysiders have held a six or more point lead at the Premier League summit. n the last game of GW19, two superb Felipe Anderson goals helped West Ham United come from behind to beat Southampton 2-1 to take his tally in the last nine games to seven goals. In the process, West Ham raked up 15 points in December (P6 W5 D0 L1) – their most in a single month of a season in competition history.

Football is coming thick and fast and MatchWeek 20 will be the last for the calendar year.

MATCHWEEK 20 – SCHEDULE

MATCHWEEK 19 – RESULTS

MATCHWEEK 20 – Points Table 

MATCHWEEK 19: What We Learned
Must-know facts from the first set of festive fixtures

Fulham 1-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers
At 18 years and 221 days, Ryan Sessegnon is the third-youngest player to score in the Premier League on Boxing Day after James Milner (16y 356d) and Michael Owen (18y 12d)
Burnley 1-5 Everton
Everton have scored five goals in an away Premier League match for the third time and the first since a 5-2 win at Sheffield Wednesday in April 1996
Crystal Palace 0-0 Cardiff City
For the first time in a Premier League match, both dugouts had managers aged over 70: Cardiff’s Neil Warnock (70 years and 25 days) and Crystal Palace’s Roy Hodgson (71y 139d)
Leicester City 2-1 Manchester City
With Ricardo Pereira and Bernardo Silva each on the scoresheet, this is the first Premier League match where a Portuguese player has scored for both sides
Liverpool 4-0 Newcastle United
Liverpool are only the fourth Premier League team to be unbeaten at the halfway stage of a season, after Arsenal (2003/04), Man Utd (2010/11) and Man City (2017/18)
Manchester United 3-1 Huddersfield Town
Manchester United haven’t lost a home league match on Boxing Day since 1978/79, winning 15 and drawing three since
Tottenham Hotspur 5-0 AFC Bournemouth
At 21 years and 257 days, Kyle Walker-Peters is the youngest player to provide three assists in a PL match since Jermaine Pennant (20y 227d) in August 2003 for Leeds United v Middlesbrough
Brighton & Hove Albion 1-1 Arsenal
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been directly involved in 30 goals in his 32 Premier League appearances for Arsenal, scoring 23 and assisting seven
Watford 1-2 Chelsea
Chelsea’s Eden Hazard has been directly involved in 19 goals in the Premier League this season, with 10 goals and nine assists; the most of any player
Southampton 1-2 West Ham United
West Ham won 15 points in December, their most in a single month in competition history 

MATCHWEEK 20: 10 key facts
Standout facts ahead of the weekend’s matches, including a possible landmark for Everton’s Gylfi Sigurdsson

Brighton & Hove Albion vs Everton
Everton’s Gylfi Sigurdsson has scored in his last two Premier League appearances. One more goal will see him draw level with Eidur Gudjohnsen (55) as the highest scoring Icelandic player in Premier League history
Fulham vs Huddersfield Town
Two-thirds of Huddersfield Town’s Premier League goals this season have come from set-piece situations (eight from 12), the highest such ratio in the division
Leicester City vs Cardiff City
Jamie Vardy, left, is looking for his first league goal against Cardiff at the fourth attempt
Spurs vs Wolves
After 44 PL goals and 55 assists, Christian Eriksen could become the sixth Tottenham Hotspur player to be involved in 100 PL goals for the club after Teddy Sheringham, Harry Kane, Robbie Keane, Jermain Defoe and Darren Anderton
Watford vs Newcastle United
After an assist v Chelsea, Jose Holebas has been directly involved in eight Premier League goals this season, scoring three and assisting five, more than any other Watford player
Liverpool vs Arsenal
Arsenal have scored nine goals from outside the box this season, the most in the division, but will face a Liverpool defence who have yet to concede such a goal in 2018/19
Crystal Palace vs Chelsea
Chelsea are looking for a first away London derby win in six league matches after drawing two and losing three, their longest such run since losing eight between December 2010 and September 2012
Burnley vs West Ham
In each of their four Premier League matches at Turf Moor both teams have scored, with 12 goals in total
Southampton vs Manchester City
Raheem Sterling has been involved in 10 goals in his last 10 PL matches v Southampton (six goals and four assists)
Manchester United vs AFC Bournemouth
AFC Bournemouth are looking for their first win at Old Trafford in all competitions, after losing six and drawing one, and scoring only two goals  Courtesy – PremierLeague.com

MatchWeek 20: Game Review – Our Super 8
Brighton vs Everton
Brighton once again proved that they are formidable at home with a draw against Arsenal in MW19. Everton visit on the weekend and they are hot off a big 5-1 away win at Burnley, which was just their second win in nine away matches this season. Talking of two, Brighton have lost just twice this season at home – to Spurs and Chelsea 2-1.
Fact: Brighton have beaten Everton just the once – in 1982.

Our Super 8
Brighton: Solly March, Pascal Gross, Anthony Knockaert, Glenn Murray
Everton: Yeri Mina, Lucas Digne, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Richarlison

Fulham vs Huddersfield
The battle of the basement for two teams that look almost past saving. A draw at Newcastle and home to Wolves in their last two games is progress for Fulham, certainly only conceding one goal, but they will need to pick up the pace if they are to survive. The feel good factor and hopes in Claudio Ranieri remain, but lose to Huddersfield at home and that will evaporate. Huddersfield sadly have played two clubs in two weeks that had just fired their manager, and so were on the receiving end of new manager bounce.
Fact: Huddersfield won this season’s earlier fixture, but before then their last win was in 1993 in the third division.

Our Super 8
Fulham: Sergio Rico, Ryan Sessegnon, Andre Schurrle, Aleksandar Mitrovic
Huddersfield: Jonas Lössl, Phillip Billing, Steve Mounie, Alex Pritchard

Leicester vs Cardiff
Claude Puel is some sort of Houdini, going from almost sacked with a player revolt looming to back to back victories over Chelsea and Manchester City. Plenty of Christmas cheer for the Foxes, and who wouldn’t begrudge them some on field success after losing their beloved owner recently. Leicester are now up to seventh, topping the best of the rest battle for at least a week. Cardiff have just two points on the road this season, so a third consecutive win for Leicester looks likely, as does an extended stay for Puel, for now.
Fact: Cardiff are one of two teams without an away win, Leicester have conceded the third fewest goals at home this season.

Our Super 8
Leicester: James Maddison, Ben Chilwell, Harry Maguire, Jamie Vardy
Cardiff: Neil Etheridge, Callum Paterson, Josh Murphy, Sean Morrison

Spurs vs Wolves
Tottenham are now second, jumping ahead of Manchester City and on a five game winning streak where they have scored 17-3. Imagine how they’ll go if they ever get their new ground. Star of the recent show has been Son for Spurs, but he will be off on Asian Cup duty soon, and they will miss his recent late contributions. Wolves are still comfortably the best promoted side this year and deserve their spot in the midfield bunch. They were competitive against Spurs last time, losing 3-2, but face a Spurs full of confidence and in form.
Fact: Wolves’ last win over Spurs was on their previous visit to the Premier League in 2009/2010.

Our Super 8
Spurs: Kieran Trippier, Christian Eriksen, Son Heung-min, Harry Kane
Wolves: Rui Patricio, Matt Doherty, Raul Jimenez, Rúben Neves

Watford vs Newcastle
Watford surprised a few by beating West Ham at the London Stadium two matches ago, and their last effort losing to Chelsea was admirable. But they are hit and miss at home – 10 matches, five wins and five losses. Perhaps Newcastle will get lucky and it is one of the off days. They will need Watford to be off as they can’t really rely on too many goals to win, having scored just seven goals in nine away matches.
Fact: Before this season’s clash, Watford had won the last five meetings against Newcastle. They have only ever lost once at home to them.

Our Super 8
Watford: Abdoulaye Doucoure, Jose Holebas, Gerard Deulofeu, Roberto Pereyra
Newcastle: Fabian Schär, Christian Atsu, Joselu, Salomon Rondon

Liverpool vs Arsenal
The weekend’s big ticket game, and going on previous matches it should live up to the hype. It is starting to look like this is the season for Liverpool, they are getting better each week, and have been handed the gifts of two surprise Manchester City losses in a row. They have a six point gap to Spurs and seven to Manchester City now. Another six points further back is Arsenal, who have interestingly scored just two fewer goals than Liverpool this season. It is the 18 more goals they conceded which is the difference.
Fact: Eight of the last 11 games between these two sides has seen 4+ goals.

Our Super 8
Liverpool:  Trent Alexander-Arnold, Virgil van Dijk, Xherdan Shaqiri, Mo Salah
Arsenal: Lucas Torreira, Laurent Koscielny, Alexandre Lacazette, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Crystal Palace vs Chelsea
Anyone who thought Crystal Palace would have broken a near 30 year record against Manchester City could be a very profitable friend indeed. That upset was two games ago, they could only manage a 0-0 draw at home to Cardiff last start, a slightly underwhelming result. Chelsea beat fellow London club Watford away last start, and had an inspired Eden Hazard to thank for that win. Wasn’t long ago though, that Chelsea lost to both Spurs and Wolves in consecutive away games.
Fact: Crystal Palace fare better than you would think in this clash – the last 10 games is 6-4 in Chelsea’s favour.

Our Super 8
Crystal Palace: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Jeffrey Schlupp, Luka Milivojević, Andros Townsend
Chelsea: Antonio Rudiger, Willian, N’Golo Kanté, Eden Hazard

Burnley vs West Ham
A tough run for Burnley has seen them suffer increasingly bigger losses to Arsenal, Everton and Spurs and sees them in the bottom three and are three points adrift in 18th now. They face West Ham, who are one of the Premier League’s hardest teams to follow form-wise.
Fact: Burnley have not beaten West Ham at home since 2010, in a previous visit to the EPL.

Our Super 8
Burnley: Robbie Brady , James Tarkowski, Johan Berg Gudmundsson, Robert Snodgrass
West Ham: Robert Snodgrass, Felipe Anderson, Andy Carroll, Michail Antonio

Southampton vs Man City
All of a sudden Manchester City are off the rails with three losses in four games and consecutive losses to Leicester and Crystal Palace. They sit in 10th in the last six form, just one place above Southampton who have turned things around nicely with their new manager. Southampton are equal fourth for goals scored in their last six games too – 11 goals – the same as City. After they beat Arsenal a few games back at home, another upset here wouldn’t be that surprising.
Fact: Southampton have beaten Manchester City at home recently – in 2016.

Our Super 8
Southampton: Charlie Austin, Stuart Armstrong, Danny Ings, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg
Man City: David Silva, Riyad Mahrez, Kevin De Bruyne, Leroy Sane

Man Utd vs Bournemouth
Manchester United and Paul Pogba’s mission to prove that removing Jose Mourinho was a good idea will no doubt continue into the New Year. United have won their last two games 5-1 and 3-1, scoring almost 25% of their season goals in the last two games. Pogba too looks more like the French World Cup winning hero than the overpriced bench warmer he had become. A woeful time for Bournemouth to visit after being flogged by Spurs a few days prior.
Fact: Bournemouth have won once in seven meetings with Manchester United.

Our Super 8
Man Utd: Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard, Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial
Bournemouth: Ryan Fraser, David Brooks, Joshua King, Callum Wilson

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp described Boxing Day as a “pretty perfect day” after his side stretched their Premier League lead to six points thanks to a 4-0 home victory over Newcastle United and sit comfortably ahead of champions Man City today. With three defeats in their past four Premier League games, December has been a bleak month so far for Manchester City – but can the champions end 2018 on a high? High stakes weekend on the card folks. The title depends on it. More so as Pep Guardiola’s side travel to a resurgent Southampton who have been playing some scintillating football under new boss Ralph Hasenhuttl.

Wishing You All A Happy 2019 In Advance! Rock On!!! 

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