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[EPL] MatchWeek 23 – Race For Top 5 Intensifies On Back Of Spurs’ Misfortunes

Headlined by a huge clash between Arsenal and Chelsea, Match Week 23 sees two teams intent on finishing in the top four go head to head on Saturday when Arsenal welcome London rivals Chelsea to the Emirates Stadium. Six points currently separate the two sides in the Premier League table, with Chelsea sitting fourth and Arsenal languishing on the other side of the all-important dotted line. The result of this weekend’s showdown could have a huge bearing on which side will be playing in Europe’s top-tier competition next season, and for Arsenal in particular it is approaching must-win territory.

The Premier League is back this weekend after a weekend that saw more shake ups to the table as sides try to keep pace. West Ham put in a fantastic showing to beat Arsenal, Southampton picked up another win, and Manchester United continued their revival with an impressive away win against Spurs. Despite a kind run of fixtures, things are looking gloomy for Tottenham, with Harry Kane out injured for two months and Son departed for the Asian games. They may start feeling the pressure then, especially with both United clubs re-finding form, Liverpool maintaining theirs, and Chelsea grinding out results.

In MW23 Huddersfield will face their first ever Premier League game without David Wagner as the German boss resigned during the week. Also, following preliminary assessments, Harry Kane has damaged ligaments in his left ankle, sustained during Sunday’s match against Man United and is ruled out for at least seven weeks. Spurs look in serious trouble of defending their 3rd position now, given Moussa Sissoko was also stretchered off in the first half of the game and South Korean forward Son Heung-min is on extended Asian Cup duty. 

Kane, Spurs’ top scorer this season, could miss up to 11 games, including the Champions League last-16 tie with Borussia Dortmund, the second leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final against Chelsea and crucial league games against Chelsea and Arsenal. His injury, combined with the absence of Son has left Spurs short of firepower.

In other games of note, Liverpool will be confident of extending their lead when they host Crystal Palace on Saturday, while Manchester City are offered a terrific opportunity to keep the pressure on when they play last-placed Huddersfield Town. 



Points Table 

The must-know facts from the weekend’s matches as Gabriel Jesus extends his winning run with Man City and why David De Gea’s performance for Manchester United was unprecedented

West Ham United 1-0 Arsenal
Declan Rice was the 10th teenager to score a Premier League goal for West Ham and the first since Junior Stanislas in November 2009
Brighton & Hove Albion 0-1 Liverpool
Liverpool earned their 50th PL clean sheet under Jurgen Klopp in his 128th match. Twenty-one have come since Virgil van Dijk joined in January 2018
Burnley 2-1 Fulham
Burnley are the first Premier League side to score at least twice without having a single shot on target since the start of 2003/04
Cardiff City 0-0 Huddersfield Town
Despite 36 shots between them, both Premier League matches involving these two sides have ended goalless this season
Crystal Palace 1-2 Watford
Craig Cathcart became the first player to score for both sides in the same PL match since Ryan Shawcross for Stoke v Spurs in December 2017
Leicester City 1-2 Southampton
James Ward-Prowse has scored each of the three penalties he has taken in the Premier League
Chelsea 2-1 Newcastle United
Eden Hazard has both scored and assisted at least 10 goals in league matches this season. The only other player in Europe’s top five leagues to have done so is Barcelona’s Lionel Messi
Everton 2-0 AFC Bournemouth
Kurt Zouma was the 139th different player to score a PL goal for Everton. Only West Ham (147), Spurs (146) and Newcastle (141) have had more goalscorers in the competition
Tottenham Hotspur 0-1 Manchester United
David De Gea made 11 saves, a total he has surpassed only against Arsenal in December 2017, with 14. It is the most saves he’s made in his league career while keeping a clean sheet
Man City 3-0 Wolves
This was the 17th Premier League match in a row where Gabriel Jesus has scored and Man City have won. Indeed, City have yet to lose a PL match in which the Brazilian has scored, winning 19 and drawing the other

The standout facts ahead of the weekend’s fixtures, including Paul Pogba’s attempt to emulate Cristiano Ronaldo by scoring at least twice in a third consecutive PL home match for Man Utd

Wolves vs Leicester
Leicester City have a chance to complete a first hat-trick of away wins in the Premier League since April 2016
AFC Bournemouth vs West Ham
West Ham United need only a draw this weekend to match the away-points total of 14 they mustered in the whole of 2017/18
Liverpool vs Crystal Palace
Sadio Mane has scored in three successive PL matches against Crystal Palace and has six strikes in total against them, more than against any other opponent
Man Utd vs Brighton
Paul Pogba can become only the second Manchester United player to score at least twice in three consecutive PL home matches, after Cristiano Ronaldo
Newcastle vs Cardiff City
Were Cardiff City to claim three points at St James’ Park, it would be their first time to secure back-to-back top-flight away wins since 1957
Southampton vs Everton
A goal from Shane Long would make him only the fourth player from the Republic of Ireland to reach 50 in the PL, after Robbie Keane, Niall Quinn and Damien Duff
Watford vs Burnley
Burnley could become the first side to come from behind and win three successive PL matches since Arsenal’s run of four in March 2012
Arsenal vs Chelsea
Chelsea are aiming to become only the third team to do the PL double over Arsenal for a fifth time. They would go level with Liverpool and Manchester United’s totals
Huddersfield vs Man City
Manchester City have scored 19 goals in their last three matches in all competitions, one more than Huddersfield Town have managed in their last 36 outings
Fulham vs Spurs
Aleksandar Mitrovic could become the fourth player to score in his first four PL matches against Spurs, after Mark Bright, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Obafemi Martins  Courtesy –

Game Review – Our Super 8
Wolves vs Leicester
Last 5 Matches: LDWLL
Ladder Position: 11th
Goal Difference: -5 (GF 23, GA 28)

Last 5 Matches: WWLWL
Ladder Position: 8th
Goal Difference: +1 (GF 26, GA 25)

A competitive fixture to open Week 23 and a legitimate case to be made for both clubs. Wolves became the latest club to fall to Manchester City most-recently while Leicester, who beat City only weeks ago, fell to the lowly Southampton. Wolves should take this.

Our Super 8
Wolves: Matt Doherty, Hélder Costa, Raul Jimenez, Rúben Neves
Leicester: Ricardo Pereira, James Maddison, Ben Chilwell, Jamie Vardy

Bournemouth vs West Ham
Last 5 Matches: WLLDL
Ladder Position: 12th
Goal Difference: -11 (GF 31, GA 42)

West Ham
Last 5 Matches: LWLDW
Ladder Position: 9th
Goal Difference: -2 (GF 30, GA 32)

Last-start winners West Ham travel south to take on Bournemouth in Week 23 and look primed for another good performance and win, against a side that has fallen out of form throughout the last month. The Cherries didn’t have the answers for Everton last weekend and will have their hands full with a club that is probably more dangerous, when they put it all together.

Our Super 8
Bournemouth: Ryan Fraser, David Brooks, Junior Stanislas, Callum Wilson
West Ham: Robert Snodgrass, Felipe Anderson, Declan Rice, Marko Arnautovic

Liverpool vs Crystal Palace
Last 5 Matches: WWWLW
Ladder Position: 1st
Goal Difference: +40 (GF 50, GA 10)

Last 5 Matches: WDLWL
Ladder Position: 14th
Goal Difference: -8 (GF 20, GA 28)

Palace have recorded a number of pleasing results recently but obviously, they will need to muster a season-best performance to take anything away from league-leaders Liverpool at Anfield. After a loss to second-placed City, the Reds bounced back into the winner’s stall at the expense of Brighton.

Our Super 8
Liverpool: Andrew Robertson, Virgil van Dijk, Xherdan Shaqiri, Mo Salah
Crystal Palace: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Luka Milivojević, Andros Townsend, Wilfried Zaha

Man Utd vs Brighton
Last 5 Matches: WWWWW
Ladder Position: 6th
Goal Difference: +12 (GF 44, GA 32)

Last 5 Matches: LDWDL
Ladder Position: 13th
Goal Difference: -6 (GF 24, GA 30)

Their recent form suggests that the United of old is making a serious comeback and Brighton are the next club that has been tasked with halting the resurgence. Brighton have been a competitive outfit all season and they are more than capable of another good performance here, but it’s hard to imagine they’ll be able to go with United for the full 90.

Our Super 8
Man Utd: Phil Jones, Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard, Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial
Brighton: David Button, Pascal Gross, Jurgen Locadia, Glenn Murray

Newcastle vs Cardiff
Last 5 Matches: DLDLL
Ladder Position: 18th
Goal Difference: -15 (GF 16, GA 31)

Last 5 Matches: LDWLD
Ladder Position: 17th
Goal Difference: -22 (GF 19, GA 41)

Two of the league’s battlers will go toe-to-toe in England’s north, and this is another tough one to decipher. Newcastle’s small resurgence leading into Christmas is well and truly in the dust and they are staring down the barrel of three-consecutive losses, while the Bluebirds have managed a few decent results, between forgettable performances. There’s a huge disparity in head-to-head and the away side looks more likely to take it.

Our Super 8
Newcastle: DeAndre Yedlin, Ayoze Pérez, Matt Ritchie, Salomon Rondon
Cardiff: Neil Etheridge, Callum Paterson, Josh Murphy, Victor Camarasa

Southampton vs Everton
Last 5 Matches: WLLDW
Ladder Position: 16th
Goal Difference: -13 (GF 23, GA 39)

Last 5 Matches: LWLLW
Ladder Position: 10th
Goal Difference: +2 (GF 33, GA 31)

Southampton recorded a good win over Leicester City last weekend and will be confident of continuing that run past a pretty inconsistent Everton side. The Toffees responded to a couple of disappointing losses with an easy win over Bournemouth last week and a repeat of that effort should see them winning this.

Our Super 8
Southampton: James Ward-Prowse, Oriol Romeu, Mario Lemina, Charlie Austin
Everton: Yeri Mina, Ademola Lookman, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Richarlison

Watford vs Burnley
Last 5 Matches: WLDDW
Ladder Position: 7th
Goal Difference: 0 (GF 32, GA 32)

Last 5 Matches: LLWWW
Ladder Position: 15th
Goal Difference: -20 (GF 23, GA 43)

An interesting fixture will see Burnley, who are seeking a fourth-consecutive win travel to Vicarage Road to take on the seventh-placed Hornets. Prior to Christmas anyone would have been eager to take Watford, but Burnley’s resurgence has been fair. This is clearly the Clarets’ biggest test so far, and they’re good enough to take a point.

Our Super 8
Watford: Abdoulaye Doucoure, Jose Holebas, Troy Deeney, Roberto Pereyra
Burnley: Ashley Westwood, Chris Wood, Ashley Barnes, Dwight McNeil

Arsenal vs Chelsea
Last 5 Matches: WDLWL
Ladder Position: 5th
Goal Difference: +14 (GF 46, GA 32)

Last 5 Matches: LWWDW
Ladder Position: 4th
Goal Difference: +23 (GF 40, GA 17)

Easily the biggest match of the round when Arsenal hosts Chelsea. Chelsea snuck past the lowly Newcastle last weekend, while Arsenal dropped their most-recent one to West Ham. Both will be eager to respond with a big performance here and we are happy to sit on the fence.

Our Super 8
Arsenal: Sead Kolasinac, Lucas Torreira, Alexandre Lacazette, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Chelsea: David Luiz, Willian, N’Golo Kanté, Eden Hazard

Huddersfield vs Man City
Last 5 Matches: LLLLD
Ladder Position: 20th
Goal Difference: -24 (GF 13, GA 37)

Last 5 Matches: LLWWW
Ladder Position: 2nd
Goal Difference: +42 (GF 59, GA 17)

Huddersfield look the most likely to be demoted at the end of the season and they surely face too great a task in the form of City this weekend. City’s dip in form is well and truly history and they are well positioned for a fourth-consecutive win in Week 23.

Our Super 8
Huddersfield: Jonas Lössl, Phillip Billing, Steve Mounie, Jason Puncheon
Man City: Fabian Delph, Fernandinho, Gabriel Jesus, Sergio Agüero

Fulham vs Spurs
Last 5 Matches: DDWLL
Ladder Position: 19th
Goal Difference: -29 (GF 20, GA 49)

Last 5 Matches: WWLWL
Ladder Position: 3rd
Goal Difference: +24 (GF 46, GA 22)

A London Derby to conclude Week 23 but two completely different class of clubs. Fulham are caught in the relegation dogfight and are faced with a potential third-consecutive loss, while Spurs will be eager to respond to last weekend’s loss to Manchester United.

Our Super 8
Fulham: Sergio Rico, Ryan Sessegnon, Andre Schurrle, Aleksandar Mitrovic
Spurs: Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli, Lucas Moura, Fernando Llorente

While Arsenal can ill-afford another defeat – losing to West Ham last week has put them six points behind Chelsea, their opponents here, above them in fourth place, Fulham have the dubious honour of being the only EPL team to lose a match despite facing no shots on target, thanks to last week’s defeat to Burnley. The opposition here is tough, but significantly weakened through injury, so maybe Ranieri is fancying his chances of taking something here. Lightning has struck twice on Spurs this week, as Son Heung-Min’s departure to the Asian games is compounded by an ankle ligament injury to Harry Kane. It’s well documented that Spurs have no direct cover for Kane, while Son would be the only legitimate option as a non like-for-like replacement. It will be interesting simply to see how Spurs lineup here, let alone how they fare. 

So, expect some major changes in the table as the big six slug it out and the relegation zoners fight to again stay afloat this weekend.

Who makes your Super 8?

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