The action is back and it’s a double whammy as the first part takes place midweek after a weekend of exciting FA Cup fixtures. There were plenty of surprise results there, so maybe we can expect more in the EPL in MatchWeek 24? Tottenham, Everton and West Ham were the biggest victims of the FA Cup on the weekend, while Wolves were forced into a replay. All those teams will now be focusing on the league and that will start with earning three points midweek. Manchester United were 11 points adrift of the top four when Jose Mourinho was sacked a week before Christmas, but a victory against Burnley will take a resurgent United level on points with fourth-placed Chelsea, albeit maybe for only 24 hours. Regardless what occurs in this next round of matches, Champions League qualification through the league is now a distinct possibility under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who continues to enhance his claims to take charge permanently. Solskjaer can become the first manager to begin his reign at a club with seven successive Premier League victories. He is currently level on six wins with Pep Guardiola (at Manchester City in 2016) and Carlo Ancelotti (with Chelsea in 2009).
Defending champs Man City too can cut the gap at the top of the table to just one point to Liverpool when they travel to Newcastle United on Wednesday. City trail the Reds by four points going into MW24 and will be big favourites at St. James’ Park against the toiling Toon Army. Liverpool will have the chance to respond on Thursday when they face Leicester City, whose manager Claude Puel is under major pressure after a poor run of results. Elsewhere, Arsenal welcome Cardiff City and Chelsea visit Bournemouth, while Tottenham Hotspur will be looking to cement third spot when Watford visit Wembley.
Spurs and Chelsea face tricky matches in their quest to stay in the top four, chasing Manchester United and Arsenal have favourable home fixtures while Hasenhüttl, who has turned things completely around at Saint Mary’s for Southampton to put space between them and the drop zone, and recorded back-to-back wins are somehow level on points with opponents Crystal Palace. Don’t put it past the Saints to be ahead of Palace in the table after this one.
MATCHWEEK 23 – RESULTS
MatchWeek 23: What we learned
Check out the standout statistics from Matchweek 23’s fixtures
Wolverhampton Wanderers 4-3 Leicester City
Diogo Jota is the first Wolves player to score a top-flight hat-trick since John Richards in October 1977, also against Leicester. He is also the second Portuguese player to score a Premier League hat-trick after Cristiano Ronaldo
AFC Bournemouth 2-0 West Ham United
AFC Bournemouth striker Callum Wilson has netted six goals against West Ham in six PL appearances, more than he has managed against any other side in the competition
Liverpool 4-3 Crystal Palace
Liverpool hit the 1000-goal mark in the PL at Anfield, reaching 1002 in total. They are only the third side to score 1000 goals or more at a specific venue in the competition after Man Utd, who have scored 1094 at Old Trafford, and Chelsea, who boast 1005 at Stamford Bridge
Manchester United 2-1 Brighton & Hove Albion
Man Utd have won more penalties, with seven, while Brighton have conceded more, with the same number, than any other PL side this season
Newcastle United 3-0 Cardiff City
Fabian Schar became the first defender to score twice in a Premier League for Newcastle since Philippe Albert against Man City in February 1996
Southampton 2-1 Everton
With four out of eight, Southampton have won more PL matches under Ralph Hasenhuttl than they did under Mark Hughes, who oversaw three victories in 22
Watford 0-0 Burnley
This was the 20th league meeting between Watford and Burnley at Vicarage Road but the first one to end goalless
Arsenal 2-0 Chelsea
Laurent Koscielny became the first Arsenal defender to score 20 PL goals. The Frenchman has scored in each of his nine campaigns in the competition – only Dennis Bergkamp (11), Aaron Ramsey and Theo Walcott (10 each) have scored in more for the Gunners
Huddersfield Town 0-3 Manchester City
Raheem Sterling’s last two Premier League goals have been headers, when only one of his first 57 in the competition had come via his head
Fulham 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur
Spurs won a Premier League fixture without Harry Kane or Son Heung-min for the first time since March 2014 when they defeated Southampton 3-2
Matchweek 24: Ten key facts
The EPL record Sergio Aguero is hoping to extend against Newcastle United and must-know facts for all 10 matches
Arsenal vs Cardiff City
Arsenal are unbeaten in their last 23 home Premier League fixtures against promoted sides since a 0-1 loss to Newcastle United in November 2010
Fulham vs Brighton & Hove Albion
No side have dropped more points from winning positions in the Premier League this season than Fulham, on 15 occasions, level with Southampton
Huddersfield Town vs Everton
Huddersfield Town are looking for their first midweek Premier League victory at the ninth attempt
Wolves vs West Ham
Felipe Anderson has been directly involved in four of West Ham’s last five PL away goals, scoring three and assisting another
Manchester United vs Burnley
Sean Dyche is looking to extend his unbeaten record in Premier League matches on Tuesdays, winning three and drawing two
Newcastle United vs Manchester City
Man City striker Sergio Aguero has scored 14 goals in his 12 PL appearances against Newcastle – more than any player has scored against an opponent for a single club in the competition’s history
AFC Bournemouth vs Chelsea
Ten of Olivier Giroud’s last 13 PL goals have been as a substitute
Southampton vs Crystal Palace
All three of Wilfried Zaha’s EPL goals have been scored away from home
Liverpool vs Leicester City
Only Andrew Cole, with 11, and Thierry Henry, with eight, have scored more Premier League goals against Liverpool than Jamie Vardy, with seven
Tottenham Hotspur vs Watford
Spurs have scored more headed goals than any other Premier League side this season, with 12 Courtesy – PremierLeague.com
Game Review – Our Super 8
Arsenal vs Cardiff
Fifth-placed Arsenal have been patchy over the past six weeks and are desperately seeking consistency. They bounced back from a shock loss to West Ham with a 2-0 win over Chelsea in Week 23, but crashed 3-1 to Man United in FA Cup action on the weekend.
Cardiff slid back into the bottom-three via a 3-0 loss at Newcastle in Week 23. They have scored just one goal in their past five games. The harrowing disappearance of star signing Emilano Sala has also cast a pall over the club.
Cardiff are winless in their last 14 against Arsenal, with their last victory over the Gunners coming in 1961. But Arsenal needed an 81st-minute goal from Alexandre Lacazette to clinch a 3-2 away win in Week 4.
With a record of one win and two draws from 11 away games – and a -15 goal differential on the road – it’s difficult envisaging anything but a convincing Arsenal win here.
Fulham vs Brighton
Fulham are deeply entrenched in the relegation battle, second-last and seven points away from safety. After a bright post-Xmas patch, the Cottagers have lost three straight – including an agonising 2-1 defeat to Tottenham in Week 23 thanks to a stoppage-time goal.
Brighton sit 13th with seven wins and five draws to their credit. They were edged by heavyweights Liverpool (1-0) and Man United (2-1) in their last two games. With just two wins in 12 away games, the Seagulls will be eyeing this trip to London as an ideal opportunity to grab three points on the road.
Brighton have won five of their last six against Fulham, while a late Glenn Murray brace salvaged a 2-all draw at home in Week 4 this season.
Fulham have been much more competitive at home – all three of their wins, along with three draws, have come at Craven Cottage – but Brighton are extremely juicy underdogs here.
Huddersfield vs Everton
Huddersfield are rapidly running out of time to avoid relegation, running last with just two wins and five draws in the bank. A scoreless draw against fellow battlers Cardiff is the only point Town have mustered from their past 10 games. A league-low 13 goals is at the heart of the side’s problems.
Everton are languishing in an underachieving 11th with just 15 games left. They have last five of their last seven games – including a 2-1 defeat at Southampton in Week 23.
Huddersfield are winless in their last 10 against Everton, though five of those finished in a draw. The teams finished 1-all at Goodison Park earlier this season.
This is an outstanding opportunity for the Toffees to reignite their charge for a top-half finish.
Wolves vs West Ham
Wolves’ thrilling 4-3 win over Leicester in Week 23 – after two convincing losses to Palace and Man City in their previous two – catapulted them into eighth spot. Wolves are hunting their fourth win from their last seven home games.
Tenth-placed West Ham can leapfrog Wolves on the ladder, but they need to bounce back from a disappointing 2-0 EPL loss to Bournemouth and a 4-2 FA Cup defeat to Wimbledon. Prior to that double-whammy, Hammers had won six and drawn one of their previous nine games.
Wolves bagged a 1-0 upset on the road against West in Week 2. The teams’ last four clashes have produced two goals or less.
But both teams have been in prolific goalscoring form of late while also conceding plenty.
Man Utd vs Burnley
Manchester United’s stunning revival has picked up irresistible momentum, winning six straight EPL games since Jose Mourinho’s departure. They also carved out a 3-1 FA Cup victory over Arsenal over the weekend.
Burnley have also turned their season around since Christmas, winning three straight before drawing with Watford in Week 23. But they were brought back to earth via a 5-0 FA Cup loss to Man City on the weekend.
Burnley have managed just one win in their last 26 clashes with Man United, through they have picked up a point from each of their last two visits to Old Trafford. United carved out a 2-0 win at Burnley in Week 4.
The Clarets are unlikely to be able to halt United’s steamrolling offensive streak, which has seen them outscore their opposition 20-5 in seven games since Ole Gunnar Solksjaer took over.
Newcastle vs Man City
Newcastle made a timely return to the winner’s circle in Week 23, chalking up their first victory in over a month with a 3-0 walloping of Cardiff City. It was the 17th-placed Magpies’ highest score of the season (after netting just two goals in their previous five games) and their first winning margin of more than one goal.
But a visit from Man City shapes as a mountainous task compared to taking on the struggling Welsh outfit. The second-placed Citizens have won four straight league games – including back-to-back 3-0 victories over Wolves and Huddersfield – and punished Burnley 5-0 in FA Cup action on the weekend.
Despite a superior overall record in the rivalry, Newcastle have won just one of their last 24 against City. The Citizens notched a hard-fought 2-1 victory at home earlier this season.
Only five teams have conceded less goals than Newcastle, but they have the second-worst attacking record in the EPL. City’s recent efforts at both ends of the field do not bode well for the hosts.
Bournemouth vs Chelsea
Bournemouth’s early-season shine has worn off, but they remain solid in 12th after a 2-0 win over West Ham in Week 23. The Cherries came into the match after losing nine of their previous 12, negating their overachieving start to the campaign.
Fourth-placed Chelsea suffered a crucial 2-0 loss to Arsenal in Week 23. They have had a busy but successful schedule in the 10 days since, eliminating Spurs from the EFL Cup semis then beating Sheffield Wednesday 3-0 in FA Cup action.
Bournemouth scored a stunning 3-0 upset at Stamford Bridge last season, but Chelsea have won twice at home so far this season – 2-0 in Week 4 of the EPL and 1-0 in EFL Cup action.
Southampton vs Crystal Palace
Southampton and Crystal Palace are tied for 14th on 22 points, with relegation danger hovering a mere three points away. The teams both approach this crunch clash with some handy form behind them.
Southampton have climbed off the canvas with four wins (plus a draw against Chelsea) from their last seven. Palace have lost their last two league games but put up a strong fight in a 4-3 loss to Liverpool in Week 23, before bundling Spurs out of the FA Cup 2-0 on the weekend.
The Saints have won five of their last seven against Palace, including a 2-0 away victory earlier this season. But Palace grabbed a 2-1 at St Mary’s Stadium last season.
Southampton are favourites at home but with Palace buoyed by some of their recent giant-killing efforts, we think a draw here.
Liverpool vs Leicester
Liverpool still hold a four-point lead at the top of the EPL ladder, despite having a few problems in beating Brighton (1-0) and Palace (4-3) since their sole loss of the season to Man City in Week 21.
Ninth-placed Leicester – who beat Chelsea and Man City back-to-back either side of Christmas – are coming off disappointing losses to Southampton (2-1) and Wolves (4-3).
Leicester have managed three wins from their last eight against Liverpool, but the Reds have won the last three – including a 2-1 away victory in Week 4. Meanwhile, Liverpool are unbeaten in the last seven against the Foxes at Anfield.
After early exits from the knockout cups, Liverpool should be fresh – though Leicester have also had a 10-day rest. The hosts should get the win without too much trouble but we’re backing Leicester to get on the scoreboard.
Spurs vs Watford
Tottenham remain in third spot but have not had the best time of it in recent weeks. They have lost two of their last four league games and needed a stoppage-time goal to get past Fulham in Week 23, while they crashed out of the EFL Cup semis to Chelsea and the FA Cup fourth round to Palace over the past few days.
Watford have moved up to seventh after picking up points from seven of their last eight games. It has come through a soft section of the draw, though, and a scoreless draw at home to Burnley in Week 23 was not a particularly inspiring result. They did grab some momentum from a 2-0 FA Cup win at Newcastle on the weekend, however.
Watford snapped a 13-game winless streak against Tottenham with a 2-1 upset at Vicarage Road in Week 4. But Spurs gained some quick revenged by eliminating the Hornets from the League Cup on penalties. Watford’s last away win against Spurs was during the 1994-95 League Cup.
Remarkably, after 23 rounds, Tottenham is the only side to not have a drawn match all season. Spurs have won 17 games which is good enough to have them in third place, but with a massively depleted squad, confidence in that part of North London is not exactly sky high. So. does Son race back into the team straight after his arrival back from the Asian Cup? Looks like they’ll need him after going down to Crystal Palace in the FA Cup.
Not helping matters will be memories of a shock 2-1 upset away to Watford back in September. The Hornets have taken points in two of the last four meetings, although both of those have come on home turf. In their last three home Premier matches against Watford, Spurs have won every game to nil. That being said, Watford have been very competitive and are unbeaten in their last four and look to be a decent value play here.
Will the Manchester United juggernaut roll on? After conceding three goals at home to Crystal Palace, is Liverpool slipping defensively? Especially if Van Dijk is in doubt? Leicester did score three against the usually tight Wolves last week and could cause problems.
Will Higuain play? All answers tonight!
Who makes your Super 8?
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