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[EPL] MatchWeek 28 – Here Comes Heat

Liverpool returned to the top of the Premier League table after a goalless draw with Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday and a goal-scoring comeback for Harry Kane wasn’t enough as Burnley dealt a huge blow to Tottenham’s title ambitions at Turf Moor in the early Premier League kick off on Saturday. Things are heating up!

There’s plenty to look forward to this week, most notably Chelsea and Tottenham facing off after disappointing results over the weekend.

Of course the drama is not consigned to the race for the top four with Leicester bidding farewell to manager Claude Puel after another disappointing result over the weekend.

Man City and Chelsea were in their own drama where City preserved their dreams of an unprecedented quadruple by retaining the Carabao Cup – after extra time and on penalties with Raheem Sterling striking the decisive spot-kick – and Maurizio Sarri will hope he has preserved his chances of keeping his job as Chelsea manager.

But that hope has to be qualified. Heavily qualified. The absolutist Sarri adapted, changed his tactics, even finally changed his substitutions and appeared to have listened for a match which could have been – could even still be – his last at Chelsea.

And it worked. Until he was then completely, utterly and shamefully undermined by one of his own players, with goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga flatly refusing to be substituted deep into extra time despite the board being shown and the change being announced. Arrizabalaga had twice gone down injured, having made saves, yet simply would not come off. It was ridiculous behaviour. David Luiz vainly tried to make him go – Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta failed to intervene – and Sarri erupted on the touchline.

The Italian marched down the tunnel, came back and, extraordinarily, had to be restrained by Antonio Rudiger before the shoot-out while Chelsea’s medical director Paco Biosca also acted as peacemaker.

Biosca attempted to appease Willy Caballero who was stripped, ready to come on but was left humiliated like Sarri. There was logic in bringing on Caballero who is not only a former City goalkeeper – so familiar with the opposition, thereby sowing doubts – but had saved three penalties in the shoot-out for them when they beat Liverpool in the League Cup Final in 2016. But he stood helpless amid the chaos.

All 20 English Premier League sides are in action Wednesday and Thursday morning and a lot can happen.

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Points Table 

MatchWeek 27: What We Learned
From Gerard Deulofeu ending a 33-year drought to Liverpool’s Old Trafford hoodoo, here are all the key stats

Cardiff City 1-5 Watford
Gerard Deulofeu is the first Watford player to score a top-flight hat-trick since Mark Falco in October 1986 as the Hornets scored five goals in a top-flight match for the first time since winning 5-1 against Leicester City in November of the same year
West Ham United 3-1 Fulham
West Ham striker Chicharito has become the first Mexican player to score 50 Premier League goals, with all 50 being scored inside the box
Burnley 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur
Ashley Barnes has scored in each of his last four Premier League matches
AFC Bournemouth 1-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers
This was the first Premier League match to have three penalties taken since West Ham v Watford in April 2016
Newcastle United 2-0 Huddersfield Town
Salomon Rondon has been directly involved in 11 of Newcastle’s 24 Premier League goals this season (seven goals, four assists), a ratio of 46 per cent
Leicester City 1-4 Crystal Palace
Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha has scored in three consecutive league appearances for the first time ever
Arsenal 2-0 Southampton
Alexandre Lacazette has scored against 18 of the 22 Premier League teams he has faced with Arsenal
Manchester United 0-0 Liverpool
Liverpool have managed to win only two of their last 18 visits to Old Trafford in all competitions, losing 13, and only one of their last 13, losing nine

MatchWeek 28: Ten Key Facts
The must-know facts ahead of all the midweek Premier League matches

Cardiff City vs Everton
Cardiff defender Sol Bamba has scored in each of his last two PL matches, scoring twice. He has four goals this season, a joint-league high for the Bluebirds along with Bobby Reid and Callum Paterson
Huddersfield Town vs Wolverhampton Wanderers
Huddersfield have won 11 of their last 13 league meetings with Wolves (L2), including each of the last four in a row without conceding a single goal
Leicester City vs Brighton & Hove Albion
Leicester are unbeaten in their three PL meetings with Brighton, winning both games last season before drawing the reverse fixture 1-1 in December
Newcastle United vs Burnley
Burnley’s last nine away PL goals have been scored by either Chris Wood (five) or Ashley Barnes (four)
Arsenal vs AFC Bournemouth
Arsenal have won all four of their home meetings with AFC Bournemouth in all competitions by an aggregate score of 11-1
Southampton vs Fulham
Despite this being the 30th different league season in which they’ve faced, Fulham are looking to do the league double over Southampton for the very first time
Chelsea vs Tottenham Hotspur
Christian Eriksen has been involved in 15 goals in 17 PL matches played on Wednesday (seven goals, eight assists), including two assists against Chelsea in January 2017
Crystal Palace vs Manchester United
Following their goalless draw at Old Trafford in the reverse fixture, Crystal Palace are looking to avoid defeat in both league meetings with Man Utd in a single season for the first time since 1989/90 (W1 D1)
Liverpool vs Watford
Liverpool’s front three have all been directly involved in more than five goals each for the Reds in PL meetings with Watford. Mohamed Salah has six goals and one assist in three matches, Sadio Mane has three goals and three assists in four appearances, and Roberto Firmino has five goals and three assists in seven outings
Manchester City vs West Ham United
Sergio Aguero could become the first player in PL history to score a hat-trick in three consecutive home appearances. He hit trebles against Arsenal and Chelsea and has scored 25 goals in his last 16 home starts for Man City  Courtesy – PremierLeague.com

MatchWeek27 – Team of the Week

Goalkeeper: Four goalkeepers held on to clean sheets this week, but we had to choose Huddersfield custodian Jonas Lossl between the sticks. The Danish international was astounding against Newcastle United. After Tommy Smith got marching orders early in the game, the 30 year old goalkeeper stood his ground firmly against Newcastle attackers and made as many as 10 saves throughout the game. Although the Terriers lost the game 0-2, had it not been for Lossl, the result could have been very humiliating.

Defenders: In our three-back central system, James Tarkowski and Nathan Ake will partner Liverpool star Joel Matip. All of them had very good games and they got important points from gameweek 27 matches. Tarkowski made 14 clearances against Tottenham and was crucial to stop Harry Kane and co. Ake also had exact same statistics when it comes to clearances against Wolves. Had it not been for the Raul Jimenez penalty, the Bournemouth central-back could have finished the day with three points and a clean sheet. Finally, the Reds defender made life difficult for an in-form Marcus Rashford and he was one of the key reasons why Manchester United attackers could not find a breakthrough at Old Trafford.

Midfielders: At the centre of the pitch, it will be James McArthur and Isaac Hayden. The former had a good game and he recorded two assists in total. However, his impact was far more than how the stats look, for him setting up Wilfred Zaha for Crystal Palace’s second goal was the turning point of the match. McArthur’s perfect vision was fabulous to help Zaha find the goal and it eventually ended up with a 4-1 victory for the Eagles. Hayden, meanwhile, continued his fine form and had another great match in the gameweek 27 encounter against Huddersfield. Not only he had two shots, four key passes and one assist to show for his attacking abilities, but his defensive contributions were also immensely important for the Newcastle win.

In the left flank of this midfield lineup, we are choosing Luke Shaw in a slightly defensive role. The Manchester United defender deserves to be included in gameweek 27 best eleven, for his magnificent performance throughout the Liverpool game. He kept Mo Salah at bay with great aplomb and Jurgen Klopp had to substitute the Egyptian in the second half. The United manager later said that Shaw was great at his job on Sunday. The Englishman will be joined with Michail Antonio on the right side. West Ham got a much needed 3-1 win over Fulham and Antonio deserves a lot of credit for that. On one hand, he had five shots and a goal while on the other, he made three key tackles throughout the match.

Forwards:
Watford duo Gerard Deulofeu and Troy Deeney had one of their best games of the season on Friday night. Deulofeu recorded his first Premier League hattrick while his captain netted a brace in the Hornets’ 5-1 thrashing over Cardiff City. Zaha, our last pick of gameweek 27 best eleven, also grabbed a brace and helped Crystal with a 4-1 victory over the Foxes. On a related note, as an aftermath to that match, Leicester City boss Claude Puel was sacked the following day.

Game Review
Cardiff vs Everton
Cardiff’s winning streak came to a halt at two on the weekend with a massive 5-1 defeat at the hands of Watford.

Thanks to other results, the Bluebirds were able to avoid dropping into the relegation zone and have a chance to get back on track against an Everton side slowly dropping down the table.

The Toffees have lost three in a row but had had 17 days off as the side looks to get itself right for the run home.

The key to solving that problem is finding a way to score with just three goals in the last five matches.

Cardiff is one of only three sides to concede 50 or more goals so far this season and have been able to score in each of their last four matches so instead of banking on one team to have a turnaround in form back a high scoring match.

Huddersfield vs Wolves
Huddersfield is coming off a loss (again) as their relegation edges closer and closer to “confirmed” status.

Wolves on the other hand are flying in their return to the Premier League and a draw with Bournemouth gave a good indicator of where the side is at.

This has the potential to get ugly but with both sides coming off relatively short rest, don’t be surprised if there are a few flat moments here.

Either way Wolves should be able to take an early lead and add to it in the second half.

Leicester vs Brighton
The latest team to hope for the new manager boost is Leicester as the Foxes look to get their first Premier League win since New Year’s Day.

Interim bosses Mike Stowell and Adam Sadler face their first test at home against a Brighton side having a similar poor run of form.

With just two points in 2019, Brighton is suddenly in danger of ending up in a relegation battle as well.

Leicester has won two of the three Premier League meetings between the two sides including a 2-0 win at the King Power Stadium last year and can be backed in to win outright here.

Newcastle vs Burnley
When these sides faced off back in November, Newcastle picked up its first win over Burnley since 1982 and find themselves favoured to complete the double this week.

It won’t come easy by any stretch with Burnley on a phenomenal run, unbeaten in its last eight and picking up 18 of its 30 points for the season since December 30th.

Newcastle is on a good run of their own with three wins and a draw from the last five but it’s hard to feel good backing against Burnley at the moment.

Coming off a confidence boosting win over Tottenham back Burnley to come away with all three points here.

Arsenal vs Bournemouth
It’s still not quite the Gunners we are used to seeing but they are grinding out results to climb back up to fourth spot thanks to four wins from their last five.

The Emirates has been a very strong venue for Arsenal only dropping points there in three Premier League games this season.

Bournemouth will provide a very stern test here though, currently sitting in tenth place and with the confidence of a good run of recent form.

At the Emirates though this matchup has only gone one way with Arsenal winning every game by two goals, add in the fact the Gunners have won four of their last five Premier League home games by 2 or more goals

Southampton vs Fulham
Second last against third last in a game that will leave one or both in potentially dire straits.

Fulham can pull back some points but still have a lot of work in front of them while Southampton can try to jump up one or two spots with a win.

With three straight losses on their ledger, Fulham have a tough task ahead of them and Southampton have lost two on the trot as well.

There’s a simple rule behind the play for this game, when two bad sides face off, take the home team.

Chelsea vs Spurs
Which side will be able to bounce back from their weekend losses?

Chelsea lost to Manchester City in the Carabao Cup Final, going down on penalties while Tottenham stumbled at Burnley and now these two sides are involved in the match of the round.

It continues a very busy run for Spurs as they face a North London Derby and Champions League tie in the seven days after this match.

The Blues on the other hand had a controversial ending to the game with a goalkeeper change coming, not coming and maybe happening in this game?

With neither side really able to drop points, back a cagey draw in this case.

Crystal Palace vs Man Utd
That’s four Premier League games without defeat for Crystal Palace after a big win over Leicester over the weekend.

Of course, four in a row in the Premier League is just a speck on United’s league run which is now at ten without defeat.

There’s a few injuries to start to worry about with the midfield being somewhat decimated against Liverpool.

Even so, there’s just too much of a talent gap between these sides for anything other than three points for United here.

Liverpool vs Watford
With three draws from its last four games, is there something to worry about with Liverpool?

A draw at Old Trafford is nothing to worry about in isolation but add it on to draws against Leicester and West Ham and there’s a pattern emerging.

Watford has worked its way up to seventh place on the table with just one Premier League loss in 2019 so far.

Realistically you have to like Liverpool to win but there is no value in that play whatsoever and as a pure value bet, take Watford to get something out of this game.

Man City vs West Ham
The Champions continue to roll with their first trophy of the season, beating Chelsea in the Carabao Cup on penalties.

Attention now turns to overhauling Liverpool’s lead in the Premier League with this clash against West Ham.

There might be a bit of rotation taking place with the squad needing to stay fresh ahead of the Champions League, however City’s bench is still capable of beating most Premier League sides.

With a few players potentially out to prove a point, expect a few goals in this game.

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