With twelve rounds of fixtures done and dusted in the English Premier League, the table is beginning to take shape. After this week’s action, here are some key points from the ten games that were played.
Newcastle have a real chance of avoiding relegation…again
Rafa Benitez on the touch-line
When Mike Ashley is your club’s owner you should be worried. Unfortunately for Newcastle United fans, they are the lucky ones who have to pay for his mismanagement. Under the guidance of coach Rafa Benitez, Newcastle United managed to finish tenth in their first season back in England’s top flight. However, their great league finish wasn’t rewarded. Instead, it convinced Ashley that heavy investment wasn’t needed and as a result, the club failed to supplement Benitez’s side with quality additions. Fast forward to the end of October, the Magpies had lost seven games and still hadn’t won a single game. All seemed bleak for Newcastle United and their fans.
However, they have now won two games in a row and find themselves in 14th place. Both wins came in massive home games against Watford and Bournemouth; the six points will be a huge confidence boost for the rest of the season. Although the squad isn’t what Benitez would want, he is an amazing manager who did wonders with the team last season. This weekend’s win over Bournemouth makes it two wins in a row for the Magpies and face another huge test away to Burnley. With both clubs tied on nine points apiece, another thrilling six-pointer awaits…
Tottenham Hotspur gain momentum before HUGE upcoming tests
A previous match between Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea
Tottenham got a slim 1-0 victory at Selhurst Park, bringing their tally to three league wins in a row. The results have been misleading as of late, with Spurs suffering a disappointing draw to PSV Eindhoven in the UEFA Champions League and a home loss to Manchester City in the league. However, the recent wins will give the team confidence before some huge fixtures. First is a London derby against third-place Chelsea, who are one point above them. A win against the undefeated Blues can reaffirm Tottenham’s own strength and quality as they push for yet another top-four finish. Following the derby, is a must-win match against Inter in the UCL. With only four points from four games, Tottenham need a positive result in Europe if they are to advance to the round of 16. After that is the North London derby away at the Emirates against Arsenal. The Gunners are currently on a 16-game undefeated run and are Tottenham’s nearest challengers for fourth place, sitting only three points below them.
With an international break sandwiched in between these crucial matches, only time will tell if their good form will continue after Juan Foyth’s winner against Palace.
Chelsea are genuine title contenders
Chelsea flag waving at Stamford Bridge
Before the start of the season, there were several questions over how well Chelsea would perform. Whether it was the defense, a lack of a quality and consistent number nine, or adapting to new coach Maurizio Sarri’s system, many pundits began to question if Chelsea could even finish in the top four. Yet, they have been shockingly impressive so far, remaining undefeated in the league. A tough game against Everton ended in a 0-0 draw this weekend, but the Blues could have easily lost this game. The match itself was very close, and against a Toffees team that has won four out of their last five Premier League games, could have resulted in a loss. This was a fixture that several teams could have struggled in and dropped more points. Yet, Chelsea came through with a point. Considering they have already attained positive results against Arsenal, Liverpool, and Manchester United, the London side has truly shown their title credentials already this season. They are only four points behind Manchester City and two points behind Liverpool.
However, an important thing to note is that those three games against other top six sides were played at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea can make a massive statement of intent over the course of the next few weeks. They face Tottenham in their first match after the international break, and in a scintillating tie, will welcome Manchester City to the Bridge a few weeks later.
Manchester City are still improving and it’s scary
A previous Manchester Derby
The Manchester Derby ended in a 3-1 win for City, but the scoreline doesn’t do the game justice. The blue half of Manchester had a 2-0 lead by the 48th minute, a situation which resembled the last match between the two sides at the Etihad, where United came back from being 2-0 down at halftime to win the game, preventing them from winning the title. A penalty was conceded and Anthony Martial scored, meaning the Red Devils were just a goal away from tying the game. Yet, City held their nerve and controlled United well throughout the entire match. United was held to a single shot on target during the match which speaks to the effectiveness of the host’s performance. The team could have lost their heads after the penalty and allowed their rivals back into the game, but that didn’t happen, showing an improvement from last season’s loss. Additionally, the third goal epitomizes the style of play City manager Pep Guardiola wants from his players as an astounding 44 passes were made before Ilkay Gundogan passed the ball into the back of the net. The ability of this team is a joy to watch if you’re a fan and terrifying if you’re going against them. To think, Kevin De Bruyne wasn’t even available for the game and City still played United off the park at times. Frightening to say the least.
Luck is on Arsenal’s side and who knows how far it will take them
As mentioned before, Arsenal have been undefeated in the past 16 matches. Although that included three draws in a row after tying Wolverhampton Wanderers this weekend, it is still impressive. One of those games included Liverpool and the other was against Sporting Lisbon in the Europa League, where Arsenal are currently leading the group. Against Wolves, the Gunners came up against one of the most entertaining teams to watch in the league. However, Wolves have been struggling of late, losing their last three games. Despite their recent run of form, the Midlands side took the lead in the 13th minute and held onto it for most of the game, looking certain to finish with three points. Disappointingly for Wolves, Arsenal equalized through a lucky cross that ended up in the back of the net from Henrikh Mkhitaryan. In the 95th minute, Wolves hit the bar on a breakaway that could have secured a late victory. Fifth-placed Arsenal are three points behind bitter rivals Tottenham. Their improvement under coach Unai Emery is there for all to see and although many continue to believe they won’t finish in the top four, when luck is on your side anything can happen. Whether or not the Gunners will maintain their performance levels and luck will be an interesting aspect of the league season to keep an eye on.
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