By Niall Clarke

  • Five lessons learned from Premier League match-week 18
  • Full results
Manchester City marvelled against Spurs, but their nearest rivals are not quite giving up the chase just yet. There is a lot to breakdown from the weekend’s Premier League action, so let’s get right to it.

 

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We still have no answers on how to stop Manchester City

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Another week, another Manchester City win. It is becoming a bit boring now isn’t it? Well in a way yes, but we have to marvel at the football this team is producing too. Not only do they win almost every single game, they do it playing an attractive style of play that is easy on the eye.

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They are beginning to be reminiscent of Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona, minus Lionel Messi of course. However, the Citizens have their own magician in Kevin De Bruyne who once again put in a man of the match performance against a top six club as City thrashed Tottenham 4-1 on Saturday evening.

The match itself was fairly balanced on the whole. The Citizens did not enjoy the possession they usually have, but they proved to be more effective with it. Their high press did not allow Spurs to create many chances, and their fluid passing broke through the opposition defence and allowed for their 20 attempts on goal.

After 16 straight Premier League wins, the question becomes, who can stop them? The lower teams seem more threatening at the moment with West Ham and Huddersfield being their biggest tests in this win streak. It will take a big off day from City or an incredible performance from their opponents to end this winning run, an that does not look like happening anytime soon.

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New managers proving to be saviours for struggling teams

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Credit must be given to the jobs David Moyes and Roy Hodgson have done so far. Both were appointed to rescue West Ham and Crystal Palace from the relegation rut they were in, and so far they are both doing an excellent job.

The Eagles put in a very impressive performance to claim their second straight win as they defeated Leicester City 3-0 at the King Power stadium. Christian Benteke made a pledge to make up for his late penalty miss last week and he did so by giving Palace the lead with his first goal of the season.

Wilfried Zaha doubled their lead minutes before half time, and things got even worse for Leicester when Wilfred Ndidi was sent off with a second yellow card after the break. Palace would use the man advantage to put the game beyond any doubt with a third goal in stoppage time thanks to Bakary Sako.

The Hammers recorded a 3-0 away win of their own against Stoke City. The game was delayed by an hour due to a power failure at the BET365 stadium, but West Ham did not lack any spark when the game eventually got going. Mark Noble’s penalty gave Moyes’ side the lead on 20 minutes and from there they never looked back. Marko Arnautovic scored the second against his former club before Diafra Sakho piled more misery onto the home fans.

Both West Ham and Crystal Palace sit on 17 points and are now outside of the bottom three. For a while it looked like this could be a horrible season for both sides, but the managerial changes have proved to be fruitful thus far. Can they keep it up?

 

Liverpool are back in the goals, and the top four

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After two disappointing draws in a row, pressure was on Liverpool to re-find their winning ways as they face stiff competition for a top four position, and boy did they respond.

The Reds thrashed Bournemouth 4-0 on Sunday, moving themselves ahead of Burnley and Arsenal into fourth place. Philippe Coutinho gave Liverpool the lead on 20 minutes with a fine individual goal before Dejan Lovren headed home a second just six minutes later. Jermain Defoe came close to bringing Bournemouth back in the game when he struck the post. Luck was not with the home side however, as it would be Liverpool who scored the next goal through their top scorer Mohamed Salah.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain also hit the woodwork as they pressed for a fourth, and they would get their reward when Roberto Firmino headed home a Coutinho cross  to seal an impressive win for Jurgen Klopp’s side.

It was a much needed three points ahead of the busy Christmas period. The upcoming period is arguably the most important of the season and can make or break a campaign. Going into Christmas without a win in three would be a disaster for Liverpool, so it was important they got back to winning ways in a convincing fashion.

 

Huddersfield can not only score away, they can win away too

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One of the more impressive results of the weekend came at Vicarage Road where Huddersfield Town thrashed Watford 4-1 in a very entertaining affair.

The Terriers had not won or scored away from home since their opening day win over Crystal Palace. David Wagner’s side have been difficult to beat at home, but away they have struggled to really make a mark. The odds were on a Watford victory, but this West Yorkshire side paid not attention to the bookies.

Elias Kachunga scored his first Premier League goal to give the away side the lead after Watford failed to clear a corner. The Terriers doubled their lead when Aaron Mooy bundled the ball in from a Collin Quaner cross.

Things got worse for The Hornets when captain Troy Deeney was shown a straight red for a lunging tackle on Quaner. Huddersfield would capitalise on their man advantage by adding a third five minutes after the break through Laurent Depoitre. The game would be later evened up though when Jonathan Hogg was dismissed for two bookable offences.

Watford threatened an unlikely comeback when Abdoulaye Doucouré scored a superb 25-yard half-volley, but Mooy put that talk to rest by adding a fourth late on. The Terriers sit 11th and are half way to the magic 40 point safety mark half way through the season. Watford on the other-hand have gone off the boil in recent weeks, with their lack of discipline being a real problem for Marco Silva.

 

What else happened?

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Manchester United kept up their faint hopes of catching their noisy neighbours by defeating West Brom 2-1 on Sunday. Two first half goals put the Red Devils’ ahead, but the Baggies threatened a late comeback by pulling a goal back.

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Chelsea narrowly edged Southampton in a close encounter at Stamford Bridge to remain three points behind United. Marcos Alonso’s free kick was the only goal of the game as the Blues ran out 1-0 winners.

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Arsenal piled more misery on Rafael Benitez and Newcastle United with a 1-0 win thanks to Mesut Ozil’s brilliant effort. The Gunners moved ahead of Burnley in the table after the Clarets were held to a goalless draw at Brighton.

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Predictions round-up

Neil continues to extend his lead in the predictions contest by opening the gap to 14 points after a solid round that saw a correct score with West Brom 1-2 Man United.

Niall had a poor week with only four correct results. Going bold on some of the picks did not work out for him this time around, how will he respond over the Christmas period?

Niall (111)
Actual Score Neil (125)
Leicester 3-1 Crystal Palace Leicester 0-3 Crystal Palace Leicester 2-1 Crystal Palace
Arsenal 3-0 Newcastle (1) Arsenal 1-0 Newcastle Arsenal 2-0 Newcastle (1)
Brighton 0-1 Burnley Brighton 0-0 Burnley Brighton 1-1 Burnley (1)
Chelsea 2-0 Southampton (1) Chelsea 1-0 Southampton Chelsea 3-0 Southampton (1)
Watford 3-1 Huddersfield Watford 1-4 Huddersfield Watford 3-1 Huddersfield
Stoke 2-1 West Ham Stoke 0-3 West Ham Stoke 1-2 West Ham (1)
Man City 1-1 Tottenham Man City 4-1 Tottenham Man City 3-2 Tottenham (1)
West Brom 0-2 Man United (1) West Brom 1-2 Man United West Brom 1-2 Man United (3)
Bournemouth 2-2 Liverpool Bournemouth 0-4 Liverpool Bournemouth 2-3 Liverpool (1)
Everton 2-0 Swansea (1) Everton 3-1 Swansea Everton 2-0 Swansea (1)
The Premier League returns on December 22nd

 

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