By Niall Clarke

  • Five lessons learned from Premier League match-week 20
  • Full results
Harry Kane broke a record and Manchester City continued to dominate in match-week 20 of the Premier League season. Here are five takeaways from the festive action and the round of our writers’ predictions.

 

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Hat-Trick Hero Kane Breaks Shearer’s Record

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We are running out of things to say about Harry Kane. The English striker not only scored a hat trick to become the top scorer in Europe this year, he also broke a 22 year old Premier League record.

Kane’s 39 goals in a calendar year broke Alan Shearer’s previous best of 36 set In 1995, and he did it in six less games too. The 24-year-old netted his sixth hat trick of 2017, the most of any Premier League player ever.

His overall tally stands at 56 goals in 52 games in all competitions, meaning he has scored more goals than anyone in the top five European leagues this calendar year. Yes, that is more than Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Edinson Cavani. He is cementing himself amongst the best strikers in the world and breaking a lot of record whilst doing so.

His ability in front of goal helped Spurs to a 5-2 win over Southampton on Boxing day. Dele Alli and Heung-Min Son joined Kane on the score-sheet to seal a comfortable win that moved Tottenham up to fifth in the table.

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Burnley Continue To Be a Pest Away From Home

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Burnley’s away form has been one of the stories of the season thus far. The Clarets were known for their stellar home record last campaign, but their form on the road is the reason they are flying so high this season.

Burnley have taken points away at Chelsea, Tottenham, Liverpool, Everton and now Manchester United after a 2-2 draw at Old Trafford on Boxing day.

Sean Dyche’s men took a shock two goal lead thanks to goals from Ashley Barnes and Steven Defour and the Clarets began to dream of a famous victory. However, Jesse Lingard would bring one back for Jose Mourinho’s side 53 minutes in, setting up a nervy second half for Burnley.

United would dominate the game, but struggled to get through a resolute Burnley defence, up until the very last minute. In typical Manchester United fashion, Lingard struck a stoppage time goal to level the match at 2-2 and rescue a point for his side.

Burnley would have been disappointed in losing their two goal lead, but if you asked them before the game if they would take a point at Old Trafford, they would have snapped your hand of. For Man United it is two points dropped and they fall further behind Manchester City at the top of the table.

They are getting dangerously close to being dragged into the top four battle they were hoping to stay clear of at the start of the season.

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Liverpool Have Overpaid for Van Dijk

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Big news came out of Anfield during this match-week. The Reds have confirmed the signing of Virgil Van Dijk from Southampton for a reported fee of £75 million.

You could say this is a signing that Liverpool need to make. Jurgen Klopp’s side are amazing going forward but defensively they can be a total shambles. Adding Van Dijk to the ranks will undoubtedly add stability to their back line and the 26 year old still has room to grow.

However, at £75 million they have massively overpaid for him. It is a world record fee for a defender, and whilst the money is not as alarming in this current market as it once was, £75 million for a defender who is unproven at the elite level is too much.

There is no doubt Van Dijk is a good defender with the potential to get better, but when you consider they bought Mohamed Salah for half the price, then you begin to see the issue here. He may turn out to be an excellent signing in the future, but right now it looks like Liverpool overpaid.

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Parking The Bus Will Not Stop Man City

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Newcastle were the next team to try and stop Manchester City, and just like most teams they ended up on the losing end. They did not get thrashed however, as they only lost to a single Raheem Sterling goal in the first half.

That was largely down to the tactics used by Rafa Benitez’s side. The Magpies practically parked the bus, often times having 11 men behind the ball and allowing all 11 City players to enter their half.

However, this City side will score against you. No side has kept them out this season and there was little reason to expect Newcastle to do so. It was interesting to see the extent they did park the bus and how it would work, but this game proved that it might not be enough to stop them from beating you.

City have actually had more trouble against sides who went at them. Shakhtar Donetsk beat them playing expansive football in the Champions League. Liverpool were competitive until the sending off which killed that game almost immediately. I would like to see another side try and go at them rather than sitting back like many teams have in the past few weeks. It is 18 straight wins now for Pep Guardiola’s men, and they are one win away from matching his record of 19 straight victories with Bayern Munich.

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What else happened?

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Chelsea moved to within a point of Manchester United after a comfortable 2-0 win against Brighton. The returning Alvaro Morata scored again before Marcos Alonso put the game beyond doubt by adding a second.

The game of the match-week came at the Vitality Stadium where Bournemouth and West Ham played an entertaining 3-3 draw. The Bournemouth equaliser was met with much controversy as Callum Wilson not only appeared to be offside, he also looked like he handled the ball in the build up. West Ham felt they were robbed of three points, and in that sense they were.

Liverpool battered Swansea 5-0 to stay fourth, and Arsenal managed to edge out Crystal Palace 3-2 to keep up the pace with the Reds in the top four battle

Watford got back to winning ways with a turnaround 2-1 win against Leicester City. Huddersfield and Stoke played out a 1-1 draw at the John Smiths Stadium, and West Brom held Everton to a 0-0 draw at the Hawthorns.

 

Predictions round-up

Both writers struggled with their predictions this match-week, but Niall’s correct score prediction of Liverpool vs Swansea proved to be the difference as he won the week 6-4 and closes the gap by two points on Neil. However, he is still 14 points behind, can he catch up?

Niall (121)
Actual Score Neil (135)
Tottenham 2-0 Southampton (1) Tottenham 5-2 Southampton Tottenham 2-0 Southampton (1)
Bournemouth 2-1 West Ham Bournemouth 3-3 West Ham Bournemouth 2-2 West Ham (1)
Chelsea 4-0 Brighton (1) Chelsea 2-0 Brighton Chelsea 3-1 Brighton
Huddersfield 2-1 Stoke Huddersfield 1-1 Stoke Huddersfield 2-1 Stoke
Man United 2-0 Burnley Man United 2-2 Burnley Man United 2-1 Burnley
Watford 1-2 Leicester Watford 2-1 Leicester Watford 1-1 Leicester
West Brom 0-2 Everton West Brom 0-0 Everton West Brom 1-2 Everton
Liverpool 5-0 Swansea (3) Liverpool 5-0 Swansea Liverpool 3-1 Swansea (1)
Newcastle 0-3 Man City (1) Newcastle 0-1 Man City Newcastle 1-3 Man City (1)
Crystal Palace 2-2 Arsenal Crystal Palace 2-3 Arsenal Crystal Palace 1-1 Arsenal
The Premier League returns on December 30th

 

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