BurnFM Premier League Weekly
Hello and welcome to BurnFM Sport’s weekly segment on all things Premier League! Join us as we delve into the weekend’s action, exploring headlines and highlights across all league fixtures, before previewing the week to come! Settle down, grab a cuppa and let the football enthusiasts of BurnFM’s Sports team walk you through England’s top-tier this week.
Manchester City Cement Their Dominance
Manchester City have played twice since our last post and in that time have successfully defeated both Everton and Arsenal away from home to increase their lead at the top of the table to ten points. Pep’s team dismantled a strong Toffees side midweek 3-1, whilst Raheem Sterling’s early header earned the Sky Blues a 1-0 victory which extends their winning run in the league to an incredible 18 consecutive games! The ridiculous stats are endless – City now haven’t dropped a point since 15th December 2020 and haven’t even been behind in any of their past 17 PL fixtures! Now comfortably perched 10 points clear with just 13 games remaining, I seriously doubt any side can stop Man City from obtaining their third PL title in four years.
At the turn of the year, Manchester United were the only side who looked likely to trouble the league leaders, but a poor run of just two wins in six games has allowed City to widen the gap between them and their local rivals. Now ten points behind, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s focus will likely turn to retaining his side’s position in a hotly contested top four. Their 3-1 win over Newcastle on Sunday helped ensure they remained 2nd, as goals from Fernandes, Rashford and James condemned the Magpies to their 8th defeat in 10 PL games. Newcastle’s poor run of form has enabled Fulham to close the gap to just three points, so Steve Bruce faces the prospect of a relegation battle if he can’t turn their fortunes around.
Leicester continue to snap at United’s heels as they attempt to secure Champions League qualification for the first time since they won the Premier League in 2015-16. The Foxes fought past Aston Villa to win 2-1 on Sunday, a result that kept them 3rd but moved them six points clear of Chelsea in 5th. Villa were without injured captain Jack Grealish for the first time since November 2019 and struggled to control the midfield without him. West Ham also progressed in their campaign for European football this week, breaking into the top four with an impressive 2-1 win over Spurs. The result marked the Hammers’ 7th win in 9 league games, incredible form which has lifted Moyes’ boys into 4th position, leapfrogging Chelsea. Lingard scored his third goal in four matches since moving to West Ham in January, and the former Manchester United winger is looking like a revitalised player since his transfer. He could be vital in the Hammers’ battle for Europe if Moyes can keep the lad fit.
Spurs will be disappointed with yet another anticlimactic performance. Gareth Bale, contrary to my comments in last week’s article, actually turned up for once during his cameo as a substitute, playing with a pace and flair that the opposition struggled to deal with. The Welshman assisted Lucas Moura for Spurs’ only goal of the game, but this performance combined with his goal and assist midweek against RZ Pellets WAC in the Europa League suggest that perhaps we are finally going to see Bale back to his best in the final few months of the season. Mourinho will certainly hope so, as his side continue to dwell down in 9th, nine points behind the top four.
Toffees Finally Triumphant At Anfield
Carlo Ancelotti will be a happy man this week, after his Everton side beat Liverpool 2-0 to record their first win at Anfield since 1999, and first victory in ANY Merseyside derby since 2010! It’s a statistic which has haunted Toffees fans for the past decade, but thanks to goals from Richarlison and Sigurdsson that torrid run has come to an end. Everton were deserved winners on the day, defending resolutely but retaining a threat on the counter-attack. Ancelotti’s side have now won 8 of their past 12 away games and sit just one position below Liverpool in 7th, albeit level on points. For Klopp, this latest defeat means that after going 68 games unbeaten at home, Liverpool have now lost four successive home matches for the first time since 1923. It’s the first real crisis the German has had to endure since becoming Liverpool boss, and with their title defence crumbling and the injury list only mounting it will be interesting to see if the Champions can stabilise their season before it spirals further out of control.
Elsewhere Southampton FC looked likely to succumb to seven consecutive league defeats coming in to the weekend, as they faced in-form Chelsea at St. Marys. Fortunately for Ralph Hasenhuttl, his side proved they’re willing to fight for him as they battled their way to a 1-1 draw on Saturday. January signing Takumi Minamino scored a sublime goal (his second since signing for Saints) to put the home side ahead, but Danny Ings gave away a penalty after the break which allowed Chelsea to pull themselves back in to the game. Tuchel will be frustrated, especially as the points his side dropped allowed the Hammers to replace them in 4th, but for Hasenhuttl and co. this result will be a welcome respite from defeat and potentially a turning point in their season.
Fulham have experienced a turning point of their own in the last week alone, as seven points in three games has cut the gap between the Cottagers and safety to just 3 points! Ademola Lookman scored the only goal of the contest on Saturday to help his side earn a crucial 1-0 victory over fellow relegation strugglers Sheffield. With just six points separating 15th and 18th, it looks like Fulham have managed to drag Brighton, Burnley and Newcastle into a relegation battle by reducing the deficit. Sheffield, having now lost 20 out of 25 matches and scored just 15 goals in that time, are unlikely to join Fulham in the fight to remain in the Premier League as they hurtle towards relegation.
Burnley’s goalless draw against West Brom was the only other relegation zone battle this weekend, a game in which Sam Allardyce’s side managed to survive for over an hour with ten men after their early booking. Wolves earned a 1-0 win over Leeds in mid-table action on Friday night, albeit due to an unfortunate own goal from keeper Meslier. Monday night’s clash between Crystal Palace and Brighton rounded off the matchday, where despite relentless pressure from Brighton (who managed 25 shots and had 75% possession) Palace scored two beautiful goals to bookend the match and ensure they rose above Southampton in the bottom half of the table.
Can The Hammers Stop City’s Run? – Matchweek 26 (Part 1) Preview
Luckily for us football fans, we have another double matchweek coming up. The opening game of the weekend is an enticing one – West Ham take on Man City at the Etihad and if anyone could stop Pep’s well-oiled machine right now, it’s Moyes and his ragtag band of European hopefuls. The Hammers are flying right now and after shocking Tottenham and moving into a Champions League position this weekend, there is no reason this in-form outfit couldn’t cause the league leaders serious issues. Manchester United meanwhile face a challenging task in navigating past Tuchel’s Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday. United are the favourites in my opinion, particularly after Chelsea were held to a 1-1 draw by struggling Saints last week, and a Chelsea defeat could open up the top four race even further.
Speaking of the battle for Champions League qualification, Leicester look to cement their place amongst the big boys as they take on Arsenal at home at midday on Sunday. Liverpool should bounce back resoundingly against Sheffield United (cricket score anyone?), whilst rivals Everton welcome Southampton to Goodison in a fixture which should be easy for the Toffees, but could go either way considering Southampton’s returning players and erratic form this season. Jose Mourinho desperately needs a result against Burnley on Sunday, particularly after rumours last week claimed that his job was in jeopardy. Burnley are on a decent unbeaten run, so I think an upset could be on the cards once more when the Clarets travel to Spurs this weekend.
West Brom will take on Brighton, and with Graham Potter’s side struggling for goals despite high shot ratios, Allardyce will hope to snatch some points from this important fixture. Fulham face Crystal Palace in a fixture I believe the Cottagers should dominate given their recent turn of form. Palace barely clinched the win against Brighton on Monday night, so the prospect of facing an in-form Fulham side without their talisman Wilfried Zaha probably worries Roy Hodgson. Newcastle vs Wolves rounds off our first group of fixtures, which will continue into midweek next week.
Stats of the Week
- Leeds have a win rate of 50% when Kalvin-Philips is playing, compared to just 17% without the midfielder
- West Brom’s goalless draw with Burnley gave the Baggies their first clean sheet in the league since 28th November
- Man City earned their 23rd clean sheet of the season – more than any other team in the top 5 European leagues or he top 4 divisions in England
- The league leaders had also managed to score 18 goals in their previous 6 PL fixtures before beating Arsenal 1-0