What We Learned: English Premier League Week 14

What We Learned: English Premier League Week 14

EPL Week 14 Review – What we learned about the state of play in the English Premier League

The calendar has officially flipped to December which means we have officially entered one of the most pivotal parts of the Premier League Calendar. The fixture lists will be congested, players will be rotated, squad depth will be tested and fan bases will experience the full gamut of emotions that comes with supporting a club – local or abroad. If this weekend was just a taste of what we will see in England this December, then we are in store for an incredible ride.

Kicking things off on Saturday, the battle at the bottom took center stage as 4 of the 5 clubs nestled in the basement of the table. Everton have found themselves part of the scramble for safety yet again thanks to the league’s first FFP points deduction much to the chagrin of Toffee supporters. I said last week that this was a minor setback for them and their performance this weekend cements that opinion for me. Nottingham Forest are also potential relegation candidates so a win may not appear to be such a statement at first glance, however the manner in which Everton snatched 3 points was telling. On the road to a direct relegation rival, conceding over 60% possession but leaving with a 1-0 victory? That’s pure unadulterated Dyche-ball and it’s exactly what Everton needs to do to move up into the comfort of the mid-table.

While one club in the bottom 3 looks to be back on the path to safety, another took a pretty significant step back towards the Championship as Sheffield United walked into Turf Moor with hopes of beginning their climb from the bottom but left with a 5-0 thrashing to fellow relegation fodder Burnley. The match marked the 3rd time Sheffield have conceded 5+ goals in a match already this season and puts them on track to concede a league record 105 goals this season. The reward for such an achievement? Books now have Sheffield United priced at -2000 to be relegated…yikes.

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The late game on Saturday featured a matchup that would dictate whether either club would be considered top 4 contender or pretender as Newcastle hosted an “in-form” Manchester United. To say the Red Devils looked inept and uninterested in this one is a gross understatement. Wan Bissaka took a shot from outside the box in the 12th minute, United would register just ONE (1) shot in the following 70 minutes of gametime. In the same period, Newcastle managed 21 shots (and the winning goal) which really spoke more to the effort and motivation of Ten Haag’s side than the performance of Eddie Howe’s.

Antony Martial and Marcus Rashford were no-shows once again which is a foreboding sign for what the rest of the season might entail for United. They have managed just 16 goals scored in the league this season which is on par with the likes of Bournemouth and Nottingham Forest and half as many as their (desired) peers Newcastle, Liverpool and Manchester City. The dark clouds over Old Trafford continue to loom and time is fast running out for Ten Haag to break through to clearer skies before the typical manager cycle at the club clicks into gear and he finds himself looking for a new home.

Sunday’s matches provided all the fireworks one could handle. Brighton disappointed again and look to be regressing (understandably) after their selling spree the last 12 months. Despite picking up the 3 points vs Brighton, Chelsea still look disorganized and prone to self sabotage as acting captain Connor Gallagher picked up a red card late in the first half and Caceido was fortunate to avoid a second yellow on multiple occasions against his former club. It’s becoming another lost season for Chelsea but the upcoming January transfer window likely won’t be able to provide many solutions this time after some record breaking expenditures the past 3 windows.

Liverpool managed to eke out a win at home against Fulham thanks to some spectacular goals from Alexis Mac Allister and Trent Alexander Arnold and his new Adidas Predators. One thing was certainly clear however, Liverpool need to get Alisson fit and back in net ASAP as Kelleher’s EPL performances so far have been major red flags and the leaky Liverpool backline continues to hinder their charge for a second title under Klopp.

The grand finale appeared to be a straightforward, one sided affair with Pep’s Manchester City hosting the down and broken Tottenham Hotspurs. Spurs are so injury riddled, they didn’t have a single senior CB available to play in this one so Ange Postecoglu was forced to field a back 4 of Fullbacks that seemed ripe for the picking. Credit to Spurs: they struck first proving they felt better about their chances than the general public (Man City was -450 on the Moneyline at Kickoff).

Haaland was rather ineffective as a goalscorer but managed to setup City’s 3rd goal which appeared to be a match winner. Yet City’s defense proved to be their Achilles heel once again as Kulusevski netted an unlikely equalizer for Spurs giving them their first point since their October 27th win at Crystal Palace. It marked the 10th goal City has conceded in their last 4 games which is obviously an unsustainable rate for a team looking to win their 4th consecutive title. Pep has some thinking to do and even with an imminent return of Kevin De Bruyne coming soon, it doesn’t seem like the kind of addition that will fortify their defensive frailties.

No rest for the weary, Matchweek 15 kicks off tomorrow with a full slate of midweek games locked and loaded. By this time next week Aston Villa could be in 1st, City could be outside the top 4 and Sheffield United could find themselves outside of the relegation zone. Such is the nature of the December schedule in the Premier League.

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