EPL

Liverpool extend streak while Chelsea and Leicester stall – the Premier League Data Diary

By Sports Desk December 15, 2019

Points were dropped by several Premier League sides with top-six aspirations on a weekend when leaders Liverpool were rescued by Mohamed Salah's finishing as they extended their winning streak and their cushion at the top.

The Reds beat Watford 2-0 at Anfield to move 10 points clear of Leicester City, who were held to a 1-1 draw at home by struggling Norwich City.

There was also frustration for a top-four side at Stamford Bridge, where Chelsea failed to score for the second time in three Premier League home games as they succumbed 1-0 to Bournemouth.

Manchester City suffered no such slip-up when they travelled to Arsenal on Sunday, as a 3-0 win for the third-placed defending champions moved them to 14 points behind Liverpool.

Tottenham nudged up to fifth after beating Wolves 2-1 to offer further evidence that Jose Mourinho has addressed some of the problems his side faced on the road under Mauricio Pochettino.

Take a deep dive into the big stories of the weekend in our Premier League Data Diary.

REDS STREAK RANKS THIRD AFTER TRICKY HORNETS TEST

Goals from Mohamed Salah and some wayward Watford finishing ensured Liverpool claimed a 2-0 win at Anfield to extend their unbeaten Premier League run to 34 games.

Only Arsenal (49 between May 2003 and October 2004) and Chelsea (40 between October 2004 and October 2005) can boast longer undefeated sequences in the competition, and the Reds have won their last 16 league games at Anfield.

Five more consecutive home wins would see Jurgen Klopp's men match the record (21) set by Bill Shankly's title-winning Liverpool side between January and December 1972.

Salah's double takes his goal tally to 84 in 126 appearances for Liverpool, eclipsing Luis Suarez's record of 82 goals in 133 games for the Reds.

Watford have taken just nine points from 17 league games this season, and the omens for them are not good: all of the nine teams to accumulate nine points or fewer after 17 Premier League matches have been eventually relegated.

 

HONEYMOON PERIOD A DISTANT MEMORY FOR LAMPARD

After seeing Chelsea lose just two of his first 12 Premier League games in charge, Frank Lampard watched his charges slip to a fourth defeat in five against Bournemouth on Saturday.

The 1-0 reverse at Stamford Bridge came courtesy of Dan Gosling's first league goal since April and left the Blues with just one fewer home defeat (five) in all competitions this season than they suffered in 62 games over 2017-18 and 2018-19 combined.

Chelsea have lost two of their last three top-flight home games, as many as they had in their previous 28 at Stamford Bridge, and failed to score in both of those defeats.

Since their promotion in 2015, no side has won more Premier League away game at Chelsea than Bournemouth (three, level with Liverpool).

 

MOURINHO'S MEN MAKE PROGRESS ON THE ROAD

Prior to Jose Mourinho's arrival as Tottenham boss, Spurs had failed to win a Premier League away game this season. But since he took charge they have won two out of three in the league on the road.

Lucas Moura's spectacular solo goal gave them the lead at Molineux and the Brazilian has now scored three goals in five top-flight appearances under Mourinho.

Wolves pulled level after 67 minutes of a scintillating game, Adama Traore scoring his fourth goal in 26 appearances in all competitions this season - twice as many goals as he scored in his previous 82 matches.

But Jan Vertonghen restored Tottenham's lead in second-half stoppage-time, inflicting a third home league defeat for Wolves in 2019 while extending Mourinho's record of not losing Premier League games when his side score first to 54 games since October 2015.

 

CHAMPIONS CRUISE AGAINST SHOT-SHY GUNNERS

Arsenal shipped three goals in 40 first-half minutes as they lost 3-0 at home to Manchester City, which left the Gunners with one win from their last nine Premier League matches.

Freddie Ljungberg's men are without a win at home in six games across all competitions - the club's longest such run since an eight-game streak between December 1994 and February 1995.

Kevin De Bruyne produced a masterclass at the Emirates, scoring either side of Raheem Sterling's tap-in, which he set up, to take his goal involvement tally to 19 in the league this season (seven goals and 12 assists).

Sterling's effort was his seventh away goal in the league this season - his joint-highest return on the road in a single campaign (also seven in 2017-18).

While City were prolific, Arsenal mustered just one shot on target all game - their joint-fewest in a Premier League game at Emirates Stadium (one v Everton in 2010, and v Chelsea in 2015 and 2016).

Related items

  • Man Utd boss Solskjaer admits plans for next season are 'up in the air' Man Utd boss Solskjaer admits plans for next season are 'up in the air'

    Manchester United's plans for next season remain "up in the air", according to manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

    The delayed end to the 2019-20 season caused by coronavirus has meant a lot of the customary off-season planning has had to be shelved while United's pursuit of a top-four finish and Champions League qualification has exacerbated the problem at Old Trafford.

    United's blistering form post-lockdown means wins in their four remaining games will see them secure a place among Europe's elite next term, although fifth may yet be enough depending on how the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) views Manchester City's appeal against a two-season European ban.

    With so many variables, Solskjaer concedes there is only so much forward-thinking possible at present.

    Speaking ahead of Monday's game against Southampton, he said: "You can't really decide on the training programme, there are so many small decisions and, of course, transfers sometimes are out of our hands as well.

    "If the team is going well, what do we need? What don't we need? Do we get injuries? That's just the way we're working in this job and you've always got to plan for different scenarios.

    "The uncertainty of dates, how much holiday can you give them, what will next season look like, it's still a little bit up in the air.

    "I don't think it's like dramatic decisions, I don't think the club would either panic or suddenly go crazy with plans that we've already talked about for years to come.

    "You do have to have a long-term plan but some short-term, maybe some decisions will be easier to make if you get [into] the Champions League."

    United have received plenty of plaudits for their attack-minded approach since the Premier League resumed but Solskjaer was also keen to talk up the importance of a defence that has conceded just three goals in the past five games in all competitions.

    He said: "It's about winning, of course it is, but it's also about our fans and the way we approach the game, how we approach football.

    "You play with pace, power, you play with no fear, you take risks and you've got players who have got quality. That's just the DNA of the football club.

    "Of course, I'm happy when you don't concede but it's always been built on a strong foundation.

    "When we had [Jaap] Stam and [Ronny] Johnsen, [Gary] Pallister and [Steve] Bruce, fantastic keepers behind them, the engine room with Roy Keane and Bryan Robson laid down foundations for forwards to show their skills. We just need to take it one game at a time.

    "Now it's time to keep our feet on the ground, keep working, and don't believe all the hype and praise. Same as not believing in all the criticism when you don't do well: the end is not too far away, so the goal is getting closer."

  • No fear of burnout with Greenwood – Solskjaer No fear of burnout with Greenwood – Solskjaer

    Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer does not believe teenage star Mason Greenwood will suffer burnout after emerging as a key man at Old Trafford.

    The 18-year-old striker has netted four times in United's past three Premier League games, including a wonderful effort in the 3-0 victory at Aston Villa on Thursday.

    Greenwood has formed a formidable attacking trident with Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial with the threesome set to start again as United continue their challenge to finish in the top four when they host Southampton on Monday.

    Such is Greenwood's form, it seems unlikely he will be afforded any rest with United also challenging for silverware in the Europa League and FA Cup.

    Solskjaer has no concerns that burnout will become a factor, though.

    He told reporters at his news conference: "At that age, you've got so much energy, no fear, you just want to go and play football.

    "If we had a day off, he'd go and play football with his mates. I'm not worried about Mason this season; we just need to look after him in his whole career.

    "He's a fantastic boy, he loves football and gets the result and rewards for his hard work."

    Greenwood has long been tipped for stardom and Solskjaer was not surprised by his emergence, adding: "Not really, we know what he's capable of and always trusted him to be a part of this squad and chip in with performances and goals.

    "We've seen it every day, I've seen it since I came to the club, he's just a natural footballer and when you put natural good footballers with better footballers that gives him more opportunities to show his qualities.

    "The club know what they're doing when they’re educating players."

    With Greenwood taking centre stage, Rashford has been able to focus fully on his game after a lockdown period in which his charity work rightly earned him many plaudits.

    Solskjaer has been encouraged with the recent progress made by the England international.

    "I am very happy with him," he said. "Physically he's coping well with the games, mixing up his game and making defenders think.

    "Marcus has got all the attributes to be a top forward, you can see with our players he suddenly pops up on the right, left, and you want that rotation between them but also the discipline to stick out wide and create the space for others.

    "Sometimes you get an assist in my head when you're creating space and making runs for others."

  • Juventus v Atalanta: Can Europe's great entertainers crash Scudetto race? Juventus v Atalanta: Can Europe's great entertainers crash Scudetto race?

    Juventus were 2-0 up and coasting at Milan on Tuesday before collapsing in utterly abject fashion.

    Three goals in five minutes turned the game on its head before Ante Rebic completed a 4-2 triumph for the Rossoneri.

    A seven-point lead with seven games remaining means Maurizio Sarri's men remain on course for the Scudetto.

    But up next are fourth-placed Atalanta, themselves nine points from the summit. After their San Siro ordeal, a showdown with one of the most exciting and dangerous teams in European football might be the last thing Juve need.


    PERFECT SINCE LOCKDOWN

    Saturday's match at the Allianz Stadium brings together two attacking ideologues. Sarri's high-pressing, high-possession approach became so ingrained during his celebrated spell at Napoli that it was given its own nickname.

    But Sarrismo has a more than worthy adversary in Gian Piero Gasperini's thrilling, fearless setup.

    Atalanta's expansive 3-4-1-2 system, in which central midfielders, wing-backs and forwards freely exchange positions to repeatedly overload opponents in wide areas, has produced goals by the truckload this season.

    They head to Turin in prime form, buoyed by a run of nine Serie A wins in succession – the club's longest ever such tally in the top flight.

    Along with Bayern Munich and Real Madrid – both potential Champions League final opponents in these heady days for Atalanta – they are one of three teams in Europe's top five leagues to have won all their games since lockdown.

    Overall, La Dea have 20 victories this term, which is one shy of the single season record Gasperini set during his first campaign at the helm in 2016-17.


    GOALS, GOALS, GOALS

    While Gasperini's masterpiece is one of collective ingenuity, there are also some very impressive individual numbers.

    If Duvan Zapata manages one more league goal, Atalanta will be the first side to have three players with 15 or more to their name in a Serie A season since Juventus in 1951-52, when Ermes Muccinelli, Giampiero Boniperti and John Hansen accomplished the feat

    Luis Muriel and Josip Ilicic have 17 and 15 respectively, with Muriel's feat all the more impressive when considering he typically begins matches on the bench.

    Indeed, the Colombia international is only the second player to score double figures in a single season via substitute appearances across the top five leagues, after Paco Alcacer did likewise at Borussia Dortmund in 2018-19.

    The dazzling firecracker at the creative centre of this explosive attack is Alejandro 'Papu' Gomez, who is set to make his 300th Serie A appearance against Juventus.

    The 32-year-old Argentinian playmaker enjoys free rein as Gasperini's number 10 and has racked up 15 assists this term – the highest single-season figure since Opta started collecting such data in 2004-05.

    Gomez has provided at least 10 Serie A assists in each of his four seasons under Gasperini and the former Catania man has 128 goal involvements in Italy's top flight overall (61 goals and 67 assists).


    GATECRASHING EUROPE'S ELITE

    A rampaging last-16 win over Valencia booked Atalanta's place in the Champions League quarter-finals, where they will take on Paris Saint-Germain when Europe's elite club competition lands in Lisbon for its concluding mini-tournament next month.

    Their performances truly are among the very best on the continent

    Only Bayern (100) and Manchester City (86) have scored more league goals than Atalanta's 85 in 2019-20.

    That amounts to an average of 2.74 per game, again the third best in Europe. Dominant Bundesliga winners Bayern edged up to 2.94 per game, while PSG averaged 2.78 across the truncated Ligue 1 season.

    Along with City and Barcelona, Atalanta have scored five or more goals in five separate matches. That can only be bettered in the Bundesliga, where Bayern and Dortmund each did it six times.

    Things are also looking pleasingly tight at the back. In 2020, La Dea have five Serie A clean sheets, edged in the calendar year so far by Juventus and Milan with six apiece.

    Juve certainly should not bank on adding to that number when they host Gasperini's great entertainers. If Atalanta manage to storm Turin, it will be 10 wins in a row and the gap will be six points with six games to play.

    They can't... can they?

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.