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).

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    Ilkay Gundogan scored twice as Manchester City moved to the top of the Premier League for the first time this season with an outstanding 5-0 victory at West Brom.

    Pep Guardiola's side stretched their winning run to 11 straight matches in all competitions on Tuesday, a sequence that has again seen City emerge at the forefront of the title picture after a rocky start to the campaign.

    West Brom, then under Slaven Bilic, had been the last team to stop City winning when these teams met in mid-December, but Sam Allardyce's side were completely outclassed at The Hawthorns despite the absence of Kevin De Bruyne, the injured PFA Players' Player of the Year winner.

    Joao Cancelo's first Premier League goal separated a first-half Gundogan double, which Riyad Mahrez and stand-in captain Raheem Sterling added to either side of the break.

    West Brom's best spell came in the opening two minutes as City were penned in under an aerial barrage before countering through Phil Foden, whose low deflected shot was touched onto the post by Sam Johnstone.

    Johnstone was helpless from City's next attempt, watching the ball nestle in the bottom-left corner after Gundogan controlled Cancelo's long pass and finished expertly.

    The goalkeeper was then left awfully exposed for the second as West Brom defenders appeared to stop playing when Bernardo Silva was flagged offside. Cancelo had time and space to pick out the top-left corner with a gorgeous finish and the offside decision was overturned following a VAR review, meaning the goal stood.

    Gundogan pinched the ball from Romaine Sawyers and slid a left-footed effort beyond Johnstone before the half-hour mark, and it was 4-0 heading into half-time as Mahrez moved inside from the right and lashed past the keeper.

    The same pattern of play continued following the restart and, although Rodri's blast clipped the crossbar, City only had to wait until the 57th minute for Sterling to turn in Mahrez's first-time cross, finally then easing up slightly to spare their struggling hosts further punishment.


    What does it mean? City on top in epic title tussle

    In leapfrogging rivals Manchester United, who play Sheffield United on Wednesday but will grant City a game in hand, Guardiola's men became the ninth team to lead the table at the end of a day this season.

    If City can maintain this high standard, though, the run-in might be a little more predictable. Even without De Bruyne, the four-time Premier League winners look back to their very best.

    Ilkay in top form

    City will surely miss De Bruyne as he faces up to six weeks out, but they have now won both of their league matches without their talisman this season, scoring six and conceding none.

    His absence on Tuesday allowed those stars who have made up the supporting cast in recent weeks to come to the fore, including Gundogan.

    The Germany midfielder now has seven league goals this term - the first of which came in the previous West Brom clash, kickstarting a superb spell - to make this his best ever scoring season.

    Cancelo capitalises

    Neither the officials nor the West Brom defenders came out of City's second goal well.

    Sian Massey-Ellis correctly initially kept her flag down despite believing Silva was offside but then inexplicably indicated for the decision when City were still on the attack inside the area.

    But the whistle did not blow until the ball hit the net and there was little excuse for West Brom's static defending, their porous back line now having conceded 29 home goals - more than any other team in Europe's 'top five' leagues - after the five here.

    What's next?

    City will hope to run up another handsome total at home to basement side Sheffield United on Saturday. West Brom have a huge clash with Fulham, where they will aim to end a five-game losing run at home.

  • Southampton 1-3 Arsenal: Arteta's men get revenge for cup exit Southampton 1-3 Arsenal: Arteta's men get revenge for cup exit

    Arsenal earned revenge for their FA Cup defeat to Southampton by coming from behind to beat Ralph Hasenhuttl's side 3-1 at St Mary's in the Premier League on Tuesday.

    Having suffered a 1-0 loss on the same ground three days earlier, Arsenal looked a different team as they attacked with great panache, but fell behind to a superb Stuart Armstrong strike after three minutes.

    Nicolas Pepe, who scored on his previous Premier League start at Everton in December, levelled before Bukayo Saka gave Arsenal the lead with his fifth league goal of the season.

    Southampton created several chances to claim a share of the points but found Gunners goalkeeper Bernd Leno in good form, and Alexandre Lacazette scored in the 72nd minute as Arsenal leapfrogged their hosts into eighth place in the table.

    The home side stormed ahead after just three minutes when Armstrong met a James Ward-Prowse corner with a shot on the half-volley that flew past Leno and into the top corner of the net, despite the Arsenal goalkeeper getting a hand to it.

    The lead lasted five minutes, as Arsenal pounced on a sloppy Jack Stephens pass and Granit Xhaka played Pepe into the area where he fired a low shot into the far corner of the net from 10 yards out.

    Leno made a superb diving save from Che Adams to keep the scores level before Arsenal, six minutes from half-time, went ahead when Lacazette's incisive pass found Saka, who rounded Alex McCarthy and drilled the ball into the gaping net.

    Armstrong carved an opening for Theo Walcott early in the second half but Leno was equal to the former Arsenal winger's effort.

    Lacazette then finished a sweeping Arsenal attacking move from point-blank range at the other end to seal the victory with his eighth league goal of the season.

     

  • Chelsea appoint Tuchel: Fixing Werner woes on new coach's to-do list Chelsea appoint Tuchel: Fixing Werner woes on new coach's to-do list

    Thomas Tuchel's appointment as the new Chelsea head coach was confirmed on Tuesday - and the new man does not have a lot of time to get settled.

    Frank Lampard was sacked on Monday, with Tuchel's widely anticipated arrival promptly following.

    The former Paris Saint-Germain coach took charge of training on his first day and will be thrust straight into the spotlight when Chelsea host Wolves on Wednesday.

    The Blues entered the latest round of Premier League fixtures sitting ninth in the table and Tuchel will be looking for an immediate impact.

    But there are long-term tasks to complete, too, if the German is to stay at Stamford Bridge beyond the end of his initial contract, which runs to 2022.
     

    HELP WERNER AND HAVERTZ

    Having worked with the likes of Kylian Mbappe and Neymar during his time at PSG, Tuchel knows all about the challenges of motivating some of the world's top talents.

    At Chelsea, that will mean eliciting an improvement in the performance of his much-criticised compatriots Timo Werner and Kai Havertz.

    Werner, for whom Chelsea paid RB Leipzig close to £50million, scored 28 Bundesliga goals in 34 appearances last season but has mustered just four in 19 in the Premier League, the most recent of which came on November 7.

    Meanwhile, Havertz arrived from Bayer Leverkusen with a price tag in the region of £70million and a reputation as one of Europe's most creative young stars but has one goal, two assists and just 11 key passes to date.

    Tuchel will be asked to get more from the Germany pair to boost a Chelsea team who have scored only four goals in their past five league outings.
     

    KEEP ACADEMY ACES INVOLVED

    Hindered by a transfer ban in his first season in charge, Lampard at least made use of Chelsea's impressive academy to bring a number of young talents into the team.

    Perhaps most exciting among those were Mason Mount and Billy Gilmour.

    Both Mount, 22, and Gilmour, 19, started Lampard's final game in charge against Luton Town and formed a creative double-pivot in an attack-minded side, earning praise from the coach for their discipline and movement.

    Mount will surely feature in Tuchel's immediate plans, but Chelsea will hope both the England midfielder and team-mate Gilmour can continue to develop over the coming years.
     

    SETTLE ON HIS BEST SIDE

    Between the big spending ahead of this season and the promotion of a number of academy talents, Lampard was certainly not short of options. But that might have been to his detriment.

    Looking to pack an array of star names into a first XI, the team too often lacked balance.

    Juggling club captain Cesar Azpilicueta and Reece James proved tricky, while Thiago Silva and Kurt Zouma - seemingly Lampard's preferred centre-back pairing - have started together in only 14 of the 29 games so far this season in all competitions.

    There has been concern regarding the form of N'Golo Kante, perhaps played out of position, while Lampard struggled to work out the best fit up front in his 4-3-3.

    Tuchel must be more decisive.
     

    EFFECTIVELY MANAGE UPWARDS

    An increasingly strained relationship with director Marina Granovskaia reportedly contributed to Lampard's demise, so keeping the Chelsea board onside will be crucial for Tuchel.

    Dealings with the top brass at PSG in his previous job were not always straightforward for Tuchel and may have been a factor behind his departure from Paris, which came despite impressive results across recent seasons.

    Criticism of PSG's transfer business did not go down well with sporting director Leonardo, who fired back at the coach, telling him he "must decide to respect the choices of the sports management".

    Tuchel could hardly complain about the level of investment at Stamford Bridge over the past year, so similar comments towards Chelsea power-brokers would be unlikely to go down well.

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