EPL

Premier League Data Diary: Chelsea and Leicester share four on bumper weekend of goals

By Sports Desk February 02, 2020

While Liverpool extended their lead at the top of the Premier League to record-breaking levels with an easy win over Southampton, the battle beneath them for places in the top four heated up.

The Reds thumped the Saints 4-0 at Anfield to open up a 22-point gap over Manchester City - the biggest lead any team has ever held at the top of the English top-flight - and Pep Guardiola's men lost 2-0 in a chaotic game at Tottenham a day later.

Fourth-placed Chelsea looked set to narrow the gap to Leicester City above them when they took the lead at King Power Stadium but the Foxes fought back in a 2-2 draw, while Sheffield United briefly moved up to fifth before Spurs' win after a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace.

Two sides just outside the European qualification places, Manchester United and Wolves played out a goalless draw at Old Trafford but there was no shortage of goals at West Ham or Watford.

The weekend's Opta data tells the story of 15 goals across four of the most entertaining clashes of matchweek 25, with fortunes affected at both ends of the table.

BUTTERFINGERED FOXES FRITTER LEAD AGAINST BLUES

Leicester City came from behind to lead 2-1 against Chelsea but the trend that has seen them regularly drop from winning positions continued.

Antonio Rudiger, who opened the scoring after 46 minutes, became the first defender to score twice for Chelsea in a Premier League match since John Terry against Fulham in April 2013 to ensure the points were shared.

Leicester have dropped eight points from winning positions in their last four league outings, more than they had in their previous 59 matches since the start of the 2018-19 campaign (six).

Chelsea have failed to win six of the games in which they have scored the first goal this season (D5 L1), pegged back as they were by Harvey Barnes' third goal in three league games and Ben Chilwell's 64th-minute strike.

Those goals took the Blues' tally of goals conceded on the road to 22 in 13 games, and manager Frank Lampard must address his side's defensive frailties if they are to keep their place in the Premier League top four.

CHERRIES EXPLOIT VILLA'S PROBLEMS ON THE ROAD

Back-to-back victories have moved Bournemouth up to 16th and they leapfrogged Aston Villa after beating Dean Smith's men 2-1 at Vitality Stadium.

Prior to their wins over Brighton and Hove Albion and Villa, the Cherries had only won two of their previous 17 Premier League matches but Eddie Howe's side took advantage of a defence that does not travel well to make it two wins from two.

Villa are the only side in the division yet to register a clean sheet away from home this season and they fell behind when Phillip Billing scored his first league goal for Bournemouth in his 23rd appearance for the club.

Nathan Ake extended Bournemouth's lead before Mbwana Samatta scored Villa's first headed Premier League goal in almost four years.

The consolation strike came on Samatta's league debut, making the Tanzanian attacker Villa's first first player to score on his league bow since Rudy Gestede scored against Bournemouth in August 2015.

JOY OF SIX FOR MOURINHO AFTER BERGWIJN'S DEBUT DELIGHT

Jose Mourinho enjoyed his sixth victory over Pep Guardiola after goals from Steven Bergwijn and Son Heung-min helped Tottenham beat the champions at home.

Mourinho has now beaten Guardiola's sides with Inter, Real Madrid, Manchester United and Spurs, with Sunday's victory Tottenham's first over City in the Premier League since they won by the same scoreline in October 2016.

City had Oleksandr Zinchenko sent off as they slipped to a sixth Premier League defeat of the season - their joint-most in a single campaign under Guardiola (six in 2016-17).

Bergwijn became the Premier League's 13th Dutchman to score on his debut and the competition's 250th player to do so, before Son scored his fifth goal against City in all competitions since the start of 2016-17 - only Jamie Vardy (six) has scored more against them in that period.

 

HAMMERS IN THE DROP ZONE AFTER POINTS SHARED IN THRILLER

West Ham were 2-0 up at half-time against Brighton but left London Stadium still winless in the Premier League against the Seagulls, who fought back to draw 3-3.

The Hammers have drawn three and lost three of their six Premier League clashes with Brighton and this was not the first time they have dropped points from a winning position this season.

In fact, David Moyes' team have lost more points from winning positions than any other top-flight team this season (19) but the last time they failed to win a game in which they led by two goals was back in October 2017 when they drew 2-2 with Crystal Palace.

Brighton have avoided defeat after trailing by two goals on three occasions, the first two coming in September 2018 when they drew 2-2 with Fulham and Southampton.

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    Tuchel's appointment at Stamford Bridge was confirmed on Tuesday, a day after Chelsea sacked Frank Lampard.

    Guardiola and Tuchel previously went head-to-head domestically in the Bundesliga, where the German was in charge of Mainz and Borussia Dortmund while the Spaniard was at the helm of Bayern Munich.

    After City moved top of the Premier League with a 5-0 thrashing of West Brom on Tuesday, Guardiola welcomed Tuchel to England.

    "Welcome. He's an exceptional manager. I'm pretty sure he will have success. Happy to see him here in this country," he told a news conference.

    "When I was at Bayern Munich I played against him at Mainz. At the last season at Dortmund he did an incredible job, the way Dortmund played was outstanding. We fought a lot as Bayern Munich to win that title.

    "He's a friend of mine and I'm happy to see him."

    Tuchel won the DFB-Pokal with Dortmund in 2016-17, while he led PSG to two Ligue 1 titles, a Coupe de France and Coupe de la Ligue, as well as last season's Champions League final, before being sacked in December.

    Chelsea, who are 10th in the table, are in action on Wednesday, hosting Wolves.

  • We love him – Conte suggests Eriksen will stay after derby heroics We love him – Conte suggests Eriksen will stay after derby heroics

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    Eriksen curled in a wonderful 25-yard free-kick in the 97th minute to lift Inter to a 2-1 victory in the Coppa Italia quarter-finals on Tuesday.

    The Denmark international has been linked with a move after making just four Serie A starts this season, but Conte said Eriksen was needed at Inter.

    "I am sure [the goal] has given energy to [Eriksen] and to us. I pushed him to take that set-piece because he is really good at that," the Inter head coach told a news conference.

    "He is a good lad. Everybody loves him, we love him. He fitted well [in the team]. He is a bit shy.

    "I hope this goal will give him more confidence because we need him. We need everybody considering the situation. I am happy for him and I am happy because we qualified."

    Eriksen's free-kick settled an explosive derby, in which Zlatan Ibrahimovic opened the scoring before being sent off, having also been involved in an earlier confrontation with Romelu Lukaku.

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    Of players in Europe's top five leagues, only Lionel Messi, Hakan Calhanoglu, Miralem Pjanic and Cristiano Ronaldo have scored more direct free-kick goals than Eriksen's 13 since 2013-14.

    Inter had 27 shots to Milan's five and 10 on target to their rivals' one, and Conte said his side needed to be more clinical.

    "The squad was in full spirit and energy since the beginning of the game. I think it was not fair to be one goal down against Milan. We had many chances even 11 against 11," he said.

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  • Table-topping City staying calm in 'marathon' season, says Guardiola Table-topping City staying calm in 'marathon' season, says Guardiola

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    City endured a tough start to the campaign but have since won 11 games in succession in all competitions, most recently blowing the struggling Baggies away with four first-half goals on Tuesday.

    That victory was enough to take Guardiola's team to the top of the table, although Manchester United could reclaim first place by beating Sheffield United on Wednesday. City would then have a game in hand.

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    "The last thing I'm thinking about is the table," said the City manager. "Now I want to come back home safe, have a few days off and then Sheffield United. That's my only concern.

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    City are the ninth different team to end a day top of the pile this term, a statistic that prompted Guardiola to respond: "This is the Premier League. Welcome, this is the Premier League.

    "It's so tough. You see the teams up front, then look at West Ham and the incredible season they're doing, Leicester look unbeatable, and the other teams.

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    City moved ahead of United despite missing Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero at West Brom, with Ilkay Gundogan taking centre stage with a brace before the break.

    The midfielder has scored seven league goals since December 15, making this the most productive season of his career.

    Guardiola previously described Gundogan as "one of Europe's best players" and insists the Germany international is still performing at the same level, even if his goal rush is garnering greater attention.

    "Sometimes you have to score goals to get the recognition as a football player that he was all the time," Guardiola said of his number eight, who also created a single chance, made a tackle and an interception and won all five of his duels.

    "He's an exceptional human being, first of all – I know his parents, I understand why – and he's my neighbour, so we have a connection. And he's an outstanding player.

    "He's a guy who has played as a holding midfielder – so, so clever – and when he plays close to the box, he has the right tempo to make the run.

    "It's not arriving in the box 10 times or 20 times, one metre before or one metre later, you have to arrive at the right tempo and the right time. He's so good.

    "And when he arrives, he has the calm to slow down the action to make a decision. I'm happy for him. He deserves the best."

    Gundogan has never started more than 23 games in a Premier League campaign but has always retained Guardiola's backing.

    "I would say improvement is not the case," he said.

    "Always he showed his level, except the first season when he had ACL and we struggled a lot to settle him in the team because he was injured. Every time he played, he played at a high level."

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