After almost a month of slacking (international break, plus traveling, plus Thanksgiving, ok?), An American Take has returned – just in time for the Premier League to pass the 25% milestone in this campaign! It was a rollercoaster of a week, so let’s dive in. At the end of this section, I’ll discuss which teams are underperforming, as well as those which are surpassing expectations.
Crystal Palace once again made it painfully obvious that their only hope of winning is having Zaha on the pitch. Newcastle barely looked threatened the entire match, a match which was capped by two minutes of genius from Callum Wilson. Liverpool are still shaky, and Jurgen Klopp is furious. Seriously, did you watch his interview? He eviscerated the Premier League, journalists, Chris Wilder, and anyone else he could think of, for almost eight minutes here. Manchester City finally played to their potential, courtesy of a Riyad Mahrez hat-trick. Leeds finally figured out how to play defense, and against the top striker of the season thus far, keeping Everton and Dominic Calvert-Lewin at bay for 90 minutes. West Brom decided that relegation wasn’t a good look, clinging to their one-goal lead for 77 minutes. Manchester United, or should I say Cavani United, found a way to come back from 2-0 down in 30 minutes, earning a 3-2 win on the road. The headline match of the week, Chelsea vs. Tottenham, highlighted two brilliant defenses, and two teams unable to put it all together at the top. More on that in a moment. Arsenal predictably fell against Wolves. Leicester City, not so predictably, were shocked by former bottom-feeders Fulham, who made it out of the relegation zone with a fantastic performance, both offensively and defensively. West Ham played like they have all season: a club that’s worthy of an Olympic stadium and a top-eight spot at the end of the season.
A quarter of the way through the season, and patterns have emerged. Chelsea finally figured out how to play defense. Taking away Kepa’s games (scrub them off the record with bleach, please), Chelsea have earned nine clean sheets in 12 matches, and have only conceded three. This comes in stark contrast to the nine league goals in four matches with Kepa at the helm. Shocking difference. Jose Mourinho is right where he should be. His defensive, counter-attacking style is a thing of beauty at Tottenham, and they are deservedly league leaders right now. Liverpool’s defense is a shadow of its former glory and will need to change drastically for the defending champions to defend their title. Leicester and Manchester City are consistently inconsistent. West Ham, Southampton and Everton are swinging well above their weight, despite Everton losing four of their last five fixtures. Manchester United look like they may coming into form, although it’s too early to say that with certainty, but Edinson Cavani provided quality at the top that United have been desperately lacking. Arsenal…are playing like a club that wants its manager fired. The space between 5th and 13th is only three points and the form of the clubs in that range is difficult to predict. The relegation zone is already delineated, Fulham, West Brom, and Burnley fighting over the last two relegation slots, with the tattered corpse of Sheffield United already dumped into a shallow grave nearby. The same Sheffield United, mind you, that went 9th place last season in their inaugural season after promotion. How the turn tables…
If you watched the Champions League this week, you were treated to a rare treat from Chelsea, with Olivier Giroud notching four goals in an offensive masterclass that will surely have him sitting pole position on the bench this weekend (seriously Frank, what’s it gonna take to bench Tammy?). Manchester United disappointed, and in a dangerously competitive group are at risk of missing the knockout stages. Manchester City drew, but against the clear-cut number two seed in their group. Liverpool guaranteed their ticket to the knockout stages as well. Now for some numbers:
Manchester City became the second team ever to win four successive home matches by at least five goals against a single opponent in all competitions, the first since 1907. Poor Burnley.
West Brom and Sheffield were shooting blanks all night with a total of 39 shots tallied, the most in any Premier League fixture this season (the record is still unlikely to be touched any time soon, a whopping 52 shots in 2014 between QPR and Leicester City).
Manchester United became the first club EVER in top-flight English history to win four consecutive away matches after trailing in each.
Wolves maintained their away status as giant-killers, a title I continue to try to affix to the Portuguese, err, English side. They have now won seven Premier League away matches in 2020, only beaten by the aforementioned Manchester United.
Tell me why I do like Mondays: Fulham’s favorite day of the week is Monday. No, seriously, it is. Their only Premier League victories this season have come on Mondays, and the Cottagers have now won five of their last seven Premier League victories on Monday, dating back to the 2018-19 campaign.