Matchweek 22 brought us a new second place team, with Manchester City drubbing Aston Villa and Leicester City falling prey to Southampton’s surprising run of form. Southampton have now not lost since December 14th and have won four of their last five, bringing them up the table and level with Arsenal on points. Other than the Leicester result, the matchweek was actually predictable, with most runs of form continuing, tight matches among the lower-tier teams, and whippings handed out by the top teams (Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City accounted for 13 goals, with only one conceded). Tottenham kept it close against Liverpool despite being without talisman Harry Kane, Arsenal managed to make a draw feel like a loss with none other than Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang earning a straight red card thanks to VAR. His shoddy tackling will earn him a two-game rest. Let’s dive in to some stats:
Sheffield United have won every league match against London teams at home, going all the way back to 2006 (eight matches), thanks to their win against West Ham this weekend.
Like manager, like player: Aubameyang became the first Arsenal player to score and be sent off in the same Premier League match since Mikel Arteta in 2013.
13: Tammy Abraham’s 13 goals this season are the second most by an Englishman for Chelsea. In first? Frank Lampard, who scored 22 for the club in his best league season.
14: Everton have kept 14 clean sheets since the start of last year, second only to Liverpool over the same period.
Teen sensation and potential England star, Mason Greenwood, has now scored four goals this season, the most by any teen in the league.
15/22: No side has conceded as many opening goals as Wolves, who have done so in 15 of their 22 league fixtures. Despite this, Wolves have earned more points from losing positions than any side in the league over the past two years.
343: Since the start of the 2016/17 campaign, no one has scored more goals than Manchester City, with 343 (42 more than the next closest).
The week ahead looks to be a promising one, with interesting matches like an in-form Watford versus a still-struggling Tottenham, an in-form Crystal Palace versus a streaky Manchester City, Arsenal versus upstarts Sheffield United, red-hot Southampton versus Wolves, and of course, the highlight of the week, Liverpool versus Manchester United. However, Manchester United will be without Marcus Rashford, as yet another Englishman has fallen to the injury bug, this time in an FA Cup replay match on Wednesday. Rashford’s injury means that there are now three potentially problematic long-term injuries for England ahead of Euro 2020, which is now just a dizzying five months away (first matches kick off June 12th). The question has to be asked, given the consistency with which this issue occurs, is there something wrong with how the Premier League and the FA is set up or scheduled that’s contributing to critical injuries before major tournaments, or is the Premier League just a more physically demanding league than the others? The schedule is already grueling enough around the holidays, and when combined with other non-league fixtures, the amount of football being played borders on the absurd.
Two for Three in the first Pick ‘Em of the decade isn’t bad! Thanks to Southampton, I was unable to go three for three, which cost me a parlay bet, but all in all the week wasn’t bad. Here are this week’s picks:
Arsenal versus Sheffield United +.5 (+105): Sheffield has done extremely well away, and Arsenal…well…hasn’t done well in general this season.
Manchester City versus Crystal Palace +2.5 (+105): Three goals seems harsh, and is most likely only because City just destroyed Aston Villa this week.
Newcastle United versus Chelsea -1 (-125): -1 is a safe bet, and will most likely result in a push.
Burnley versus Leicester City -.5 (-120): Leicester is only favored to win by one just because they lost to Southampton, but they will get back on track here.
Best of luck this week to any bettors, that’s all from Connor’s press box this week.