How the mighty have fallen. After 18 straight league wins, with the chance to break a record, Liverpool put up a goose egg against the 19th (now 17th) place team in the league, Watford. It was a game which will have few ramifications, but it was indicative of the general state of malaise seemingly present at Anfield at the moment, with the best team in the Premier League suddenly having lost three of their last four matches. Liverpool weren’t alone: Manchester United, Tottenham, Chelsea, and Leicester City all dropped points in what should have been wins, while Manchester City missed this week due to their Carabao Cup final, which they won for the third straight year. See guys, money does buy trophies! Given the fact that Liverpool are now incapable of setting any records this season (at least in terms of unbeaten streaks), my position is that they should firmly focus on their tenuous position in the Champions League, even if that means playing reserves in future Premier League matches for the rest of the season. With only 11 matches left for Manchester City, who are down by 22 points, Liverpool only need to earn 12 points in their next ten matches to win the trophy. Let’s dive into this week’s stats:
22 years, 34 days: Jamal Lewis became the second youngest Northern Irishman to score in the Premier League, beaten only by Craig Cathcart.
2015: Watford’s 3-0 win versus Liverpool constituted the largest margin of defeat for the league leader since November 2015, when Liverpool beat Manchester City 4-1. It was also the largest margin of victory for a team in the relegation zone versus a top team ever in the history of the Premier League.
35: Wolves have earned 35 points from losing positions in Premier League matches since the start of last season, maintaining their status as the comeback kings. They also have earned more points against traditional top six sides (including Arsenal, not including Leicester) than anyone in this time period.
22: Only one time in the previous 22 seasons has the bottom six of the table been more tightly bunched at this stage in the season, giving cause for optimism to all of the bottom sides. In addition, according to the Premier League’s Fixture Difficulty Ratings, Norwich have the easiest end to the season, with an average difficulty of only 2.8 for their remaining ten matches. Bournemouth, on the contrary, face the toughest schedule, with an average difficulty of 3.5 for their remaining ten matches, including facing six of the top seven teams. All of this could mean that the number of points needed to stay up could be higher than ever this season, with Bournemouth on track for 37 points (Bournemouth are projected to finish 18th, based on the Fixture Difficulty Ratings).
Another week, another 1-2 Pick ‘Em. The end of this season has shaped up to be a major pain to pick, with strange results coming every week now. However, I think the three picks I have lined up this week should be relatively safe – if not, the end of this season may be pick-free, as I re-evaluate my strategy for next season.
Sheffield United -1.0 (+120) versus Norwich City. As usual, I like this kind of bet because it allows for the possibility of a push, which is generally safer. Sheffield have been incredible at home this season, and should be able to pull this one out as they reach for a Champions League spot (I know, sounds crazy to say that doesn’t it?).
Burnley versus Tottenham Hotspur 0.0 (-115). Tottenham have shown a propensity for high-scoring games since Mourinho took over, which is generally uncharacteristic of him, but they also have hardly lost a league match. They should be able to at least earn a wash against Burnley.
Chelsea -.5 (-120) versus Everton. Chelsea have come back in to form recently (ignoring their five minute break against Bournemouth) following the revival of Alonso and Giroud, and the youth contingent are getting healthier by the week. This one should be another for the Blues’ win column.