It was Arsenal‘s turn to lose to a much lower club last week, though the loss didn’t cause them to drop from their Top Five position in the league table. They remain in the tier above everyone else in the league (as we outlined in our Power Rankings this week), and should stay there again this week with a match against a club towards the bottom of the table.
Next week, Premier League clubs will be playing twice as we reach the midpoint of the season. Until then, we have a solid slate of matches book-ended by perhaps the best two of the weekend, including the one that kicks it all off tonight. As always, the number in parenthesis before each club reflects their spot on our Power Rankings, and we’ll try to keep this list updated as the week progresses. Home teams are listed first, and winners will be indicated in bold. In the event of a draw, both teams will be placed in italics.
Friday, 21 December 2018
8:00pm GMT/3:00pm EST
(6) Wolverhampton Wanderers 0-2 (1) Liverpool **MATCH OF THE WEEK**
Saturday, 22 December 2018
12:30pm GMT/7:30am EST
(5) Arsenal 3-1 (17) Burnley
3:00pm GMT/10:00am EST
(12) AFC Bournemouth 2-0 (13) Brighton & Hove Albion
(4) Chelsea 0-1 (9) Leicester City
(19) Huddersfield Town 1-3 (18) Southampton **MATCH OF THE WEAK**
(3) Manchester City 2-3 (14) Crystal Palace
(15) Newcastle United 0-0 (20) Fulham
(8) West Ham United 0-2 (11) Watford
5:30pm GMT/12:30pm EST
(16) Cardiff City 1-5 (7) Manchester United
Sunday, 23 December 2018
4:00pm GMT/11:00am EST
(10) Everton 2-6 (2) Tottenham Hotspur
Match of the Week
There are three matches this week between clubs in the top ten of both our Power Rankings and league table (West Ham United and Watford are also both in the top ten of the league table (but not our rankings)). But the match that stands out of them all is the one that opens the weekend.
The Wolverhampton Wanderers have been on a short winning streak, having one three matches in a row, a stretch that began with a victory over Chelsea at Molineux. But they have also struggled mightily at times this season, with six losses on the season, including a 2-0 shutout (at home) to the bottom-dwelling Huddersfield Town. But two of their last three victories have been at home, so they are hoping that Molineux magic will help them against the top club in the league.
But will that be enough to help them garner at least a point against Liverpool? The Reds haven’t lost a match all season; only a loss to that same Chelsea club in the EFL Cup prevents them from being unbeaten against English clubs this year. They are the same club at home as they are away, and have actually accumulated more points on the road this season thus far (though it is only 23 to 22).
Mo Salah leads the club in scoring with 10 goals, and nine other players have helped them score 37 goals on the season, tied for second (with Arsenal) in the league behind Manchester City’s 48. Goalkeeper Alisson has also held opponents scoreless in 10 matches thus far this season, and the club far and away leads the Premier League in goals against, having surrendered only seven all season. It’s going to take a perfect match from the Wolves to win, let alone draw, but it should be an entertaining tilt nonetheless.
A Battle to Avoid the Bottom
Our “Match of the Weak” again features the Terriers of Huddersfield Town, and this week they will be hosting Southampton. Huddersfield remains the lowest scoring club in the league; they’ve scored only 10 goals through 17 matches, and have only scored two goals in one match on the season (the aforementioned win over Wolves). However, the player that scored those two goals – Australian Aaron Mooy – has been ruled out of Premier League play until February because of injury, even though he may suit up for the Australian national team in the upcoming Asian Cup.
Those two goals tie him for the team lead in scoring with center back Zanka, but when players on other clubs have outscored your entire team by themselves – Mo Salah and Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang lead the league with ten goals apiece – you are a struggling offense to be sure. Not that Southampton has been a whole lot better on that front, honestly. They’ve scored 16 goals as a squad, with Danny Ings leading the way with six goals. They’ve also scored more than one goal in four matches this season, including three in their victory over Arsenal last week.
Still, while Huddersfield has been awful for most of the season, they have been stronger at home, at least defensively, with a -8 goal differential. Southampton, on the other hand, has truly struggled on the road, with a -13 goal differential. I tend to lean towards scoreless draws in matches like this one, and I’d be truly shocked for nearly any other result. But if one of the clubs is going to pick up their third win on the season, it will likely by Southampton, as they have at least one match of momentum due to that thrilling win against Arsenal.
Until next time…
Last Update: 23 December 2018, 1:30pm EST