It’s time to treat Arsenal like the front runners in the Premier League title race following an impressive 4-2 victory over Brighton on Saturday. While losing Gabriel Jesus to injury during the World Cup is a blow to the team, Eddie Nketiah has hit the ground running with two goals in two games and Arsenal’s lead atop the Premier League has grown to seven points.
Premier League leaders Arsenal make big statement at Brighton, build lead as Man City settle for draw: Manchester City still have a game in hand on Arsenal and the two clubs will face each other for the first time this season on Feb. 15th, but the lead could be at a point by then where Arsenal could still be in great shape no matter the result. Despite 21 Premier League goals from Erling Haaland, it has been City’s defense letting them down as the team have only won one of three matches where they’ve scored one goal this season. This is compared to going 4-0-1 (W-L-D) in the same type of matches last season.
Premier League leaders Arsenal make big statement at Brighton, build lead as Man City settle for draw
Arsenal’s next closest contenders, Newcastle United, also dropped points in a 0-0 draw with Leeds United. It’s a long season but so far when they’ve needed points, the Gunners l have gotten the job done. It was a shared effort against Brighton with Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli, Martin Odegaard, and Nketiah all hitting the back of the net, but during a busy festive period, things can get interesting in a hurry.
Mikel Arteta subbed out both of his fullbacks, Ben White and Oleksandr Zinchenko, in the 59th minute and Kaoru Mitoma immediately scored Brighton’s first goal by taking advantage of the space that White would’ve occupied. Brighton would get another and Mitoma made things interesting by hitting the back of the net again but it was judged to be offside following a VAR review, ending any chance of a dramatic comeback.
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Premier League leaders Arsenal make big statement at Brighton, build lead as Man City settle for draw: It would’ve been easy for Arsenal to let Brighton turn the game on its head as they appeared tired and have another match coming in three days against Newcastle, but during the final ten minutes of regulation and stoppage time, the team dug in their heels and held the line.
If the Gunners can keep this up, they’ll be able to lift the Premier League trophy at the end of the season when just making the top four would’ve been a good season for them Being in Europa League, Arsenal may have an advantage on Manchester City by being able to rotate the side more down the stretch, and they’ve shown the depth that Arteta has established.
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Premier League leaders Arsenal make big statement at Brighton, build lead as Man City settle for draw: Being able to rely on the entire attacking four is a boon to Arsenals’s season but depth players have been stepping up when needed as well. Second in scoring behind only Manchester City, Arsenal have scored 11 more goals than any other team in the league with four players scoring five or more goals. Assists are also impressive as Saka, Jesus, and Odegaard have each assisted four or more goals showing the unselfishness of the attack.
On a day where everything was coming up for Arsenal, Dec. 31 could pave the way to potentially and unexpectedly winning the league.
West Ham’s struggles are approaching panic levels, but are the Hammers too good to go down?
On Friday night those five dreaded words raised their heads in east London again. Too good to go down: it is the knell of doom around West Ham, a cruel reminder of the brutal season 20 years ago when Jermain Defoe, Michael Carrick, Paolo Di Canio and 42 points were not enough to keep the club from the Premier League trap door.
That side is widely acknowledged to be among the most purely talented teams to ever find themselves in the bottom three come the end of the season, a side that sleepwalked into a crisis that they only came to fully understand when it was too late. And so it is doubtless a little concerning for West Ham fans to hear their manager accentuate the positives after a fifth straight defeat in the Premier League, a 2-0 loss against Brentford that had the Irons just a point above the relegation zone having played a game more than those around them on Friday night.
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“We played well tonight, we played really well in the first half and played well in the second half as well,” said David Moyes. “Got sucker punched with a couple of throw-ins in the first half, so we’re disappointed with that.”
Yet these are not the wilfully blind comments of a manager determined to hide the truth. Moyes was right. In spells, particularly in the game’s early skirmishes, West Ham played excellent football. They controlled territory, swiftly advancing the ball into the final third and committing numbers in pursuit of victory. Thomas Frank echoed his counterpart’s assessment of the game.
“West Ham were better than us in the first half,” he said.
Premier League leaders Arsenal make big statement at Brighton, build lead as Man City settle for draw: It is becoming a familiar story. They may not have been remotely as dominant against Arsenal on Boxing Day but for 45 minutes they executed their gameplan rather effectively: punching through the Gunners’ weak point down the left flank to win a penalty and then protecting their penalty box with numbers and discipline. Then, just like the two throw-ins that undid them on Friday night, they were undone by atypical errors from a Moyes team, so often defined by their ability to nail down the basics in defense.
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That is rather the challenge for the Scot, that supporters have come to expect far more from him over the last few years, where West Ham have been competing with the Premier League’s most established powers in the European places. In the early months of the year his side had turned the anodyne enormodome that is the London Stadium into the capital’s most thrilling and energetic venue; as the ground bid farewell to 2022 most had long since made for the exits. Those that stayed around did so to boo.
“Moyes and the boys did such a tremendous job last season, being so competitive in the Premier League and going on a European run,” said Nigel Reo Coker, CBS soccer analyst and former West Ham captain. “He really has taken the club forward in leaps and bounds but the high performance levels that were set in last season’s campaign are not being reached right now.
“The standard that West Ham set last year is what they will be judged on by the fans. That is why it is so difficult right now, they are not reaching that same level and that’s why it seems negative, why fans are feeling a step backwards has been taken. West Ham is a fantastic football club with a great fanbase but when things aren’t going right and you aren’t getting the results, it can be a very difficult club to be at if you’re not mentally strong.”
For now, Moyes, reappointed in 2019 to bring stability to a club who too often lurked above the relegation zone, appears to be safely ensconced in the hot seat. Those who employ him will not have forgotten the situation the 59-year-old inherited and how similar it is to where the Hammers are now. One might argue he has taken them back to where he found them but a fairer assessment would also consider finishes of sixth and seventh that came along with a run to the Europa League semifinals. However, with the fans at his back, the upswing will need to be swift and profound.
According to Twenty3’s expected goal (xG) data, they have averaged almost exactly the same tally per game (1.44 this season to 1.43 last) in attack whilst conceding significantly lower quality chances at the other end (1.19 to 1.62). Rank the Premier League by non-penalty xG and they sit eighth, a better side than Manchester United and Chelsea, let alone their conquerors on Friday night.
West Ham have not lost what made them so formidable in the Premier League and Europe over recent years. They continue to pose a real threat from set pieces, where they average 0.3 xG per game whilst conceding 0.17. They are averaging about as many fast breaks too, the razor sharp counters that Jarrod Bowen used to lead after his defenders had held firm under pressure.
Equally against Brentford you could see signs of a midfield looking to expand its repertoire. Paqueta would glide around midfield, drifting beyond one man and looking to slide in a forward. Declan Rice spread the play with accuracy and fizz. You really got a sense it was going somewhere. It was. The bin. Read more