Nicklas Bendtner

Premier League Roundup: Moyes defeated in Everton reunion; top five snag wins

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The Premier League’s top five remains unchanged after Wednesday’s action, but attention is sure to gravitate to that fifth place team, with Everton’s win at Old Trafford serving as an early measuring stick for where the Red Devils and  Toffees sit after David Moyes’ spring move to Manchester United. The Blues’ late win over Moyes’ new team is sure to enliven debate as to which club ended up with the better boss, with for Everton fans regretting where their revamped squad sits after 14 games.

Elsewhere, Arsenal cruised to another win, maintaining their four-point lead at the top after Chelsea won a shootout in Sunderland. Manchester City started to exorcise their road demons, while Luis Suárez made another thunderous claim to being the league’s best player with dominant display at Anfield.

We start at the top and make our way down the table. Here’s your Premier League roundup:

(Highlights for all games are on their way.)

Arsenal 2-0 Hull City

Nicklas Bendtner is not only alive. As of the second minute of today’s visit from Hull City, he’s kicking. The enigmatic Dane scored his first Arsenal goal in over 1000 days to give the league-leading Gunners and early lead, and when Mesut Özil doubled the hosts’ lead two minutes into the second half, Arsenal were on their way to what’s becoming a characteristically controlling victory.

Sunderland 3-4 Chelsea

Jozy Altidore’s first goal since returning to the Premier League gave the Black Cats an early lead, one that reversed when Frank Lampard and Eden Hazard gave Chelsea a one-goal advantage going into halftime. After John O’Shea pulled Sunderland even five minutes into the second, Hazard restored Chelsea’s lead, one which grew to two after a late Phil Bardsley own goal. The Sunderland defender would make up for it with a goal in the 86th, but the Blues were able to hold on to stay within four of Arsenal.

West Bromwich Albion 2-3 Manchester City

Two goals from Yaya Touré and an opener from Sergio Agüero had City up 3-0 after 74 minutes. An own goal from Costel Pantilimon and Victor Anichebe’s 94th minute score brought the Baggies within two, but with come the final whistle, West Brom was unable to offset what had been a dominant display by the visitors.

Liverpool 5-1 Norwich City

Luis Suaréz came into the day tied for second in the Premier League in goals, but with four on Wednesday, the Liverpool sniper passed Sergio Agüero to go two clear atop the league’s scoring charts. Goals in the 15th, 20th, 35th and 74th minute moved Suárez to 13 on the year and spearheaded an overwhelming performance from Liverpool, who amassed 28 shots en route to their first five-goal day of the season.

Manchester United 0-1 Everton

In a match that’s sure to spur as many Red Devil questions as Toffees plaudits, it’s Everton that got the better for their former manager, an 86th minute goal from Bryan Oviedo proving the difference in the first meeting between David Moyes and the club he left last spring. Putting home a late Romelu Lukaku ball across the box, the replacement left back handed United their second home loss of the season, showing Moyes’s former team may be better than the one he’s taken over. Regardless, the biggest victory of the Roberto Martínez era has Everton fifth, even on points with Liverpool for the league’s final Champions League spot.

Fulham 1-2 Tottenham

One of Fulham’s strongest performances of the season still left the team emptied handed and in the drop zone, Spurs having fought back from a one-goal deficit to claim a much-needed win. Thanks to second half goals from Vlad Chiriches and Lewis Holtby, Tottenham claim their first league win since Oct. 27, going seventh in the process. Fulham, however, showed more life than they have at any time this season, putting six shots on target despite falling for the 10th time this campaign.

Swansea City 3-0 Newcastle United

Swans’ second win in three ends the Magpies’ four-match winning streak, with goals from Nathan Dyer and Jonjo Shelvey augmented by an own goal from Mathieu Debuchy. Dominating possession throughout, Swansea appeared to be playing into Newcastle’s hands before Dyer broke through in first half stoppage time. Debuchy’s help in the 66th minute gave Michael Laudrup’s team the room they needed to move up two spots to 11th place.

Southampton 2-3 Aston Villa

With a counter attack reminiscent of their season-opening win at Arsenal, Aston Villa pushed Southampton’s losing streak to three, with goals from Gabriel Agbonlahor, Libor Kozák, and Fabian Delph seeing Villa into the table’s top half. Twice, through Jay Rodriguez and Pablo Osvaldo, Southampton came back, but on a day in which they held 77 percent possession and put nine shots on target, the Saints couldn’t force the third past Brad Guzan, leaving Mauricio Pochettino’s team to suffer their first home loss of the season.

Stoke City 0-0 Cardiff City

Two sides lacking the nous to carve through the others’ defense were left with a possibly predictable draw, the sides’ combined 31 shots only translating into five tries on target. The day’s best chance came in the 40th minute when Jordan Mutch forced a diving save from Stoke’s Asmir Begovic, but with the Peter Crouch on the losing end of too many battles with Cardiff’s defense, the home side was never able to break through.

Crystal Palace 1-0 West Ham United (Tuesday)

Marouane Chamakh got revenge for his failed time at West Ham with a header just before halftime, the former French international’s opener holding up come the final whistle. With the first victory of the Tony Pulis era, the Eagles are out of the Premier League cellar, their third win of the year pushing Palace above Sunderland.

Seven unheralded stars of this Premier League season

during the Barclays Premier League match between A.F.C. Bournemouth and Tottenham Hotspur at Vitality Stadium on October 25, 2015 in Bournemouth, England.
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Look, it’s been a crazy year in the Premier League. Leicester City is top by five points, Chelsea is a bottom-half side, and not one of the league’s top three scorers hails from a team in last season’s Top Four.

So it follows that among the league’s other statistical leaders — advanced and traditional — are some surprisingly shining stars.

[ MORE: West Ham 3-2 Liverpool | Coutinho’s slick free kick ]

Or at least they aren’t mentioned a ton. We plan to rectify that here. By no means do we claim these statistical leaders without fault this season, but hats off to the good they’ve done (or, in some cases, the pain they’ve felt).

Most saves in a starring role

You wouldn’t know it from the goal totals these past few weeks, but Stoke City’s Jack Butland has been playing otherworldly between the sticks. His 87 saves lead the Premier League, and the Potters would be in the thick of a relegation battle if he hadn’t shone as brightly.

Ironman

Eleven players have played every minute of their side’s Premier League campaign this season (a 12th, Gareth Barry, has played all but one). Four of those 11 are goalkeepers, and six more are defenders. The only midfielder? Bournemouth’s South African standout Andrew Surman (above).

Top thief, too

Surman is also the league leader in interceptions with 92. The next seven players on the list, headed by Chris Smalling, are all defenders.

The most under-appreciated of the underdogs

Kante (Mark Thompson / Getty Images)

Leicester City has been fantastic, and people are quick to name Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy as big parts of the table-topping effort at King Power Stadium. Then, perhaps they’ll say something about goalkeeper Kaspar Schmeichel or defender Wes Morgan.

But how about the Premier League’s leader in tackles. Midfielder N'Golo Kante (right) has 115 tackles, 12 more than second-best Yohan Cabaye of Crystal Palace.

An all-expense paid journey to the massage parlor for…

Five players have been fouled more than 50 times this year, and you need to be around the ball a lot for that to happen. The four also-rans are Southampton’s Sadio Mane, Swansea City’s Andre Ayew, Everton’s Ross Barkley and Mahrez, but the man who deserved to skip to the head of the ice bath line is from Crystal Palace: Wilfried Zaha has been fouled 59 times. And that’s the amount of times the foulers were caught in the act.

Let Newcastle United’s captain climb in second, though; Fabricio Coloccini‘s 47 blocked shots are eight more than runners-up Neil Taylor (Swans) and Christian Fuchs (Leicester).

A man possessed

He hasn’t been heralded like a year ago, and most witnesses would tell you the midfielder’s been playing much worse. No, touches don’t equal success, but Cesc Fabregas‘ 2,027 credited touches are 74 more than the next player despite the fact that he’s the only player in the top four to have started less than 25 matches. He’s also completed 83 more passes than the closest competitor (Surman).

All-around stars

Advanced stats site Squawka uses an algorithm to generate statistics on who just might be the most complete player in the Premier League.

It’s certainly not foolproof, but the best player per-90 minutes would likely surprise you: Mousa Dembele of Spurs (Minimum 15 matches).

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As for who’s produced the most when numbers are averaged out over the entire game, one man rises to the top: Ross Barkley.

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Oft-targeted in the Premier League, Carvalho extends deal at Lisbon

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William Carvalho has been running through the rumor mill for ages, and Sporting Lisbon has made sure they’ll get their due if he ever stops somewhere else.

The Angola-born Portuguese defensive midfielder with 15 caps has extended his contract with Sporting through 2020, a date that carries him through his 28th birthday.

[ MORE: West Ham 3-2 Liverpool | Coutinho’s slick free kick ]

Carvalho is 23 now, and has been linked with loads of big name clubs from Manchester United to Chelsea, Arsenal to PSG.

His new buyout clause is said to be as high as $53 million, and Carvalho hopes his commitment calms his supporters.

“Sportinguistas, I say to you that I am very happy with the deal which I signed up to 2020 and that you will have total effort on my part to be champions.”

Sporting is tied with Benfica atop the Portuguese table, second on goal differential. The club leads third-place Porto by six points, and is still alive in the Europa League. Bayer Leverkusen is up next.

Klinsmann hints at Euro-heavy roster for World Cup qualifiers

FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 08:  Danny Williams #14 of the United States looks on before an international friendly against Brazil at Gillette Stadium on September 8, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images)
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If your favorite Major League Soccer players don’t make the cut for Jurgen Klinsmann’s next roster, don’t think you won’t see them in the red, white and blue this summer.

[ JPW: What’s the best XI for USMNT’s World Cup qualifiers? ]

Perhaps it’ll be different for the players who were a part of January camp — stars Lee Nguyen and Steve Birnbaum chief among them — but Klinsmann says the late start of the MLS season can affect fitness for the critical qualifiers home and away to Guatemala.

That means there’s a better chance to see in-form Championship midfielder Danny Williams (above) or Pachuca’s Omar Gonzalez then, say, Orlando City’s Brek Shea or Real Salt Lake’s Kyle Beckerman.

From USSoccer.com:

“We are basically looking all over the place. We monitor all the players in Europe. We monitor all the players in Mexico, and obviously we can’t wait until MLS starts as well. It’s really kind of crucial that we see everybody getting in the best shape possible, everybody getting into a rhythm and making statements.

“Then you say, ‘Is the roster you see at the end of March the same one as Copa America?’ Probably not. The end of March comes early for MLS players. The European players are in the full swing, and also Mexican players because they started already a month ago with Liga MX. So we’ll be monitoring everyone.”

We’ve already covered the obstacle that is the CONCACAF-CONMEBOL Olympic qualifying playoff occurring at the same time as the Guatemala matches, but this is still good news for players in England, Germany and other European locales seeking caps in March.

Klopp on struggling Benteke: “He wants to score and we need him to score”

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 09:  Christian Benteke of Liverpool reacts as he foiled by goalkeeper Darren Randolph of West Ham United during the Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round Replay match between West Ham United and Liverpool at Boleyn Ground on February 9, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
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Jurgen Klopp had his appendix removed this weekend, but it’s doubtful he’s feeling as sore as his big Belgian striker.

Christian Benteke had the opportunity to put himself in the good graces of Liverpool fans with a number of decent chances in Tuesday’s FA Cup loss to West Ham, but couldn’t get the job done.

[ MORE: Match recap | Watch Coutinho’s slick free kick ]

In one case, Benteke put himself in a prime spot only to lash his shot wide of the post. Instead, he’s now at 11 appearances without a goal (despite ripping nine shots against the Irons).

From the BBC:

“I don’t believe in the easy goal. He has to carry on like this. It’s not the nicest moment in his career but he has to work hard. He wants to score and we need him to score. We will work on it in the days, weeks and months.”

Klopp maintained that Liverpool was “the better team” on the night — counterpart Slaven Bilic disagreed — despite conceding a pair of very similar looking goals.

The game could’ve avoided extra time through Benteke’s boots and body, but he couldn’t find his finish again.

The 25-year-old has seen his goal production drop by nearly half since joining from Aston Villa in the summer, and it’s sure to return… just maybe not under Klopp.