I suppose this is a soccer blogging cliche now. But let’s not let that stop us.
New England forward Ryan Guy connected cleanly in Kansas City on a Lee Nguyen corner kick, one driven with sure authority. Guy’s powerful header went right at SKC goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen, who was able to beat it away at the goal line.
Or was he? If that ball wasn’t all the way into goal, it was dreadfully close. You tell us …:
10 things we learned in the Premier League: Week 22
There seems to be a real amount of bellyaching, if that isn’t too harsh of a term, because we’re sitting here in February without an absolute sense of who will be the two, or three final Premier League teams to contend for the Premier League Trophy.
A bonkers weekend of Premier League results also did absolutely nothing for the narrative, especially after Man City didn’t take advantage of Arsenal’s loss at Sean Dyche’s Toffee Shop.
Admit it — yes, even you, Arsenal fans — saying without reservation that one team is going to be in the Premier League title fight on the final day is very difficult this season and that’s probably for a number of reasons.
For one thing, this is the first Feb. 5 in the last six years that either Manchester City or Liverpool isn’t atop the Premier League table.
And that atop the table, Arsenal, has not been in the top five on a Premier League table at this point in a season since the 2016-17 season. That, coincidentally, was the last time City or Liverpool didn’t win the league.
So, yeah, it takes a leap of faith to declare that Arsenal’s five-point lead with a match-in-hand is as comfortable a lead as it would appear were City or Liverpool here… and probably Chelsea, Man City, and even Spurs. This is new territory. And it’s exciting which, by the very nature of verb, is not comfortable, sound, or solid.
Here’s what the Premier League table’s looked like at the end of February 5 since the 2015-16 season (Keep in mind this is also “matches in hand” time of year the last four seasons, and that usually there have been many more matches played because the World Cup wasn’t in November).
Premier League table on Feb. 5 of the last eight seasons
Season denoted by * indicate there are matches-in-hand amongst teams
2015-16: Leicester City (50 points), Man City (47), Spurs (45), Arsenal (45), Man Utd (40)
2016-17: Chelsea (59 points), Spurs (50), Man City (49), Arsenal (47), Liverpool (46)
2017-18: Man City (69 points), Man Utd (56), Liverpool (51), Chelsea (50), Spurs (49)
2018-19: Liverpool (62 points), Man City (59), Spurs (57), Chelsea (50), Man Utd (48)
*2019-20: Liverpool (73 points), Man City (51), Leicester (49), Chelsea (41), Spurs (37)
*2020-21: Man City (47 points), Man Utd (44), Leicester (42), Liverpool (40), West Ham (38)
*2021-22: Man City (57 points), Liverpool (48), Chelsea (47), Man Utd (38), West Ham (37)
*2022-23: Arsenal (50 points), Man City (45), Man Utd (42), Newcastle (40), Spurs (39)
I mean, that is some viewing, isn’t it? Only three times in eight has the table had as many as four teams within 10 points of first at this point in the season, and we’re a point away from having all five.
You’d have to favor Arsenal to deliver the goods still; Past performance be darned, the Gunners may be unleashing a new dynasty or even just a ridiculous single season on the world. And they could lose to Man City twice and still have a match-in-hand to make up the point.
But as those two matches indicate, Arsenal is also yet to play Man City in the Premier League play. They’ll also see their young squad taxed by Europa League at some point (Aren’t these new knockout round play-offs enticing but so off-putting?)
Anyway, the point is that I want you to know that I understand if you’re feeling thrown by the table this week. The truth is there’s an awful lot of season left — around 3-4 matches per team less than usual — and the following is true:
Arsenal is still the front-runner
Arsenal has also continued to leave the runway clear for an in-form Man City
Man City is very much not in-form
Manchester United, Tottenham, and even Newcastle have realistic mathematical paths to climb into the discussion if they win their games against Arsenal and Man City.
Soooooooo…. what did you learn from the Premier League this weekend? Cause here’s where our writers are living, as Joe Prince-Wright (JPW), Andy Edwards (AE), and Nicholas Mendola (NM) share their observations from across the most recent PL games.
10 things we learned in the Premier League: Week 22
1. Kane Spurs put a bit of chaos in Premier League title fight on historic night (Spurs 1-0 Man City): Look, this is likely still just a three-team Premier League race even taking into account what we’ve posted above. And I personally might want to argue the case that Manchester City has the best odds to sort it all out given past history, but who knows what’s going to happen to Pep Guardiola’s clearly on-fire galaxy brain if City surges in the Champions League, let alone drops out of it. But I can also tell you that a City win on Sunday after Arsenal flopped at physical Everton on Saturday — get ready for more of that, Gunners — would’ve had me feeling like both Manchester sides held the only hope that the title fight wouldn’t just be a scrap over which Gallagher brother’s Oasis songs were the best. There’s just something about Harry Kane, though, and Antonio Conte is the man pulling the strings down in London. Throw in Newcastle only having to worry about one match that isn’t in the Premier League for the rest of the summer, and Spurs’ win over Man City sounded a note for chaos. Can you imagine Arsenal not falling completely off but going through a naive spell? Can you dial up a scenario in your head where Christian Eriksen’s injury and Casemiro’s red card tax United out of title fight? And might you see Man City’s season going with more ennui than a Morrissey B-side or, worse, Belgium’s World Cup campaign? Folks, anything might be possible this Premier League run-in! (NM).
2. Casemiro’s not-so-idle hands put three points in uneasy place (Man Utd 2-1 Crystal Palace): Scoring chances were plentiful for the Red Devils (14 shots, with an xG total of 2.04) and eventually Marcus Rashford put one away in the 62nd minute, giving him 11 goals in 13 games. Those numbers go with four assists in all competitions since returning from the 2022 World Cup. It appeared at that point that Palace would go quietly into the night and humbly accept defeat, until Casemiro was sent off in the 70th minute for putting both hands around Will Hughes’ neck. United was resilient and had to be, as Crystal Palace took just six minutes to take advantage of their numerical advantage; Cheick Doucoure volleyed from the edge of the penalty area and Jeffrey Schlupp redirected the initial effort on target and past David de Gea to set up a tense final 15 minutes and nine nearly never-ending minutes of stoppage time. But Man United will wake up Monday and wonder why they can’t be the in-form team that runs up the table. (AE)
3. Everton does best Burnley imitation, bullies leaders Arsenal (Everton 1-0 Arsenal): From the very first whistle Everton looked well-organized, had a clear plan, and their players believed in what they are doing. The new manager bounce from Sean Dyche was incredible but it isn’t just a bounce. It’s because he’s a very good manager who did a phenomenal job at Burnley. Dominic Calvert-Lewin was the focal point up top, and Dwight McNeil and Alex Iwobi delivered energy and quality from out wide. Abdoulaye Doucoure, Amadou Onana, and Idrissa Gana Gueye will excellent in midfield and the solid back four never looked out of position. This was exactly what we would expect from a Dyche side and if Everton changed their kit colors to claret it was like watching his peak Burnley teams. Arsenal was bullied throughout, couldn’t find their rhythm, and had no answer for the energy Everton showed. Now, can Dyche get that effort and organization week-in, week-out? It is clear the Toffees have the players to drag themselves away from a relegation scrap and also now clear they have a manager who is able to lead them up the table. Dyche to Everton felt like a perfect fit about five years ago and it has started exactly how he would have hoped. (JPW)
4. Lopetegui’s Wolves feast on wounded Reds as top-four hopes locked in the medical tent (Wolves 3-0 Liverpool): Injuries definitely start the story of this one, a 3-0 that was much closer on the xG scoreboard but just as divided in spirit. Jurgen Klopp’s one-time mentality monsters looked mentality defeated, especially in front of either goal, as the boss exclaimed after the game — full comments below — that the club was lined up as directed but “passive, not active.” Wolves, meanwhile, were very active, and Klopp would’ve wondered what might’ve been when Neves lashed in the third goal by darting between a collection of lined-up Liverpool backs to snap home the end product of Adama Traore’s robust work breaking the lines and conducting a trademark dribble. The Reds have big holes by Darwin Nunez is snakebit in front of goal and Cody Gakpo may get there. At the moment, Liverpool’s entire attack seems to be, “Let’s hope Mo Salah cooks today.” Not great, Al. (NM)
5. Anthony Gordon looks uncaged in short but thrilling Newcastle debut (Newcastle 1-1 West Ham): We knew that Anthony Gordon was fast, worked hard, and had promise, but the blonde-topped pest that is Newcastle’s new $45 million man was flat-out electric in his first match for Newcastle. He could’ve easily had one assist today off the bench and two was reasonable. His introduction to the game gave the second half interest given he just moved up north but you know what? He delivered in every way imaginable but a goal. I thought his price tag was silly and the asking price laughable, but would be super happy to be wrong and the initial results are very good. Maybe Gordon was being held back this year at Everton, or maybe he just caught the vapors of an SJP debut. Either way, it looks nice for Newcastle who won’t be happy with a point vs West Ham but should be: The Irons are much better than their season’s results. (NM)
6. Enzo Fernandez impresses but rest of Chelsea… not-so-much – (Chelsea 0-0 Fulham): Chelsea’s spending spree saw the Blues sign eight new players to swell Graham Potter’s first-team squad to 30 players, including Enzo Fernandez, who arrived in west London as the most expensive signing in British football history ($129 million) on Tuesday. The Argentine midfield wasted no time and looked a cut above everyone else on the field as he made his Premier League debut with precious little time to train with his new club. And excuse the dark humor, but his teammates must’ve missed the memo on smashing the transfer record; $360 million later, mid-table Chelsea were able to secure a point in a 0-0 draw with European hopefuls Fulham at Stamford Bridge. (AE)
7. Leicester wins thriller at Villa, but the manner don’t matter more than the result (Aston Villa 2-4 Leicester): Leicester overturned not one, but two deficits to put an end to their five-game winless skid and secure a 4-2 victory over Aston Villa at Villa Park on Saturday. The victory takes Leicester (21 points), who had previously taken just one point of a possible 15, up to 13th in the Premier League table, now three points clear of the relegation zone. Eight teams remain within three points of 18th-place Everton, including those currently below them. Aston Villa (28 points) are not among them, but they remain 11th following the defeat. (AE).
8.Gritty Nottingham Forest sees off disjointed Leeds (Nottingham Forest 1-0 Leeds): Nottingham Forest did not play well but they did what they had to do as defensively they are so solid; Steve Cooper’s men have a clear plan and they are doing the basics so well. With Brennan Johnson in this kind of form plus other threats on the break, Forest are looking set to stay in the Premier League quite comfortably.
Meanwhile, Jesse Marsch and Leeds look very disjointed as they continue to integrate new signings and get players back to full fitness. They looked like a team struggling for confidence and with no win in their last seven the pressure is mounting on Marsch. It seems like they just need one lucky break to get going again and regain their early season form. The Leeds fans aren’t happy, however, and a bad week with their two games against in-form Man United could see the owners forced into a change. (JPW)
9. Savvy Bees make most of Saints’ weaknesses (Brentford 3-0 Southampton): Brentford are very good at whipping in crosses and winning balls in the air. Like Dracula, Southampton do not like crosses. This did not seem to be a good matchup for Saints before this game and it went exactly that way. Thomas Frank’s side were ruthless when their chances arrived and Southampton’s jumbled defense gave them too much time to pick out crosses and then switched off to defend the players arriving to score. These were basic errors from Southampton and it’s the reason they are bottom of the league. These crosses and the chaos they cause before, during, and after the ball is coming in is also why Brentford are pushing for European qualification. This turned into a very routine win for the hosts as the pressure continues to mount on Nathan Jones with six defeats in his seven Premier League games in charge. Saints aren’t cut off at the bottom, yet, but it is getting to a very precarious situation for Jones as new players have arrived but there has been no real improvement for Saints since Ralph Hasenhuttl was fired in November. (JPW)
10. Bournemouth shows hope but Brighton’s got too much class (Brighton 1-0 AFC Bournemouth): Kaoru Mitoma certainly looks to be comfortable in the Premier League, and who needs a 20-yard banger or intra-box juggle-and fire every week? This time Mitoma turned up with a late header for his show-stopper. But Bournemouth can and should feel renewed optimism after new owner Bill Foley sanctioned moves for some badly needed flair players. One of those, Dango Ouattara, looks downright dangerous, while Ivorian attacker Hamed Traore and Ghanaian striker Antoine Semenyo are proper alternatives to Kieffer Moore and injured Dominic Solanke. When the Cherries get Marcus Tavernier back, the puzzle will be much closer to their best. How many pieces remain missing is what will dictate whether Bournemouth keeps its puncher’s chance to stay up. (NM)
Tottenham Hotspur Stadium remains a house of horrors for Pep Guardiola and Manchester City following Spurs 1-0 win on Sunday, as Harry Kane made Premier League and Tottenham history in North London.
It’s Spurs’ fifth-straight win over City at home, a stunning run for any team against three-peat chasing visitors. Spurs also finished the game with 10 men after Cristian Romero collected a late, second yellow card, but City still could not find a way home.
Kane’s 267th Tottenham and 200th career goal came off a City error in the 15th minute and the visitors never found an equalizer, shut out for the first time since an Oct. 16 loss at Liverpool.
Arsenal (50 points) were handed just their second defeat of the season on Saturday, beaten 1-0 away to Everton as Sean Dyche made his debut as Toffees manager, and it was North London rival Tottenham that acted on it.
City remains five points behind Arsenal, who holds a match-in-hand, while Spurs climb onto 39 points. That’s one behind Newcastle and three back of third-place Man United, though Spurs have played more games than anyone else in the Premier League other than Fulham.
What he said to NBC after the game. “It’s hard to put into words, a magical moment and especially do to it in a win as well. Being here at home in front of the fans. There’s been so much talk about it and I just wanted to get it done as soon as possible. To do it in a big game against one of the biggest teams in the world…it’s a great feeling. When I started playing regularly 8, 9 years ago, it wasn’t even in my mind to score 200 Premier League goals. When Tim Sherwood gave me my first start, I was so desperate to make my mark. A lot of hard work, with Mauricio and all the coaches. Jimmy Greaves is a complete hero, one of the best to play the game. To be in that company is a special feeling. I’m sure his family is watching and proud as well.”
What he said to crowd after the game: “Thanks for supporting me my whole career. Thank you to my wife, my kids, family and friends. And to my teammates. It’s super. Let’s keep the support going and see where it takes us.”
Pep Guardiola reaction
“We started really well. As usual against Tottenham, home or away, we make a mistake and they punish us. They are a team at 1-0 down who are not easy. We had chances with Riyad, but even with our people up front it’s not easy, and we dropped three points.”
Why he didn’t start Kevin De Bruyne for tactical reasons, but subbed him anyway: “We brought him in for the last pass. In the second half it was moree difficult. He can make one of these actions.”
Stars of the Show
Harry Kane: What else can you say about him?
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg: The sort of guy who makes the middle of the park a danger zone, and today that meant an assist.
Manuel Akanji: One of the precious few City players who continues to consistently show hunger.
Ivan Perisic: Up and down the left side, should’ve had an assist to Kane late.
Jack Grealish: A constant menace who won fouls out of nothing. You might not like that, but it worked a treat.
Man City is home to Aston Villa on Sunday, Feb. 12, a day after Tottenham heads to Leicester City.
Harry Kane goal video: Tottenham, England star makes big history
Tottenham vs Manchester City live updates, as they happened
Tottenham vs Man City final score: 1-0 (Kane, 15′)
12:57pm ET: Nearly for both sides! Julian Alvarez tears into a shot that just misses the frame at one end, and Kane should’ve had a corner for a denied chance at the other end but it was ruled he just missed the frame.
12:51pm ET: A short City corner nearly makes it 1-1, but Eric Dier’s thigh gets a piece of the ball that looked marked for upper 90. It’s another corner, and there’s a handball shout against Cristian Romero that goes unheeded. Now Spurs race back the other way and Ivan Perisic comes close to finding Kane with a dragged shot-cross through the six. It’s getting fun!
12:43pm ET: So nearly 2-0, but Ben Davies’ header off a corner kick is just off the mark.
Wait, what’s that? Kevin De Bruyne’s music? A game plan crying out for him is now getting its pleas heard as cameras catch the Belgian getting dolled up for his introduction.
12:37pm ET: Back in play, albeit slowly, and the second half’s first real moment comes when Grealish wins a foul on the left off of Emerson Royal. The lofted in free kick is a bit wayward and seems to carry too much, and the passage ends with a City goal kick. Still 1-0 Spurs.
12:20pm ET: HALFTIME STATS! It’s still 1-0 to Spurs on Kane’s record-making goal. Here’s how the match looks, via FotMob:
12:17pm ET: Crossbar smashed! Riyad Mahrez nearly has it 1-1 at the break. We’re almost done with two minutes stoppage time.
12:13pm ET: Close! Grealish has been a live wire and whips in a shot that cannot find the frame. City cannot find Erling Haaland and the xG battle is even at 0.37 even if City has 68 percent of the ball and a 6-2 edge in shots. Still 1-0 Spurs, who have a corner and cannot get through City because Kane and Eric Dier have a few chances to snap a loose ball home.
12:05pm ET: It’s slowed down a bit, so let’s take a moment to shout out reaction from the other two Premier League players who can say they’ve scored 200 goals in the competition.
11:52am ET: YELLOW CARD, TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR. Man City right back at it, but Spurs take the ball back and Kane wins a free kick just inside the circle. City takes the ball back and Jack Grealish and Rico Lewis are bringing electricity to the center of the park. Lewis is chopped down by Rodrigo Betancur, who sees a yellow card for his petulance.
11:47am ET: GOOOOOAAAAALLLL!TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR! And it’s history for Harry Kane! It had still been a lot of City, but a bad giveaway deep in its own end allows Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg to lay the ball off for Kane inside the 18. From this angle and range, the new all-time Tottenham Hotspur goal scorer is not going to miss and Spurs lead at home with his 267th goal in the shirt. It’s also his 200th Premier League goal. What a moment! Tottenham 1-0 Man City, 15′.
11:36am ET: It’s been a good start for Man City, with a couple of corner kicks. City, however, looks like it will be dealing with an 18 that resembles cartons of milk on the shelf at the grocery store. City currently opening the door to find a compact Spurs unit all over the pitch, with several shots blocked inside the 18.
11:15am ET: Good morning! Nick Mendola here with you ahead of a game Antonio Conte would love to get and Pep Guardiola will be planning to capture. Some odd comments from Guardiola before the game about Kevin De Bruyne being out of the Starting XI for tactical reasons, while Phil Foden misses out through injury/illness. Exciting under-the-radar Maximo Perrone has a spot in the 18, too, and some are suspecting him as a long-term Rodri clone. As for Spurs, Conte does get Richarlison on the bench, which also holds room for new signings Pedro Porro and Arnaut Danjuma. Depth options and two tactical wizards on the touch line should make this a complete game… unless Erling Haaland makes it a fait accompli before it has a chance to become a chess match. (NM)
When these sides met just two weeks ago, Tottenham found themselves 2-0 up at halftime and threatening to cause the Man City upset yet again, effectively handing rivals Arsenal a three-point boost in the title race. Then the second half kicked off, and the two-time defending champions poured in four games, including three in the first 18 minutes. Another fantastic half wasted by Tottenham, though it was typically a poor start followed by a frantic finish of their own. Harry Kane will pass Jimmy Greaves as Spurs’ all-time top scorer when he scores his next goal, taking his total in all competitions to 267. If Kane scores that goal in a Premier League fixture, the record goal will also be his 200th in the league.
Erling Haaland (25 goals) is the only player with more PL goals than Kane (16) this season, and though his numbers are certainly eye-popping, his arrival has clearly unsettled Pep Guardiola’s tactical system to some degree. A season ago, Manchester City conceded just 26 goals in 38 games (0.68 per game). This season, 20 goals in 20 games, up nearly a half-goal per game.
There is something somewhat dull about knowing the identity of the 2022 Golden Boot winner, the lone curiosity being the final number of his final tally, we get it, but most of what Haaland is doing this season is simply marvelous and to be admired without much fear.
Haaland’s Premier League-leading 25 goals have him eight goals clear of the next closest challenger: Tottenham’s Harry Kane.
The Norwegian star piled up 20 goals in a single Premier League season faster than any player in history… by seven games (Kevin Phillips of Sunderland did it in 21). Now he’s within five goals of equalling Kevin Phillips’ record for most goals in a debut Premier League season.
And the later this season goes with him projected so far over the current record, the less chucking is accompanied by marking out the pace (especially considering Haaland was not beaten up by the World Cup, as Norway was not in the tournament). And even though Haaland is currently overperforming his expected goals total, it’s clear that projecting him for the Premier League record is rather realistic.
Haaland may not be likely to hit 50 goals given the schedule congestion to come for Man City, but the Premier League record is very well under assault and that figure isn’t entirely absurd. He’s played in 20 of Man City’s 21 games, scoring 25 goals.
Mohamed Salah holds the 38-game season record with his 32 goals scored for Liverpool during the 2017-18 season, while Newcastle’s Andy Cole and Blackburn’s Alan Shearer bagged 34 during 42-game seasons in the 20th century’s final decade.
Haaland also could topple the record for goal involvements (goals plus assists) in a single season, including beating the 42-game record. Alan Shearer put up 47 over 42, while Thierry Henry holds the 38-game record with 44.
Other records that Haaland could legitimately tie or topple:
30 goals in a first Premier League season (Kevin Phillips, Sunderland, 1999-2000)
Goals in 24 different Premier League matches (Salah, Liverpool, 2017-18)
Most goals in a Premier League match (Five tied with five)
11-straight Premier League games with a goal (Jamie Vardy, Leicester, 2014-15)
Read on to see the latest Premier League goal totals for the 2022-23 season, as Haaland looks to claim a Golden Boot in his first PL season.
Kevin De Bruyne’s gaudy assist numbers give rise to any number of considerations, and we have to wonder if the Manchester City star has ever wondered if the Premier League record would be his in a world in which Jose Mourinho found better use for him at Chelsea.
De Bruyne’s 11 assists this Premier League season are four more than his nearest competitors — Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka and Man Utd’s Christian Eriksen — and give him 97 for his career. That’s fifth all-time, two more than Dennis Bergkamp and 65 (?!) behind record holder Ryan Giggs.
The Belgian star, 31, arrived at Chelsea from Werder Bremen at the age of 22 and managed only 425 in a half-season before being offloaded to Wolfsburg. Back in the Bundesliga, De Bruyne got six assists the rest of the way before setting up 21 goals the next season to set up a move to Man City.
He’s since won the nascent Premier League Playmaker of the Season Award twice, including a 20-assist 2019-20 season, and he’s on pace to make it three of six. Harry Kane, Mohamed Salah, and Eden Hazard have also won the award, which is only five years old.
De Bruyne also led the Premier League in assists in 2016-17, the year before the league but a name on the honor.
His stats hint that there’s more to come, as ‘KDB’ is creating a gaudy 3.71 chances per 90 minutes. After a season in which he scored 15 times with eight assists, De Bruyne is back taunting those who’d dare chase him in terms of setting up goals (Some guy named Erling Haaland is helping…).
Take a look at De Bruyne’s shining stats, and read on to see who’s chasing him in a list of the Premier League assist leaders for the 2022-23 season.