10 things we learned in the Premier League – Matchweek 23

0 Comments

What did we learn during matchweek 23 of the 2021-22 Premier League season?

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]

Here’s a look at 10 things which stood out, as our writers Joe Prince-Wright (JPW), Nicholas Mendola (NM) and Andy Edwards (AE) share their observations from across the most recent Premier League games.

VIDEO: PL highlights ]

Let’s get to it.


1. Grealish, Foden, Sterling, Jesus ineffective (Southampton 1-1 Manchester City): Not a single one of the four players who played across Manchester City’s front-three made a positive impact for their side. Raheem Sterling was wasteful with his best chance of the game, Foden disappeared aside from one sweetly hit volley, Grealish was a non-factor and Jesus is a shell of the impact sub he once was. Just because Manchester City don’t have a striker (or any semblance of a focal point for their attack) doesn’t mean they need one, if they can cope without the massive investment. Saturday’s frustrating attacking performance, on the heels of similar showings against Chelsea, Arsenal and Brentford (albeit in victories), seem to indicate that there is still untapped potential at the very top for Pep Guardiola’s side. (AE)

2. Reds finishing, lapses won’t let dominance make it easy (Crystal Palace 1-3 Liverpool): Buffalo Bills coach Marv Levy famously said, “What it takes to win is simple, but it isn’t easy,” and goodness, gracious, is that true for Liverpool. The Reds produce chance after chance after chance but finishing isn’t always at the required level — pretty understandable when Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane are at AFCON — and the club seems to have 2-3 shocking lapses at the back per game. There were three on Sunday, but Palace only took advantage of one thanks to a pair of saves from Alisson Becker (one on a chance he helped make more dangerous). (NM)

3. Fine margins (Chelsea 2-0 Tottenham): And we mean fine in a few different ways. First, there’s Kane’s shove on Thiago Silva being caught by Paul Tierney. It’s possible that had it not been called on the field, VAR might’ve said the Chelsea back made too much of an obvious but light shove. And then there’s the fine like the layer of gold dust Hakim Ziyech sprinkled on his ethereal strike to make it 1-0 to the Blues. Chef’s kiss? How about angel’s breath? Alien life form? Somethin’ else. (NM)

4. Rangnick subs the difference (Manchester United 1-0 West Ham): Well, he needed a goal and wasn’t going to pull Cristiano Ronaldo for the second-straight match, was he? But let’s give Ralf Rangnick plenty of credit for swapping out Fred and youngsters Mason Greenwood and Anthony Elanga for three attackers with plenty of experience and heroics on their resumes. Marcus Rashford (62nd minute), Edinson Cavani and Anthony Martial (both 82nd minute) were all responsible for the winner after Ronaldo passed to Martial racing down the left. The timing was spot on and put a little shine on CR7’s name after he was best spotted for his latest arms-in-the-air “I’m Ronaldo and I dove, give me a penalty” act. (NM)

5. Arsenal revisit early-season struggles (Arsenal 0-0 Burnley): Sunday’s performance was reminiscent of Arsenal’s early-season woes, when the possession was plentiful but the high-quality scoring chances were not. What’s worse, the Gunners were once again either wasteful or spectacularly denied in their precious few high-leverage moments. Mikel Arteta found a working formula when he effectively turned the team over to youngsters Bukayo Saka, Martin Odegaard and Emile Smith Rowe following Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s removal from the squad. The young Gunners had no real answers when Burnley retreated to an ultra-deep defensive shape in the second half, and Arsenal managed all of three shots in the final 25 minutes of a home game in which they desperately needed to beat the last-place team in the Premier League. (AE)

6. Professional Villa mimic their manager (Everton 0-1 Aston Villa): This was a very solid Villa performance as they looked more dangerous in the first half and took the lead at a crucial time. They then hold on quite comfortably in the second and their air of confidence and solidity mirrored how their manager Steven Gerrard played, and now manages, the game. Gerrard had a wry smile before, during and after the game whenever Everton’s fans hurled abuse at the former Liverpool captain. He had the last laugh at Goodison as his Villa side are developing a strong core and he’s pushed them into the top 10. The progress is there for all to see as Villa’s squad, aided by Gerrard’s quality new signings in Digne and Coutinho, have totally bought in to everything he stands for. (JPW)

7. Wolves keep surging (Brentford 1-2 Wolves): That is now three wins in a row for Wolves and they are well and truly in the European hunt under Bruno Lage with four wins from their last five, as they’re unbeaten in that run against plenty of the big boys. They’re probably in the Champions League hunt. They are just four points out of the top four and they’re winning these games without several key men. Raul Jimenez, Romain Saiss and Hwang-hee Chan are all out but Wolves keep on surging and they have so much belief in the way they play. They’re a horrible team to play against and they’re committed to defending. In many ways they have nothing to lose as they’re already exceeding expectations this season. That is dangerous for the other teams in around the top six, or even Premier League top four. (JPW)

8. Howe he needed that! (Leeds 1-0 Newcastle): Eddie Howe’s team has had its fair share of disappointments under Eddie Howe, twice in relegation scraps. Newcastle took an early red card at Norwich City and held on for a point and took a point off Watford last week… but they needed three. Throw in an FA Cup exit at home to Cambridge United and some questionable personnel preferences, and Howe badly needed a win especially with an international break approaching and the team off for a camp in Saudi Arabia. You’re welcome, say Shelvey and Martin Dubravka.

9. Take a bow, Josh Sargent (Watford 0-3 Norwich): From missing this chance earlier in the season, to simply getting a foot on (and scoring) this most unlikely chance for Premier League goal no. 1 of the season, to scoring again just 23 minutes later, it’s been a wild first six months since Sargent left Werder Bremen and moved to England. (AE)

10. Brighton draw yet again (Leicester 1-1 Brighton): They have now drawn seven of their last 10 and 12 of their 22 games this season, more draws than any other team. Brighton once again deserved more. They have only lost four times this season. Four. Only Chelsea, Liverpool and Man City have lost fewer games and if Brighton can turn just a few of these draws into wins, they will have a chance of finishing in the top six. Without Graham Potter and his assistant Billy Reid on the sidelines due to COVID-19 and self-isolation, nothing looked out of sorts for Brighton. They were so well-drilled and so tough to play against. The next step for them is putting more chances away. How often have we said that this season? (JPW)

Follow @AndyEdMLS

Saudi Arabia vs Mexico: How to watch live, stream link, team news

0 Comments

Mexico needs a win to have hope of reaching the World Cup knockout rounds, while Saudi Arabia’s hopes of the final 16 may require the same at Stadium 974 in Doha on Wednesday.

The Saudis stunned Argentina 2-1 In Lusail to open the tournament but could not repeat the feat against Poland at Education City in Al Rayyan on Saturday to leave themselves with three points through two matches.

STREAM LIVE SAUDI ARABIA vs MEXICO

Mexico remains without a win after their scoreless draw versus Poland led to a Lionel Messi-inspired loss to Argentina In Lusail.

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub ]

Here is everything you need for Saudi Arabia vs Mexico.


How to watch Saudi Arabia vs Mexico live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 2pm ET, Wednesday Nov. 30
Stadium: Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)


Key storylines, players to watch closely

The Saudis have arguably been the most fun team at the tournament amongst non-powers, always running and getting exceptional goalkeeping. Salem Al-Dawsari was very good in both games but his missed penalty before halftime against Poland looms large of a match that could’ve been 1-1 going to the break and instead ended 2-0.

Mexico has not scored at the tournament so far, and Raul Jimenez has only been used as a super sub. Hirving Lozano and Alexis Vega combined for just three shot attempts before being subbed out of the Poland loss, while Lozano and Henry Martin combined for two versus Poland (Vega attempted five). They need better up top to keep up their streak of making Round of 16 appearances at the World Cup.


Saudi Arabia quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 51
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 5
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from AFC (Won Group B)
Coach: Herve Renard
Key players: Salem Al-Dawsari, Fahad Al-Muwallad, Mohammed Al-Owais

Mexico quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 13
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 16
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from CONCACAF (2nd place)
Coach: Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino
Key players: Guillermo Ochoa, Hector Herrera, Raul Jimenez

Poland vs Argentina: How to watch live, stream link, team news

0 Comments

Poland and Argentina surely didn’t plan to reach the marquee match of World Cup Group C with their knockout round status in doubt, but it’s been that kind of tournament in Qatar.

Poland remains unbeaten in Qatar after beating Saudi Arabia 2-0 in Al Rayyan, adding to the point it earned from a scoreless draw with Mexico In Doha to give it top billing in the group heading into Wednesday’s match.

STREAM LIVE POLAND vs ARGENTINA

Argentina, meanwhile, rebounded from a 2-1 tournament-opening loss to Saudi Arabia In Lusail to bear Mexico 2-0 behind a goal and an assist from Lionel Messi.

Saudi Arabia’s three points means it can still advance with a win over Mexico, who itself can add to its one point. So everyone’s alive in Group C.

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub ]

Here is everything you need for Poland vs Argentina.


How to watch Poland vs Argentina live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 2pm ET, Wednesday, Nov. 30
Stadium: Stadium 974, Doha – 2pm
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)


Key storylines, players to watch closely

The storyline for every Argentina game this tournament from this point forward — and really since the lead-up to the Mexico match — is that any loss means the end of Lionel Messi’s World Cup career (at least according to the living legend). The Albiceleste would be thrilled to get something more out of Lautaro Martinez, while Paulo Dybala’s yet to make his tournament debut.

Robert Lewandowski finally has a World Cup goal on his resume, while Piotr Zielinski has been very good for Poland. Former Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny was sensational in the win over Saudi Arabia.


Poland quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 26
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 8
How they qualified: Qualified from UEFA via playoffs, Path B
Coach: Czeslaw Michniewicz
Key players: Robert Lewandowski, Wojciech Szczesny, Piotr Zielinski

Argentina quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 3
World Cup titles: 2 (1978, 1986)
World Cup appearances: 17
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from CONMEBOL (2nd place)
Coach: Lionel Scaloni
Key players: Lionel Messi, Angel de Maria, Lautaro Martinez

Portugal vs Uruguay: How to watch, live stream link, team news

0 Comments

Portugal looks to seal its fate in the World Cup Round of 16 by piling pressure on Uruguay when two titans of the sport meet in Lusail on Monday.

Portugal outlasted Ghana 3-2 in Doha to open its tournament with a big win that featured a controversial penalty for Cristiano Ronaldo, while Uruguay staged a scoreless draw with South Korea.

STREAM LIVE PORTUGAL vs URUGUAY

It’s a group that never looked easy and is looking more and more like a “Group of Death” as the World Cup rolls through Qatar in its typically tense fashion this month and next.

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub ]

Here is everything you need for Portugal vs Uruguay.


How to watch Portugal vs Uruguay live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 2pm ET, Monday Nov. 28
Stadium: Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)


Key storylines, players to watch closely

Everyone’s going to keep looking at Cristiano Ronaldo — it’s difficult not to turn your head with all the “Look at me” nonsense — but Bruno Fernandes is the real string-puller here. He’s playing well with Ruben Neves, while Ruben Dias and the back line will look to tighten things up after letting Ghana stay in the game.

Uruguay hero Luis Suarez has been here before, but his supporting cast is as good as ever. Rodrigo Betancur and Jose Maria Gimenez give La Celeste a chance at clean sheet every time they take the pitch.


Portugal quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 9
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 8
How they qualified: Qualified from UEFA via playoffs
Coach: Fernando Santos
Key players: Cristiano Ronaldo, Ruben Neves, Bruno Fernandes, Joao Cancelo

Uruguay quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 14
World Cup titles: 2 (1930, 1950)
World Cup appearances: 14
How they qualified: Qualified from CONMEBOL
Coach: Diego Alonso
Key players: Luis Suarez, Federico Valverde, Darwin Nunez, Rodrigo Betancur

Brazil vs Switzerland: How to watch, live stream link, team news

Brazil vs Switzerland live
Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP via Getty Images)
0 Comments

Opening match winners Brazil and Switzerland meet Monday at Stadium 974 in Doha.

FIFA world No. 1 Brazil broke through pesky Serbia for a 2-0 win In Lusail to start the tournament as Richarlison scored two goals — one a ridiculous bit of technique — to get the Brazilians off on the right (and left) foot.

STREAM LIVE BRAZIL vs SWITZERLAND

Switzerland meanwhile used a 1-0 defeat of Cameroon to claim three points and set up Monday’s win-and-in match.

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub ]

Can Neymar-less Brazil take the next step toward a sixth World Cup? Here is everything you need for Brazil vs Switzerland.


How to watch Brazil vs Switzerland live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 11am ET, Monday Nov. 28
Stadium: Stadium 974, Doha
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)


Key storylines, players to watch closely

Brazil will not have Neymar for this one and likely the rest of the group stage as the oft-fouled magician felt the sting of Serbian tackles in the opener. The Brazilians have had to play without their captain before and have a wealth of attacking options, but who will join Richarlison in providing the goals in a Ney-less attack.

The Swiss have all the tools to hang with Brazil, but how physical will they want to make it for the favorites? Granit Xhaka will be one to watch as the underdogs try to balance a desire to get forward with the danger of doing so against a potent Brazil.


Brazil quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 1
World Cup titles: 5 (1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, 2002)
World Cup appearances: 22
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from CONMEBOL (1st place)
Coach: Tite
Key players: Neymar, Thiago Silva, Casemiro, Alisson Becker

Switzerland quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 15
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 12
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from UEFA (1st place)
Coach: Murat Yakin
Key players: Granit Xhaka, Xherdan Shaqiri, Yann Sommer, Remo Freuler