Chris Wood

Burnley snaps losing skid with scrappy win over Leicester

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Burnley snapped a four-match Premier League losing streak with a 2-1 win over Leicester City at Turf Moor on Sunday.

Jamie Vardy missed a penalty for the Foxes, who are 2-2-2 in their last six matches. Leicester’s 45 points are three back of second place Man City.

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Burnley climbs to 27 points on goals from Ashley Westwood and Chris Wood, with Pope’s save of Vardy the moment of the match. The point total is good enough for 14th on the table, five points ahead of the drop zone.


Three things we learned

1. Barnes roasts Mee twice, but Pope offers clemency: Burnley goalkeeper Nick Pope had a strong day between the sticks, and the performance was required stuff as center back Ben Mee opened the door twice. Pope could do nothing about Barnes’ first goal, which came with Mee far too slow to react to a dribble. The second came when Mee hauled down Barnes, and Jamie Vardy came to the spot for what looked to be a surefire penalty winner. No, sir, as Pope guessed correctly to stop one of the better penalty takers in the leader.

Mee also could’ve conceded a penalty (see our third thing) on an uncharacteristically poor day.

2. Burnley as pesky as ever: The Clarets play scrappy football. They don’t care much for the ball and manager Sean Dyche demands fight in the air and on the ground. Burnley has let him down with poor defending this season, but the players remain feisty when following his plan of finding his forwards on the counter and through set pieces. The problem? Those opportunities are conditional, and the Clarets have not been finding them enough.

Of course, they did that twice on Sunday. Ashley Westwood’s long corner did not find Kasper Schmeichel at his best, and Westwood then scored when Jonny Evans also made an uncharacteristic error.

3. Leicester’s luck leaves them: The Foxes probably should’ve had a penalty. As far as we know, VAR did not have a closer look at Mee jutting his elbow out to block a shot late in the second half. Replays begged a penalty, but no review was signalled via television or referee.

Moments later the Foxes cringed as Evans, a decent enough defender, made a careless error to allow Westwood to thump home from close range.

Not only that, but Praet appeared to be fouled in the build-up to the opening goal. VAR didn’t find anything.

Man of the Match: Pope. He was fantastic, left for dead on Barnes’ opener but able to stop Vardy from the spot and then again point blank in the 78th minute.


Harvey Barnes fired a shot to Nick Pope from 10 yards within 35 seconds of the opening kickoff.

It was predictably all Leicester early, the Clarets again content to hemorrhage possesion in favor of counter attacking danger.

Barnes put the Foxes in front with a run down the gut of the Burnley back line, Ben Mee barely presenting an obstacle on the route to Pope’s doorstep.

It remained 1-0 into the break.

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Pope made a great save on Dennis Praet within two minutes of restart, then collecting a stray through ball before Jamie Vardy could reach it.

Wood leveled it with a typical Burnley goal, Mee nodding down a corner into the six for the Kiwi to prod over the line.

Mee was in the mix again as Leicester City took control back. Barnes roasted the center back to draw a penalty. Vardy doesn’t miss many of those, but Pope was there to stop the Premier League’s leading goal scorer from the spot.

Mee’s awful day should’ve gotten worse when he leaned to block a shot with his arm, but VAR didn’t see an error and the Clarets raced down the pitch to score soon after.r

It was Westwood, one of the league’s unsung contributors, who pounced on a Jonny Evans error in the 79th minute.

Watch Live: Burnley v. Leicester City

Watch Live: Burnley v. Leicester City (Lineups and stream link)
Photo by Plumb Images/Leicester City via Getty Images
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Leicester City looks to build a nine-point cushion on fourth-place Chelsea with a win over Burnley at Turf . Moor on Sunday (Watch live at 9 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Brendan Rodgers‘ Foxes can go level on points with second-place Manchester City by beating the hosts.

[ STREAM: Burnley v. Leicester City ]

Fifteenth-place Burnley opens the day two points clear of the Bottom Three, losers of four-straight matches.

Jay Rodriguez and Chris Wood start up top for the Clarets against the second-stingiest back line in the Premier League.

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Leicester City

PL Club Power Rankings: Week 21

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The festive fixtures shook up our weekly litmus test less than we expected.

Maybe it’s the sheer volume of games that seemingly leveled the playing field of a pretty even league more than usual.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

The transfer market may shake up the game a bit more.

At least our club power rankings can exhale for a week while the FA Cup takes the wheel.

Green: New season-high ranking
Red: New season-low

[ MORE: PL Club Power Rankings archive ]


20. Norwich City — We keep reading about how laudable it is that Daniel Farke wants his team to play attractive football, but it could cost them big time. At least we get to watch Emiliano Buendia on a weekly basis.
Last week: 19
Season high: 10
Season low: 20
Last match: Drew 1-1 v. Crystal Palace
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Jan. 11 at Manchester United

19. Bournemouth — Injuries have taken their toll, and the Cherries may well have real reason to worry about their PL lives.
Last week: 17
Season high: 6
Season low: 17
Last match: Lost 4-0 at West Ham
Up next: 9 a.m. ET Jan. 12 v. Watford

18. Burnley — The “Lump It To Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes Show” hasn’t been pretty lately.
Last week: 8
Season high: 5
Season low: 15
Last match: Lost 2-1 v. Aston Villa
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Jan. 11 at Chelsea

17. Aston Villa — Allowing 2.3 more shots per game than any other team on the table, so they need to score plenty. And they just lost their starting center forward for the year.
Last week: 18
Season high: 8
Season low: 20
Last match: Won 2-1 at Burnley
Up next: 11:30 a.m. ET Jan. 12 v. Man City

16. Newcastle United — The luck’s run out; Ten of 22 senior players are hurt, and three of them are their very best on show (Allan Saint-Maximin, Jamaal Lascelles, Fabian Schar). It’s going to be a (another) rough few weeks that looks likely to end with the Magpies barely outside the drop zone.
Last week: 11
Season high: 11
Season low: 20
Last match: Lost 3-0 v. Leicester City
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Jan. 11 at Wolves

15. West Ham United — David Moyes saw the talent of his attack in a blowout of off-kilter Bournemouth. Can they do the same away at Bramall Lane?
Last week: 16
Season high: 5
Season low: 20
Last match: Won 4-0 v. Bournemouth
Up next: 3 p.m. ET Jan. 10 at Sheffield United

14. Watford — If Gerard Deulofeu has found his form under Nigel Pearson, it’s gonna be a quick ride out of the drop zone.
Last week: 18
Season high: 14
Season low: 20
Last match: Won 2-1 v. Wolves
Up next: 9 a.m. ET Jan. 12 v. Bournemouth

13. Southampton — Ralph Hasenhuttl is truly improving the side. Let’s see what January brings off the field, because the festive period was a massive success.
Last week: 15
Season high: 13
Season low: 20
Last match: Won 1-0 v. Spurs
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Jan. 11 at Leicester City

12. Crystal Palace — Just one loss in its last eight, with four draws mixed in there, but the schedule was asking for wins with Arsenal and Man City up next.
Last week: 12
Season high: 5
Season low: 18
Last match: Drew 1-1 at Norwich City
Up next: 7:30 a.m. ET Jan. 11 v. Arsenal

11. Arsenal — Have to hand it to Mikel Arteta for calculating that Granit Xhaka and Lucas Torreira could hold it down in the back while his four-man attack ran wild on Manchester United. Helps that Marcus Rashford didn’t play well. Now who will they add, and subtract?
Last week: 13
Season high: 4
Season low: 13
Last match: Won 2-0 v. Manchester United
Up next: 7:30 a.m. ET Jan. 11 at Crystal Palace

10. Brighton and Hove Albion — Graham Potter‘s done very well, and we’d be surprised if the Seagulls look in trouble at any point this season. What a goal, too.
Last week: 10
Season high: 6
Season low: 18
Last match: Drew 1-1 v. Chelsea
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Jan. 11 at Everton

9. Everton — Getting there! Should be some good football on show when they meet Brighton, but Sunday’s FA Cup derby with Liverpool will be even more fun.
Last week: 14
Season high: 5
Season low: 19
Last match: Lost 2-1 at Man City
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Jan. 11 v. Brighton

8. Sheffield United — There’s reason to believe the pesky Blades might have hit a rut, even as well as Chris Wilder has done and will continue to do. No one’s averaging fewer shots per game.
Last week: 7
Season high: 5
Season low: 17
Last match: Lost 2-0 v. Liverpool
Up next: 3 p.m. ET Jan. 10 v. West Ham

7. Wolves — Maybe the Top Four was asking too much, and Wolves ought to look at UEL as their best route to the UCL.
Last week: 4
Season high: 3
Season low: 17
Last match: Lost 2-1 at Watford
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Jan. 11 v. Newcastle 

6. Spurs — It’s been an ugly few weeks, but Jose Mourinho’s men sit sixth due to everyone else’s inability to function during the festive fixtures.
Last week: 6
Season high: 2
Season low: 16
Last match: Lost 1-0 at Saints
Up next: 12:30 p.m. ET Jan. 11 v. Liverpool

5. Manchester United — It’s a good thing injuries can’t cost you too many spots on the power rankings. These men need midfielders. Send help.
Last week: 9
Season high: 2
Season low: 16
Last match: Lost 2-0 at Arsenal
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Jan. 11 v. Norwich City

4. Chelsea — Uneven, but even so. Good looking retro jersey.
Last week: 5
Season high: 2
Season low: 12
Last match: Drew 1-1 at Brighton
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Jan. 11 v. Burnley

3. Leicester City — A tenuous No. 3 at best, but had the right plan to clobber Newcastle.
Last week: 3
Season high: 2
Season low: 10
Last match: Won 3-0 at Newcastle United
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Jan. 11 v. Saints

2. Manchester City — Still far and away the best attack in the league.
Last week: 2
Season high: 1
Season low: 6
Last match: Won 2-1 v. Everton
Up next: 11:30 a.m. ET Jan. 12 at Aston Villa

  1. Liverpool — The league is theirs, but invincible talk still feels insanely premature. Well, at least in terms of reality. It’s always fun to discuss, regardless of maturity. Absolutely cruised past Sheffield United.
    Last week: 1
    Season high: 1
    Season low: 3
    Last match: Won 2-0 v. Sheffield United
    Up next: 12:30 p.m. ET Jan. 11 at Spurs

Aston Villa secure huge win at Burnley

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Aston Villa beat Burnley 2-1 at Turf Moor on New Year’s Day as Dean Smith‘s side put in a battling display to grab a crucial three points.

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First half goals from Wesley and the superb Jack Grealish were enough to win it for Villa, who had Wesley and goalkeeper Tom Heaton stretchered off late in the game. Chris Wood pulled one back for Burnley but it wasn’t enough as Villa secured their second win in their last three Premier League games.

With the win Villa move on to 21 points as the relegation scrap is now wild, as Burnley sit just three points above them on 24.


3 things we learned

1. Grealish is the real deal: He led by example with a superb goal and assist but it was the other stuff which was almost as important. Grealish ran his socks off and Villa needed him big time. The skipper was superb and his extra quality is capable of keeping Villa up.

2. Injuries pile up for Villa: Wesley and Heaton are big players for Villa and even though Smith will be delighted to get a win it came at a big cost. Just as Tyrone Mings returned from injury he has now lost his best striker and goalkeeper. Let’s see how Villa cope with this.

3. Sluggish Burnley slumping: Three defeats on the spin over the festive season suddenly has Burnley in a proper relegation scrap. A few weeks ago it looked like they would finish in the top 10 but things change very quickly and a sluggish first half cost Sean Dyche‘s side dear.

Man of the Match: Jack Grealish – He was everywhere. Set up the first, scored the second and when Villa needed him in the second half he ran with the ball to try and take the pressure off.


In a tough battle Grealish took an early whack from Jack Cork in midfield as Villa dug deep early on.

From a corner Burnley could only have clear and Konsa crossed for Grealish to head home but VAR intervened to first check a foul and then offside in the build up, as Wesley’s heel (half of it) was offside and the goal was ruled out.

Grealish then played in Wesley who was denied by Nick Pope and Burnley’s goalkeeper kept out Douglas Luiz‘s effort on the rebound.

Dwight McNeil and Chris Wood were off target for Burnley as the hosts struggled to impose themselves on the game.

Villa got the goal their dominance deserved as Grealish and Wesley combined to see the latter squeeze an effort past Pope and in to make it 1-0 and score his first PL goal in almost three months.

Before half time Grealish scored a stunner to double Villa’s lead as their star man cut inside and smashed home to delight the away fans at Turf Moor.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Villa should have wrapped up the win at the start of the second half but Luiz shot straight at Pope, as Burnley brought on Jay Rodriguez at the break to try and get things going in attack.

Rodriguez had a shot deflected wide from a corner then somehow knocked James Tarkowski‘s cross over from close range.

Burnley dominated and peppered the Villa goal as Heaton flapped at a cross which flew just wide.

Kortney Hause couldn’t make the most of a glorious effort at one end then Chris Wood fired wide at the other and Tyrone Mings then stopped him going clean through as the game opened up.

Wesley was carried off on a stretcher late on after suffering a nasty injury in a huge blow for Villa.

Then it got worse as Wood got his goal late on with a fine header to set up a tense finale.

Former Burnley goalkeeper Heaton was then carried off on a stretcher as he was struggling with a leg injury throughout but Villa held on for a huge win despite late pressure from Burnley.

Premier League midseason grades

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We are at the halfway point of the Premier League season, so now seems like a good time to dish out grades to each team.

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Based on the opening half of the 2019-20 campaign, which teams have impressed? Who should be doing better?

Below we give grades on all 20 teams and evaluate their first half of the season.


Arsenal: F
Unai Emery was fired, defensively they are all over the place and Arsenal currently sit closer to the bottom three than the top four. A terrible season so far and former captain Mikel Arteta has a huge job on his hands to make them competitive again. The only saving grace is that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang continues to bang in the goals. Aside from that, shambles.


Aston Villa: D-
A decent enough start as Dean Smith‘s side showed plenty of promise after big spending in the summer but things have unraveled very quickly. Jack Grealish is doing his best but Wesley has struggled and defensively they are weak. A relegation battle beckons for Villa, and that was not expected. Smith is on borrowed time.


Bournemouth: D
Eddie Howe‘s side are in their toughest stretch since being promoted in 2015 and aside from their defensive injuries, the biggest concern is that they no longer seem capable of scoring at least two goals every game. The Cherries are slumping and it may be tough for them to turn this around. Losing Brooks to injury was a huge blow, while Callum Wilson and Ryan Fraser have gone off the boil.


Brighton and Hove Albion: B+
Graham Potter has had a huge impact. Brighton have gone from being one of the worst teams in the PL to watch to one of the best. Trossard and Maupay have been big attacking additions and the Seagulls should be clear of the relegation scrap. A brave hire in Potter has paid off, as he’s already signed a new deal at the Amex.


Burnley: C+
Typically Burnley. Tough to play against, grinding out wins at home and they’ve gone back to being solid defensively. Chris Wood, Jay Rodriguez and Ashley Barnes give them extra firepower and the Clarets should be battling for a top 10 finish.


Chelsea: B+
A proper Jekyll and Hyde season for the Blues who have lost at home against some very poor teams but won at Spurs, Arsenal and have pushed the big boys all the way. Frank Lampard has kept faith in the youngsters with Abraham, Mount and Tomori ever present, while Pulisic is coming in to his own. A UCL last 16 berth was a huge bonus and sitting in the top four at midway is much better than many expected. They now have the added bonus of being able to buy new players in January.


Crystal Palace: B+
Roy Hodgson continues to work miracles with a banged up squad and the fact Wilfried Zaha is finally refocused (close to the January transfer window…) has pushed them away from the bottom three. Palace need to spend some money in January to help them stay midtable, while Gary Cahill has been the bargain of the season so far as a free agent.


Everton: C-
Marco Silva was a disaster and had he stayed, the Toffees were likely going down. Duncan Ferguson galvanized the squad as interim boss and made them hard to beat, while Carlo Ancelotti has arrived to add his experience. Big names players will arrive in January and the summer. Things are looking up for Everton who have too much quality to go down.


Leicester City: A+
Pretty much the perfect season so far as Brendan Rodgers side have a 9-0 win on the board, Jamie Vardy is in the form of his life and the Foxes sit second in the table and are looking good for a top four finish with a young, talented squad also in the League Cup semifinals. Their title hopes are done and dusted but a top four finish would be a superb return, especially after selling Harry Maguire in the summer.


Liverpool: A+
Talking of perfect seasons… Liverpool could legitimately go the entire campaign unbeaten and even though they probably played better last season they are grinding out wins this season. Jurgen Klopp‘s side have that psychological edge over the rest of the PL and even though they have had some injuries to key players, they’ve dealt with it with ease. 17 wins from 18 games is incredible and Sadio Mane has been the star man for the newly-crowned World Club Cup champs. They will soon become the PL champs as their title procession has begun.


Manchester City: B-
Their inability to sign a new center back in the summer has come back to hit them hard. Kompany left and Aymeric Laporte‘s injury means that Fernandinho has had to play as a center back, and Otamendi and Stones just haven’t been good enough. Full back is also an issue and even though Kevin De Bruyne is firing on all cylinders and they look great in attack, City are back to the team they were in Pep Guardiola‘s first season in charge. They will soon go all-in on the Champions League.


Manchester United: B
Very similar to Chelsea as their young side have shown glimpses of brilliance but they’ve lost against Palace, West Ham, Newcastle, Watford and Bournemouth. Defensively they are still coughing up easy goals and David De Gea is having a poor season, by his high standards. That said, Rashford, Martial and James are looking very good as a trio, while Maguire and Wan-Bissaka have slotted in seamlessly. Finding the right balance in central midfield in the second half of the season will be key if they are going to finish in the top four, but wins against Man City, Chelsea, Spurs and Leicester, plus their draw against Liverpool, prove they can mix it with the big boys. Finding consistency has to be their biggest aim for 2020.


Newcastle United: B+
Results wise it has been an amazing first half of the season for the Magpies and much-maligned boss Steve Bruce. They aren’t great to watch, at all, but Newcastle are almost closing in on the magic 40-point marker and are solid defensively. For now the natives at St James’ Park are on their side and Bruce has weathered the early storm. Miguel Almiron, Allan Saint-Maximin and Joelinton need to produce more goals and if they do, Newcastle can push for the top 10.


Norwich City: C
The Canaries are punching above their weight week in, week out. Daniel Farke is a very good coach and he’s getting the best out of his limited squad, while Teemu Pukki is getting the goals to keep them competitive. Todd Cantwell is a gem and Norwich have had to deal with lots of injuries defensively. The only major negative is that they have been playing really well and attacking teams but they are a little naive and have been punished in plenty of games. It will be a huge surprise if they stay up.


Sheffield United: A-
Another newly-promoted team who have been open and attacking but the Blades have the defensive stability to get results. Chris Wilder‘s side are pushing for a top six finish and have only lost once away from home, at Man City, in the opening half of the season. From their overlapping center backs to Mousset, McGoldrick and McBurnie up top, they have been a wonderful addition to the PL. Fleck, Lundstram and Norwood are all so underrated too. Basically you can praise this entire team as Wilder has done a wonderful job keeping their identity intact while adapting to the PL.


Southampton: C
Probably where they should be at, just above the relegation zone. Ralph Hasenhuttl‘s side have recovered well from the 9-0 hammering at home by Leicester and in Danny Ings they have a Matt Le Tissier-esque savior. Ings scores almost every game and in Moussa Djenepo they have another top attacking talent. Saints need defensive reinforcements in January and if they can add quality at the back they should kick on in the second half of the season and be clear of danger. That said, the ownership need to realize that a relegation scrap will be the outcome each season until they make more funds available to spend.


Tottenham Hotspur: C+
Where do we even start with Spurs? Mauricio Pochettino was fired after a terrible start to the league season as problems brewing with players not signing new deals and Daniel Levy over transfers carried over from the summer months. Step in, the Special One. Jose Mourinho has added a cutting edge to this Spurs side and he’s refocused them. Defensively they are shambolic and they miss captain Hugo Lloris. Mourinho’s main aim is a top four finish and to go on another deep run in the UCL.


Watford: D-
The Hornets are on their third manager of the season and they’ve finally got going. Javi Gracia was fired quickly after a poor end to last season and a poor start this time around, then former boss Quique Sanchez Flores didn’t last long before Nigel Pearson arrived. Big wins against Man United and Aston Villa have followed and has them within touching distance of safety but it is still a tough road ahead. Troy Deeney‘s return to fitness is a boost and Watford believe now they can stay up with veteran goalkeeper Ben Foster in fine form.


West Ham United: F
The Hammers have hired David Moyes to replace the man who replaced him, Manuel Pellegrini. This will be very interesting. West Ham had a great start but have wavered badly and that has coincided with Lukasz Fabianski‘s injury. Now he is back and Moyes has returned they will be tougher to beat and Anderson, Haller, Antonio and Fornals have the quality to unlock opposition defenses. Still, a relegation battle is coming up and the Hammers ownership would have wanted a top six finish. They are underachieving massively.


Wolverhampton Wanderers: A-
Could they build on last season? Yep. They are probably better. Raul Jimenez and Adama Traore have improved in attack and Nuno Espirito Santo‘s side will be in the top four hunt this season. They are in the Europa League last 32 after a gruelling run of qualifiers and Thursday-Sunday action but their main focus will be on qualifying for the Champions League. They can take it to the top teams in the PL but how long can they keep going with a relatively small squad?