Dan Gosling

Bournemouth holds Arsenal on rain-drenched Boxing Day

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Arsenal was the more dangerous team on the day, but couldn’t find a second goal in a rain-drenched 1-1 with Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium on Boxing Day.

Dan Gosling scored for the second-straight game as the Cherries again gained a result against a traditional London power.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang poked home an equalizer, but Mikel Arteta only saw a single point from his Arsenal managerial debut.

Bournemouth now sits 16th with 20 points, four behind 11th place Arsenal.


Three things we learned

1. Cherries get another big point: Bournemouth’s season has been disappointing, but Thursday saw another surprise from Eddie Howe‘s men. They were quite good versus Arsenal after beating Chelsea at the weekend, whereas the Cherries used to control the little guys and fail against the traditional powers.

Gosling is having a week, now with goals in a 1-0 win over Chelsea and 1-1 draw versus Arsenal.

2. Ozil suspect, and no Pepe, no party? Maybe Arsenal is trying to drive some sort of value into their German playmaker, but Mesut Ozil drew another start and was far from his best. He had played well in consecutive starts against bottom dwellers Saints and Norwich, but has struggled to impact the game since. Fair play on four key passes, but Ozil didn’t threaten the goal himself and failed in his only dribble attempt. He was replaced by Joe Willock in the 75th minute.

This leads us to another player he helped keep on the bench (until the 82nd minute). I can only imagine that one day we’ll learn that Nicolas Pepe hides all the toilet paper at the training ground and puts toothpaste in the salad dressing or something. Mikel Arteta has now joined Freddie Ljungberg and Unai Emery in keeping the dynamic playmaker out of the Starting XI.

3. Xhaka rewards faith of new boss: Mikel Arteta used his first pre-match presser as Arsenal boss to speak of his admiration for Granit Xhaka. Arteta said he wanted the midfielder at Man City, and the Swiss big man was strong in the center of the park. Xhaka completed 11 of 12 long balls and passed at 93 percent, paired with Lucas Torreira at the back of the midfield.

Man of the Match: Jack Stacey had a nice match at right back in the rain, just edging Xhaka.


There is no question Arsenal was the better side over the first half-hour, but the Gunners defense let them down again.

Stacey wound up deep in the Arsenal box and cut back into a sea of players, Gosling’s foot the first to the ball.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

Aubameyang found the equalizer in the 64th minute, starting and finishing a play after Reiss Nelson‘s shot was deflected onto his path.

The rains grew heavier and Lacazette was deprived a goal from a nice David Luiz set-up.

PL AT HALF: Four goals across six 10 a.m. ET Boxing Day kickoffs

Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images
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The Premier League’s 10 a.m. ET kickoffs took a while to get going, but look primed for breakout second halves.

Crystal Palace 0-0 West Ham – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]

Not much doing aside from one chance produced by Wilfried Zaha wizardry.

Everton 0-0 Burnley – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]

The Toffees are looking in line for a new manager bounce, out-shooting the Clarets 12-2 at the break but yet to push one over the line.

Sheffield United 1-1 Watford – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]

Diminutive star Gerard Deulofeu scored off a Nathaniel Chalobah feed as Nigel Pearson‘s Hornets took a lead that lasted only 11 minutes thanks to Oliver Norwood.

Chelsea 0-1 Southampton – NBCSN [STREAM]

Michael Obafemi, you sure can paint a pretty picture.

Aston Villa 0-0 Norwich City – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]

Every bit the six-pointer, with the Canaries the only side to really threaten much of anything.

Bournemouth 1-0 Arsenal – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]

There is no question Arsenal was the better side over the first half-hour, but the Gunners defense let them down again. Jack Stacey wound up deep in the Arsenal box and cut back into a sea of players, and Dan Gosling‘s foot was the first to the ball.

 

PL Club Power Rankings: Week 17

Photo by Andrew Kearns - CameraSport via Getty Images
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Some housekeeping ahead of this week’s club power rankings.

1) We’ve made a universal “up next” instead of labeling the next match, because the festive fixture season is nuts. We may squeeze in some CPRs before the end of the fortnight. Here’s the full list.

2) Never let ’em see you perturbed, they say, but let’s address a scratchy run of comments that come every time we roll out our latest litmus test of Premier League clubs.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

We call them power rankings, and it’s become the norm for someone to load up their snark cannon and fire off a “Just look at the table!” or something along those lines.

To you, we say two things:

  1. The fixture list is not even close to balanced until at least Week 19
  2. A fifth place team on a four-match losing streak might not rate as highly as rising 10th place team who just beat them.
  3. Why do you hate fun, Mr. and Mrs. Serious Jones of Dullorado?

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

[ MORE: PL Club Power Rankings archive ]


20. Watford — They’re taking shots, but the Hornets aren’t getting them on goal. The 3.2 shots on target per game is tied with Palace for lowest in the league.
Last week: 20
Season high: 17
Season low: 20
Last match: Lost 2-0 at Liverpool
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

19. Norwich City — Nice point at Leicester City, but it will be surprising if it can get another one versus a stung Wolves. If they do, it’s because Emiliano Buendia is looking like a proverbial canary in a coal mine (with all due respect to Teemu Pukki and Todd Cantwell).
Last week: 19
Season high: 10
Season low: 20
Last match: Drew 1-1 at Leicester City
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

18. Aston Villa — Okay, yeah, we’re worried now (and honestly seeing it in the immediate rear view of being outshot at home by a bunch of Liverpool kids isn’t helping).
Last week: 16
Season high: 8
Season low: 18
Last match: Lost 2-0 at Sheffield United
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

17. Southampton — The finishing was just so bad against West Ham.
Last week: 15
Season high: 13
Season low: 20
Last match: Lost 1-0 v. West Ham United
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

16. West Ham United — Moving forward while only accruing a modicum of momentum is possible. Sebastien Haller scoring could be huge, though, and he looked great in combination with Michail Antonio. Two powerful presences.
Last week: 18
Season high: 5
Season low: 20
Last match: Won 1-0 at Southampton
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

15. Bournemouth — The losing streak is over, and Eddie Howe celebrated like a madman, but the performance really wasn’t there.
Last week: 17
Season high: 6
Season low: 17
Last match: Won 1-0 at Chelsea
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

13. Everton — Got a lucky goal and a fortunate point, and no Blue on Merseyside is saying anything but, “Yeah, and?”
Last week: 14
Season high: 5
Season low: 19
Last match: Drew 1-1 at Manchester United
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

13. Arsenal — I’ll say it. The Mikel Arteta hire is good if you’re going to “do a United” and give him Ole level patience. Like at least three windows. That said, there are 3-0 losses to Man City that look a lot worse than Sunday.
Last week: 13
Season high: 4
Season low: 12
Last match: Lost 3-0 v. Man City
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

12. Newcastle United — Needs a dynamic, committed center midfielder in a bad way. Then again, most clubs do…
Last week: 11
Season high: 11
Season low: 20
Last match: Lost 1-0 at Burnley
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

11. Burnley — Three points are three points, but we’re still worried about a side that relies way too much on a big target man putting away scant few chances. Where is their Lys Mousset, their Emiliano Buendia?
Last week: 13
Season high: 5
Season low: 15
Last match: Won 1-0 v. Newcastle
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

10. Crystal Palace — Injuries are gonna test the Eagles, but Newcastle will give them the ball and that might help a team which is the only PL club averaging under 10 shot attempts per game.
Last week: 9
Season high: 5
Season low: 18
Last match: Drew 1-1 v. Brighton
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

9. Brighton and Hove Albion — Another quality point to extend their unbeaten M23 Derby run. Saturday’s visit from the Blades is sneaky intriguing in the 10 a.m. ET window.
Last week: 8
Season high: 6
Season low: 18
Last match: Drew 1-1 at Palace
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

8. Chelsea — Sometimes you out-perform the opponent and lose because Dan Gosling has a moment. Okay, rarely… but sometimes.
Last week: 5
Season high: 2
Season low: 12
Last match: Lost 1-0 v. Bournemouth
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

7. Sheffield United — Nice defeat of Villa, and a tangle with Brighton should provide plenty of entertainment.
Last week: 9
Season high: 5
Season low: 17
Last match: Won 2-0 v. Aston Villa
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

6. Manchester United — Wanted more out of a visit from Everton, but it’s easy to forget they’re still without one of the top attack-minded midfielders in the world.
Last week: 4
Season high: 2
Season low: 16
Last match: Drew 1-1 v. Everton
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

5. Wolves — Somehow, we came away from a home loss feeling more confident in Wolves chances of crashing the Top Four party.
Last week: 3
Season high: 3
Season low: 17
Last match: Lost 2-1 v. Spurs
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

4. Manchester City — Kevin De Bruyne didn’t have a league assist for over a month, then got one in London. Checking the leaderboard… yep, still leads the league.
Last week: 6
Season high: 1
Season low: 6
Last match: Won 3-0 at Arsenal
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

3. Tottenham Hotspur — An extremely impressive win at the Molineux, and Spurs have a chance to really do some damage over the festive period if they claim fourth place with a defeat of Chelsea this weekend.
Last week: 8
Season high: 2
Season low: 16
Last match: Won 2-1 at Wolves
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

2. Leicester City — Duds happen, and the xG analysis says James Maddison‘s new club probably should’ve lost to its old one. Also, Kelechi… dude.
Last week: 2
Season high: 2
Season low: 10
Last match: Drew 1-1 v. Norwich City
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

1. Liverpool — If the Reds come back from Qatar and wax the Foxes, there will only be one more fixture on the schedule that truly seems a threat to a loss-free league season.
Last week: 1
Season high: 1
Season low: 3
Last match: Won 2-0 v. Watford
Up next: Full festive fixture list here

El Clasico: Deadlocked Barca, Real aim to seize control of La Liga

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A wonderful Wednesday of football will see El Clasico served up to a public that’s been waiting a few extra weeks for the celebrated meeting of Barcelona and Real Madrid.

Barcelona and Real Madrid are set for a 2 p.m. ET Wednesday El Clasico at the Camp Nou in Catalonia, where the jailing of nine Catalan separatists caused an initial postponement.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Both teams on a league-high 35 points and Barca ahead on goal differential.

Real failed to seize a measure of control in the race for first place when it drew Valencia on Sunday, a day after Barca did the same against Real Sociedad.

Don’t blame Lionel Messi for Barca’s slip-up. He remains the highest-rated player in the world at age 32, with 12 goals and six assists in 901 league minutes.

Frenkie de Jong had admired Messi from afar, but having him as a teammate elevates that respect.

“Everyone knows how important Messi is to us,” De Jong said. “It’s no longer surprising if he scores three goals in a match. He’s so much better than the rest. Any team that faces Messi is always more nervous, I would be too.”

Even with Real Madrid’s defending as good as it’s been in ages, manager Zinedine Zidane admits that the Argentine remains the biggest X-factor in El Clasico.

“We know what we’re facing, we know they have Messi, but we also have our weapons,” Zidane said. “We want to play a good match against Barcelona, who also hope to do the same.”

Zidane’s counterpart Ernesto Valverde knows he has some players making their El Clasico debut. While Antoine Griezmann is used to mixing it up in derbies versus Real from his time at Atleti, De Jong will experience it for the first time.

“It’s a game that is has something different about it and it is played at a different pace,” Valverde said. “They will experience it first hand. You can tell it is a Clásico from the players’ tunnel before you come out.”

Barca is unbeaten in its last six Clasicos.

Bournemouth beats punchless Chelsea to end losing streak

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Bournemouth snapped a five-match losing streak in a place that feels like home, toppling Chelsea 1-0 at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Chelsea’s attack was woeful and Bournemouth needed VAR help to get Dan Gosling‘s winner on the board.

The Blues fall for the fourth time in five league matches, and have seen their Top Four cushion slip to a maximum on five points.

Bournemouth gets some relief, rising 14th with 19 points.


Three things we learned

1. Bournemouth still loves the Bridge: Chelsea has now lost to Bournemouth at Stamford Bridge three times since 2015. The Cherries have back-to-back victories over the Blues for the first time ever. These are good things for Eddie Howe, and it was a much better show than the loss to Liverpool.

2. VAR helps Cherries to win: Gosling’s winner was a clever bit of football, the back-to-the-goal midfielder looping over Arrizabalaga. The linesman’s flag was up but Gosling had beaten the fray of people and an offside-appearing teammate had nothing to do with the play. A quality finish deserving of a winner.

3. Poor attack weakens Top Four cushion: Very poor from Chelsea’s attackers as a whole, with Willian the only players truly in-form on the day. Tammy Abraham was the best of an otherwise poor bunch, with Christian Pulisic and Mason Mount poor as starters and Callum Hudson-Odoi and Michy Batshuayi nearly irrelevant off the bench.

Frank Lampard hinted earlier this week that the club still needs to replace Eden Hazard. Transfer ban lifted, his men did little to convince him otherwise on Saturday.

Man of the Match: With respect to Simon Francis and Jefferson Lerma, the honor goes to Gosling for his creativity at outsmarting the Blues back line and beating Arrizabalaga.


Mason Mount’s sloppy touch betrayed a 26th minute Chelsea attack set up by Willian.

Christian Pulisic nearly nodded home at the back from a very tight angle in the 39th minute, one of few moments of danger for either side.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

Bournemouth regrouped at the break and Chelsea’s defenders had several strong moments in keeping shot attempts from reaching Kepa Arrizabalaga.

Pulisic led a charge into the right that led to a corner kick, and the Blues won another off a Willian shot.

Aaron Ramsdale made an incredible stop on Emerson‘s solid point-blank header of a Cesar Azpilicueta flick.

Gosling thought he’d scored in the 84th minute with a clever shot, but the offside flag was raised.

VAR fixed that, and the losing streak ended in London.