What did we learn from the Premier League? (video)

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What a day in the Premier League.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Saturday saw eight games take place with two seven-goal thrillers, narrow wins for Manchester United and Liverpool, plus 27 goals in what proved to be a seismic day in the relegation battle and top four race.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Below is a look at the key takeaways from an intense, enthralling day across the league.


Arsenal’s hunger breaths new life into their season
Unai Emery‘s Arsenal showed incredible desire from the first whistle to beat a lackluster Chelsea side and the way Alexander Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang set the tone in attack was superb. The duo hunted down Chelsea’s defense and stopped Jorginho getting on the ball to set up attacks. Even when Chelsea did penetrate the Arsenal midfield, their defense stood tall with Laurent Koscielny and Sokratis solid in the shutout victory. With Arsenal now just four points behind Chelsea, you have to say that Emery has shown more progression with his Arsenal side than Maurizio Sarri has with Chelsea over the past few months. It has been a big call from Emery to leave Mesut Ozil out, but the way his players have defended as a group suggest that he got it spot on and Arsenal’s philosophy as a team is now clear. Between now and the end of the season, if Arsenal’s defenders stay fit then you’d expect them to overtake Chelsea and be right in the top four race alongside Manchester United and Tottenham. Arsenal simply had to beat Chelsea, and after a few disappointing defeats they showed the hunger and desire required to win a massive London derby.


Sarri under pressure at Chelsea already as false nine falters again
“It would appear that this group of players is extremely difficult to motivate.” Those were the words of Maurizio Sarri after Chelsea’s 2-0 defeat at Arsenal which left them in fourth place but just four points ahead of Arsenal and Manchester United. The Italian coach only arrived in the summer but he is already under pressure at Chelsea and stayed in the locker room for a long time talking to his players after the game, then used a translator (something he doesn’t always do) to answer questions from the media as he wanted to get his message across loud and clear. He certainly did that. Sarri’s persistence to play Eden Hazard as a false nine just isn’t working and Chelsea didn’t have a focal point in attack and were way too easy to defend against for Arsenal. That has become a running theme in recent weeks and with Olivier Giroud on the bench, Alvaro Morata on his way out and Gonzalo Higuain said to be arriving soon, Sarri is pinning all his hopes on Higuain and Hazard to rescue this season. Jorginho has ever ran out of steam or other teams have worked out how to get at the deep-lying playmaker (probably a combo of both) and right now there is no Plan B to Sarri-ball. Maybe Christian Pulisic will have a different manager by the time he arrives at Chelsea in the summer…


Cracks appearing in Liverpool’s makeshift defense
There is no two ways about it, Jurgen Klopp was a relieved man after Liverpool’s thrilling 4-3 victory against Crystal Palace at Anfield. In the end Liverpool came away with the victory to extend their lead atop the Premier League table to seven points, but they rode their luck and fell behind in the first half against Palace. Wilfried Zaha and Andros Townsend pulled their full backs all over the place and Liverpool’s makeshift defense were pushed to its limits. Before Saturday they had conceded just three PL goals at home all season long. Palace scored three and could have had more with James Milner — playing out of position at right back due to injuries — sent off after a difficult time trying to lock down Zaha in particular. Mohamed Salah dragged Liverpool over the line again, but there’s no doubt that with Joe Gomez, Dejan Lovren and Trent Alexander-Arnold out injured Klopp will have to get creative with his defensive lineups in the coming weeks. The saving grace for Liverpool is that they are out of both of the domestic cup competitions and that could be key in the title race with Man City.


Solskjaer can do no more as United edge towards top four
Seven wins from seven games in all competitions, what more can Ole Gunnar Solskjaer do as Manchester United’s caretaker boss? They’re back in the top four race and now face Burnley, Leicester and Fulham before a crunch clash with Liverpool next month. United sit just three points off the UEFA Champions League places and if Solskjaer can get them in the top four and go deep in the UCL and FA Cup this season, his chances of getting this job on a permanent basis will increase significantly. The two players who have shone brightest since he replaced Jose Mourinho are two who became the biggest enigmas under the Portuguese coach: Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford. The former has scored five goals and has four assists in the PL since Solskjaer arrived, while Rashford has now scored in five of his six PL games in charge. The latter looks sharp, confident and Solskjaer revealed how he is helping him calm his finishing down in front of goal. At 21 years of age Rashford has the world at his feet and right now he, and Solskjaer, can do no wrong.


Southampton’s resurgence continues
Ralph Hasenhuttl has won more Premier League points than Pep Guardiola since he arrived at Southampton on Dec. 8. Think about that. He took over a team which had won just once in 15 games to start the season and they’ve now beaten Arsenal, Huddersfield, Leicester and Everton in his first eight outings in England. The Austrian coach is fired up on the touchlines and that passion has translated to his players in a very Jurgen Klopp-esque way. Saints beat Everton 2-1 on Saturday and they should have won by four or five goals after hitting the post twice and totally dominating the Toffees. In their next three games they have Crystal Palace, Burnley and Cardiff City and a chance to push themselves up into midtable and away from the relegation battle for the first time this season. It is hard not to believe Hasenhuttl when he says “we have built something up here and I hope we can carry on like this.” Right now, Saints have a clear plan on how they want to play, they’re fitter, hungrier and are full of talented youngsters who are being given the chance to shine. Hasenhuttl’s revolution is built on high-pressing and speed in attack. Defensively Saints are improving and right now they are finally, after two years of standing still, reaching their potential.


Classic PL encounter as Wolves, Leicester slug it out

Wolves and Leicester just went at it at Molineux and the 4-3 win for Wolves will go down as a classic Premier League game. Wolves raced into a 2-0 lead, Leicester fought back to 2-2, they traded another goal each and neither team had control throughout. Wolves’ stoppage time win, which saw Diogo Jota complete his hat trick, left Claude Puel clutching his face in despair and Nuno Espirito Santo running onto the pitch to celebrate with his players. The true end-to-end nature of the Premier League was on display in this Midlands derby which was aided by two teams chasing seventh place and with little to lose. The result was an absorbing clash which was summed up perfectly by Man of the Match Jota: “This is the Premier League.”

Premier League Club Power Rankings: Week 22

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The individual spots on the PL club power rankings feel like they are teetering, prepared for some big moves.

[ ARCHIVE: Premier League club power rankings ]

The table says that Arsenal and Spurs are comfortable in their top spots, but the power rankings see a loss to West Ham and injury to Harry Kane as reason for concern.

We are just a result or two from some serious tumult, but here’s where we sit today.


20. Huddersfield Town — Putting aside the idea of a new manager bounce against Manchester City or some other surprising results, the Terriers would need an unbelievable finish to the season to survive the drop; Huddersfield only faces three relegation candidates in the final 16 match days. Climbing out of the Bottom Three would be one of the greatest escapes of all-time.
Last week: 20
Season high: 16
Season low: 20

19. Fulham — Losing to Burnley was a killer. But, hey, at least your strikers aren’t fighting during a yoga class. Wait, what’s that? They are?!? Oh.
Last week: 19
Season high: 11
Season low: 20

18. Newcastle United — Owner Mike Ashley doesn’t look prepared to invest anything ever in January, and Rafa Benitez is heading into a crucial home game against Cardiff City down a number of starters. So this is going well, especially considering Newcastle is hardly even being linked with transfer targets. Even the rumor mongers know better than to expect people to latch onto clickbait when it says Newcastle might buy big. And FWIW: We had Newcastle in our Bottom Three before last week’s results dropped them there on the table.
Last week: 18
Season high: 13
Season low: 19

17. Cardiff City — The good news for Neil Warnock‘s Bluebirds is the three teams below them look quite poor. A win at Newcastle on Saturday would be a huge step to safety.
Last week: 17
Season high: 13
Season low: 20

17. Crystal Palace — Not quite as maddening as Wolves and Watford, but the team that beat Man City has now drawn Cardiff City 0-0 and lost at home to the Hornets.
Last week: 13
Season high: 6
Season low: 17

16. Southampton — The Leicester City win is another fine moment for Ralph Hasenhuttl‘s men, who have been aided just as much by the Bottom Three as their own results.
Last week: 17
Season high: 13
Season low: 20

14. Burnley — A third-straight league win has Sean Dyche‘s unit on the rise. The fixture list has helped, but the hardened English boss has done a fine job focusing his men on the task at hand.
Last week: 17
Season high: 13
Season low: 20

13. Bournemouth — Only being stopped by a new season low by the clubs underneath it. Next up for the Cherries: West Ham and Chelsea at the Vitality Stadium.
Last week: 12
Season high: 6
Season low: 14

12. Everton — Will be relieved to have handled Bournemouth, and will be eyeing a table run with fixtures ahead with Southampton, Huddersfield Town, Wolves, and Watford.
Last week: 12
Season high: 5
Season low: 13

11. Leicester City — Here’s what I wrote last week, before the Foxes went and lost to Southampton, They’re doing it again, luring me into the belief that the Foxes are the clear favorite to finish seventh. This all but guarantees a weekend loss to Southampton at the King Power Stadium.”
Last week: 10
Season high: 7
Season low: 13

10. Brighton and Hove Albion — Flustered Liverpool, and it wouldn’t have been a crime had the Seagulls lifted a point from the leaders.
Last week: 13
Season high: 9
Season low: 19

9. Wolves — Losing to Man City is all but certain when you go down a man at the Etihad Stadium.
Last week: 8
Season high: 5
Season low: 13

8. Watford — How many years do you think have been taken off Javi Gracia‘s life by this team’s unpredictable form? Do you think he’s going to have a presidential downtown in looks by the time this is through? After dramatically drawing Newcastle and Bournemouth, the Hornets are back into seventh via a win at Palace.
Last week: 11
Season high: 4
Season low: 14

7. West Ham United — We cannot overlook recent form and 10 points on the table, but the Irons are looking decent money against any club that dares to overlook them. Just ask Arsenal.
Last week: 10
Season high: 6
Season low: 20

6. Arsenal — It’s not wild to call Saturday’s match against Chelsea a season-defining one, especially with the Top Four door opened by an injury to Harry Kane at Spurs.
Last week: 6
Season high: 2
Season low: 9

5. Chelsea — Ten points from 12 has rarely looked so meh.
Last week: 4
Season high: 1
Season low: 5

4. Manchester United — Took three points off Spurs as a team, then perhaps even more thanks to Phil Jones‘ tackle on Harry Kane.
Last week: 5
Season high: 4
Season low: 14

3. Spurs — Seven is the number. That’s Spurs’ advantage on Chelsea and Arsenal heading into this prolonged Harry Kane absence.
Last week: 3
Season high: 2
Season low: 8

2. Man City — Could sleepwalk through next four fixtures to get to Chelsea and Arsenal on consecutive match days. And both of those are at the Etihad Stadium.
Last week: 2
Season high: 1
Season low: 3

1. Liverpool — Sadio Mane has joined Dejan Lovren in publicly claiming they’ll win their first top flight title of the Premier League era.
Last week: 1
Season high: 1
Season low: 4

PL odds: Tottenham highlights betting favorites for Matchweek 22

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Tottenham Hotspur will try to keep the upper hand at home against a resurgent Manchester United in one of the highlight matchups on this week’s Premier League slate.

Tottenham Hotspur is the +110 favorite on the Premier League odds for Sunday at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com, with Manchester United coming back at +265, the draw also at +265 on the three-way moneyline, and a 3.0-goals total.

Tottenham has won six of its last seven league matches and also has three consecutive home wins against Manchester United, which has won four in a row on the bounce under caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

One hallmark for Tottenham, whose striker Harry Kane (+350 first goal scorer, -110 anytime) is the best to score, is their fast starts, which could create a kind of early pressure that United has not seen during a soft recent schedule. United, thanks in large part to the playmaking of Paul Pogba, is a capable counter-attacking team, and as such bettors should give consideration to various Both Teams To Score (BTTS) props, with Either Team 2-1 (+400) being a higher-risk play than simply taking Spurs to win.

West Ham United (+255) has not defeated Arsenal (even, draw +280) in their last six home matchups, but the Gunners are also winless in their last four away games in the league entering this Saturday matchup. It should be a high scoring chance game, with West Ham’s Marko Arnautovic (+500 first goal scorer, +135 anytime) and Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (+350 first goal scorer, -120 anytime) being strong gets to score.

Brighton & Hove Albion (+950), which has been a pesky side at home, takes on first-place Liverpool (-335, draw +475), which has a center-back conundrum due to Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip both being unlikely to play. Taking Tie/Yes (+550) in Both Teams To Score props is one value play available to those who think Brighton might shock the league leaders.

Burnley (+140) hosts Fulham (+225, draw +220) having won three in a row on the bounce (all competitions). Fulham has conceded at least two goals in eight of its last 10 away matches but has tightened its defensive play of late. The Either Team 2-1 (+400) in correct score group props might be the best way of straddling doubts about either side.  Fulham’s Aleksandar Mitrovic (+400 first scorer, +135 anytime) scored twice in these teams’ reverse fixture in August.

Crystal Palace (+125) hosts Watford (+245, draw +240) and 10 of its last 11 home games have gone UNDER 2.5 goals, with Crystal Palace also failing to score in seven of its last 10 home fixtures. Watford (+140 on the double chance) should be motivated to get a result since it has a chance to move up to seventh in the overall table, while Jordan Ayew (+650 first scorer), +235 anytime) might be Palace’s best scoring threat.

Everton (-130) and Bournemouth (+370, draw +285), who meet in a Sunday matchup, have gone OVER 2.5 goals in their last four games (all competitions), and the visiting Cherries have also topped that total in 10 of their last 12 games. Along with yes/over 2.5 (even) in BTTS props, the most promising value on Everton may be in the 3-0, 3-1 or 3-2 correct score prop (+450).

For more odds information, betting picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes or Spotify or listen to it at OddsShark.libsyn.com.

Premier League preview: Brighton v. Liverpool

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  • LFC is unbeaten in 3 PL games vs. Brighton, winning a combined 10-1
  • Liverpool has not lost back-to-back PL games since 2015
  • Brighton has scored in its last 13 PL home games

Brighton puts its stellar home record on alert as the Seagulls host Premier League leaders Liverpool at Falmer Stadium on Saturday, with kickoff at 10:00 a.m. ET live on NBCSN or live online at NBCSports.com.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE, HERE

The hosts have been fantastic in Premier League play in front of the home fans, with just six losses in its 29 Premier League matches at home over its two-year top flight history. However, five of those six losses have come against the Big Six clubs. They will be without defender Bernardo, who injured his hamstring in early January against West Ham. Also missing is struggling summer signing Alireza Jahanbakhsh who has been out since early November with a hamstring tear.

The Reds, meanwhile, are looking to turn around its first losing streak of the season, with a league loss to Manchester City plus an early FA Cup exit at the hands of Wolves last time out. Virgil Van Dijk is back in contention after missing the FA Cup defeat midweek, but his central defensive partner is still a mystery. Dejan Lovren is out with a hamstring injury of his own, while Joe Gomez and Joel Matip are long-term absentees, so Fabinho could deputize along the back line again. Jordan Henderson, meanwhile, is a game-time decision after a calf problem popped up.

After Liverpool’s riveting loss to Manchester City in league play last time out, the Reds will be looking to turn things around and regain the upper hand in the title race. For Brighton, they sit in 13th place with 26 points, eight above 15th placed Newcastle.

What they’re saying

Brighton manager Chris Hughton on Jurgen Klopp‘I think he’s been outstanding for the game here. When you see how their team work without the ball to get it back and the quality they show, it’s orchestrated by the manager and the demands of the manager. This season shows what a great job that he has done. They are better prepared than any other team with the quality they have got. It is all led by Jurgen Klopp and they are a great team to watch.”

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp on early Cup exits: “I would love to still be in these competitions, but we are not in them. We have to make the best of the time now. I know Pep [Guardiola] said he would prefer to be in four competitions. I would prefer the same. We have to make the best of the time and get as many points as possible.”

Video preview

Prediction

Defensive injuries, a tough road destination, and a losing streak. There’s plenty going against the Reds in this Premier League away match, but Jurgen Klopp won’t let them lose three in a row. It’s possible this ends in a disappointing draw, but Liverpool guts out a tough 2-1 victory.

Young Liverpool exits FA Cup, Klopp says ‘situation is not too cool’

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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp found it difficult to be angry with his young, changed side following a 2-1 exit from the FA Cup at the hands of Wolves at the Molineux.

[ MORE: Recap | 4th round draw ]

Eighteen-year-old Rafael Camacho and 17-year-old Curtis Jones started for the Reds, and 16-year-old center back Ki-Jana Hoever was called into the fray after just six minutes thanks to an injury to Dejan Lovren.

So with Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, and Mohamed Salah on the bench, Klopp could only call upon two when the Reds found themselves behind Wolves.

Klopp said he would’ve been vilified had he started Hoever in addition to Jones and Camacho, accused of “not respecting the competition.”

And he’s had injuries small and big to center backs Virgil Van Dijk, Joel Matip, and Joe Gomez.

“After the City game we had players who weren’t fit. Pretty much all the players here today had a few problems. We had to make late changes. Lallana and Henderson were in our plans. Dejan Lovren was not. We had to change it. Second half we wanted to start a new with a positive approach.

“We brought on Mo and Bobby and looked a bit different. The intensity of the last few games, it’s not possible to start with these up front. Only Lovren has played all the games the last few weeks. The situation is not too cool.”

Not cool at all. Klopp led Liverpool to a pair of deep League Cup runs in his first two seasons but is one-and-done the last two, and has not advanced past the fourth round in any of four FA Cup tournaments.