Jordan Ayew

Zaha leads Crystal Palace to victory at Burnley

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Crystal Palace continued their fine start to the season as they beat Burnley 2-0 at Turf Moor on Saturday.

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Goals in each half from Wilfried Zaha and Jeffrey Schlupp set the Eagles on their way as Burnley huffed and puffed but Vicente Guaita was on hand to deny them

With the win Palace move up to 10th on 18 points, while Burnley remain on 18 points.


3 things we learned

1. Zaha back to his best: For much of this season Zaha has been a shadow of himself after a tumultuous summer but he was superb against Burnley. His goal right on half time swung the game in Palace’s favor and he dug deep to secure a vital win for the Eagles.

2. Away day specialists deliver again: Zaha’s pace on the break was key in this game, as Jordan Ayew and Andros Townsend also caused Burnley plenty of problems. Palace have now picked up three of their five wins this season away from home and with a favorable run of games coming up, now is the time for them to take advantage of picking up points on the road.

3. Burnley stutter in attack: Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood peppered the Palace goal late on but it was too little too late for Burnley. They looked sluggish in attack and Nike Pope will be very disappointed with the two goals he conceded.

Man of the Match: Wilfried Zaha – A menace all game long, the only way Burnley could stop him was by kicking him and that almost got Phil Bardsley sent off. What a display from Palace’s talisman.


In a tight game in the first half Palace looked dangerous on the counter attack as Wilfried Zaha and Jordan Ayew were causing plenty of problems.

Burnley did have the best chance of the first half as the ball was played in to Ashley Barnes but his first touch let him down at the crucial moment as a golden opportunity came and went.

Palace then thought they had taken the lead after scoring a comical goal as Cheikhou Kouyate, Patrick Van Aanholt and finally Jordan Ayew all had a goal but PVA was offside when he played it to Ayew to score.

However, Palace did take the lead right on half time as Zaha scored his second goal in as many games (and of the season) as he cut in from the left and drilled a low shot past Nick Pope at his near post.

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In the second half Phil Bardsley clashed with Zaha and VAR was used to determine if a red card should be given, but it was waved away.

Palace then sealed the win as after a mistake from Ben Mes, Schlupp controlled and finished at the near post, with Pope again at fault.

Chris Wood skied an effort over the bar and then almost bundled the ball home but Palace survived as Burnley cranked up the pressure late on. Vicente Guaita denied Wood and Jack Cork fired the rebound over, as it just wasn’t Burnley’s day.

Klopp relieved as Liverpool beat Palace

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Jurgen Klopp was a relieved man as Liverpool left Selhurst Park with a 2-1 win against Crystal Palace on Saturday.

The Premier League leaders were pegged back late on by Wilfried Zaha and it looked like they would draw, but Roberto Firmino scored a late winner and thanks to a poor finish from Zaha in stoppage time they secured a 12th win in their first 13 Premier League games of the season.

Speaking after the game, Klopp was happy his team came up with the goods and dug deep. But he admitted they had got away with one.

“I’m fine with it. When you finish the game on the up then it is okay. They [Crystal Palace] worked hard, I can only imagine what Roy Hodgson is feeling like because they would have deserved a point today. But we won the game and it was deserved today as well,” Klopp said. “We had today to fight with different things. We weren’t compact enough. Our distances between the full backs and midfielders, the half spaces, were too big. The set pieces were really dangerous and gave them the time to go there. It was a tough job to do today and at the end of the day I am happy with the result and big parts of the performances as well.”

Mohamed Salah didn’t feature as he has only just returned from injury, as Klopp said he will have to continue to nurse the Egyptian winger back into the team. Sadio Mane stepped up to lead Liverpool and Roberto Firmino bagged the winner as the ball fell perfectly to him in the box after a scrappy effort from Virgil Van Dijk, as Liverpool found a way in attack.

At the other end of the pitch, Liverpool’s defense looked shaky and was saved by VAR as it ruled out James Tomkins‘ first half goal for a foul by Jordan Ayew on Dejan Lovren despite the Liverpool defender going down easily.

Sadio Mane popped up with another goal to put Liverpool ahead and his display was a major positive, but overall this was another game where Liverpool didn’t play to their best but ground out a win.

They sit eight points clear atop the Premier League table and they now things are going their way right now.

Klopp’s face at the final whistle said it all, as Liverpool roll on.

Liverpool strike late (again) to beat Crystal Palace

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Liverpool beat Crystal Palace 2-1 at Selhurst Park on Saturday as Jurgen Klopp‘s Premier League leaders secured another dramatic late victory.

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Sadio Mane had given Liverpool the lead after VAR drama denied Crystal Palace an opener, but Wilfried Zaha equalized late on as it looked like Liverpool would drop points.

But Roberto Firmino then popped up to secure the win for Liverpool as the leaders make it 12 wins from 13 to start the season and remain unbeaten.


3 things we learned

1. Mane delivers again: Sadio Mane popped up to put Liverpool ahead and he was a constant threat, especially in the second half. Everything they did well going forward, Mane was at the heart of it. The Senegalese forward stepped up with Mohamed Salah out for Liverpool, and proved that he is their main man this season.

2. VAR drama takes center stage: Yes, Jordan Ayew pushed Dejan Lovren, but the Liverpool defender made the most of the contact. VAR was used to rule out James Tomkins‘ goal in the first half and in slow-motion the push looked clear, but in real-time there was a reason the foul wasn’t given. This decision was very harsh on Palace and Liverpool will be very relieved.

3. Liverpool grinding it out: Jurgen Klopp’s side put in their worst display of the season and they still won. They have a great habit of grinding out wins this season and they did it once again. But even after Firmino’s late winner they gave up a big chance which Zaha skied. Liverpool shouldn’t have won this game, but they did. That is why their are the champions elect.

Man of the Match: Sadio Mane – He stood tall in attack without Salah and even though many of his Liverpool teammates failed to perform, he did. Mane is the man of the season for Liverpool.


After a tight start to the game Palace had the first big chance of the game but Jordan Ayew flicked just wide.

Ayew then cleared brilliantly just as it looked like Liverpool would finish off Virgil Van Dijk‘s downward header.

All hell broke loose at the other end of the pitch just before half time as James Tomkins thought he had given Palace the lead but VAR ruled out his goal for a foul by Jordan Ayew on Dejan Lovren. The home fans and players were livid as Lovren went down easily but there was a clear push. No goal as Liverpool survived a huge scare.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Mane was put clean through by Jordan Henderson at the start of the second but he put his effort wide.

Moments later Mane made no mistake.

A ball into the box saw him hit his shot into the ground and although Vicente Guiata got a hand to his shot, the ball hit the post, rolled across the goaline, hit the other past and just squirmed past Patrick Van Aanholt who was trying to clear it.

Palace had a few shots from distance which troubled Liverpool but they became more vulnerable on the break as Mane and Lovren almost got on the end of a ball across the box, then Guaita denied Roberto Firmino on the break.

Former Liverpool striker Christian Benteke came on and had a big impact as his acrobatic effort flew wide.

Benteke was then involved as Townsend teed up Zaha who equalized to send Selhurst Park as it looked like Palace would deny Liverpool victory.

But then, just as they’ve done all season, Liverpool found a way to win when they weren’t at their best.

Van Dijk’s effort caused havoc in the box and the ball eventually found Firmino who slotted home after an almighty scrap. Cue wild scenes in the away end.

In stoppage time Palace almost equalized as Zaha skied an effort over the bar, but Liverpool held on to make it 12 wins from 13.

Premier League club grades: The story so far

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We are nearly a third of the way into the 2019-20 Premier League season and the table is finally starting to take shape.

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The surprise packages seem here to stay, there are a bunch of teams battling for European qualification, plenty of giants are struggling and it seems like both the title and relegation battles have already started.

Taking all of that into consideration, we feel like 12 games into the season is a very good time to dish out some grades on each PL club based on their performances so far.

Here it goes…


Arsenal: D
Unai Emery is under pressure, big time, as the defensive problems weren’t properly fixed. Add to the mix that Granit Xhaka was handed the captaincy via a player vote, then stripped of it after his outburst following fans celebrating his substitution and things are a bit of a mess. The only reason Arsenal didn’t get an F is because somehow they are still in the top six and well-placed in the Europa League. That said, they are eight points off the top four and Emery needs some big wins fast. His team don’t seem to know what is being asked of them tactically, and he’s almost 18 months into the job. Scary.


Aston Villa: C
This is just about what we expected from Villa on their return to the PL. Dean Smith‘s side are fun to watch and take risks in the final third, but they are naive defensively. They’ve pushed Liverpool, Man City and Arsenal all the way and they’ve picked up some big wins when things click in attack. Villa look set to hover just about the relegation zone this season and look to have enough quality in midfield and attack to stay out of trouble.


Bournemouth: B-
It’s a case of one step forward, one step back for the Cherries. The last few weeks summed that up well as they beat Man United then lost to Newcastle. Defensively they’ve improved massively but Eddie Howe‘s side are now suffering with a lack of clinical finishing in attack. Bournemouth will be well clear of relegation trouble, but a European push still seems a step too far for this young side.


Brighton: B+
Graham Potter‘s arrival has seen the Seagulls play some wonderful stuff, especially at home. Brighton have picked up some big wins and they have a gem in Leandro Trossard and youngster Aaron Connolly has emerged as a regular. Brighton still have a strong defensive core but they are much more adventurous going forward and Potter has got his ideas across to the players very quickly. A great start for a team many tipped as relegation favorites.


Burnley: B
Some very strong displays from the Clarets, as they’ve hammered the likes of Southampton, Norwich and West Ham, plus beat Everton and drew against Villa and Wolves. They are back to their best with a strong defensive unit and Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes are a handful up top. A top 10 finish seems very likely.


Chelsea: A+
It couldn’t have gone any better than this. Frank Lampard‘s first few months as a top-flight manager got off to a slow start but the Blues have won six PL games on the spin and are sitting pretty in the UEFA Champions League. Christian Pulisic has been on fire in the last month and the likes of Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori have taken their chances in the first team, not to mention Jorginho and Willian shinning in their new roles as leaders. Chelsea may not be genuine title contenders, but they look certain to finish in the top four. In a season where they were supposed to be hit hard by a transfer ban, that’s very good going. Super Frank, indeed.


Crystal Palace: C+
The Eagles have had their ups and downs and after a fast start they’ve been on a gruelling stretch of games. Wilfried Zaha doesn’t seem fully focused and has looked frustrated, while Roy Hodgson has had to rely on Jordan Ayew for goals. How long will that last? Defensively Gary Cahill appears to be one of the bargains of the season after his free transfer from Chelsea, with the Eagles tough to beat but lacking a little in attack. Palace will be battling for a top 10 finish. Nothing less, nothing more.


Everton: C-
The last few results have improved this grade significantly, as Marco Silva still has so many issues to sort out at Everton. It appears the owners will give him plenty of time and drawing against Spurs and beating Southampton bought him some more of that. But what is Everton’s identity? They now seem to be slipping into a counter-attacking style which suits their players best, and they have to nail down that identity. Everton have the players to push for the top six (the horrible injury to Andre Gomes will make that tougher) but they have underperformed and Silva has been under pressure. Maybe now the pressure has eased (slightly) they can rise up the table.


Leicester City: A+
Brendan Rodgers is working miracles at the King Power Stadium. This young Leicester side have been a revelation so far, with Jamie Vardy leading the PL in goals and finishing off most of the copious chances created by James Maddison, Youri Tielemans and Co. At the other end of the pitch Caglar Soyuncu has replaced Harry Maguire expertly and Wilfred Ndidi is ripping it up as N’Golo Kante’s replacement. The Foxes are perfectly balanced and sit second in the table for a reason. They deserve to be there, but the only worry is who will replace Vardy if he’s injured? If he stays fit, Leicester will finish in the top four. Simple.


Liverpool: A
Unbeaten with 11 wins from their opening 12 games. Not bad, Jurgen, not bad at all. Klopp’s Liverpool are hungry and although they haven’t been at their best for most of this season they are ruthless in attack and dogged in defense. Sadio Mane has taken his game to a new level and Fabinho is shielding the back four superbly. They are eight points clear but know how quickly those leads can evaporate. Still, pretty much the perfect start for Liverpool as the reigning European champs are the red-hot favorites to secure their first league title for over 30 years. If injuries are kind to them, there is no way they will let this lead slip this time.


Man City: B
Pep Guardiola‘s side have been hit hard by defensive injuries early in the season and the defending champs will rue not signing a new center back in the summer. With Aymeric Laporte going down, they’ve had to put Fernandinho at center back with Otamendi and Stones all over the place. Ederson‘s recent injury was also a blow as going forward they’ve been sublime but defensively there have been huge issues, as the defeats against Norwich and Liverpool proved. Nine points off the top early on, can Man City claw this back? It is going to take a superhuman effort, plus a Liverpool collapse, to do that. Guardiola’s side may soon go ‘all-in’ on chasing that Champions League trophy.


Man United: C+
What a weird start to the season for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s young side. They’ve beaten Chelsea and Leicester and drawn against Liverpool and Arsenal, but they’ve also lost to Newcastle, Bournemouth, Crystal Palace and West Ham. A real mixed bag, which is what you can expect with such a young team out there week in, week out, and because of injuries. When Rashford, Martial and James are fit, they look so dangerous in attack and at least there is a plan in place and a style of play. Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka have shored things up at the back and United now need a midfield playmaker to step forward to dictate games. Expect them to make a move in the January window for a Bruno Fernandes type, while a top four finish isn’t out of the question but is looking unlikely after a topsy-turvy start.


Newcastle United: B-
Things have gone surprisingly well for Steve Bruce‘s side so far. Anarchy was in the air among the Toon Army in the summer but wins against Spurs and Man United calmed things down, and they’ve just beat West Ham and Bournemouth back-to-back. Relegation could still be on the cards, but for now the Magpies are looking solid defensively and are tough to beat. Joelinton and Miguel Almiron are struggling to produce in attack and long-term that seems to be their biggest problem.


Norwich City: C
It all started so well as Teemu Pukki couldn’t stop scoring and they beat Man City to spark wild scenes at Carrow Road. That was in September and Norwich haven’t won since. There’s no doubt defensive injuries have hit Daniel Farke‘s side hard and the players they have are adventurous but seem to be taking too many chances in possession. Pukki has been an isolated figure in recent weeks but if they can get him the ball in dangerous areas, he will finish. There’s a long way to go but Norwich sit bottom and look destined for relegation. But maybe Pukki is ready to fire up another #PukkiParty…


Sheffield United: A
The newly-promoted Blades have been one of the stories of the season so far as they sit in fifth place. We’ve all heard about their overlapping center backs and Chris Wilder being adamant they won’t change their style of play, but one of the biggest plus points from their opening few months back in the PL has been their work rate. Every play on this Sheffield United team knows their job and works their socks off. They play as a unit and have given some of the big boys big wake-up calls (they’ve beat Arsenal, drawn against Chelsea and Tottenham and only lost late on against Liverpool). The way they commit players forward is refreshing and they have brought something totally different to the PL. They should easily stay up.


Southampton: F
What a disastrous start for Saints in Ralph Hasenhuttl‘s first full season in charge. They didn’t make the correct offseason additions and were hamstrung by previous poor signings they couldn’t offload. Danny Ings has been the only bright spot so far as he’s scored seven goals in all competitions, but Saints have the worst defense in the league. They were smashed 9-0 at home by Leicester City and they sit second from bottom in the table. It’s true that the fixtures machine wasn’t kind to them for the start of the season, but they now have a very winnable run of games coming up. If they are still in the bottom three in mid-December, they look certain for relegation.


Tottenham Hotspur: D-
A summer of discontent has rumbled on into the fall and now the winter as Mauricio Pochettino‘s mood swings sum up the current situation at Spurs. Eriksen, Vertonghen, Alderweireld and Rose all want to leave but contract situations haven’t been sorted out by Daniel Levy and this has become one heck of a mess. Spurs sit in 14th place in the table, 11 points off the top four, and they look a shell of the hungry, determined side which overachieved season after season since 2015. Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son are trying their best to score goals and lead the team but something isn’t right behind-the-scenes and Pochettino has a huge job on his hands to push for a top four finish.


Watford: D-
It has taken them 12 games to get a win but the recent signs have been good for the Hornets. After sacking Javi Gracia and bringing in former manager Quique Sanchez Flores they have shored things up defensively overall (let’s forget that 8-0 loss at Man City) and they’ve now drawn games against Spurs, Arsenal and Sheffield United. The win against Norwich gave them belief they can pick things up in the second half of the season and with Troy Deeney set to return they will now have more of a threat in the final third alongside Gerard Deulofeu. Goalkeeper Ben Foster has been superb so far and Watford will need to keep improving defensively if they’re going to get out of the bottom three. They certainly have the talent to do so.


West Ham United: D
Worrying times for Manuel Pellegrini as the Hammers enjoyed a good start but haven’t won since September. West Ham spent big again in the summer and they’re in danger of being sucked into the relegation battle. Declan Rice is struggling for form, so too is Sebastien Haller, and the loss of Lukas Fabianski to injury was a hammer blow (pardon the pun) as Roberto has struggled massively since replacing him in goal. West Ham shouldn’t be in a relegation scrap but it looks like a bleak winter is ahead.


Wolverhampton Wanderers: B-
Nuno Espirito Santo‘s side are ticking over very nicely after a slow start with their small squad seeming to get up to pace of the Thursday-Sunday grind with the Europa League. Raul Jimenez is on fire and although they’re making defensive mistakes, Wolves are able to bounce back better this season when they’ve fallen behind. They should be battling for another top seven finish as well as going on a deep run in the Europa League.

Leicester keeps flying with win at Crystal Palace

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Leicester City continues to surprise, collecting a 2-0 win over in-form Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Sunday.

Caglar Soyuncu and Jamie Vardy scored for the Foxes, who go third with 23 points.

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The loss keeps Palace ninth, where they’ll stay unless Tottenham really punishes Everton late in the orning.

The Foxes are loving the Fortune, entering the day with 25 goals and 8 conceded despite an expected goals total of about 14 and 12!


Three things we learned

1. One bad moment punishes Palace: Roy Hodgson‘s well-drilled Eagles were doomed to defeat by a miscommunication on a set piece (their inability to score, obviously, also hurt). Gary Cahill and James Tomkins were out to lunch as Soyuncu into space and stooped to head a corner kick home. Maybe it was Soyuncu’s status as a true sleeper to score, but the chest high ball could’ve easily have been handled by either back had they moved with the Turkish center back.

2. Surprise scorer stoops to concur: Soyuncu entered the game with three club goals in almost 10,000 career minutes and none since scoring for Freiburg on Oct. 1, 2017 (He did score his lone Turkey goal against Tunisia in June 2018, for what it’s worth). One of five players to play all 990 minutes for the Foxes this season, he’s been a beast in defense especially in the air. Perhaps it’s a bit ironic that his winner came from his ducking to plant the ball in the goal, but you’d have to say it’s a richly-earned offensive reward from a man who does much of Leicester’s dirty work.

3. Black Swan Vardy delivers 10th goal: Clad in the black of Leicester City’s away strip, Jamie Vardy flapped his wings wildly after scoring the Foxes second goal. He is absolutely flying, turning back the clock to total 10 goals through 11 matches. It was a clever goal, too, a 1-2 with Demarai Gray hit cleanly with a left-foot. This wasn’t powerful Jamie Vardy having a party, rather a night at the opera. Good stuff.

Man of the Match: Soyuncu, with apologies to Guaita who kept it close.


Youri Tielemans led a robust rush down Palace’s left, setting up Harvey Barnes for a fifth minute shot that was collected by Vicente Guaita.

Wilfried Zaha did the same at the other end, but Jordan Ayew lashed wildly beyond the frame.

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The edge of the 19th minute saw Vardy race onto a James Maddison pass, roasting James Tomkins only to find himself denied by Guaita (and Gary Cahill’s denial of a passing avenue). Evans headed over goal on a following corner.

Ayoze Perez made a terrific steal and run deep into the Palace half, but Patrick Van Aanholt‘s terrific run closed ground and sent the danger out for a corner.

The match was cagey and hectic, Zaha winning a free kick off Ricardo before halftime.

Palace had a good run in the first few minutes of the second half, with Zaha bounding a shot wide.

Leicester found some momentum after that, with Evans heading a corner toward goal that Guaita slapped over the bar.

The Foxes scored off the ensuing corner, Soyuncu ducking to adjust for a low corner when Palace’s center backs miscommunicated on their mark.

And the insurance goal arrived when Tielemans, who was fantastic, hit an incisive pass to Vardy to begin a 1-2 with Gray that ended in the back of the net.