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.
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.
Sokratis Papastathopoulos scored early but saw his late winner pulled back by a controversial VAR decision as Arsenal threw away a two-goal lead in a 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace at the Emirates Stadium.
Arsenal sits fifth with 16 points, one more than sixth place Palace.
Three things we learned
1. If at first you can’t defend… Arsenal’s oft-criticized center backs took the goals into their own hands, and if you’re up 2-0 within nine minutes it’s gonna be hard to be the goat. Sokratis’ goal came with calm after Granit Xhaka knocked down a clearance off a corner, and he was back post when David Luiz poked home a Lacazette-flicked cross to make it 2-0.
2. …You’re still going to have to defend, though: Arsenal’s backs helped give the lead away within 40 minutes, with Chambers cutting down Zaha — or at least daring VAR to go the other direction — and Luiz losing track of Ayew. Chambers really struggled, picking up a yellow card in addition to some haphazard first half passing, as improved defense in recent weeks appeared to be a magician’s trick after multi-goal concessions to Vitoria and Palace within three days.
3. Xhaka’s Arsenal career meets flash point: Voted club captain to the consternation of many Gooners, Xhaka was booed off the field when he was subbed off at the hour mark. The Swiss enforcer motioned his arms to welcome more boos, then yelled to the crowd to expletive off, cupping his hand to his ear before ripping off his shirt and storming down the tunnel. Things are not good in North London.
4. VAR overrules Sokratis winner for… something? As of publishing time on this post, there’s no clarity as to why VAR found a clear and obvious error that Roger East missed on Sokratis’ winner. Chambers is battling for the ball with several Palace defenders, hands everywhere, as he pushed the ball to Sokratis for what would’ve been a huge winner. There’s a problem here.
Man of the Match: Ayew? Milivojevic? Sokratis? We’ll go with McArthur, who was quite good and supplied the match-drawing assist.
An early corner cause Palace problems and put Arsenal in front, with Granit Xhaka settling Gary Cahill‘s headed clearance for Sokratis Papastathopoulus to hit through traffic for 1-0.
He could’ve had two had Luiz not also been at the back post to poke home a ninth minute corner, as Arsenal had Palace at sixes and sevens.
Lacazette had an effort saved moments later, and Palace fans were right to be concerned for the score line.
Aubameyang missed a chance, too, as Arsenal really should’ve had a massive lead when Zaha won a penalty off of Calum Chambers. Palace penalty usually equals Palace goal in Milivojevic’s world, and this time was no different.
Palace leveled the score just after halftime, as James McArthur‘s cross hung in the air for days. Neither Luiz nor Leno could get there as Ayew headed home.
As poor as he was defensively, Chambers was nearly again an offensive hero before sweeping a shot wide in the 62nd.
Arsenal thought it went ahead through Papastathopoulous, but VAR found a hard-to-pinpoint foul on Chambers as he won what would’ve been a match-winning assist. Baffling.
Wayne Hennessey made a nice stop on a Lacazette header as the match headed toward its final half hour. He’d late stop Luiz in the 89th with a result-saving stop. Zaha came close to equalizing when he turned a Christian Benteke flick toward goal and burned Chambers.
City moves back into second place with 19 points, five behind leaders Liverpool who visit Manchester United on Sunday.
Palace will finish the weekend sixth on 14 points.
Three things we learned
1. Fits and starts for odd CB pairing: Pep Guardiola was without an injured Nicolas Otamendi and perhaps not ready to put 90 minutes on returning John Stones, so he deployed center mids Rodri and Fernandinho at center back. There were several dicey moments for the pair, who also did well at times in the clean sheet, but perhaps most glaring was Rodri’s absence from the midfield. He’d go there for the final 10 minutes when Stones subbed into the match. If you doubted that Pep would make his employers open the checkbook in January, this lineup may have settled that for you.
2. VAR is so weird: WilfriedZaha shoved Kevin De Bruyne to turf with two hands, turning the playmaker on his route to the turf. Anthony Taylor didn’t see it, but hey, that’s why we have VAR, correct? Incorrect. VAR backed up the ref on the field and Palace remained in the match. Truly head-scratching on a bad day for the system.
3. Zaha not all there but shows flashes of brilliance: Crystal Palace’s Ivorian star wants out of South London, and it’s affecting his play. The winger disputes every touch from the opposition — he is fouled a lot — who knows they can get to him. He’s produced just one assist this season, and he simply doesn’t have the right desire to get things done for Roy Hodgson.
But, my, when he’s ready to roar. Zaha had several mazy dribbles in the final third and was denied a smashing goal by a flying Ederson in the 89th minute. It wasn’t enough to offset the headaches, like when he followed referee Anthony Taylor around the pitch begging for a yellow card following a tactical foul.
Man of the Match: Sterling — A killer at both ends, even if he missed a would-be third goal in the 87th.
Zaha is understood to have informed Salthouse in writing of his desire to leave USM last month, triggering the start of a potentially explosive legal wrangle, with the player alleging his agent is compromised by his relationship with Palace chairman Steve Parish.
He wants to leave the agency now, while USM wants to retain him through the year and keep a piece of his transfer fee. We imagine a move might’ve happened if they knew he’d leave the agency.
Green: New season-high ranking Red: New season-low
20. Newcastle United — Possibly the least effective midfield, or tactical deployment of one, we’ve seen in some time. Maybe Fabian Schar is the answer, but 37.6 percent possession over the course of a season is abysmal. Last week: 19 Season high: 19 Season low: 20 Last match: Lost 5-0 at Leicester City Up next: 11:30 a.m. ET v. Manchester United
19. Watford — Moving up onlybecause Newcastle was that bad against Leicester, but look below to see some serious hope for the Hornets. They just aren’t finishing, but are producing more key passes than everyone besides Man City, Chelsea, and Liverpool. Those will turn into goals, you’d think. Last week: 20 Season high: 19 Season low: 20 Last match: Lost 2-0 at Wolves Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Sheffield United
18. Brighton and Hove Albion — Aaron Mooy has looked a lot better in his last two starts. Can the former Huddersfield Town midfielder be the one to unlock the Seagulls attack? Last week: 18 Season high: 6 Season low: 18 Last match: Lost 2-0 at Chelsea Up next: 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday v. Spurs
17. Norwich City — Something to monitor as the weather gets colder and the pitch compacted: The Canaries are only attacking directly through the middle of the pitch on 17 percent of plays. Last week: 13 Season high: 10 Season low: 20 Last match: Lost 2-0 at Crystal Palace Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Aston Villa
16. Wolves — And exhale. Wolves finally get their win and not a moment too soon with a Man City trip ahead of them. With two days less rest than the reigning champs, Sunday could be a long day. Last week: 17 Season high: 7 Season low: 17 Last match: Won 2-0 v. Watford Up next: 9 a.m. ET Sunday at Man City
15. Aston Villa — Why do I believe Villa is ultimately going to emerge from the fire into another Premier League season? Dean Smith‘s men lead the league in shots blocked and crosses blocked per game. While that means they are giving up a lot of attempts, that full-blooded desperation is going to pay off (or break an arm). Last week: 11 Season high: 8 Season low: 15 Last match: Drew 2-2 v. Burnley Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at Norwich City
14. Everton — A much better looking side against City, but that’s kinda the frustrating life for Everton supporters. Sure, you got up for the big boys. Can you get up for a trip to Burnley? Also, to answer trivia from the Palace ranking, Seamus Coleman (!!) is second in the Premier League in successful dribbles this season. Last week: 14 Season high: 5 Season low: 14 Last match: Lost 3-1 v. Man City Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at Burnley
13. Southampton — Ralph Hasenhuttl‘s men move from a near miss against Spurs to a match with in-form but potentially weary Chelsea. Shock on the cards at St. Mary’s? Last week: 16 Season high: 13 Season low: 19 Last match: Lost 2-1 at Spurs Up next: 9 a.m. ET Sunday v. Chelsea
12. Burnley — Completing 64.2 percent of its passes, Burnley continues to defy the laws of logic, statistics, everything. Chris Wood is big. Last week: 12 Season high: 5 Season low: 15 Last match: Drew 2-2 at Aston Villa Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Everton
11. Sheffield United — We just love that Chris Wilder wasn’t content that his side deserved a point against the leaders. Can likely move two wins clear of the drop zone with a win at Vicarage Road. Last week: 10 Season high: 10 Season low: 17 Last match: Lost 1-0 v. Liverpool Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at Watford
10. Crystal Palace — WilfriedZaha‘s 32 successful dribbles are the most in the Premier League. Non-Palace fun fact. I’ll give you 50 chances to guess who’s second and like my odds (but the answer is in this post). Last week: 15 Season high: 10 Season low: 18 Last match: Won 2-0 v. Norwich City Up next: 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday at West Ham United
9. Manchester United — Please, for all of our sakes, get Anthony Martial healthy. Last week: 9 Season high: 2 Season low: 15 Last match: Drew 1-1 v. Arsenal Up next: 11:30 a.m. ET Sunday at Newcastle United
8. Tottenham Hotspur — A team in no man’s land, where several players need to be axed and the manager probably wants a new experience. The fullback corps is a mess. Last week: 8 Season high: 2 Season low: 8 Last match: Won 2-1 v. Saints Up next: 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday at Brighton
7. Arsenal — How about this stat: Arsenal is spending 33 percent of every match in its own third, the third-highest percentage in the league. That’s not legendary when your defense is so leaky. Last week: 4 Season high: 4 Season low: 7 Last match: Drew 1-1 at Manchester United Up next: 9 a.m. ET Sunday v. Bournemouth
6. Bournemouth — Six is a good number for the Cherries, who’ve scored half of their 12 goals from set pieces. Probably deserved a win over West Ham, but probably doesn’t move you up the table. Last week: 6 Season high: 6 Season low: 17 Last match: Drew 2-2 v. West Ham Up next: 9 a.m. ET Sunday at Arsenal
5. West Ham United — The Irons move from week-to-week with different tests of mettle. This week, it’s whether they can go about their business and handle a decent Palace team at home. Last week: 5 Season high: 5 Season low: 18 Last match: Drew 2-2 at Bournemouth Up next: 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday v. Crystal Palace
4. Chelsea — Is this week the Blues climb back into the Top Four? Last week: 7 Season high: 4 Season low: 12 Last match: Won 2-0 v. Brighton Up next: 9 a.m. ET Sunday at Southampton
3. Leicester City — Brendan Rodgers has his men playing on fire (in a good way). Wilfred Ndidi and Ricardo Pereira rank Nos. 1 and 2 in the Premier League in tackles this season. Ndidi is also leading the league in interceptions (23) and is performing on an N’Golo Kante level so far this season. Huge match on Saturday. Last week: 3 Season high: 3 Season low: 10 Last match: Won 5-0 v. Newcastle United Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at Liverpool
2. Manchester City — On pace to score 146 Premier League goals this season. Take out the 8-star performance against Watford, and it’s a 120-goal pace. That’s 14 more than their record. Last week: 2 Season high: 1 Season low: 3 Last match: Won 3-1 at Everton Up next: 9 a.m. ET Sunday v. Wolves
1. Liverpool — Since the Reds are getting the job done and look a complete team, how about a seemingly ugly stat that shows how important fullbacks are to Liverpool’s attack? Trent Alexander-Arnold has lost possession a league-best 184 times, 28 more than second place Lucas Digne. Andrew Robertson is 7th with 136.
Obviously, this is because they have the ball a lot and are counted on tactically to put the ball into danger areas — look at where they rank in terms of accurate opposition half passes, stunning stuff — but wow.
Last week: 1 Season high: 1 Season low: 3 Last match: Won 1-0 at Sheffield United Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Leicester City