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Top five Premier League players since restart

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The top five Premier League players since the restart?

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There have been plenty of stars who have dazzled since the suspension as an extended break seems to have rejuvenated them.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Take a look below at the top Premier League players of the show so far.


Christian Pulisic

The USMNT star has scored two goals and has two assists in his first three games back, plus he’s been man of the match on the last three occasions for Chelsea. Pulisic, 21, has been lauded by Frank Lampard and he is tearing teams apart with his pace and direct running. His goal in the big win against Man City summed up his talent perfectly. Incredible pace, control and composure. Pulisic is the highest-scoring player in the Premier League under the age of 21 this season.

Danny Ings

What a season this man is having. Danny Ings has finally shaken off his injury problems and has 18 Premier League goals and has scored three since the restart. He’s also hit the crossbar, set up chances for his teammates and has dug deep to defend from the front. Ings, 27, will be linked with plenty of teams this summer but he will be worth way over $60 million by Southampton, his hometown club. The entire soccer world smiles when Ings scores. He is one of the good guys and he’s pushing hard to win the Golden Boot.

Kevin de Bruyne

It is absurd how good Kevin de Bruyne is. It really is. He’s scored three goals since the restart and his free kick against Chelsea was sublime. Add to that his perfect passing and his hunger and KDB is the reason why Man City are pushing hard to add an FA Cup and Champions League to the League Cup they’ve already won this season. Yes, they are no longer Premier League champions but winning three out of four trophies this season isn’t a bad haul. Intrigued to see if he sticks around depending on the outcome of their appeal against the Champions League ban.

Michael Keane

Scored the winner at Norwich and has held Everton’s defense together with timely tackles and blocks. Keane is finally back to his best and he’s showing the form which saw Everton buy him from Burnley for $37 million in 2017. Keane has had his critics but Toffees fans are now loving his partnership with Mason Holgate at center back and they are surging up the table because of their solid foundation. Europa League is the target for Carlo Ancelotti’s side and they are very close to achieving that.

Bruno Fernandes

Perhaps saving the best to last!? Some say that the impact Bruno Fernandes has had on Man United is similar to what Eric Cantona had and how can we argue with that? Since Fernandes arrived in January, Man United haven’t lost and look a completely different team. His two goals against Brighton were sublime and his partnership in midfield with Paul Pogba is flourishing. Defensively United look better and ahead of Fernandes the trio of Martial, Rashford and Greenwood are purring. Fernandes makes everything tick and is making every single Man United player around him better. That is why Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side are in the top four battle and have all of the momentum.

Honorable mention: Migual Almiron, Riyad Mahrez, Raul Jimenez, Adama Traore, Anthony Martial, Mason Greenwood, Luke Shaw, Eddie Nketiah, Bukayo Saka, Ben Mee, Allan Saint-Maximin

Ings powers Southampton past worried Watford

Watford - Southampton recap
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Danny Ings pulled to within one goal of the Premier League lead after scoring a brace in Southampton’s 3-1 defeat of Watford on Sunday.

Ings’ 18 goals are one back of Jamie Vardy and one more than Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Mohamed Salah.

A Jan Bednarek own goal gave Watford 10 minutes to tie the match, but James Ward-Prowse’s pristine free kick restored the 2-goal lead within minutes.

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The match started with inauspicious news, Watford omitted three players for “health reasons” after reports of a 20-person party at Andre Gray’s house attended by Domingos Quina and Nathaniel Chalobah.

Southampton moves 13th with 40 points, while Watford’s 28 remain just one point above the drop zone.


Three things we learned

1. Gold-Ings boot (TM): Ings’ first goal was wonderful and his second aided by Watford, but there’s no denying that he’s firmly in the Golden Boot race with six matches to play. None of his 18 league goals this season have come from the spot and it would be a wonderful story if his injury-riddled years at Liverpool give way to etching his name in PL lore in the same season the Reds finally lift the Premier League trophy.

2. Ward-Prowse delivers the goods: There are few players in England more deadly standing over a free kick, and even fewer as overlooked or unknown as Ward-Prowse. The Southampton captain’s late goal was a marvelous, powerful, dipping bit of goodness.

3. Watford’s path very clear: The Hornets will have wanted all the points here, but it’s clear that a 9-day span will define their season. After meeting Chelsea next, Watford meets Norwich City, Newcastle, and West Ham between July 7-15. When you consider the season concludes with Man City and Arsenal, the Hornets need to get their act together now. No more parties, gents.

Man of the Match

It’s gotta be Ings, doesn’t it?


Watford – Southampton recap

Danny Ings set up Shane Long for a 15th-minute shot that was driven well but right at Ben Foster.

Ings’ first goal was a beauty, the Golden Boot-chaser dribbling to the center of the box and stroking a sweet strike inside the post.

VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

His second was most certainly the product of a decent effort from him and a poor one from Ben Foster.

Bednarek was under pressure from Danny Welbeck when he redirected a cross into his own goal, but Ward-Prowse answered with vigor.

Che Adams nearly made it 4-1 late but Ben Foster was on the case.

Ings scores classy goal in hunt for Golden Boot (video)

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Don’t sleep on Danny Ings in the race for the Premier League’s Golden Boot.

We’d all have to call it the Gold-Ings boot, though, wouldn’t we?

WATFORD – SOUTHAMPTON STREAM LIVE

Saints young phenom Will Smallbone spotted Ings’ run inside the heart of Watford’s defense, cutting past a defender before drilling a low bounding shot on goal.

The shot was so well-placed, leaving Watford keeper Ben Foster at a loss, and moves Ings to 17 league goals. He’s scored 24 of his 38 Premier League goals in a Southampton shirt.

VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

The total is level with Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah and Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, two behind current leader Jamie Vardy of Leicester City.

Saints still have Man City, Everton, Manchester United, Brighton, Bournemouth, and Sheffield United on the docket as Ings chases goal-scoring immortality.

Watford – Southampton preview: How to watch, start time, odds, team news

Watford - Southampton stream
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Watford – Southampton is the sole Premier League game on Sunday (start time, 11:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) as the Hornets are in a relegation scrap and the Saints hope for a top 10 finish.

Watford’s relegation problems have been further hampered by Andre Gray, Nathaniel Chalobah, and Domingos Quina attending a reported 20-person party at Gray’s house. The club simply stated the players were omitted for “the health concerns” of players, staff, and officials.

Nigel Pearson’s side will see this as a very winnable game as they sit outside the relegation zone by just one point and have drawn with Leicester and lost at Burnley since the restart. Saints lost 2-0 against Arsenal last time out after Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side hammered Norwich in the first game of the restart.

WATFORD – SOUTHAMPTON STREAM LIVE

This clash will see Southampton’s high-pressing come up against the sturdy defensive unit of Watford, who love to hit teams on the counter and make the most of set pieces. Saints are the away day specialists in the Premier League and Watford will be wary of leaving them too many gaps to exploit.

Click on the link above to stream Watford – Southampton, while below is everything you need to know ahead of the clash at Vicarage Road.

Team news

Watford are expected to rotate their lineup after the defeat at Burnley on Thursday, while Gerard Deulofeu, Daryl Janmaat and Isaac Success remain out long-term.

Southampton will be without the suspended duo of Jack Stephens and Moussa Djenepo, while Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Sofiane Boufal are injury doubts. Jannik Vestergaard is expected to come in for Saints at central defense.

 

Odds and ends (full matchweek odds)

Earlier this week Southampton were the favorites but given their poor display against Arsenal, plus Jack Stephens being sent off, the favorites are now Watford. The Hornets really need a win to boost their survival hopes and a tie would seem like the smart bet here.

(+140) Watford v. Southampton (+210), Tie: +225

Prediction

This teams have been so closely matched in recent seasons as Saints edged by Watford 2-1 earlier this season to spark their comeback over the festive period. That win was controversial and led to Nigel Pearson being hired and since then Watford are tough to beat. I’d expect Watford to edge it but Danny Ings and Nathan Redmond may cause them some problems. 1-1.

Arsenal edge past Southampton

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Arsenal edged past Southampton 2-0 at St Mary’s as the Saints were the own worst enemies and the Gunners made the most of their mistakes.

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Alex McCarthy gave the ball to Eddie Nketiah to make it 1-0, then Joe Willock tapped home late on after McCarthy spilled a shot from a free kick moments after Jack Stephens had been sent off.

With the win (their first away from home in the Premier League in 2020) Arsenal are back in the Champions League hunt on 43 points as they won their first points since the restart, while Southampton remain on 37 points.

Three things we learned

1. Heat impacts high-tempo: Both teams love to press high but with the heat in Southampton around 90 degrees, this impacted both teams and Saints probably more. Hasenhuttl’s side weren’t quite as sharp as usual and Arsenal were smarter with their pressing.

2. Arsenal grind it out: It wasn’t pretty, at all, but Arsenal were smart and Arteta will be happy with the clean sheet. Emiliano Martinez made a couple of good stops, Rob Holding was solid at the back, Bukayo Saka was bright on the left and Arsenal were dangerous on the counter. After the nightmare start to the restart, Arteta’s side dug deep and proved they have plenty of fight left. Champions League qualification may be beyond them, but they’re going to give it all they have.

3. Sloppy Saints should be fine: A couple of big mistakes cost Saints dear but apart from that they were equal to Arsenal. They dominated the second half but couldn’t break through and there wasn’t much between the teams. Southampton won’t be relegated but a European push is too lofty. Midtable is fine but right back, center back and central midfield are areas they need to add in this summer.

Man of the Match

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – A menace outside on the left and cutting inside. Forced a red card, hit the crossbar and came close on multiple occasions. The Arsenal skipped led by example.


Bukayo Saka drifted in from the left but was just offside as he crossed for Nketiah to finish as the goal was flagged off.

Aubameyang then raced clear on goal after a long ball over the top and his effort hit the crossbar and somehow came out. Replays showed that Alex McCarthy got the slightest touch to keep out the effort.

Moments later Stuart Armstrong went close for the hosts and Ings was a constant threat in an open, end-to-end clash. Arsenal then took the lead in embarrassing fashion as McCarthy gave the ball straight to Nketiah as he slotted home into an empty net. What a mistake from the Southampton goalkeeper.

Before half time Saints pushed for the equalizer as Danny Ings won the ball back, played it to Ryan Bertrand and his cross just missed Armstrong.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Southampton started the second half brightly as Ward-Prowse went close but then one long ball over the top from Emilian Martinez caught Southampton out as Aubameyang tried to cross but Jan Bednarek blocked and the ball trickled wide.

Ings had a half chance as Saints kept the pressure up but Arsenal defended resolutely.

Armstrong curled an effort over the bar as Saints pushed forward and left plenty of gaps for Arsenal to exploit on the break. Nathan Redmond slammed into the side-netting from a good position as Saints cranked through the gears.

Shane Long was denied by Martinez and Ings couldn’t quite snag the rebound as the Arsenal goalkeeper denied Saints.

Stephens was then sent off as Hojbjerg put him in trouble as last man and Arsenal doubled the lead from that free kick as Willock slammed home his first Premier League goal after McCarthy spilled Lacazette’s second effort.