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EPL Matchday 14 Review
There's a reason it's the best league in the world -- each week in the EPL brings something new! Match Day 14 was another great one - here's how it all went down. The top half of the table didn't see much shakeup this week. Leicester and United drew 1-1 as Jamie Vardy recorded a goal for a record 11th consecutive match, but the draw allowed Manchester City, who beat Southampton 3-1, to leapfrog both of them and take first in the table, ahead of Leicester on goal differential. Arsenal faltered, drawing 1-1 to lowly Norwich. Spurs played Chelsea well in a match that looked like a draw right from the start, and indeed it ended 0-0. It was a terribly boring match between two teams that really offered little going forward. The highlight of the week -- for me, at least -- was Crystal Palace, as they hammered Newcastle 5-1. They fell behind 1-0 in the 9th minute but came storming back, with two goals each from Yannick Bolasie and James McArthur. Wilfried Zaha also got on the scoresheet in a return to the old club of Alan Pardew and Yohan Cabaye. Palace are really putting it together and their place in the table is representative of just how well they've played. It seems they're ready to challenge for a European spot -- just like Leicester, they have the advantage of not worrying about playing European football during the week and can focus all of their energies on the EPL. They get my vote for team of the week! In the bottom half of the table, some surprising names continue to struggle. Of course, Chelsea stands out, as they sit in 14th, with just 15 points from their 14 matches. It's really shocking to see them continue to put it together week after week given the squad they've got. Watford are climbing up the table nicely, as they beat Villa 3-2 in a wild match. I've been impressed with them this season, as they're scoring a lot of goals thanks to striker Odion Ighalo and doing just enough defensively to make it seem like they're ready to avoid the drop. After Chelsea, the most surprising name to me here is to see Swansea City languishing in 15th. After such a successful season last year and given the fact that they made improvements to the squad over the summer, I thought they were ready to make a challenge for Europe. Instead, they've played some terrible football and the pressure is really mounting on manager Gary Monk after they fell 1-0 to Liverpool at the weekend. Bottom three Villa, Newcastle and Bournemouth are all going to have a really hard time staying up unless something changes dramatically. They just don't seem to have the talent, organization or desire necessary to compete in a league as challenging as the EPL, if you ask me. Worst team of the week goes to Swansea as their tumble down the table continues. Did you watch any of the matches this weekend? Who impressed you? Who failed to impress? Let's hear it! @InPlainSight @AbdulrahmanSaad @trinityarcangel @thefeels @MarcusJiles @DerekGumtow @havic @yaakattackk @bnzatton @SherzTYCi @krishntejanand @addri @mishthi @andwas @NimishMathur @Sydsocquet @starli @kyleatekwana
Five questions that the EPL's first weekend asked
It was eventful Match Day 1 in the English Premier League, with some surprising results, some cracking goals, and some telling performances across the league. Let's take a look at how it all shook out. Arsenal in trouble? How much should we read into Arsenal's 2-0 loss to West Ham on Sunday? New goalkeeper Petr Cech was at major fault for both goals. It was a really uncharacteristic display from one of the league's most competent - and experienced - keepers. Arsenal have been heavily linked with Real Madrid's Karim Benzema, and I say Benzema would be the perfect signing for a team relying on the inconsistent Olivier Giroud for a whole lot. No reason for major panic for the Gunners, but the loss was disappointing for sure. Respect to West Ham for putting in a great performance on the opening day. Swansea ready for European push? On the strength of their impressive 2-2 draw away at Chelsea, Swansea City look like they could be primed for another serious push. Will they crack the top 6? It's unlikely, but they looked really, really strong against the league's best team on Saturday. New signing Andre Ayew was energetic and scored a goal, while big striker Bafetembi Gomis was as imposing as ever and Ash Williams rewarded the Swans' efforts to keep him at the club with a solid shift at the back. They were aided by Chelsea keeper Thibaut Courtois's red card and played a large part of the second half with an extra man, but it was an impressive match all the same for one of the league's up-and-coming squads. Promoted sides here to stay? While two losses and a draw from the league's three new sides may not seem all that impressive, anyone watching the teams play knew that all three made solid showings for themselves. Watford were the most impressive, as they played to a thrilling 2-2 draw with Everton (conceding one of the goals of the week to Ross Barkley). Bournemouth had opportunities but ended up falling to Aston Villa 1-0 in another tight contest. And Norwich City will feel hard done by the referee following their 3-1 defeat to Crystal Palace. They had an equalizing goal ruled out for a strange high leg call and a legitimate cry for a penalty turned away. In any case, upon first glance these look like three teams that can outfit themselves well, maybe score some goals and, at the very least, entertain viewers. Coutinho to step it up? Liverpool's key player is Philippe Coutinho, and he showed his quality with a stunning goal, certainly the goal of the week. It broke a 0-0 deadlock in the 86th minute in the match vs. Stoke. An important win for Liverpool, definitely - and against a very well organized opponent on the road. But maybe even more important is Coutinho's contribution - if he can be the talisman this season, he will make everyone around him better, including newcomers Roberto Firmino and Christian Benteke. Sunderland worse than we thought? Sunderland got whopped by Leicester, 4-2. Now, we didn't expect much from either of these sides entering the season, but a huge defeat to another potential relegation candidate has to be worrisome for Sunderland. They were totally overrun by last year's success story and showed hardly any bits of excitement. On the other hand, Leicester were outstanding, let by the under-fire Jamie Vardy (a video has surfaced showing Vardy making a racial comment in a casino) and the under-rated Riyad Mahrez. Might they have what it takes to survive another season in the Prem, maybe building on the terrific form they showed toward the end of last season?
[25th-Apr-15] Match Preview: Newcastle - Swansea
Siem de Jong is fit for Newcastle leaving no injury concerns for manager John Carver. Swansea are without Klye Naughton and Bafetimbi Gomis, the latter of whom will return sometime next month. Defender Neail Taylor is also suspended for the Swans. Background Swansea are in a bit of a lull. Southampton are 9 points clear of them in 7th and Gomis has been nothing but quality for a side that would definitely benefit from his return. Swansea also need a draw from their remaining 5 games to set a club record for points in the Premier League. Newcastle are in a state of worry. Yes their 7 point cushion above relegation is nice, but with 5 to play it still could evaporate. Their defeat to Sunderland their 5th in a row to their fiercest rivals a few weeks ago and just one in a series of 6 straight,. Head-To-Head Newcastle have lost 6 straight matches, the first time since 1977 they were on such a poor run. John Carver has won only 2 of the 15 matches he has been in charge of and Newcastle have only managed 3 goals in their last 8 games in the Premier League. The Magpies have also lost 3 straight home games while having the 2nd worst defense in the league, their 54 goals only better than QPR's 59. they have just 1 win and 2 draws for 5 points total in their last 10 games. Swansea have won only 2 of their last 6 games but have scored in 9 of their previous 11 matches away from the Liberty Stadium. Despite being 8th, the Swans have had only 7 goalscorers all season, tied for the worst with Burnley. Prediction: I think the Swans attack fizzles out a bit with Gomis missing but Newcastle are so poor it shouldn't matter. Newcastle 0-1 Swansea
What's with the Chinese football league?
There's something strange happening in the football world right now. Even with all the money and appeal that the world's top leagues bring - the EPL, La Liga, Germany's Bundesliga, France's Ligue 1 and Italy's Serie A, some top players have recently departed their clubs and gone to accept enormous contracts in the Chinese Super League. The latest star to make the move is Chelsea's Ramires, a player at the peak of his career at age 28. I'm stunned. There is a history of great players making the move to China, but in the past it has been players at the very tail end of their careers moving across the world to make huge amounts of money before they retire. Think Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka, who in recent years went to Shanghai to play. And I understand the appeal for an aging player. Someone like Drogba couldn't keep up with the pace of the top European leagues anymore, but could still be a huge star in China, where the league quality is extremely low. They are major marketing moves for the Chinese teams too, who can bring in world superstars to boost their image. But recently, the players making the move have not been aging stars. They are players in the prime of their careers, like Chelsea's Ramires. Other players to recently make the move are Roma's Gervinho (formerly of Arsenal), who is just 28 years old and Colombia and Inter Milan's Freddy Guarin, a young midfielder of enormous quality and potential. He has been on the radar of the top EPL clubs for years, and to see him turn them down in exchange for a move to the low-level China league is shocking. Alessandro Diamanti, Momo Sissokho, Demba Ba and Paulinho are other players who have recently moved from their European clubs to play in China under huge contracts. It's a bizarre phenomenon. Football in China is not known to be a very popular sport, but the Chinese owners have loads of money and are doing a good job convincing top players to come and join them. I'm sad to see exciting players like Ramires and Gervinho leave Europe, where I could watch them in the Champions League, but I'm fascinated to see what they will make of themselves in China, and to follow along to see if the Chinese league continues to pry away great talent from Europe. @InPlainSight @AbdulrahmanSaad @trinityarcangel @thefeels @MarcusJiles @DerekGumtow @havic @yaakattackk @bnzatton @SherzTYCi @krishntejanand @addri @mishthi @andwas @NimishMathur @Sydsocquet @starli @kyleatekwana @BenjiPhilip @Eduardo14 @AshfakEjaaz @EmanueleYagoda @Bobs What do you make of this recent trend?