Premier League Roundup - Major Talking Points from Matchweek 17
Weekend 17 of the 2018-19 Premier League season was headlined by a heavy-weight clash on Sunday the 16th, between the 2 greatest rivals in English football history - Liverpool and Manchester United. The rest of the fixtures were relatively quiet, but a few storylines appeared nonetheless:
Triumphant Liverpool completely outclass Manchester United at Anfield:
It was a day to remember for all associated with Liverpool football club, as they flexed their muscles to pick up a massive victory over major rivals Manchester United. It was a result that was expected, as Liverpool are currently a far better side than United, but the manner in which they picked up the victory made the size of the gap between the sides very clear. Liverpool had 36 shots compared to Manchester United's 6. Liverpool saw 64% of the ball whilst United of course saw 36%. There was a gulf in class on the pitch and it was obvious. Liverpool were energetic, fluid, and disciplined as they always are, while United couldn't escape their own half for much of the 90.
Despite all of this, the score was 0-0 for 24 minutes and then 1-1 for 50 minutes later on. Sadio Mane opened the scoring via a beautiful lofted ball from an unmarked Fabinho, but a shocking Alisson blunder gifted Lingard the equalizer less than 10 minutes later. It stayed 1-1 for 50 minutes in total as mentioned earlier, but throughout this level period, it was clear which side was far more likely to win. It was a substitution that ultimately changed the game for Liverpool, as Swiss international Xherdan Shaqiri came off the bench to whip out the dagger on United, scoring twice through deflections.
The win for Liverpool ensured that their retain top spot on the table, while Manchester United's loss saw them tumble further behind the top 4-pace. Red Devil's club-record signing Paul Pogba started the game on the bench, and finished it there as well, heating up more rumours of his feud with Jose Mourinho. Regardless of who's doing what, one thing is clear: United's manager and best player having a feud is not helping the team on the pitch in any way whatsoever, and it's in the club's best interest to solve it as soon as possible.
Arsenal's unbeaten run comes to an end at the hands of Hasenhuttl's shiny new Saints:
It was shades of 2014-2017 Arsenal down on the South Coast on Sunday, as the Gunners suffered a shocking 3-2 defeat to Southampton. The loss brings their 22-game win-streak to an abrupt end, and reminds the footballing world and Arsenal themselves, that the club still has plenty to work on. On-form centre-back starters Shkodran Mustafi and Sokratis Papastathopoulos were both forced out through suspension, while Rob Holding and Konstantinos Mavropanos both have injuries, meaning that Arsenal were forced to play a highly-makeshift back 3 of Lichtsteiner, Koscielny, and Xhaka.
This was their downfall in the match, as Hasenhuttl pinpointed their backline as a weakness, and had his boys fling in crosses to shake the Gunners' backline. It worked, as Southampton managed to score 3 goals with 3 headers, via 3 defensive mistakes from Arsenal. Southampton led on 3 different occasions, but Arsenal managed to crawl back on the first 2, until a late Charlie Austin header on the counter-attack had the St Mary's in dreamland. It was a clear mistake from Mesut Ozil in midfield that allowed the Saints to counter, and an erratic and mistimed attempt to claim a cross from Leno allowed Austin to head into an open net.
22-games unbeaten is still highly impressive from an Arsenal team who are growing under a new manager and still don't have a squad anywhere near the quality of some of their rivals. This makes the loss understandable, and it will likely serve as a growing pain as they move forward. If you had told Arsenal fans in the summer that they would have only 3 losses by mid-December, they likely wouldn't have believed you. The fact that this loss was so infuriating to some, shows exactly how far the Gunners have come within just a few months. Had this loss happened last year, it would not have been a surprise whatsoever.