Just when we thought the Top of the Table was mostly set for the remainder of the season, things got very interesting.
Manchester United dropped a match to Swansea City, while both Arsenal and Liverpool found a way to get three points out of their respective matches....even if there was some referee controversy (when isn't there ammiright?).
Heading into week 27, Liverpool - who is sitting in 6th with 45 points - could actually vault into a tie for third place with a little help, where is the Gunners will be looking to further solidify their spot in the Top 3. Chelsea still sits in the lead with 60 points, but they won't play this week against Leceister City like they were supposed to, as they will be playing in the League Cup Final on March 1st against Tottenham who's match against QPR will also be postponed. 2nd place Man City will be in action though and they will be facing off in an exciting match against Liverpool.
Here are my three matches of the week, please play along!
Stoke City v. Hull City
Kind of an interesting match as Hull City has been playing pretty gritty all season. That said, Stoke City should have the upper hand in this one. My Prediction: Stoke City 3 - 1 Hull City
Liverpool v. Manchester City
You have to love this one in Anfield. Liverpool seems to think they have momentum right now and are set on making a statement down the home stretch. Man City on the other hand could severely put the pressure on Chelsea with a win this week against the Reds. My prediction: Liverpool 0 - 1 Man City
Arsenal v. Everton
We've seen this story a few times this season so far. A team looking to make up ground gets a chance to beat up on a struggling Everton, but end up failing to do so. Usually those matches end up in draws, so this one is an easy one for me. My prediction: Arsenal 1 - 1 Everton
It's been a minute since we last talked Premier League. Since the last Premier League post, there have been some changes to the Top 5, but for the most part, teams seemed to stick with the fashion they've been sporting all year. Here are a few recaps and thoughts...
It was only fitting that after the seasons that Liverpool and Everton have had so far that the latest Merseyside Derby would end in a 0-0 draw. A few days later during midweek play, Liverpool did manage a 3-2 win over Tottenham and Everton kept things close with league leading, Chelsea, only managing to lose 1-0, but overall the 0-0 final between the Toffees and the Reds summed up both sides' seasons perfectly.
The North London Derby:
The North London Derby on the other hand happened to be an exciting affair. It's somewhat safe to say that Tottenham was the slight underdog in this match, but they did manage to pull off a 2-1 win over the Gunners who had been looking a lot better as of late. Unfortunately for Spurs fans, the inconsistency that has plagued both North London sides continued a few days later when Tottenham dropped a game to Liverpool (as mentioned above) and Arsenal got one back against Leicester City. I still like both of these teams to be fighting for UEFA Champions League spots as we go on. Hopefully one or both can start stringing a few wins together.
Weird Week for Man City:
Man City had a couple strange matches since the last time we talked Premier League. Over week 24, they only managed a 1-1 draw against the Tigers from Hull City, but came back a few days later in Week 25 to beat Stoke City 4-1 without a problem. The draw with Hull City helped Chelsea keep a seven point lead at the top and might have opened the door slightly for teams below them. Their rivals, Manchester United have moved back into third place after all....
Alright now time for my three matches of the week, as always feel free to jump in with your predictions in the comments below.
Chelsea v. Burnley
This is a tasty matchup for Chelsea fans, especially since Man City will have to take on a feisty Newcastle Squad this week. Getting three points this week could mean a lot depending on the results from the City match.
My prediction: Chelsea 3 - 1 Burnley
Swansea City v. Manchester United
This is far from a walk in the park for the Red Devils, but they certainly have to look at week 26 as a huge opportunity to grow some deeper roots in the Top 3. They've had a streaky season so far, but have looked decent recently.
My prediction: Swansea 0 - 2 Manchester United
Man City v. Newcastle
As mentioned above, if Man City stumbles against a very game Newcastle side, it could end up very costly if Chelsea does what they're expected to do against Burnley. Personally I feel like this one is a tough one to predict, mostly due to Newcastle's odd habit of spoiling top of the table teams when you least expect it.
My prediction: Manchester City 2 - 2 Newcastle United
2015 is still in it's infancy, but we have already seen the USMNT take to the pitch twice. In their first match they couldn't hold off a Chilean side consisting of many B team players who eventually came back and nabbed the victory and in their second match they managed to end their post World Cup/Czech Republic winless skid with a 2-0 victory over CONCACAF rivals, Panama.
Although the USMNT continues to plummet in the FIFA world rankings (who really pays attention to those though?) and they haven't exactly been performing spectacularly, those of us who have been soccer fans for a while understand the several reasons why we play "friendly" matches and seeing how young players deal with the pressure of playing for their country is one of the biggest ones.
Much will more than likely change before Klinsmann decides on his final roster for the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup, but after the couple matches that we've seen so far, I have decided to feature the Top 3 youngsters that I feel have the most potential to make impact in 2015. Here they are.
3. DeAndre Yedlin
Before 2015 started, I would have said Yedlin was easily the young player with the most potential in 2015, but after the matches against Chile and Panama, I am a little more skeptical of Klinsmann's plans for the Seattle native.
Now given the fact that I am a fan of domestic soccer and trying to keep young talent here, I am very ready to start blaming his move to Tottenham on his lack of fitness early in 2015. However, that's just because I have seen how bad playing in Europe has been for most young American stars and have grown very tired of the wheel of madness that keeps on spinning regardless of the lackluster results it has spit out. Looking at it from a non-bitter point of view though, I suppose the argument could be made that Yedlin would only be in preseason form right now if he was still playing in the MLS anyways. That hasn't seemed to hurt my next two players though...
2. Miguel Ibarra
Now I know I will get booed for placing Ibarra ahead of Yedlin, but if we're talking about expectations? Ibarra has definitely surpassed my expectations. I know he isn't really a "youngster" at 24, but the fact that he was called up from the NASL's Minnesota United, a second tier North American Soccer team, is both incredible and baffling to me.
Why baffling you may ask? Well, from a Coach who continually has bad things to say about North American soccer leagues, I find it kind of funny that Klinsmann would name someone like Ibarra to the USMNT roster. I am completely behind the decision, just confused as to what is actually going through Klinsmann's brain sometimes.
Ibarra still has a lot of work to do before he finds a solid spot on the USMNT roster and I will be the first to say that he lacks the polish that you see from players that continually play at a higher level, but his always attacking mentality is exactly what the US needs and I would love to see Klinsmann continue to roll the dice with him during these friendlies. He's a blue collar attacker and I love watching him play.
1. Gyasi Zardes
This may be a bold statement, but I feel Zardes may be the most promising goal scorer the US has seen since Landon Donovan. Now don't get me wrong, I am a HUGE Clint Dempsey fan, but I feel like Zardes and Dempsey are Apples and Oranges, where is I can find more similarities between Zardes and Donovan.
It's kind of interesting that Zardes will be helping fill a hole that Donovan has left behind with both the USMNT and his club team, the Los Angeles Galaxy, but I am beyond excited to see him progress as a player. He's dangerous as both a helper and a goal scorer and his soccer sense to me is something that the Yanks have needed for a while. From what I have seen so far, post World Cup, Gyasi Zardes is my pick for the most promising up and coming American player.
Now if we can just get Dom Dwyer and Bradley Wright-Phillips to become US Citizens.
What a crazy return to the Premier League after a week off! For the first time in....(maybe ever?), I went 0-3 on my predictions as well. Although Crystal Palace has been looking like a new team under Pardew, Everton decided it was time to finally get a win and snuck by the Eagles with a 1-0 win. All signs pointed towards Chelsea breaking open their lead against second place, Manchester City, but all they could muster was a draw. Southampton had the opportunity to make up some ground against the leaders of the pack, but instead fell to the spoilers of the season, Swansea City.
Yes, week 23 was pretty exciting, but the soccer world wasn't all crazy this week, let's start with.....
The Transfer Deadline
What a snorefest that was this year! Plenty of great rumors leading up to it this season, but in the end? Not a whole lot to write home about.
Arguably the biggest move was Juan Cuadrado heading to Chelsea to take the place of Andre Schurrle who left Chelsea for Wolfsburg shortly before. Now don't get me wrong, I use the term "take the place of" very lightly, Schurrle and Cuadrado are both very different from each other, but I actually think Cuadrado could make Chelsea even more deadly. He's one of those players who can do magical things with the ball and although I love Schurrle's more straight forward approach, it should be fun to see what Cuadrado can do for the Blues.
Aaron Lennon also came up with a big payday transferring from Serie A's Fiorentina to Everton. Sounds like just what the Doctor ordered for Martinez's squad, but allegedly there are some photos out there of Lennon that make Grumpy Cat look happy.....I guess we'll just have to wait and see.
Arsenal decimates Villa
The Villains are en route to having the worst offensive season in recent Premier League history. That, however didn't stop the Gunners from running the score against them as they destroyed Villa 5-0 in front of a packed house at Emirates Stadium.
Arsenal may be 11 points away from the top of the table, but it still might be a good time for the Gunners to get hot. Right now they look unstoppable (I apologize to any Arsenal fans if I have jinxed them) and who knows how Chelsea and Man City will be able to close out the season? Of course they still have Man U (one point ahead of Arsenal) and Southampton (tied with Arsenal) to get past before that, but all signs point toward Arsenal making a run.
But hey, let's not forget about the Spurs quite yet....
Although even 11 points seems like a large mountain to climb for the Gunners, it isn't out of the question and 13 for Tottenham isn't either.
The Spurs looked good against West Brom this past weekend, defeating Albion 3-0 at The Hawthorns. Although the Baggies are mid table, much like Arsenal, the Spurs have shown a spark lately that could make things interesting headed down the stretch. If not a Premier League title, both of these teams could be looking at UEFA Champion's League spots.
Alright, time for my matches of the week, please do chime in with your predictions in the comment section below.
Tottenham v. Arsenal
Well hey would you look at that? After saying these two should be fun headed down the stretch....they meet in Week 24.
Although I really do believe both sides are finally becoming more consistent this season, I do think Arsenal is the stronger team all together and even though the Gunners are on the road for this one, I think they'll come away with all three points. My Prediction: Tottenham 2 - 3 Arsenal
Everton v. Liverpool
The battle of Merseyside wages on this week as the Toffees host the Reds. As I have stated way too many times on this blog through the season....neither of these teams have quite lived up to expectations, however Liverpool has looked a little better as of late.
So of course I am picking Everton to upset their rivals at home. My prediction: Everton 2 - 1 Liverpool
Leicester City v. Crystal Palace
Both teams are coming off of Week 23 losses, but there are many who still believe in Pardew raising Crystal Palace from the ashes.
The Eagles probably should have at least had a draw against Everton while the Foxes struggled mightily against Manchester United.
My prediction: Leicester City 1 - 3 Crystal Palace.
Well we might have a little longer to wait before we see some more Premier League soccer with this week off, but that just gives you more time to join in on the conversation here right?
Week 22 was both a good week to be a Blues fan, a bad week to be a Blues fan and an even worse week to be a Blues fan....although it's still somewhat debatable in which order the latter two go. Let's start with the good...
Chelsea Goes Swan Hunting:
When Chelsea is having a good day, they are downright terrifying. This past weekend they headed on over to Liberty Stadium to face Swansea City in a match that most would have Chelsea winning, but I'd find it hard to believe anyone who would have predicted the final score. In an absolute annihilation, Chelsea pulled out a 5-0 win on the road against The Swans and took a five point lead over Man City at the top of the table, at least until Sunday when Man City would face the Gunners, but we'll get to that a little later.
Everton Stays Lackadaisical With a Draw Against West Brom:
For Everton, a draw seems like an alright result these days, but a draw against an opponent ranked lower than you is hardly anything to get excited about. The match itself also yielded some harsh criticism on its lack of excitement from both analysts and fans alike. The Premier League Title is all, but mathematically out of reach for Everton this season (might even be mathematically impossible, but I am not in a math mood at the moment) and a spot in the Champions League seems highly unlikely (that itself might be an understatement), but personally I feel like this group of guys could at the very least get on a good run in these next few months. Just a question of what it will take to make it happen.
After knocking off Stoke City last week, Arsenal headed to the Etihad to face the Reigning Champs with hopes of getting a second win in a row, something that hasn't been easy to come by for the Gunners so far this season. We all know Arsenal has all the potential to be a top team, it's just been a matter of consistency. However, after week 22...things might be looking up.
Beating Stoke City is one thing, but beating Man City at the Etihad is a whole different story and that's exactly what Arsenal did, blanking City 2-0. This result kept the Gunners in 5th place overall and also helped those under 2nd place in reeling in the current Champions.
Their next match against Villa is a VERY winnable match, if they can get three in a row? It might be time we all started looking at the Gunners.
And now it's time for my matches of the week, as always let me know what your predictions are in the comment section!
Crystal Palace v. Everton
Alan Pardew is feeling good lately at the helm for Crystal Palace. With two wins in a row, one against Tottenham and the other against Burnley, there has to be a burst of confidence at Selhurst Park regardless of the level of competition they have put away.
Being that Crystal Palace has proven they can find the back of the net lately and Everton well.....hasn't, I am going to take Crystal Palace in this one. My prediction: Crystal Palace 2 - 0 Everton
Chelsea v. Manchester City
It's going to be an all blue affair at Stamford Bridge come January 31st as Chelsea will have a chance to stretch out their lead on City and it is my belief that they will do so. Being that I am pretty much non partisan when it comes to most of these matches, I apologize if it seems like I am jumping on the Chelsea bandwagon, but let's be honest everybody.....they look to be a team destined for the title.
My prediction: Chelsea 3 - 1 Man City
Southampton v. Swansea City
It's hard to tell how a team will react to getting thwomped the way Swansea did in week 22, but with Southampton back on track lately, The Swans will have their work cut out for them.
The Saints are coming off of back to back wins against Man U and Newcastle respectively and it is my guess that they will keep this train rolling against their Welsh opponents.
My prediction: Southampton 2 - 1 Swansea City
As always thanks for reading and please jump in with your thoughts!
Hard to believe we are already headed for week 22 in the Premier League. Where has all the time gone?
When it comes to my personal predictions, I didn't have a bad week this week. Only stumbled a bit with the Everton/Man City tie (I called a 3-0 blowout). However, I did call the Liverpool/Sunderland match perfectly and had the right margin of victory in the Chelsea/Newcastle rematch. Before we get to my matches of the week for week 22 though....some thoughts on week 21.
Of Course You Would, Everton
After so many weeks of abysmal performances against mediocre at best teams, of course Everton would manage a draw against the reigning champions from Man City. This result would leave the door open for Chelsea to take sole possession at the top of the table once again.
Just goes to show you...nothing is certain in the Premier League
Don't Call it a Comeback
Weren't the Saints supposed to be falling from grace? Didn't the clock strike midnight on the Cinderella Story? Didn't someone tell Southampton that the expectations were gone?
Obviously not, because Southampton have fought their way back into the Top 3 with a 1-0 win over Manchester United. Although they are still 10 points shy of first place, Saints fans can hold onto hope once again as their gritty side continues to overachieve even when many of given up on them. This week Southampton proved why they are one of the funnest stories of the 2014/15 season so far.
Foxes Get Three Points from Villa
At this point in the season, recently promoted Leicester City is playing to stay away from relegation and in week 21 they took a step in the right direction with a 1-0 win over Aston Villa.
With Hull City and QPR (especially) struggling as of late, I have this feeling the Foxes could actually escape relegation this season as they've managed to keep matches close with many of their opponents this season regardless of how talented the opponent is. I get the feeling Leicester is one of those sides that is just a couple acquisitions away from climbing up to mid table if they can stick around for one more season.
Now for my three matches of the week, as always....quit being a wallflower! Share your thoughts and predictions as well in the comment section!
Match 1: Leicester City v. Stoke City
Perhaps it's my love of an underdog or it's just the fact that foxes are generally one of the coolest animals out there, but I am loving the thought of a run of good play from Leicester to stave off relegation and so I am liking them to pull one out over Stoke City. Now don't get me wrong, I have always been a fan of the Potters as well, being that they've been one of the more likely squads to give Americans abroad time on the pitch, but I am all about the foxes right now.
My prediction: Leicester City 2 - 1 Stoke City
Match 2: Swansea City v. Chelsea
Chelsea is enjoying their alone time at the top of the table once again, but Swansea City - much like many other mid table squads this season - is always unpredictable especially when going against a team they are supposed to lose to. I actually foresee an upset with this one.
My prediction: Swansea City 3 - 2 Chelsea
Match 3: Manchester City v. Arsenal
Man City will be hungry to get three points after only getting one against lackluster Everton, but Arsenal did look impressive with a 3-0 win over Stoke City in week 21. That said, if we go with Arsenal's season so far, that win would almost certainly mean a head scratching loss this week. For that reason alone, I find it hard to put any money on Arsenal.
My prediciton: Man City 4 - 2 Arsenal
Let us know what you think!