Matchweek 17 Roundup: The Sky Is Not Falling on Anfield
Deep Breath, Reds
Matchweek 17 Roundup
Liverpool - 0
Manchester United - 0
Well, that sucked.
Saturday’s highly anticipated clash between Liverpool & United proved to be extremely anticlimactic, resulting in a 0-0 draw. After the 7-0 trashing we saw last season at Anfield, combined with the players unavailable for United, and their overall average form thus far, many expected to see Liverpool handle this one with ease. Not the case. Credit to United: while they’ll never come out and say it, they came into the match hoping to leave with a point, and that’s what they did. Liverpool dominated time of possession and had a whopping 34 shots (8 on target), but it was all for not. In the end, they couldn’t capitalize and made too many mistakes, and now sit 1 point behind Arsenal for the top of the table.
One could argue that Liverpool had this coming, after narrowly escaping with victories over inferior sides Palace, Sheffield and Fulham leading into this weekend. And one would have a fair point.
We must not forget that this is a Liverpool side who completely rebuilt their midfield this summer, and to date, it’s to be a huge success. Newcomers Szoboszlai, Mac Allister and Gravenberch have all had their ups and downs, but these new combinations at Klopp’s disposal have been ahead of schedule in their development. Fellow newcomer Endo has seen an increase in minutes since Mac Allister went out, and has more than held his own. Oh, and rumor has it that we may see Number 6 sometime in the new year - yes, that number 6. Think Klopp would like to have Thiago Alcântara as a fit option in the midfield this season? Yeah, me too.
December 18th and the Reds sit 1 point off the top as we head into Christmas - and it’s not Manchester City that they’re looking up at. City still remain the favorite at the betting window to raise the trophy, but they’ve certainly looked less than their best this year. I’d be remiss to not mention Aston Villa and Tottenham, who sit in 3rd and 5th place, respectively, who are both formidable foes in the chase for the title this year. The fact of the matter is that the Premier League is giving us parody this year, unlike any in recent memory. There’s no runaway as we approach the new year, and for that we should all rejoice.
Too Long Didn’t Read: Relax, Reds! We are yet to see this club click on all cylinders, and yet we’ve got the chance to sit top of the table heading into Christmas. Every club will experience injuries and bad spells, but I’ll take our 2023/2024 squad against anyone in the marathon that is the EPL.
Up the Reds.
Around the Premier League
League leading Arsenal continued their strong form, topping Brighton 2-0 at home, with goals from Jesus and Havertz. This one was never really in doubt. Arsenal lead the league with 39 points heading into Saturday night's tilt at Anfield.
Aston Villa held on to beat Brentford 2-1, with Ollie Watkins adding the go ahead goal in the 85th minute against his former club’. This match was far from dull - we saw 10 yellows, and 2 sent off before all was said and done. Emiliano Martínez gave us his best audition for an Academy Award - stay tuned to see if the Argentine keeper brings home more hardware. Villa sit in 3rd with 38 points, trailing Liverpool on goal differential.
Manchester City were cruising at home against Crystal Palace, until they weren’t. Trailing 2-0 in the 76th minute, Mateta got behind the City defense and beat Ederson to cut the lead. Then, Phil Foden picks up a clear and obvious penalty in the 95th minute (not a typo), and Olise scores from the spot to salvage a point at the Etihad. The return of KDB can’t come soon enough for Pep’s side. City sit 4th with 34 points.
Everton traveled to Burnley and picked up their 4th PL win in a row, 2-0. I wrote about this last week, but you can’t say enough about the job Sean Dyche has done this season. If not for the league penalty of 10 points, Everton would find themselves tied for 9th place, just 2 points behind United.
Fulham saw their run of offensive firepower come to and end, getting blanked 3-0 at St. James' Park. This one was scoreless until the 57th minute when Lewis Miley put one past Leno. Newcastle fans also saw the return of standout D-man Sven Botman, who was subbed on.