3 Realistic contenders for a 7th place finish in the Premier League
With most of the media hype focussed on the title race in the Premier League, we often tend to forget that several other teams also compete in the division to achieve their desired goals.
Indeed, the race for the top-four or Champions League qualification, the battle for the Europa League spot and the relegation dogfight at the bottom of the table ensure that each season of Premier League football has plenty in store for all sets of fans to savour and admire.
Given the recently-established big-six hierarchy in English football involving Man United, Man City, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea and Spurs, the other clubs have found it difficult to break the top-six lock.
Instead, they have shifted their focus towards battling it out for the best-of-the-rest or the 7th spot in the Premier League standings to earn themselves a coveted spot in the qualifying rounds of the Europa League.
The likes of Southampton, Everton, West Ham, Burnley and Wolves have all secured the best-of-the-rest position in recent years and with that in mind, let us take a look at 3 potential contenders for that spot in the 2019-20 Premier League season.
1. Leicester City
Having narrowly missed out on the seventh spot last season following a late flurry since the appointment of Brendan Rodgers, Leicester City will be hoping to make a return to Europe this term.
And if the first four games of the ongoing campaign are anything to go by, few would back against the Foxes being the favourites to finish as the best-of-the-rest in the Premier League this term, with Rodgers’ side currently placed third in the standings just behind Liverpool and Man City.
It might be too early to make a call but Leicester have certainly got the firepower in all departments to mount a strong challenge for a Europa League qualification spot, especially after a summer of heavy spending which saw the club acquire the services of Youri Tielemans, Dennis Praet, Ayoze Perez and James Justin.
Jamie Vardy and James Maddison continue to be the club’s key driving forces in the attacking third and with youngsters like Hamza Choudhury, Caglar Soyuncu, Filip Benkovic, Wilfred Ndidi and Harvey Barnes in the ranks, Leicester certainly look strong enough for a good run this season.
Everton have always been considered as one of the odds-on favourites to finish as the best-of-the-rest in recent times but the Toffees have failed to replicate their heroics since Ronald Koeman guided them to a 7th-place finish back in the 2016-17 season.
A late flurry of positive results towards the end of last season, which included victories over Arsenal, Chelsea and Man United, reignited hopes of replicating such a feat under Marco Silva but the Merseysiders fell agonisingly short of achieving their desired target.
Now with Silva still in charge and after a couple of summers of heavy recruitment to enrich the squad with quality signings like Richarlison, Bernard, Theo Walcott, Moise Kean, Jean-Philippe Gbamin, Andre Gomes, Yerry Mina, Fabian Delph and Andre Gomes, it’s now or never for Everton to fulfil their ambitions.
The Toffees, though, will need to keep up their consistency levels to be successful in their pursuit of a Europa League qualification spot, as opposed to last season, where they dropped points against some of the lesser fancied sides in the league.
3. West Ham
West Ham did ever so well to secure a top-ten finish in their first season under Manuel Pellegrini, and the club invested heavily to bring in Pablo Fornals and Sebastien Haller this summer. This clearly outlines their ambitions to kick on and challenge for a European spot.
A well-oiled attacking unit consisting of Felipe Anderson, Haller, Fornals, Manuel Lanzini, Andriy Yarmolenko, Jack Wilshere, Robert Snodgrass and Michail Antonio will definitely be the key to their success, although Pellegrini should ideally look to shore up his defensive midfield and central defence in January.
With such quality attackers at their disposal, the Hammers look capable of beating any opposition on a given day but consistency in the latter stages will be the primary deciding factor in the race for a European spot.
3 Winners and 3 Losers from PL gameweek 5 including Tottenham and Arsenal
3 Winners and 3 Losers from Premier League gameweek 5
Premier League action returned with a bang after the end of the first international break of the season and Round 5 of the 2019-20 campaign produced some mesmerizing football for all sets of fans to savour and admire.
Man City’s shock 3-2 defeat away at Norwich City was arguably the hottest talking point from this weekend, while a few of the other big-six clubs, including Man United, Liverpool, Spurs and Chelsea should also be happy with how things panned out for them in Round 5.
Arsenal blew away a two-goal lead at Vicarage Road to share the spoils in a 2-2 draw against Watford, while top-six hopefuls Everton were beaten 3-1 away at Bournemouth.
Watford and Wolves once again finished the week as the only two sides in the Premier League who are yet to register a single victory thus far.
Without further ado, let us take a look at 3 winners and 3 losers from Round 5 of the Premier League:
Jurgen Klopp’s side stretched their lead over defending champions Man City to five points at the top of the table, as a first-half brace from Sadio Mane followed by a third goal from Mo Salah in the second half guided the Reds to a comfortable 3-1 comeback victory over Newcastle United.
Jetro Willems put the Magpies in the driver’s seat early in the game with his pile driver from the edge of the box but heroics from Mane, and Roberto Firminio who came on as a substitute for Divock Origi midway through the first half ensured that Liverpool stretched their winning run in the Premier League to 14 games in a row, becoming only the fourth team to achieve such a feat.
While it was more of a regulation victory for Liverpool, the fans at Anfield have every reason to hope that Man City’s stumble at Carrow Road proves to be one of the title-defining moments later on in the season.
Nevertheless, for the time being, Liverpool have a lot of breathing space with a five-point lead at the top of the standings.
It was a treat to watch how Chelsea’s young guns completely whitewashed an underwhelming Wolves side 2-5 away from home on Saturday, with Tammy Abraham’s hat-trick making him the youngest Blues player to achieve such a feat in the Premier League.
Frank Lampard’s side had come under criticism for blowing away a two-goal lead at home against Sheffield United prior to the international break but the Blues absolutely demolished Wolves in ruthless fashion to get back to winning ways and finished the week placed 6th in the standings.
While Abraham stole much of the limelight with his hat-trick, fellow academy graduate Fikayo Tomori also got the crowd off its feet with an absolute stunner from 35 yards out, as did Mason Mount, who bagged his third goal of the league season.
3. Tottenham Hotspur
Having lost 1-0 to Newcastle United and drawn 2-2 away at Arsenal prior to the international break, Spurs came into the game against Crystal Palace with only a solitary victory in their first four games.
However, the home fans will be relieved after the Lilywhites produced arguably their best display of the season thus far and cruised to a comfortable 4-0 victory over Roy Hodgson’s side, who dropped down to 12th place in the standings after that defeat.
An own goal from Patrick van Aanholt, sandwiched by Heung-min Son’s brace and Erik Lamela’s strike made the score 4-0 before the interval and though Spurs moved up to 3rd place in the standings this week, they still have plenty of catch-up to do if they are to get back in the title race.
1. Man City
It was always going to be interesting to see how Man City would cope with the opposition in the Premier League following Aymeric Laporte’s injury and the defensive blunders against Norwich City are sure to have Pep Guardiola scratching his head to find a solution for the upcoming fixtures.
Some poor marking allowed Kenny McLean to head home the opener for the Canaries early in the first-half before Teemu Pukki took advantage of some ineffective coordination at the back to set up Todd Cantwell for the second.
Sergio Aguero pulled one back just at the stroke of the interval but a horrible error from Nicolas Otamendi allowed Pukki to make it 3-1 in favour of the hosts. It stayed that way until Rodrigo found a late goal. City struggled to hit great heights against a Norwich side that ran them ragged with their never-say-die mentality on the pitch.
Undoubtedly, Man City’s defeat comes as the first big twist in the title race and Guardiola will be aware that his team cannot afford such slip-ups if they are to keep themselves within striking distance of Liverpool at the top of the table.
Arsenal didn’t have the worst of results in Round 5 but Unai Emery is likely to be disappointed to have come away with just a draw from the trip to Watford, with the Gunners blowing away a two-goal lead in the second half to somehow salvage a point.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s brace in the first half was cancelled out by goals from Tom Cleverly and Roberto Pereyra after the interval, the latter coming from the penalty spot after the Argentine was tripped by David Luiz inside the box.
A victory over Watford would have propelled the Gunners to 3rd place in the standings, ahead of Spurs, who currently hold that position, but some poor defending and lack of resilience at the back cost Arsenal heavily once again.
A victory over Bournemouth would have seen Everton finish the week in the top four but instead, the Toffees currently find themselves outside the top-ten, languishing at 11th place in the standings after suffering a 3-1 defeat to the Cherries away on the south coast.
Callum Wilson’s opener was cancelled out by Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s header just at the stroke of the interval before Ryan Fraser made it 2-1 with a free-kick and Wilson put the game to bed with his second goal midway through the second half.
The Toffees failed to capitalise on their chances and this defeat definitely comes as a big blow to their hopes of challenging for a top-six place.
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Premier League gameweek 4: Winners and Losers from the weekend including Chelsea’s slip and Leicester’s rise
2019-20 Premier League: Winners and Losers from Round 4
There was plenty to savour and admire for all sets of fans, as Round 4 of the 2019-20 Premier League season lived up to the expectations, with none of the games failing to produce a goal.
Man United kicked off the action on Saturday away from home at Southampton, with the Red Devils looking to bounce back from a shock 2-1 defeat to Crystal Palace the week before.
Daniel James continued his fine run of form early in the campaign and put United in the lead just 10 minutes into the game before Jannik Vestergaard’s headed equaliser in the second half ensured that both the teams shared the spoils.
United, though, will be bitterly disappointed for failing to break down a 10-man Southampton unit after Kevin Danso was sent off for a second bookable offence on Scott McTominay.
Elsewhere, Chelsea failed to capitalise on Tammy Abraham’s second brace of the season, as the Blues squandered a two-goal lead at home against Sheffield United to earn a 2-2 draw.
Callum Robinson’s strike followed by Kurt Zouma’s unfortunate own goal towards the dying stages of the game meant that Frank Lampard’s side went into the international break with only a solitary win in their first four games in the Premier League.
However, there weren’t any hiccups for defending champions Man City after Pep Guardiola’s side put in yet another dominant performance to claim all three points with a resounding 4-0 victory over Brighton, thanks to a brace from Sergio Aguero and goals from Kevin de Bruyne and Bernardo Silva.
Similarly, Liverpool continued their merry way with a rather straightforward 3-0 victory over Burnley at Turf Moor, as an own goal from Chris Wood followed by goals from Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino meant that Jurgen Klopp’s side went into the international break with a perfect record.
Shifting the focus to the North London Derby, there was nothing to separate the two teams, as Arsenal and Spurs played out a thrilling 2-2 draw at the Emirates.
Christian Eriksen opened the scoring for the visitors and Harry Kane’s spot-kick doubled the advantage for Mauricio Pochettino’s side after Son was brought down inside the box by a reckless lunge from Granit Xhaka.
However, Lacazette handed the Gunners a lifeline just at the stroke of the interval before a lively second-half performance saw Aubameyang bag the equaliser with an intuitive finish from Guendouzi’s perfectly-weighted lobbed pass.
Meanwhile, Leicester City continued their unbeaten run in the Premier League with an emphatic 3-1 victory over Bournemouth at home, thus registering their second victory in a row after a 2-1 result against Sheffield United last week.
Jamie Vardy’s early opener was cancelled out by Callum Wilson but Youri Tielemans restored the lead for the hosts towards the end of the first-half before Vardy bagged his third goal of the season later in the game to cap off a dominant display from Brendan Rodgers’ side.
Tielemans, though, was lucky to have escaped a red card for a horrible studs-up challenge on Callum Wilson, with the VAR surprisingly not spotting a clear and obvious error in the on-field referee’s decision.
Elsewhere, Watford opened their account in the Premier League this term with a 1-1 draw away at Newcastle, registering their first points of the season after three consecutive defeats.
Will Hughes’ opener handed the Hornets an early advantage before Fabian Schar drew Newcastle level just before the interval.
The West Ham fans will be happy with what they saw from their team in the 2-0 victory over Norwich City at home, as goals from Sebastien Haller and Andriy Yarmolenko on either side of the interval handed Manuel Pellegrini’s side their second victory of the campaign.
The Hammers created plenty of opportunities and it could have been four or five in favour of them, whilst Todd Cantwell was left to rue his missed chance from just a yard out.
There weren’t any heroics from Aston Villa this weekend as Crystal Palace followed up their surprise victory over Man United with another tidy 1-0 triumph over the Lions at home, thanks to a solitary goal from Jordan Ayew midway through the second half.
Meanwhile, Wolves’ unbeaten streak came to an end at Goodison Park on Sunday as Everton bounced back from a defeat away at Aston Villa last week to register a well-deserved 3-2 win at home.
A moment of miscommunication between Rui Patricio and Conor Coady allowed Richarlison to fire home the opener before Romain Saiss equalised moments later, tapping it in off Adama Traore’s cross from the right.
Alex Iwobi then restored the lead for the Toffees before the interval, only for Raul Jimenez to make it 2-2 in the 75th minute.
It was Richarlison, though, who headed home the winner with ten minutes to go and Wolves weren’t able to muster any meaningful reply after that, as Marco Silva’s side went into the international break on a positive note. Not to mention, Wily Boly’s red card that worsened things for Nuno Santo.
Winners and Losers from gameweek 3 of the Premier League including Liverpool and Tottenham
Winners and Losers from gameweek 3 of the Premier League including Liverpool and Tottenham
The 2019-20 season of the Premier League has already witnessed a bright start and there was no shortage of drama and excitement in Round 3, as large sections of the fans got their money’s worth courtesy of some top-notch entertaining football.
Round 3 kicked off on Friday, with Aston Villa registering a 2-0 victory over Everton at home, their first victory in the Premier League this term following back-to-back defeats at the hands of Spurs and Bournemouth.
Jota’s delightful through ball set up the opener for Wesley, who finally hit the ground running in English football with a cool and composed finish, whilst substitute Anwar El Ghazi netted the second in injury-time to rub salt on Everton’s wounds.
Meanwhile, Chelsea made the trip to Norwich City in pursuit of their first victory in the Premier League this season and Frank Lampard left Carrow Road with a big smile on his face.
After a 4-0 humiliation against Man United on the opening day and a lacklustre 1-1 draw against Leicester City, Lampard was under pressure to guide his team to a much-awaited victory in the league and a brace from Tammy Abraham coupled with Mason Mount’s second goal of the campaign propelled the Blues to a thrilling 3-2 win against the Canaries.
Daniel Farke, though, should be happy with his team’s performance and whilst goals from Teemu Pukki and Todd Cantwell weren’t enough to earn Norwich a point following an impressive victory against Newcastle United, they should take a lot of heart from a resilient team performance, nevertheless.
Elsewhere, West Ham registered their first three points of the season away at Watford, as mark Noble’s early penalty and Sebastien Haller’s second-half brace propelled the Hammers to a 3-1 victory at Vicarage Road.
Watford, though, will be bitterly disappointed for failing to come away with something from a home fixture that saw both sides create loads of scoring opportunities throughout the ninety minutes.
The defeat meant that the Hornets stretched their losing streak in the Premier League to three games and Javi Gracia would surely be a perplexed man.
In another afternoon fixture on Saturday, high-flying Brighton started as the favourites at home against Southampton, who arrived at the Amex Stadium on the back of consecutive defeats against Burnley and Liverpool. However, it was Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side who turned the tables in a game that had plenty of talking points.
Florin Andone was sent off for a shocking studs-up challenge on Yan Valery midway through the first half and Lewis Dunk had a goal ruled out for offside after a VAR check before Moussa Djenepo came off the bench in the second half to put the Saints in the lead with an absolute stunner.
Jurgen Locadia hit the post and missed the chance to equalise towards the end of the game before Saints’ forgotten man Sofiane Boufal set it up for Nathan Redmond to make it 2-0 in stoppage-time, thus ending Brighton’s unbeaten start to the season.
The most shocking result on Friday, however, came from Old Trafford, where Man United went down 2-1 to Crystal Palace, who registered their first-ever victory over the Red Devils in the Premier League.
Jordan Ayew’s opener put Roy Hodgson’s side ahead before Marcus Rashford missed a glorious chance to equalise midway through the second half, with the youngster’s penalty kick hitting the inside of the post.
Daniel James looked to have saved United’s blushes with a stunning equaliser in the 89th minute but David de Gea’s goalkeeping error allowed Patrick van Aanholt to find the net in injury-time and secure Palace’s first victory of the campaign.
Elsewhere at Bramall Lane, both Leicester City and newly-promoted Sheffield United went into the game looking to continue their unbeaten run but it was the Foxes who had the last laugh.
Jamie Vardy’s first-half opener assisted by James Maddison was cancelled out by Oliver Mcburnie’s header off Chris Basham’s cross before Harvey Barnes came off the bench to silence the home crowd with an absolute stunner of a half-volley that had pure class written all over it, thus making it 2-1 in favour of the visitors.
While most of the games on Saturday were largely entertaining, the much-anticipated big-six clash at Anfield between Liverpool and Arsenal turned out to be a rather one-sided encounter, with the Reds completely outclassing Unai Emery’s side 3-1.
Joel Matip made Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Nicolas Pepe pay for their missed chances with a towering header just at the stroke of half-time before Mo Salah’s second-half double made it 3-0 for Jurgen Klopp’s outfit.
Lucas Torrerira pulled one back for the Gunners five minutes from time but Liverpool romped home to their third straight win in the Premier League this term, thus finishing Round 3 on top of the standings with a perfect record.
Turning the clock back to the action on Sunday, Man City had absolutely no problems in putting Bournemouth to the sword away from home, as Raheem Sterling’s fifth goal of the season and Sergio Aguero’s brace propelled Pep Guardiola’s side to a 3-1 victory on the south coast.
The most amazing spectacle of the game, however, came from a Bournemouth player. For the second week running, Liverpool loanee Harry Wilson sent the fans crazy with an absolutely sensational goal, this time from a free-kick just outside the box.
Shockingly, Spurs suffered their first major setback of the Premier League season on Sunday, with a 1-0 loss to Newcastle United at home leaving many to wonder whether Mauricio Pochettino’s heavy investment this summer is really going to transform the club into realistic title contenders.
Joelinton’s goal assisted by Christian Atsu in the first half proved to be the winner and whilst Spurs should have had a penalty when Jamaal Lascelles appeared to have dived across Harry Kane inside the box, the travelling fans will be less than impressed with a below-par performance that lacked any sort of class and conviction.
Elsewhere at Molineux, Wolves didn’t have the best of games and Nuno Espirito Santo’s side were probably lucky to have maintained their unbeaten start to the campaign.
Ashley Barnes’ impeccable finish in the first half was cancelled out by a controversial Raul Jimenez penalty in second-half injury-time, just a short while after the Mexican had hit the post with a shot from inside the box.
Clearly the better side in the 1-1 draw, Burnley will consider themselves unlucky for not grabbing all three points ahead of a tough home fixture against Liverpool this weekend.
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