EPL Week 23 – Down goes Man City

As the new year rolls around the transfer window opens in the Premier League, and with the window being currently open, there’s always one story that seems to encapsulate the entire month of January while teams go about their business, playing games that are seemingly in the shadow of transfer deals that sell newspaper and ad spots on television.

That such deal this month is the potential loan deal of Andy Carroll to Chelsea! Just kidding, it’s the transfer of Arsenal’s Alexis

Alexis Sanchez

Sanchez to Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Bayern Munich, PSG and anybody else who wants to join in at this point.

At the time of writing this, Sanchez’s future is still undecided, but Manchester United seems to be the most likely destination, with a potential swap deal involving United’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan going the other way.

But we’re not here to talk about transfers, we’re here to talk about Week 23 in the Premier League and what a week it was!

West Ham continued their David Moyes inspired renaissance, West Brom FINALLY got a win, only their third of the season, Chelsea continued their run of scoreless draws and Manchester City finally lost a game!

Despite Manchester City having not won at Anfield for a number of years, they were clear favorites going in to this game over the weekend. They sat atop the Premier League table with 62 points from a possible 66. Two draws were what separated them from a complete 100% record, and some pundits and fans alike were starting to entertain the possibility of them remaining unbeaten for the entire season.

Those hopes were dashed when Jurgen Klopp figured it all out early on Sunday morning (in the U.S anyway) and beat Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City 4-3.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp

Liverpool were surprisingly 4-1 up at one point thanks to some comical errors from City’s defense and a poor clearance from Ederson, but their extremely successful pressing play halted after their fourth goal, which led to a City comeback. The game easily could have ended 4-4, but Liverpool held firm and City simply didn’t have enough time to pull things level.

Truly, even without City’s late attempted comeback, the game will go down as one of, if not the best game of the season. It had everything a neutral fan could want. Even the Manchester United fan in me couldn’t help but be delighted when the goals kept coming from either end. The entertainment factor was off the charts, and it also showed managers across the league that City can be beaten.

They’re not the “invincibles” like Arsenal in 2003-04.

Arguably they are better, considering the competition they now face and how it has improved in the last 15 years, but they will not be remembered as fondly as that Arsenal team after this loss.

It would be unsurprising if City went on to the league title without losing another game, which is a testament to this Liverpool team and how Klopp had them set up for this game, but what would be equally unsurprising is Liverpool going to Swansea on Monday night and conceding four.

The win left a gap of 15 points at the top of the table until Monday afternoon when Manchester United welcomed Stoke City to Old Trafford, hoping to at least make the title race respectable.

The match finished 3-0 in a fairly routine dismantling of a poor Stoke side by Manchester United.

Antonio Valencia

Antonio Valencia opened the scoring with an excellent strike after cutting inside on the right. Valencia, not known for his left foot, surprised fans and his own teammates as the ball sailed in to the top corner.

The lead was doubled not too long after with another peach of a strike from Anthony Martial. Speculation before the game linked him with a swap deal in the pending Alexis Sanchez transfer, but those rumors were quickly silenced in the media and on the pitch.

The third came from Romelu Lukaku in the second half, who seemed to let out some frustrations in his celebration of the goal. Lukaku has come in for some criticism at his lack of goals for United, but he’ll surely be happy with his end product against Stoke. Regularly in front of goal he was a menace, and he often ventured out to the right-wing, delivering some spectacular crosses that Stoke defenders had little to no answers to.

Watching on was new Stoke City manager Paul Lambert. Mark Hughes was sacked two weeks ago after quite the embarrassing loss to Coventry City in the FA Cup.

Paul Lambert wasn’t first choice for the Stoke board, but the fans seemed in good spirits, singing Lambert’s name throughout the game as they hope he can restore some kind of stability back to the club.

Paul Lambert

Stoke currently sit in the relegation zone in 18th place, but with only one point separating them from potential freedom, and games against Huddersfield, Watford and Bournemouth coming up, the possibility that they get out of the drop zone is quite high, especially if they see a “new manager jump” like West Ham has seen under David Moyes.

The win puts Manchester United 12 points behind the league leaders, and opens the door for them to make the title race at least a bit respectable as we move in to the second half of the season.

City welcome Newcastle to the Etihad at the weekend, while United travel to Turf Moor for a tough game against Burnley.

Elsewhere, Arsenal (presumably Alexis Sanchez-less) welcome Crystal Palace, and Tottenham travel to Southampton hoping to keep the pressure on the top four.

 

 

Ryan Oldham is a Manchester native and a lifelong supporter of Manchester United. He knows far more about English Premier League football than you do, and therefore was selected to write a weekly update on the most popular professional sports league in the world. Contact him at ryanoldhamntw@gmail.com

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