- We look at the major talking topics before this last round of 2023 Premier League fixtures.
We look at the major talking topics before this last round of 2023 Premier League fixtures.
Big names set to depart for AFCON and Asian Cup games
The penultimate round of games before mid-season international competitions interrupt the Premier League season is this weekend’s schedule. Several big names will be leaving for the Asia Cup and Africa Cup of Nations in January, with several well-known players expected to miss their teams’ matches.
The most well-known absence is perhaps Mohamed Salah, the attacker for Liverpool who is leading Egypt’s AFCON challenge. The 31-year-old leads the league in goals and assists scored in the Premier League this year, therefore Liverpool’s chances of winning the title would be severely harmed by his absence.
At the Asian Cup, Son Heung-min, who has registered 11 goals for Spurs this season, and Hwang Hee-chan, who is enjoying a career-best season at Wolves with 10 goals, will represent South Korea.
Other than that, Andre Onana (Cameroon) will be hoping to recover form on international duty following a challenging start at Manchester United, while Mohammed Kudus (Ghana), who had an outstanding debut campaign at the London Stadium, will be a huge loss for West Ham.
United need to build on this momentum
There has never been a greater way to sum up Erik ten Hag’s turbulent time at Manchester United than the team’s Boxing Day victory over Aston Villa. After his side fell behind 2-0 at the break, Old Trafford was rocked by jeers. However, a dramatic comeback in the second half salvaged a draw.
Having seen more false dawns than he would like with the Red Devils, the Dutchman wants this outcome to be the tipping point for his club. Amazingly, despite eight league losses at this point in the season, United is still in the top four heading into this weekend’s trip to Nottingham Forest.
Villa’s second-half performance, which had many positives, is what United needs to build on. Alejandro Garnacho had an impact on the other wing, Marcus Rashford looked more like the man who scored thirty goals the previous season, and Rasmus Hojlund scored his first Premier League goal, which gave him a boost of confidence.
Ten Hag’s team has to step up now that Lisandro Martinez, Casemiro, and Mason Mount are all close to making their first-team comebacks.
Newcastle’s poor away form
This season, Newcastle’s performance at home and away is barely comparable.
Despite the setback of losing to Nottingham Forest, Newcastle (24) is still a formidable team at St. James’ Park. Only Aston Villa (25) has recorded more points at home this season.
But it’s been a different story when traveling. Newcastle has only won once this season away from home, placing them 19th in the Premier League for points earned away from home. During the Champions League group stage, the Magpies also lost three of their away games; their management has to find a solution for this case of travel sickness.
On Monday night, Newcastle will travel to take on Liverpool, one of the toughest challenges in the Premier League. This season, the Reds have won seven and drawn two of their nine games at Anfield, keeping them undefeated at home.
Is Arsenal’s attack costing them the title?
This week’s 2-0 loss to West Ham at home dealt a blow to Arsenal‘s hopes of winning the league title. Had David Raya not saved a late penalty from the visitors, it might have been even worse for Mikel Arteta’s team.
Throughout the game, Arsenal dominated possession (74%), putting 30 shots on goal—eight of which required saves from Alphonse Areola. Out of their three attempts on goal, West Ham managed to score two goals.
Against West Ham, the Gunners had 5 big chances and only struck the post once. Gabriel Jesus wasted one of the better ones with a weak header over the bar. Since Opta started gathering statistics in 2008/09, Arsenal’s 77 touches inside the opposition box set a Premier League record without a goal.
The rumors about Viktor Gyokeres and Ivan Toney as potential center-forward acquisition targets for Arsenal are still going strong. Although Jesus is a good, if not prolific, focal point for his team’s patterns, Arteta still has faith in his team and will be careful not to disturb the equilibrium. If improvements in the club’s conversion are not identified, then another course of action may need to be pursued.