Arsenal Premier League title chances boosted by big win


It seems like we are saying this each week, however what a weekend in Europe’s high leagues! Arsenal bested Man United in an outstanding Premier League conflict, whereas Liverpool and Chelsea continued to misfire in a uninteresting 0-0 draw that was something however leisure. Elsewhere, we had a big Barca-assisted win for Atletico Madrid, extra Dortmund drama and sustained brilliance from Serie A leaders Napoli.

– Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, extra (U.S.)

In addition, Juventus earned a formidable draw vs. Atalanta, although their issues are simply starting. Real Madrid and Barcelona additionally each had points galore despite the fact that they picked up wins.

It’s Monday, and Gab Marcotti reacts to the largest moments on this planet of soccer.

Arsenal lay down one other title marker, Man United discover their limits

It took Eddie Nketiah’s injury-time flick for Arsenal to ship the 3-2 win over Man United on Sunday, however the earlier 90-odd minutes underscored what we already know: Right now, there is a gulf between these two sides when it comes to chemistry and efficiency. You can inform which supervisor (Mikel Arteta) has been in cost for 3 years and which one (Erik ten Hag) for barely six months.

The numbers inform their very own story. Arsenal out-shot United 25 to six. The xG was a whopping 3.05 to 0.36. United scored through an inconceivable worldie from Marcus Rashford, and a courageous header by Lisandro Martinez after an Aaron Ramsdale clearance did not get very far. Outside of that they created little or no, in contrast to Arsenal, who additionally benefited from a worldie (Bukayo Saka) and opponent errors (Aaron Wan-Bissaka) but additionally generated loads of high quality chances and spent many of the recreation camped in United’s half.

The solely shut factor on this recreation was the rating.

Ten Hag advised United had collapsed like “a pack of cards,” that at a minimal they need to have taken a degree and that his gamers needed to “feel the game.” You can see the place he is coming from, however they had been badly outplayed even with out these defensive errors, and had they grabbed the purpose, it might have been right down to guts, not high quality.

Now, this is not a knock on Ten Hag’s work. It’s only a reflection of the place United at the moment are — particularly with out Casemiro, Anthony Martial and Diogo Dalot — in comparison with Arsenal. And when, along with recognizing the opponents three starters, guys you count on to contribute — corresponding to report signing Antony or Christian Eriksen, who had a uncommon off-day — provide little … nicely, it will be robust. Especially when Arsenal play like this.

– Reaction: Arsenal are accountable for the title race

And right here it is good to remind ourselves that Gabriel Jesus is out injured and but, given how Nketiah carried out, you would not have observed. It’s not the 2 targets he scored, however the motion and the work-rate: He does a lot of what the Brazilian does (albeit with much less high quality), and that helps these round him.

The hole is 5 factors (and a recreation in hand), which seems like quite a bit at roughly the mid-point however actually is not. Especially when you think about that they’ve gotten greater than their justifiable share of the breaks this season.



Hislop admits he was flawed to underestimate Arsenal’s Nketiah

Shaka Hislop eats his phrases after Eddie Nketiah strikes twice in opposition to Manchester United.

Arsenal are outperforming their anticipated targets by 9.5, which is quite a bit, and Jesus apart, they have been very lucky with accidents. Other than Oleksandr Zinchenko and Jesus, no person of their first-choice XI has missed greater than three league begins, whereas seven members of that first-choice XI have began each league recreation.

In different phrases, you count on regression to the imply, which is why it is smart that the membership double down on gaining some depth within the type of new signings Leandro Trossard and Jakub Kiwior. They might not crack the beginning lineup, however they’re insurance coverage if accidents or lack of kind catches as much as them.

A closing level on this recreation: This was enjoyable, a minimum of for a impartial. We acquired to see a full-blooded match with loads of depth, moments of real high quality, lay-it-on-the-line braveness (Martinez’s headed purpose, which may have seen him decapitated if Martin Odegaard had determined to clear the ball, stands out) and an injury-time winner. Sometimes it is good to remind ourselves that that is leisure.

Juventus held by Atalanta, however highlight shifts off the pitch

Many had been questioning how Juve gamers would react to the truth that their membership had been docked 15 factors on Friday. (I wrote a Q&A about it right here.) They drew 3-3 at house with Atalanta, however judging from the efficiency, the impact was minimal. These are professionals, and whether or not you get docked zero factors or 20 factors once you take the pitch, you’re centered on one factor: the match.



Why Ale and Shaka name Juventus a ‘mess’ after factors deduction

Alejandro Moreno and Shaka Hislop react to Juventus being given a 15-point deduction within the Serie A desk.

Spurred on by a partisan crowd that was not shy about venting its rage on the sentence, they confirmed loads of delight in coming from behind twice to grab the draw. And whereas they paid dearly for particular person errors (Alex Sandro, Danilo, Wojciech Szczesny), in addition they confirmed high quality with the previous (Angel Di Maria) and the younger (Niccolo’ Fagioli).

More broadly, Juventus face rocky instances forward. And whereas most followers are united in expressing shock and anger on the sentence (and discovering it unfair), a good chunk of them know there may be worse to return with the COVID-related pay cuts, the felony investigation and UEFA’s Financial Fair Play inquiry. And they go previous the whataboutery into asking themselves how all of this might have occurred on Andrea Agnelli’s watch.

It should not be a shock that Agnelli’s gone. Austerity looms, and I do not suppose true Juve followers will abandon the membership because of this. As for individuals who do, good riddance.

Three hard-fought factors for Real Madrid as Ancelotti rings the modifications

I’ve mentioned it earlier than that Real Madrid look somewhat mild when it comes to depth, so it was intriguing to see Carlo Ancelotti pass over Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and Rodrygo for the journey to face Athletic Club, particularly when it got here to 2 of the stand-ins, Marco Asensio (who’s on an expiring contract) and Dani Ceballos.

– Highlights: Real Madrid muddle to victory (U.S. solely)
– Reaction: Real Madrid keep away from disaster, however points stay

Maybe it should not be shocking that Madrid did not impose themselves, Thibaut Courtois needed to make his regular world-class saves, and Bilbao had the higher hand for a lot of the sport. The distinction, till Toni Kroos’ injury-time strike, was a marvel purpose from Karim Benzema, and that is vital as a result of the reigning Ballon d’Or has had a troublesome marketing campaign. Any signal that he is likely to be again to final spring’s kind is a particular plus.

Beyond that, Ancelotti can draw consolation from an outstanding Eduardo Camavinga in midfield and Vinicius, who confirmed once more that there is no such thing as a antidote to tempo. But if we’re speaking about bending the opposition to your will, that will not occur till Aurelien Tchouameni is again (and, ideally, Modric and Kroos begin).

Mudryk a uncommon spotlight in drab, nervy Liverpool-Chelsea draw



Rating Mudryk’s Chelsea debut vs. Liverpool

Kay Murray and Luis Miguel Echegaray reward Mykhailo Mudryk’s efficiency after he got here off the bench to make his Chelsea debut vs. Liverpool.

Maybe if Kai Havertz’s early purpose had stood, issues would have been completely different and the conflict between Liverpool and Chelsea would have come to life. But it was (accurately) struck off and the sport limped alongside, uninspired and uninspiring, till the introduction of Mykhailo Mudryk. The debutant confirmed flashes that assist clarify the hype, however even he wasn’t sufficient to show the sport into something however drab.

That’s what occurs when the results of one other defeat outweigh the advantages of a win. Sunday’s 0-0 draw fits each groups, although in actuality it helps no person. There are apparent variations between the golf equipment — Chelsea have overhauled the squad and altered managers, Liverpool have made tweaks and Jurgen Klopp has been there for ages — however there are extra parallels. There’s an air of uncertainty after mass front-office departures, there are accidents and there are the acquainted query marks that come from being on the daybreak or on the finish of an possession period. And, in fact, there’s the truth that either side are including as much as far lower than the sum of their components.

– Tyler: Mudryk stands out as Liverpool, Chelsea stumble

There’s additionally an air of resignation amongst supporters, which, I assume, you clarify by being 10 factors away from the highest 4. Shaking that might be simply as essential as getting their group to carry out, as a result of the Champions League returns subsequent month and, fact be advised, Klopp and Graham Potter will want their house assist at max ranges if they’re to salvage one thing from this marketing campaign.

Barcelona unimpressive in win over Getafe as Ter Stegen comes up big (once more)

Don’t take my phrase for it. Xavi himself identified how poorly his group performed in opposition to Getafe and the way they had been grateful for Pedri’s strike that produced three factors and for Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s very good goalkeeping efficiency. Getafe, preventing to keep away from relegation, centered on defending, however Barca seemed uninspired in the midst of the park and ended up dropping the xG battle at house — 0.71 xG to Getafe’s 1.19 — which is not one thing you count on coming off three straight defeats.

Robert Lewandowski’s absence is a mitigating issue: Ansu Fati is an exceptional participant, albeit one with a completely completely different ability set, and Barca failed to regulate adequately. With Memphis Depay gone, it is meals for thought: Who ought to be Lewandowski’s understudy: Ansu or Ferran Torres? Each comes with execs and cons.

One final phrase on Barcelona defensively. The again 4 of Sergi Roberto, Jules Kounde, Andreas Christensen and Alejandro Balde feels cobbled collectively, and but two (arguably three) of these 4 are possible first-choice starters. And but, they’ve conceded only one purpose (and that was a penalty in opposition to Espanyol) all season lengthy at house.

I’d take that with a pinch of salt. Their xG conceded at house is 5.98, which suggests they’re far outperforming that. Expect some kind of regression to the imply right here … except, in fact, Ter Stegen continues to don his Superman cape on the Camp Nou.

Griezmann shines, Morata scores, Memphis debuts and Simeone smiles for Atletico

Things seemed hopeless at Atletico Madrid every week in the past. The membership had been getting sucked into a real six-way battle for that fourth Champions League spot, which is non-negotiable for them in monetary phrases. They weren’t taking part in nicely (OK, they usually do not), they had been short-handed when it comes to choices with Joao Felix and Matheus Cunha gone, Alvaro Morata was getting criticized for his ending and a few puzzled whether or not the times of Antoine Griezmann as an attacking pressure (particularly after turning out in midfield on the World Cup) had been over.

Diego Simeone acquired the breaks within the 3-0 hammering of Valladolid. Memphis Depay signed, made his debut and confirmed flashes of high quality. Morata scored — OK, he additionally missed a few sitters, however he acquired on the top of his chances. And Griezmann stole the present with a fantastic purpose and a scrumptious help.

It’s nonetheless a dogfight for fourth place, however the big weapons are firing, and that may’t assist however enhance confidence.

Reyna delivers winner for standard Dortmund

New 12 months, standard Borussia Dortmund. Three instances they took the lead in opposition to Augsburg — a facet that had taken three factors of their earlier eight video games — on Sunday and 3 times they allowed the equaliser, twice after the kind of craven defensive errors they have been attempting to banish for years. That they took three factors, although, got here right down to a surprising end from Gio Reyna, a younger man with a more-than-star-crossed two months behind him, a operate of accidents and this ugly story. A match, productive Reyna is clearly a serious asset for each Borussia Dortmund and the U.S. nationwide group, and no matter your stance is, you may solely be pleased for him.

There are different causes — past the three factors — for Dortmund to really feel good. Youssoufa Moukoko extending his contract is big, as is the return (off the bench) of Sebastien Haller after his bout of testicular most cancers. It has been a turbulent half-season, and Dortmund are sixth within the Bundesliga … however second place is simply two factors away.



Moreno: Dortmund defended childishly in 4-3 win vs. Augsburg

Ale Moreno is vital of Borussia Dortmund’s defending of their chaotic 4-3 win vs. Augsburg.

Haaland hat-trick drives away Man City’s blues

Arsenal’s Premier League lead has left Pep Guardiola wanting glum, and that is comprehensible: Manchester City had grow to be accustomed to profitable the Premier League. And, in fact, there was that second on Thursday when, having come off consecutive defeats, they had been two targets down at house to Spurs, prompting a portion of the Etihad to boo them. Plus, going into the house conflict with Wolves on Sunday, Erling Haaland had scored simply as soon as in 2023.

Maybe that is why some had been going all Chicken Little …

– Breaking down Haaland’s outstanding Premier League scoring

Haaland’s hat-trick — and, extra usually, City’s commanding efficiency — within the 3-0 win ought to banish these ideas. Yes, it was solely Wolves, but it surely was additionally distinctly one-sided, and watching Haaland get his fourth hat-trick of the marketing campaign reminded you that three video games with out scoring for a 22-year-old is completely nothing. And, in actual fact, Haaland is such a expertise that judging him merely on targets is, frankly, foolish — although, in fact, that is the best factor to maintain monitor of.

So put this in your pipe and smoke it: He has scored 25 league targets, which is greater than the Premier League’s high scorers in every of the previous 4 seasons … and it is solely January.



Hislop has no concept how one can cease Erling Haaland

Shaka Hislop sings the praises of Erling Haaland, after his 4th hat trick of the season eased Man City previous Wolves.

Napoli on tempo for 100 factors on the midway mark

Napoli’s 2-0 away win within the regional derby in opposition to Salernitana means they’re as much as 50 factors after 19 of 38 league video games. It’s a little bit of trivia — they’re on tempo for 100 factors! — but it surely’s additionally vital as a result of it displays simply how dominant they have been. If they maintain the tempo, will probably be the second-highest factors complete in Serie A historical past. (The report is 102 factors, set by Antonio Conte’s Juventus in 2013-14.)

It additionally underscores how they’re resilient and by no means affected by getting knocked out of the Coppa Italia. Against Salernitana, they began slowly after which pulled away with targets from Giovanni Di Lorenzo and — who else? — Victor Osimhen. Maybe we’ll look again on that Cremonese defeat within the cup as a blessing in disguise. …

Newcastle held at Palace … however simply how good are they defensively?

The 0-0 draw at Palace this previous weekend means Newcastle are third within the desk and haven’t conceded a purpose in 541 league minutes, which is fairly outstanding. They have given up the fewest targets within the Premier League — 11, to Arsenal’s 16 and Manchester City’s 20 — and a easy eye take a look at tells you simply how strong they’re on the again beneath Eddie Howe.

Does luck have one thing to do with it? Sure, randomness and statistical variation are information of life and sure, when it comes to non-penalty targets conceded (10), they’re outperforming xG by a whopping seven targets (16.96). But here is the factor: Even when it comes to xG/90 they’re at 0.84, which is third finest within the league behind Arsenal (0.73) and City (0.71). So sure, they acquired just a few breaks — good groups usually do — however even with out them, they’d be proper close to the highest defensively.

So credit score goalkeeper Nick Pope (who ought to be first choose for England, for my part), Sven Botman, Fabian Schar and the remainder of the again line, in addition to one of many hardest midfield trios (Joe Willock, Bruno Guimaraes, Sean Longstaff) round.


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