5 Takeaways from the EPL Weekend

1. Moussa Sissoko is a complete flop

High hopes surrounded Moussa Sissoko following an impressive showing with France at the 2016 European Championships. He impressed so much that Tottenham Hotspur were inspired to pay €30 million to sign him on a 5-year deal. Oh, what they would do to change that.

Sissoko has made 18 appearances for Spurs this EPL season, almost all of them coming from the bench. In those games, he has managed 0 goals. He has taken 14 shots, and only 1 of them has been on target. His crossing accuracy is 7%, and he hasn’t created a single chance all season. And for a man of his size, maybe the most disappointing statistic is that he has won just 37% of his aerial duels.

After both of Tottenham’s starting center midfielders were forced off with injury, Sissoko was given a chance to impress Pochettino, with what could be his last chance to earn a spot in the team for next season. He was awful. There’s no other way to say it. His first touch went 10 yards away every time, he took selfish shots, and shanked multiple balls. Sissoko virtually has one foot out the door, and this can be attributed to his lack of effort more than anything. He needs to learn from Vincent Janssen, who finally seems to be fitting into the side after months of hard work in training.
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2. Chelsea is not invincible

Coming into the weekend, almost everyone saw the title race as non-existent. Chelsea had a 10 point lead, and the only other side that looked consistent enough to challenge them was Tottenham, who were playing at Turf Moor, one of the toughest places to win. Considering Chelsea were playing at home against relegation battlers Crystal Palace, it seemed like the Blues could be leaving with a 12 or 13 point cushion.

However, Spurs fought through their injury crisis and won 2-0, while Chelsea was shocked by Palace, 2-1. The gap is now just 7 points, and Spurs have 7 of their remaining 9 games against bottom half teams. This is spelling for some possible late season drama, which few were expecting. Spurs’ chances of winning the title have jumped to around 12%, almost a 10% increase. Chelsea’s next game is in 3 days, against 4th place Manchester City and their electric attack. If things go Spurs way, they could be sitting just four points off the top come Saturday.

3. Mesut Ozil refuses to work hard

Arsenal are struggling. Out of the Champions League, barely even in the top 6 of England, and on a real dip in form in their last 6 games (1W 1D 4L). They drew 2-2 against Manchester City, but they were lucky to not be 3 or 4 goals down 20 minutes in. And a big reason for their struggles is Mesut Ozil. Just a season after looking like one of the best center mids in the world, Ozil has slumped just as much as the Gunners, if not more.

Just today, he gave pass after pass away, all results of failure to pick his head up and think through his decisions. To make matters worse, after giving possessions away, he would walk back on defense, and fail to mark anyone. In fact, this led to the Citizens’ second goal. If Ozil doesn’t get his act together, he is surely going to be dropped from the lineup soon, and will probably be sold in the summer. He could be the reason Arsenal miss out on the top 4, or even the top 6.

4. Clinical Finishing an Issue

In the 10 games this weekend, 261 total shots were taken, and at least half of these were high-quality shots that you would normally expect one to score. However, of these 261 shots, only 19 of them ended up in the back of the net. That is a conversion rate of just 7%. Inability to finish clinical chances was the reason both Arsenal and City were unable to take all 3 points. A missed Rudy Gestede chance from point blank left Middlesbrough unable to beat Swansea.

Manchester United’s failure to score from 18 shots was the reason they couldn’t defeat West Brom. Chelsea’s inability to capitalize on at least 5 one on ones left them in the losers’ circle against Palace. In fact, out of the 6 games that had a winner, the winners took 90 shots, and the losers took 78. This is relatively equal, and about as close as your going to get to it. This means that what separated the two teams wasn’t their buildup play, it was their finishing in the final third.
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5. Relegation Battle impossible to predict

Former relegation battlers Leicester City have miraculously climbed out of 19th and gone into 13th, thanks to 4 wins in their last 4 under Craig Shakespeare. Also noteworthy, West Ham United actually sit just 6 points above the drop zone, and 4 of their last 8 games are against Champions League contenders. Burnley sit on 32 points, followed by Palace with 31, Swansea with 28, Hull with 27, Middlesbrough with 23, and Sunderland with 20.

You want to write Sunderland off, yet you just can’t given their history with magical late escapes, the latest coming last year. Middlesbrough look unable to get anything going, yet they have shown signs of promise this season. Crystal Palace look like they have a new spring in their step, yet so do Swansea, Hull, and Burnley at times. Could West Ham actually go down just one season after finishing 7th? My prediction is Sunderland, Middlesbrough, and Swansea, but I wouldn’t even be surprised if all 3 were wrong.

Let us know what you think in the comments!

Author: Nik

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