Virgil van Dijk celebrates during a match. courtesy Daily Echo

Premier League update: Week 23

Soccer expert Chris Lierly outlines the state of the English soccer league based on its top teams and players at the moment.

1. Liverpool
Points: 60
Best Player: CB Virgil Van Dijk. Zero times dribbled past (as of January)
Most Recent Result: 4-3 win over Crystal Palace
Season so far:
With an electric win over Crystal Palace in a back-and-forth match that produced seven goals, the Reds maintain their lead in the Premier League. The loss to Man City does not seem to have tripped them up much, but their tactics have changed slightly as a result of that tactical slip-up. Since City exposed to the world that Dejan Lovren is the weak link in an otherwise dominant backline, Jurgen Klopp has begun to play Fabinho in the role instead.

2. Manchester City
Points: 56
Best Player: CDM Fernandinho. 75.3 passes per match and 81 percent tackle success
Most Recent Result: 3-0 win over Huddersfield
Season so far:
Before their win at home against Liverpool, Manchester City had been the middle of a dismal skid, due in part to the absence of Kevin De Bruyne that created the gap between the top two teams. The Citizens look to have turned this form around but now have work to do. The gap is surmountable, and City are a highly talented team. Still, their chances to catch Liverpool will likely come down to a March 16 showdown with United in the Manchester Derby.

3. Tottenham Hotspur
Points: 51
Best Player: ST Harry Kane. 14 goals
Most Recent Result: 2-1 win over Fulham
Season so far:
Tottenham have begun to slip out of the true race for the title, as losses to Wolves and United torpedoed a previously hopeful season. Tacked on to that, Harry Kane will be out with an injury until March and Son Heung-Min will be playing for South Korea in the Asian Cup. In their absence, Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli will have to step up and play the month of their lives if Spurs are to remain in the top four.

4. Chelsea
Points: 47
Best Player: LW Eden Hazard. 10 goals and 10 assists
Most Recent Result: 2-0 loss to Arsenal
Season so far:
What started off as a fast season for the Blues has begun to hit a midseason skid. If they can make it through the transfer window without any major losses, like Hazard to Real Madrid, then they might have a chance of finishing where they are. However, as other teams begin to catch fire, Maurizio Sarri might have to change up his heavily defensive style if he doesn’t want Chelsea to end up in the Europa League for a second consecutive season.

5. Arsenal (on goal differential)
Points: 44
Best Player: ST Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. 14 goals
Most Recent Result: 2-0 win over Chelsea
Season so far:
Arsenal have been a wave of inconsistency this year, and that has yielded both positive and negative results. Their loss against West Ham shows how vulnerable they are on defense, but their win against Chelsea shows how a hot start can win them matches. Still, Unai Emery has to be concerned with recent movements in the top six. If Arsenal does not maintain a consistent winning form, then they, like Chelsea, will fall prey to a resurgent Manchester United.

6. Manchester United
Points: 44
Best Player: CM Paul Pogba. 8 goals and 7 assists
Most Recent Result: 2-1 win over Brighton
Season so far:
With a form unmatched in the Premier League, even by leaders Liverpool, the Red Devils have been dominating teams left and right since Jose Mourinho’s sacking. It is too early to assume they will finish in the top four, but they have now tied Arsenal on points and Champions League qualification is not out of the question. If new manager Ole Gunnar Solksjær can develop a distinct style at Old Trafford, then he could likely turn a caretaker managership into a permanent one.

Rest of the Table:
7. Watford
8. Wolves
9. Leicester City
10. West Ham
11. Everton
12. Bournemouth
13. Brighton
14. Crystal Palace
15. Southampton
16. Burnley FC
17. Newcastle
18. Cardiff City*
19. Fulham*
20. Huddersfield Town*

*as it stands, these teams will be relegated to the second flight of English football

Post Author: tucollegian