Three more Premier League fixtures took place on the evening of Wednesday 22 January 2020.
As I regularly now do, I’ve collected highlights from each match, and posted them here, in one fast loading, mobile-friendly, ad-free, page, for fellow fans to enjoy now and in the future.
The highlights are posted by Sky Sports Football, the official UK provider, on their YouTube channel. Credit to them for making them embed-able by default, which enables me to post them here. They may not work for viewers outside the UK – sorry – and also, any ads you see are added by Sky / YouTube, not me.
Man Utd v Burnley (2-0)
Posting this first up because, while it was not the match of the day, it provided probably the talking point, as Man Utd got turned over at Old Trafford by a previously badly out of form Burnley side.
Jay Rodriguez scored a fantastic strike to seal the three points, as United faithful headed for the exits with minutes to play.
Several commentators, such as Rio Ferdinand declared this result “embarrasing” and not good enough. This result, they opined, means Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is not fit to manage the club to the end of the season.
It’s weird, really. On the weekend, literally on Sunday, Ferdinand was declaring that United under Solsjaer had turned a corner. That this young squad were showing signs they were “back” because they’d run Liverpool close. Did they become terrible in two days?
Let’s look at the stats for this match.
United had 72% of possession. They had 24 shots, 7 of which were on target. In contrast, Burnley had only 5 shots in total, 2 of which were on target, and scored twice. That is, by anyone’s terms, a robbery.
Chelsea got beaten on the weekend 1-0 away at Newcastle in a match they dominated similarly. Arsenal drew 2-2 with Chelsea last night, having only two shots on target, with ten men. Is this “embarrassing?” Or is it just how sport goes, sometimes?
If United are guilty of anything, it is not having a fit centre forward.
Spurs have shown how this can affect your shots to goals ratio. Marcus Rashford has been United’s best player this season, and he is injured. Anyone can lose a football match, and, admittedly, Solskjaer has lost more than many Man Utd managers would expect, but this is a competitive league, and the club is not, yet, sufficiently staffed to compete with the top four.
If Martial had his shooting boots this week, we might be talking about a 1-1 draw with Liverpool, and an easy victory over Burnley. Now, we can blame a manager for a lot, but this is a fine margin. They weren’t terrible on Sunday, nor were they terrible in this match. Nothing changed.
If this tells us anything, it is that United need a top class centre forward, and now. They also, perhaps, could use one or two world class players in other positions, if they want to take the shortest route to the top of the table, but this will result in splitting hairs over what is, still, a very decent squad, mostly impacted by injuries to their first choices in several key areas. Injure Henderson, Mané and Salah at Liverpool, and we could see them drop points. That wouldn’t be Klopp’s fault, either.
Tottenham v Norwich (2-1)
Tottenham managed to find that odd goal they have been seeking recently, as the two most likely candidates while Kane is out, Alli and Son, both bagged. Of course, Timo Pukki scored for Norwich – a penalty – and they again played well for no return, a habit they’ll like to lose, if they are to get away from the foot of the table.
Leicester v West Ham (4-1)
A bittersweet victory for Leicester City over struggling West Ham, as they watched Jamie Vardy limp off, before finally getting the goals return their recent performances have lacked. They are better than the string of bad results they’ve been getting, so this may spark a revival at Leicester. They are firmly hunting that Champions League slot – and second place is still on the cards too – this season. They are well worth it on this night’s evidence.
Premier League Table – 21 January 2020
Below is how the Premier League table looked at the end of these matches:
Tottenham drew level on points with Man Utd, while Norwich missed a chance to close in on those above them. Burnley pulled out a 7 point gap on the drop zone with their impressive victory.
Wolves play Liverpool on Thursday night, with a win putting them within three points of out-of-form Chelsea for that UEFA Champions League fourth spot. As the only side to deny Liverpool victory this season, there’ll be a lot of eyes on that fixture.