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Premier League hits and misses: Liverpool lucky to escape with draw and Arsenal hit a new low

Are Arsenal in a relegation fight?

How long ago August's FA Cup win already feels at the Emirates. Mikel Arteta's problems are mounting into a crisis and an existential threat both to his own job security and Arsenal's in the Premier League. Make no mistake, any side which is less than two wins above the drop zone in December is quite clearly in a relegation fight.

Sunday's defeat was harsh in some respects given Burnley, who had just 35% of possession and had their only shot on target saved, did so little to win it, but Arsenal's failings are becoming habitual. There was only two ways Arsenal could lose this game: indiscipline and profligacy. Just in time for Christmas, they gift-wrapped both.

Arteta, understandably, looked rather shell-shocked by it all. "We threw the game away. We had total control and should have won it already," he told Sky Sports. "We just gave the game to an opponent."

If there is a criticism of the Arsenal boss, it is that he didn't make enough changes to his squad over the summer and too much deadwood remains at the club. In fairness, some of that accusation must be levelled at the club's hierarchy too.

Leicester march on, but tougher tests to come

The good times continue for Leicester.

After claiming top spot in their Europa League group last Thursday, they swept aside Brighton with the minimum of fuss to win their eighth Premier League game of the season - the most in the division.

It's their joint-highest tally of wins from the first 12 games of a top-flight season alongside 2019-20.

The win saw Brendan Rodgers' side moved up to third in the Premier League table, just a point behind both Tottenham and Liverpool, who face each other on Wednesday.

However, tougher tests are on the horizon for Leicester too with Everton at home, Tottenham away and Manchester United back at the King Power Stadium their next three games in the league.

For now, though, Leicester are right in the mix for the title and if they can continue to show the form they showed in the first 45 minutes with James Maddison pulling the strings and Jamie Vardy in the goals, the Foxes could be set for another special season.
Oliver Yew

Is this the Hasenhuttl we had heard about?

Ralph Hasenhuttl said his Southampton side have undergone a "massive development" to reach the position they are in at the moment, having won seven of their 12 Premier League games this season and enjoying the kind of season that seemed a world away when they were getting hammered 9-0 at home by Leicester barely a year ago.

He's not wrong, is he? Southampton press from the front, defend with quality and can play through the lines. The likes of Theo Walcott, who looked lost at Everton last season, has added an extra dimension to midfield and James Ward-Prowse is in the form of his life. And that's before you even get to Danny Ings, whose goals weren't even needed to beat a poor Blades side.

"The performance, the attitude of the players, this is a team and a manager on the up. I love the way they play, full of energy, full of quality," said Jamie Redknapp after full-time. This is the sort of football we heard about when Hasenhuttl first arrived on these shores two years ago this month.

Southampton will end the weekend in the top four. No-one expects them to stay there until the end of the season. But when do we start asking the question? A team fighting as one for their manager, and led by a man as talented as Hasenhuttl, is a hard thing to stop. Stranger things have happened.
Ron Walker

Schlupp epitomises Palace perseverance

Roy Hodgson was delighted with the manner in which his side denied Tottenham a sixth win in seven Premier League games, which looked to have passed them by when Jeffrey Schlupp blazed over from close range midway through the second period.

The winger had been in the wars in the first half having received treatment following a robust challenge, but Schlupp dusted himself down and scored his first goal since the final day of last season, curiously in a 1-1 draw with Tottenham at Selhurst Park in which Harry Kane was also on a scoresheet.

For 81 minutes, this looked like being the type of dogged away performance that win titles, but Palace fed off the returning crowd of 2,000 supporters and Benteke continued his renaissance with a display typical of the Belgian's earlier years in the Premier League.

"The supporters were great," Hodgson said. " I told the players it's not what they can give us it's what we can give them and I thought we produced an excellent spectacle today. They got behind us and appreciated it and luckily we welcomed them back on a good day."

Hodgson will take plenty of satisfaction from knowing goals can come from several areas of the pitch - including stubborn Schlupp.

"He got a lot of chances today," the Palace boss added. "We didn't force as many saves as they did but I felt we had as many chances to score."
Ben Grounds

Source: Sky Sports 

 

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