Premier League Match-ups

by Evan Sobol

The biggest matchup of the weekend was Tottenham Hotspur visiting Liverpool at Anfield. The Reds scored early goals and used great defense to win 2-0, following their defeat last week at Hull.

Liverpool’s Sadio Mane had an excellent first half, scoring both of the Reds’ goals. The first came in the minute 16. Midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum provided an excellent through pass for Mane from midfield. The Senegal international then ran past the Spurs’ defense and shot into the left side of the net. He scored again just two minutes later, off a deflection by Tottenham’s goalkeeper. Hugo Lloris made two excellent saves, but was unlucky after his second bounced into the possession of Mane who fired it into the net from short range. It was Mane’s 11th Premier League goal of the season. The forward had two more opportunities just a few minutes later, that were both saved by Lloris.

The Spurs’ recorded just two shots on goal, while also recorded just three corners compared to Liverpool’s ten. In minute 26, midfielder Son Heung-Min met a pass by Ben Davies in the box, but the attempt was saved by Simon Mignolet. Christian Eriksen missed a free kick in the second half that went right over Liverpool’s goal.

With the victory, Liverpool sits just one point behind Arsenal and Tottenham with 49. It was their first since Dec. 31. They have stayed in the title race, thanks to draws against Manchester United and Chelsea.

Mane is currently the leading scorer for the club, and has played well with Firmino and Coutinho at striker position. The three have scored a combined 24 goals this season. Manager Jurgen Klopp should continue using this formation if they hope to push for the top of the table. With 54 goals, Liverpool is tied with Arsenal for the most in the league. The Reds’ next match is at defending champions Leicester City on February 27. The Foxes have lost five straight.

The Spurs still sit at second with 50 points following the loss. They have been tested in each of their last four matches; they escaped with a win at home last week with a penalty kick by Harry Kane. Kane is still one of the best forwards in the league, racking up a total of 14 goals. The player to look out for down the stretch is Son. He got off to a great start with the club, scoring four goals in September. He has scored just three since. If he can get back on track, Kane and Dele Alli will get more goal opportunities. Tottenham’s next fixture is Feb. 26 against ninth-place Stoke City.

Manchester United continued their impressive unbeaten streak with a 2-0 win against Watford.

The Red Devils got on the board in minute 32, with a short-range goal by midfielder Juan Mata. Anthony Martial set up the score with a low cross into the box. It was Mata’s sixth goal of the season. Martial added to the goal tally with a short-range goal at the hour mark. The France international shot into the left side of the net. Watford goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes, had his vision blocked by midfielder Craig Cathcart. This left the goal open for Martial. It was the forward’s third league goal of the season.

Watford recorded just nine shots total. Midfielder Jose Holebas missed an attempt from the left side of the box in the minute 18. The shot went far-right of the goal. The visitor’s closest opportunity came in at minute 53 on a free kick from just outside the box. Mauro Zarate fired a shot into the upper left corner of the net. United goalkeeper De Gea blocked attempt.

United stayed at sixth in the table with the victory. They currently have 48 points and sit just two points behind second-place Tottenham. They have not lost a match since October 23. They can still push Chelsea for the top spot and look to get secure a spot in the Champions League next season with a top-four finish. It would be their first appearance in the competition since 2015. If De Gea continues his great goalkeeping and the midfield has good chemistry with the forwards, they will be a team to watch out for. Zlatan Ibrahimović sits at tied for third in the league with 15 goals. United’s next match will be against Manchester City.

Watford fell to 13th in the league table with the loss. They have 30 points along with Burnley and Southampton. The Hornets need to give their Forwards more opportunities if they hope to gain spots. The forwards have accounted for just 11 goals this season in 25 matches. Captain Troy Deeney currently has seven and three assists. They host tenth-place West Ham February 25.