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The Milton Measure

Premier League Delights in The Year of the Scorpion Kick

by Caleb Rhodes on Friday, January 13th, 2017

Unlike the other major soccer leagues throughout Europe, the English Premier League steams right through Christmas and New Year’s with little regard for players’ need to rest, instead catering to hungry hordes of fans with extra time to dine on the beautiful game. While the Spanish, Italian, German, and French leagues take a break, the Premier League keeps the fixtures coming.

On December 18th, Manchester City played Arsenal in what was an incredibly important match for both teams, who needed a win to keep pace with Chelsea at the top of the table. Five minutes into the match, when Theo Walcott scored, Arsenal looked poised to make a statement win. However, an excellent first half gave way to an absolutely woeful second half performance. City scored within two minutes of the restart and began to boss the game while Arsenal looked abject. Star playmaker Mesut Özil failed to influence the game at all and, in the end, it was not surprising to see Arsenal lose 2-1 after City’s Raheem Sterling scored the winner in the 71st minute.

On New Year’s Eve it was Chelsea’s turn to demonstrate their title credentials and winning mentality. Attempting to win a record-tying 13th consecutive win in the league, Chelsea entered half-time up 1-0 against Stoke City.  An uncharacteristic flurry of goals at the start of the second half left the score 2-2 and the game wide open, but Chelsea showed its ability and finished Stoke off 4-2. One of the true tests of footballing mettle is the character to pull off a win on a cold, rainy night in Stoke — Chelsea passed the test with aplomb.

Also on New Year’s Eve, Liverpool played City in another key match to determine who could keep pace with the streaking Chelsea. Once again, City conceded early to a towering Georginio Wijnaldum header in the 8th minute. This goal would prove to be the winner in a high energy affair that unfortunately lacked true quality from either team. Pep Guardiola would have been disappointed with his team’s performance, but Chelsea’s loss to Tottenham — courtesy of a brace by young Englishman Dele Alli — on January 4th still keeps them in striking distance for the title.

Meanwhile, as 2016 ended and 2017 began, Manchester United have finally started to find their feet under Jose Mourinho as they strung together five consecutive wins to finish off the year. As it stands after 20 matches, Chelsea lead the pack with 49 points followed by Liverpool, Tottenham, City, Arsenal, and Man U. Last year’s champions, Leicester, continue to languish in 15th place in what is becoming an increasingly dreary victory tour. Looking ahead, expect the North-West Derby between Manchester United and Liverpool on Sunday, January 15th to be an absolute cracker with both teams playing with confidence and going for their sworn rival’s jugulars at every turn.

Also if you missed them over break, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Olivier Giroud both scored astonishing scorpion kick goals that you have to see to believe. Additionally, the month of January is the winter transfer window, so a few high profile players will certainly be recruited in the coming weeks as long as the allure of Chinese money isn’t too great — but that is a story for another time. Billed at the beginning of the season as one for the ages, the 2016-17 Premier League truly is shaping up to be one.

 

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Posted by Caleb Rhodes on Jan 13 2017. Filed under Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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