Biggest EPL Winners and Losers from Matchday 17, 2021
High-flying Southampton capped of Matchday 17 of the 2020/21 EPL season with a shock victory over Liverpool on Monday.
Meanwhile, Manchester City heaped the pressure on their title rivals by securing a dominant win over off-from Chelsea.
Brighton and Wolves produced a six-goal thriller, Arsenal made it three wins in a row against West Brom, while Tottenham returned to winning ways against Leeds.
I share my biggest EPL winners and losers from Matchday 17 below.
When Danny Ings looped the ball over Alisson to give Southampton the lead inside two minutes against Liverpool, it felt as though there would be bags of goals at St. Mary’s.
As it turned out, the Saints ended up scoring the only goal of the game.
Having gone ahead so early on, the hosts survived an onslaught of Liverpool attacks for the rest of the match. Jurgen Klopp’s men bombarded Southampton’s backline, yet the south coast side defended admirably as a unit.
From back to front, the Saints were immense. Goalkeeper Fraser Forster – making his first EPL appearance since May 2019 – dealt with everything that came his way, 21-year-old Ibrahima Diallo deputized seamlessly for the absent Oriol Romeu while Ings led the line.
A year ago, Ralph Hasenhuttl’s job was on the line. Fast-forward to today – Southampton sits just four points off top spot in the Premier League table.
Just look what it meant to the manager!
Let’s not take anything away from the Saints; they battled extremely hard to beat Liverpool. However, there is no denying that the defending champions were nowhere near their best on Monday.
Despite registering 17 shots at St. Mary’s, the Reds could only manage one attempt on target. To make matters worse, Klopp’s side finished the game with 67% possession.
To say that Liverpool lacked a cutting edge in attack would be an understatement.
With midfielders Jordan Henderson and Fabinho playing at center-back, it looked as though the Merseysiders would struggle defensively. But despite the best efforts of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, and Mohamed Salah, Liverpool was toothless at the other end of the pitch.
Trent Alexander-Arnold gave the ball away 38 times – yes, 38 times – before being replaced by James Milner, while Thiago Alcantara looked off the pace on his return from injury.
Manchester United now have the opportunity to leapfrog the Reds at the top of the table, providing they win their game in hand.
Winner: Eberechi Eze
Every once in a while, a player bursts onto the EPL scene and makes everyone think – wow!
Right now, Eberechi Eze is that guy.
The Crystal Palace youngster started on the bench against Sheffield United on Saturday. But when Jeffrey Schlupp was forced off due to injury late in the first half, Roy Hodgson introduced Eze.
It’s fair to say that the 22-year-old made an instant impact.
On the stroke of half-time, the skillful attacking midfielder picked up the ball deep inside his own half and decided to run. After leaving countless Blades defenders in his wake, Eze let fly from the edge of the penalty area and curled the ball into the bottom corner of the net.
Last season, we had gotten used to seeing Eze producing solo-strikes on a regular basis in the Championship. But now he has proved that he can do it on the biggest stage of all.
More of the same, please, Eberechi.
"He is a showman and Selhurst Park is his new theatre!" ?— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) January 2, 2021
Eberechi Eze glides through the Sheffield United defence before finishing with aplomb! What a goal! ?
? Watch on Sky Sports PL
? Follow #CRYSHU here: https://t.co/20KfGTmUK0
? Download the @SkySports app! pic.twitter.com/yMFiUE7akW
What has happened to Chelsea?
Just a couple of weeks ago, the Blues were being talked about as genuine title contenders. But after winning just one of their last six games, they suddenly find themselves in mid-table.
Chelsea was completely outclassed by Manchester City on Sunday, with goals from Ilkay Gundogan, Phil Foden, and Kevin De Bruyne giving Pep Guardiola’s side an unassailable lead before half-time.
Substitute Callum Hudson-Odoi netted a consolation goal in second-half stoppage-time, although it was far too late for a comeback at that point.
It goes without saying that Frank Lampard’s job is under threat. We all know that Roman Abramovich doesn’t give his managers a lot of time to get things right, so it wouldn’t be a shock if another poor result saw Lampard get the sack.
At the end of the day, Chelsea was a million miles away from Man City.
Winner: Kieran Tierney
As snow swirled around the Hawthorns on Saturday night, the Arsenal players headed out for their warm-up in thermal gear and wooly hats.
Well, everyone except Kieran Tierney.
The Scotland international was the only player to brave the freezing conditions in a T-shirt and shorts, sending social media into meltdown shortly after.
However, 23 minutes into the match, the left-back made the headlines again, this time with a stunning individual goal. Tierney beat West Brom right-back Darnell Furlong, not once, but twice, before cutting inside and smashing the ball past Baggies goalkeeper Sam Johnstone.
The Gunners eventually won 4-0, with Bukayo Saka doubling Arsenal’s lead and Alexandre Lacazette bagging a second-half brace. It was a complete performance from Mikel Arteta’s men, although it’s safe to say that Tierney stole the show.
Kieran Tierney is just built different ? pic.twitter.com/wCeMceST2s— talkSPORT (@talkSPORT) January 2, 2021
Loser: Sheffield United
Right, that’s it – Sheffield United is already relegated. Nobody can tell me otherwise.
The Blades lost AGAIN on Saturday, suffering their fifteenth defeat in 17 EPL outings this season. Chris Wilder’s side is now six points adrift at the bottom of the table and 12 points from safety.
Wilder’s men actually saw more of the ball than Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. They racked up 56% possession and even managed to record two shots on target. But following Eze’s stunner, there was no coming back.
Sheff Utd’s only two points have come from a 1-1 draw with Fulham on Matchday 5 and an identical result against Brighton on Matchday 14. Other than that, the Blades have lost every league game they have played this season.
The Premier League has seen some great escapes over the years. But if Sheff Utd survives relegation this term, it would arguably be the biggest turnaround in EPL history.
Winner: Tomas Soucek
Tomas Soucek has made a massive impact at West Ham, hasn’t he?
The giant Czech midfielder has popped up with numerous important goals since arriving from Slavia Prague, with his latest handing the Hammers a 1-0 win over Everton on Friday.
With 86 minutes on the clock, the two sides appeared to be heading for a goalless draw at Goodison Park. However, Soucek was on hand to divert Aaron Creswell’s deflected shot past Jordan Pickford.
Soucek always seems to be in the right place at the right time. He has now scored five EPL goals this term, with each of them coming in his last ten appearances.
There is plenty to like about Soucek’s on-field game, but it also seems as though he is a character off the pitch. I mean, any player that talks about potato salad in their post-match interview gets a big thumbs up from me.
Loser: Aston Villa
I think the Villains can count themselves very unfortunate to have come away from Old Trafford on Matchday 17 without anything to show for their efforts.
Dean Smith’s men dominated the possession for large spells of the game, peppering Manchester United’s goal with shots. But after Bertrand Traore canceled out Anthony Martial’s opener, Aston Villa was undone by a controversial penalty.
Replays appeared to show Paul Pogba tripping himself up, yet VAR ruled that Douglas Luiz had tripped the Frenchman. Bruno Fernandes stepped up and… well, you know the rest.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not classing Smith’s men as losers simply because they lost. Villa put in a solid performance on Friday, yet the team was on the wrong end of a bad decision.
Still, Villa remains seven points behind league-leaders Liverpool with two games in hand over the champions.
Matchday 17 Wrap-Up
Let’s not forget about Leicester. The Foxes kept themselves very much in the title conversation with a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Newcastle on Sunday.
Tottenham should also be given credit for beating Leeds 3-0 on Saturday, especially when you consider the contrasting form of the two teams.
With the FA Cup taking center stage this weekend, the Premier League returns next week, with a round of mid-week fixtures to get our teeth into.
We have betting tips, and predictions for multiple leagues from across the world in our soccer picks section. While the EPL takes a short break, why not try your hand at betting on something different?