Premier League Review | January 2020

Sporting Index's January Premier League Review

The Premier League fixtures came in thick and fast during January and football fans were treated to some exhilarating action. It was another impeccable month for Liverpool, who extended their lead at the top of the table, while teams like Southampton and Everton soared up the standings. However, it was a month to forget for the likes of West Ham and Brighton, who found themselves sucked into a brutal relegation battle. It is time for us to recap the drama that unfolded and examine how it has affected the football spread betting markets.

Premier League January Recap

Liverpool cemented their status as the strongest team in the Premier League by rattling off five victories in five games during January. It began with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Sheff Utd and then a first-half strike from Roberto Firmino secured a 1-0 win away at Spurs. Anfield was rocking when the Reds beat fierce rivals Man Utd 2-0 on January 19, and they followed it up with back-to-back wins over Wolves and West Ham. Jurgen Klopp’s men then thrashed Southampton 4-0 on February 1, leaving them with 24 wins, one draw and zero defeats from 25 games, an outrageously impressive record.

The chasing pack have been left firmly in the rear-view mirror. Man City dropped two more points when they slumped to a surprise 2-2 draw at home against Crystal Palace on January 18. However, they beat Everton, battered Aston Villa and edged a close game against Sheff Utd, while advancing in both cups, so it was a reasonably strong month for Pep Guardiola’s side. They overhauled Leicester and ended the month with a three-point cushion over the third placed Foxes, so they will now try to maintain that position while seizing silverware in the cups.

Leicester’s shaky form continued with back-to-back defeats against Southampton and Burnley in the middle of the month. They were also held to a 1-1 draw when they hosted Aston Villa. Chelsea were unable to make up ground on Brendan Rodgers’ troops, as they picked up just one win in four games during January. Leicester and Chelsea drew 2-2 on February 1, leaving the Foxes eight points clear of the Blues in the Premier League table.

A Woeful Month for Man Utd and Spurs

Chelsea’s rivals for a top four place have been unable to capitalise on their stuttering form. By the end of January, just four points separated Man Utd in fifth place from Newcastle in 14th. It showed just how congested the Premier League table is, and just how much is up for grabs in the final months of the campaign. It followed a sluggish month for the Red Devils, who lost 2-0 to Arsenal on New Year’s Day, bounced back with a 4-0 win over Norwich and then lost to Liverpool and Burnley. Fans called for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to be sacked, others attacked Ed Woodward’s house and a poisonous atmosphere settled in at Old Trafford.

Marcus Rashford is out with a long-term injury, so the Red Devils signed former Watford forward Odion Ighalo, while Bruno Fernandes joined in a high-profile January transfer. Man Utd began February with a 0-0 draw, and they were leapfrogged in the table by Sheff Utd, who moved up to fifth with a 1-0 win at Selhurst Park. The Blades are enjoying a magnificent season. They lost to both Liverpool and Man City in January – no shame in that – and beat West Ham, while they also picked up a strong 1-1 draw away at Arsenal. Chris Wilder could be a Manager of the Year contender.

It was a miserable month for Tottenham. Star striker Harry Kane went down with a hamstring injury in a 1-0 defeat to Southampton on January 1, and he is unlikely to feature again this season. That has left Spurs a little toothless in attack. They brought in Steven Bergwijn in January, although he is more of a winger, while midfielder Gedson Fernandes joined on loan, and Giovani Lo Celso’s deal was made permanent.

However, key playmaker Christian Eriksen left for Inter Milan, and they still lack a striker after a move for Olivier Giroud failed to materialise. Spurs won just once in four games during January, and that was against bottom club Norwich. Yet they began February with a 2-0 win over Man City, suggesting they could be in line for a stronger finish to the campaign.

Draw Kings

Arsenal established themselves as the draw kings of the Premier League during January. They began the month with a thrilling victory over Man Utd, but then their games against Crystal Palace, Sheff Utd and Chelsea finished all-square. Yet they had 10 men against both the Eagles and the Blues, so new manager Mikel Arteta should be pleased with the newfound resolve. They then played out a fourth consecutive draw when they travelled to Turf Moor at the weekend, their 13th of the season.

The Gunners have drawn more games than any other team this season, followed closely by Wolves, who also had an inconsistent month. However, Nuno Espirito Santo’s side are now up to seventh in the standings, despite losing to Watford and Liverpool in January. Their best result was a 3-2 win away at Southampton, who had been in magnificent form.

The Saints could have sacked Ralph Hassenhuttl after their 9-0 defeat to Leicester earlier this season, but they have been rewarded for keeping the faith in the German coach. They beat Spurs and Leicester in January, and they bounced back from that defeat to Wolves with a 2-0 win against Crystal Palace.

Southampton are now comfortably nestled in mid-table, allowing with Burnley, Everton, Newcastle and Palace. Everton have improved significantly under new manager Carlo Ancelotti and they are up to ninth in the standings after taking eight points from their last four matches. They lost to Man City on New Year’s Day, but they are unbeaten since then, and Dominic Calvert-Lewin continues to impress up front.

Burnley finished January with back-to-back wins over Leicester and Man Utd and they have now steered clear of imminent relegation danger. Newcastle are also on a four-game unbeaten streak, and their January highlight was a 1-0 home victory over Chelsea. Florian Lejeune banging in goals in the 95th and 96th minute to secure a 2-2 draw away at Everton was also pretty special for Magpies fans. Palace were winless during January, but their 2-2 draw against Man City was a great result and that should give them confidence as they head into the business end of the season.

Relegation Battle Heats Up

It is looking extremely tight at the bottom of the table. Just three points now separates 15th placed Brighton and 19th placed Watford. Norwich remain bottom, with just 18 points from 25 games, but they did pick up their first win in months when they beat Bournemouth 1-0 on January 18.

The new manager bounce has seemingly worn off for Watford and they are marooned in the relegation zone. The Hornets began January with a 2-1 win against Wolves, and they then beat Bournemouth 3-0. A 0-0 draw against Spurs extended their unbeaten streak to six games, but they have since suffered back-to-back defeats against Aston Villa and Everton, both courtesy of last-minute goals.

West Ham are stuck in 18th place after enduring a disastrous January. The Hammers beat Bournemouth 4-0 on New Year’s Day as David Moyes took charge of the club for the first time, but they have since taken just two points from five games. They are leaking goals and their forwards have been shorn of service. Villa picked up a few important results in January, including wins over Burnley and Watford, but they remain 17th in the table, just one point above the drop zone. A couple of weeks ago Bournemouth looked doomed. Their defeat to Norwich on January 18th was their fourth in a row, and they had all come at the hands of relegation rivals. However, injured players have since returned to the starting 11, and consecutive victories over Brighton and Aston Villa have helped them move up to 16th in the table. Yet the Cherries face a tricky run of fixtures in February, so they will need to continue fighting for every point.

Brighton failed to win a game in January and they are now teetering precariously above the drop zone. They play some attractive football under Graham Potter, and fortune has not favoured them of late, but they need to return to winning ways quickly if they are to avoid relegation. The scrap at the bottom of the table looks fascinating, and it could provide the main source of intrigue in the remaining months, as Liverpool saunter to the title.

January’s Winners & Losers in the Premier League

Top Five Winners

Jurgen Klopp: The German coach led Liverpool to another five victories in January and they are cruising to the title. He will be forever remembered as a legend at Anfield if he follows up last year’s Champions League triumph with the club’s first Premier League trophy this time around. Liverpool could break records if they maintain their current form, and it is largely thanks to Klopp’s tactical nous and phenomenal man management skills.

Sergio Aguero: The Argentinean striker went ballistic in front of goal during January. He banged in a hat-trick against Aston Villa, then scored twice against Crystal Palace and grabbed the winner against Sheffield United. Aguero is now just one behind Jamie Vardy in the race for the Golden Boot.

Florian Lejeune: Newcastle’s centre-half performed late heroics in a 2-2 draw away at Everton, scoring twice at the death to earn his team a share of the spoils. The first was a sensational overhead kick, and then just 102 seconds later he fired in after a goalmouth scramble to spark pandemonium among the travelling fans.

Jay Rodriguez: Rodriguez banged in an absolute screamer to put Man Utd to the sword at Old Trafford. He became just the second player to ever score at the Theatre of Dreams with three different clubs – he was also on target while representing Southampton and West Brom there – following in the footsteps of Darren Bent.

Gabriel Martinelli: Brazil legend Ronaldinho declared that Martinelli has the potential to be as good as Ronaldo (the World Cup-winning legend, not the Portuguese one) after watching him race the length of the pitch before scoring against Chelsea. High praise indeed.

Top Five Losers

David Moyes: Moyes declared that he is a born winner after taking the reins at West Ham. He backed it up with an emphatic win in his first game, but since then the wheels have come off again for West Ham and Moyes’ winning credentials have taken a battering.

Kepa Arrizabalaga: Chelsea paid a world record £71 million to bring the Spaniard to Stamford Bridge and he arrived with a huge reputation. Yet he has now been dropped after a string of calamities throughout January. Only Angus Gunn has a worse save percentage this season, and he found himself dropped by Southampton, so the writing was on the wall for Chelsea’s number one.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: Most Man Utd fans are calling for the Norwegian to be forcibly removed from the wheel. The Red Devils endured another dismal month in January, and Solskjaer drew further criticism for rushing Marcus Rashford back into the team, a decision that backfired spectacularly when the England forward picked up a long-term injury.

Olivier Giroud: The World Cup winner cannot get a look-in at Chelsea and he was agitating for a move to Spurs in the January transfer window. It failed to materialise, and a lack of game time could cost him a place in the France squad for Euro 2020.

Alexandre Lacazette: The Arsenal forward is unlikely to replace his countryman in the France squad after embarking on a long goal drought. Lacazette failed to find the back of the net in five Premier League games during January, and he has not scored since December 5, while his last away goal came more than a year ago.

Premier League’s Unfortunates

Relegation-threatened Watford remain the great unfortunates of the Premier League. They have an Expected Goals (xG) stat of 33.26, but they have only managed to score 23 times, leaving them 10.26 goals short. Man Utd have also been extremely unfortunate thus far this season. Their actual goals tally is 6.56 below their xG, while their Expected Goals Against (xGA) is 25.87 and they have actually conceded 29. The Red Devils Expected Points tally (xPTS) is 45.17, which should leave them comfortably nestled in the top four, but they have actually secured just 35 points and they are well off the pace.

Chelsea, Wolves, Southampton, Burnley and Norwich are all in the red when it comes to xG, xGA and xPTS too. At the opposite end of the spectrum are Liverpool. Their xG is 5.76 lower than their actual goal haul, and their xGA is 8.64 higher than their actual goals conceded. They have an xPTS tally of just 52.44, while Man City’s is 54.52, so Guardiola’s men would be top of the table if everything had gone to plan. Instead Man City trail Liverpool by 22 points after losing to Spurs at the weekend. Newcastle should be bottom of the league on xPTS, so they too can consider themselves fortunate to be in mid-table.

Premier League in January – The Numbers

27 – Mark Noble scored the 27th Premier League penalty of his career during January. Only Alan Shearer, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard have scored more.

415 – Dele Alli scored Tottenham’s first goal from open play in 415 minutes when he netted against Norwich. Alli also scored their previous goal on Boxing Day.

16 – It was revealed that Chelsea had conceded from 16% of their shots faced this season, the worst record of any Premier League team, before Kepa Arrizabalaga was dropped.

1319 – Callum Wilson ended a goal drought that stretched back 1319 minutes of playing time when he scored against Brighton. It was his first goal since netting against West Ham in September.

15 – In January, Man City playmaker Kevin De Bruyne reached 15 assists for the season. It made him the first player to provide 15 or more assists in three different Premier League campaigns.

6 – Birmingham City fan Troy Deeney scored his sixth goal against Aston Villa when he led Watford out against them in January. That took his tally to six in four games against Villa, his highest against any Premier League team.

5 – When Norwich took on Bournemouth on January 18, it was the fifth Premier League match of the season between the bottom two placed sides. No previous Premier League campaign has seen more games between the bottom two.

9 – Spurs conceded for the ninth game in a row during January. It was just the second time in his long managerial career that Jose Mourinho had gone nine games without a clean sheet.

4 – In January, Jurgen Klopp was presented with his fourth Manager of the Month award. No manager has ever won the award five times in a single Premier League season, so he stands on the brink of breaking a record.

How have the Premier League betting markets moved?

Our traders assigned Man City a points tally of 90.5-92 before the season began in the Premier League Points Index, while Liverpool were pitched at 85.5-87. By the end of December, Liverpool had a Points Index of 98-99.5, and City’s had slipped to just 85.5-87. Now the Reds have a Points Index of 102-103.5, which would see them break the record of 100 set by Man City in 2017-18. Our traders now expect Leicester to finish third with 70.5-72 points, while Chelsea are predicted to hold onto fourth with 64.5-66 points.

Arsenal will finish in mid-table, beneath Sheff Utd, based on the current predictions. That is a remarkable turnaround, as the Gunners were initially projected to score a top four place, while our traders expected Sheff Utd to finish dead last. Our traders now think Norwich, Aston Villa and Watford will all go down, and that is in line with their points projections at the start of January.

Norwich are the overwhelming favourites in the football odds to be relegated, but there is plenty of value on offer for the rest of the teams battling the drop, so check out the latest markets and get involved in the action!

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