Premier League Review | November 2019
Sporting Index's November Premier League Review
Premier League fans were treated to a number of exciting games, brilliant goals and controversial moments during the month of November. Both North London clubs sacked their managers after results went south, and the likes of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Marco Silva and Manuel Pellegrini are skating on thin ice. It was a great month for Liverpool, Leicester and Wolves, but a bit of a disaster for Man City, Bournemouth and Brighton. It is now time for us to recap the drama that unfolded over the last month and take a look at how it has affected the Premier League betting markets.
Could Rodgers Thwart Liverpool?
Premier League leaders Liverpool continued to pull away from title rivals Man City as they battled to victory in all four games during November. They did not keep a single clean sheet, but found a way to clinch three points on each occasion. It began with a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Aston Villa and that left the Reds full of confidence ahead of a titanic showdown with City. Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah put Jurgen Klopp’s side 2-0 up within 15 minutes and Sadio Mané added a third after the break to put the game beyond the champions. Bernardo Silva’s late strike proved to be a mere consolation.
Liverpool then beat Crystal Palace 2-1 and managed to survive a red card for goalkeeper Alisson as they held on for a 2-1 win against Brighton. Meanwhile, Man City could only draw 2-2 away at Newcastle, as they were undone by a late screamer from Jonjo Shelvey. The champions beat Chelsea 2-1 and Southampton 2-1 in November, but dropped five points as a result of those games against Liverpool and Newcastle. That has left them 11 points behind the Reds, and they now have a mountain to climb.
Right now Leicester look like more credible challengers for the title. The Foxes won all three games during November, and then beat Everton 2-1 on December 1, so their winning streak now stretches to six games. They have won 10 of 14 league matches so far this season, and they are now second in the table, just eight points behind Liverpool. Manager Brendan Rodgers came agonisingly close to winning the Premier League title during his time at Anfield, before he was ultimately sacked. He rebuilt his reputation at Celtic and he has transformed Leicester into a superb side since taking the reins at the King Power Stadium. It would be bitterly ironic for Liverpool fans if their former manager were to deny them a first league title in three decades.
Mourinho Reignites Top Four Battle
A month ago Chelsea looked perfectly capable of muscling their way into contention, but they ran out of steam in November. A 2-1 defeat at The Etihad is nothing to be ashamed about, but they then suffered a shock 1-0 defeat at home against relegation threatened West Ham. That has taken some of the shine off Frank Lampard’s excellent start to life at Stamford Bridge, and he will demand an emphatic response from his players.
The biggest news of the month was Tottenham’s decision to sack Mauricio Pochettino and replace him with Jose Mourinho. It is just six months since the Argentinean led Spurs to their first ever Champions League final, but he paid the price for an alarming slump in form this term. Mourinho’s first game in charge was a 3-2 victory over West Ham, and they followed it up with another 3-2 triumph against Bournemouth. Dele Alli looks rejuvenated and Spurs are now just six points behind fourth placed Chelsea.
Arsenal also bit the bullet and sacked Unai Emery after a disastrous eight-game winless streak. It is officially the Gunners’ worst start to a Premier League season, and Emery had to go. Club legend Freddie Ljungberg has been handed the reins on an interim basis, but he could not generate much of an improvement as Arsenal drew 2-2 with Norwich in his first match at the helm.
Fans will hope he can spark a similar upturn in form to the transformation that Solskjaer instigated at Man Utd last season. However, the wheels have since come off for the Norwegian, and his team have just four wins from 14 games this season. The low point of their November campaign was a 1-0 defeat at the hands of struggling Bournemouth, and now Solskjaer is at risk of becoming the next managerial casualty of the season.
Wolves and Sheff Utd are now both ahead of Arsenal and Man Utd in the table after they embarked upon strong unbeaten streaks. Wolves have not tasted defeat since mid-September, while the Blades’ last defeat came at the hands of Liverpool on 28 September. Chris Wilder’s men thrashed Burnley and then drew with Tottenham and Man Utd in November, before playing out a 1-1 draw with Wolves on 1 December. Nuno Espirito Santo has been linked with the Arsenal job after guiding his club on an excellent run of form. Wolves drew with the Gunners on November 2 and then picked up back-to-back victories over Aston Villa and Bournemouth.
Relegation Scrap Intensifies
The relegation battle is really starting to heat up. Bottom club Watford are now looking for their third manager of the season after sacking Quique Sanchez Flores following defeat to fellow strugglers Southampton on Saturday. It capped a poor month for the Hornets, who lost three of their four matches. That victory for the Saints saw them leapfrog Norwich and move up to the giddy heights of 18th, but Daniel Farke’s men have taken four points from their last two games and they now have the bit between their teeth.
Everton are down in 17th, teetering precariously above the drop zone, after losing their last two matches. That is a poor return on heavy investment from owner Farhad Moshiri. Brighton’s mini-revival fizzled out as they suffered three straight defeats and slumped down to 16th in the table. Graham Potter was handed a new contract in November, but he will now need to earn those wages by guiding the Seagulls out of choppy waters. West Ham ended a long winless streak with that shock 1-0 win against Chelsea, but Pellegrini remains under significant pressure. Aston Villa are starting to claw their way out of trouble, thanks largely to the sparkling form of captain Jack Grealish.
It was a good month for Burnley, who won twice and now sit comfortably in mid-table. Newcastle took seven points from four games in November, and Steve Bruce continues to exceed expectations at St James’s Park. Their 2-2 draw with Man City was hugely impressive, but so were victories over West Ham and Bournemouth. The Cherries have lost their last three games, but their strong start to the season means they are safe for now. Yet Eddie Howe will need to galvanise his group of players, while praying that Callum Wilson’s goal drought finally comes to an end.
November’s Winners & Losers in the Premier League
Top Five Winners:
Brendan Rodgers: Celtic fans accused Rodgers of trading immortality for mediocrity when he left the Hoops to take over at Leicester. Yet there has been nothing mediocre about the Foxes’ form this season, as they are on fire right now and they were invincible in November.
David Martin: West Ham’s 33-year-old third-choice goalkeeper was thrust into the limelight after the Hammers were hit by an injury crisis at the end of November. He performed heroics between the sticks as they secured an improbable clean sheet during their 1-0 victory over high-flying Chelsea. His father, West Ham legend Alvin, must have been teeming with pride as he watched on from the stands.
Dele Alli: When Mourinho took over at Spurs, he asked the midfielder: “Are you Dele Alli or are you his brother?” He was referring to the player’s shocking dip in form, and his harsh words had the desired effect. Alli was the star of the show in Tottenham’s 3-2 win against West Ham, he scored in a 4-2 victory against Olympiakos in the Champions League and then he grabbed a brace to help secure a 3-2 win against Bournemouth.
Adrian: Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp hailed Adrian as man of the match in their 2-1 win against Brighton on November 30. Alisson was sent off for handling outside the box, but Adrian came on and helped them close out a precious victory. He was released by West Ham in the summer after falling down the pecking order, but Klopp handed him a lifeline, and he has already made nine Premier League appearances for the Reds. He could end the campaign with a league winner’s medal.
Jack Grealish: The Aston Villa captain has been sensational in recent weeks. He looks supremely comfortable on the ball, he can score screamers and he is exceptionally creative. Surely an England call up beckons for the Villa star.
Top Five Losers:
Unai Emery: The Arsenal board finally put Emery out of his misery after he presided over a dreadful downturn in form and performance levels. The Spaniard’s reputation has plummeted as a result of his time in North London, where he was savaged for his tactics and team selections, and he is unlikely to be offered a top job any time soon.
Quique Sanchez Flores: Watford sacked Javi Gracia after just four games of the season and Flores was parachuted in to save the day. Yet he lasted just 10 matches and he too was sacked after a 2-1 defeat to Southampton on Saturday. It was the managerial equivalent of a player coming off the bench and then being substituted again.
Callum Wilson: Wilson has failed to score in his last seven matches and that has seen a major slump in form for Bournemouth. The Cherries endured a torrid November and Wilson’s struggles in front of goal summed it up.
Phil Jones: The Man Utd defender revealed in November that he rejected a testimonial because he feared nobody would turn up. It followed another string of calamities that saw Jones repeatedly substituted and made the subject of mocking memes on social media.
Sergio Aguero: The Argentinean centre-forward suffered a thigh injury during Man City’s 2-1 victory over Chelsea and he could only watch on powerless as they drew with Newcastle in the following match. He has scored 12 goals in 12 games against the Magpies, which is more than any other player has scored against a single opponent in Premier League history, so he could have swung it in his team’s favour. He will now miss the Manchester derby too, which must be extremely frustrating for Man City’s record goalscorer.
November’s Premier League Unfortunates
Flores can perhaps count himself unlucky after his Watford side missed a number of excellent chances throughout November. The Spaniard’s reign ended with three straight defeats, but he might have earned a reprieve if his forwards had been more clinical in front of goal. Troy Deeney has been out for the majority of the season and Watford have played without a recognised striker, which has cost them dearly. Their expect goals (xG) total is 16.69, but they have actually managed to score just nine. They were also expected to concede (xGA) 24.57, but they have actually shipped 28 goals, so the Hornets have been unfortunate at both ends of the pitch.
Fellow relegation candidates Southampton have been the unluckiest team in defence. They have an xGA of 24.68, but they have actually conceded 32, leaving them with the worst defensive record in the league. It is skewed by a 9-0 defeat to Leicester at the end of October, but they failed to keep a clean sheet in four games during November. The Saints were particularly wasteful in front of goal in their 2-2 draw with Arsenal, while they were undone by the clinical nature of Alexandre Lacazette, so they really should have more points to their name.
Premier League in November – The Numbers
5 – Liverpool extended their lead over title rivals Man City by a further five points during November. The highlight saw them beat Guardiola’s men at Anfield, but they also kept their cool while City faltered at Newcastle.
4 – Both Arsenal and Man Utd have now won just four of their 14 league matches so far this season. This is unprecedented for these heavyweights of yesteryear, as they have endured such a sluggish start to their Premier League campaigns.
3 – A trio of Premier League managers lost their jobs in November, but could December be even more brutal? Silva, Solskjaer, Pellegrini, Daniel Farke and Ralph Hasenhuttl will all be looking nervously over their shoulders.
0 – Chelsea set a new Premier League record when they did not commit a single foul in the 1-0 defeat to West Ham. Lampard will urge them to discover a nastier streak in future.
1,033 – Virgil Van Dijk overtook Chelsea midfielder Jorginho as the player with the most completed passes in the Premier League last month.
5 – Tottenham’s win over Bournemouth ensured that none of the last five permanent Spurs managers have lost their first home league game in charge. Martin Jol was the last to do so, when they lost 3-2 to Charlton back in 2004.
26 – Jurgen Klopp got the better of Graham Potter at the weekend and he is now unbeaten in his last 26 Premier League meetings with English managers.
4 – Lys Mousset was on target in Sheff Utd’s 3-3 draw against Man Utd and that took his tally for the season to four. He has now scored more goals in 10 Premier League games for the Blades than he managed in 58 appearances for Bournemouth.
How Have the Premier League Betting Markets Moved?
Our traders assigned Premier League champions Man City a points tally of 90.5-92 before the season began in the Premier League Points Index. Liverpool were pitched at 85.5-87, so Guardiola’s men were expected to clinch a third straight title. The picture is now markedly different after the Reds made a stunning start to the campaign, while Man City have dropped points in five of 14 games thus far. Liverpool are now predicted to end up with 93.5-95, while Man City are pitched at just 88-89.5.
Our traders now have Leicester finishing third, with a spread of 72-73.5 points. That is a huge increase on their pre-season prediction of 52-53.5. Arsenal were the biggest fallers in November after they failed to win a single game. The Gunners were predicted to secure 69.5-71 before the season began, but that has now dipped to 57-58.5. They are also clear outsiders now in the Premier League odds on the battle to secure a top four finish. Everton are also in freefall, having gone from 53-54.5 in preseason to 47-48.5 by the end of October and then 45.5-47 at the end of November.
Tottenham were pitched at 73-74.5 before the season began and they were expected to finish comfortably third. By the start of November our traders had them finishing sixth, but since Mourinho’s arrival galvanised Alli and co they are back up to 64-65.5. That would leave them fifth, sandwiched between Chelsea and Arsenal, but there is still plenty of time for the Portuguese coach to work his magic.
At the other end of the table our traders now predict that Norwich will finish bottom of the pile, with Watford 19th and Newcastle completing the relegated three, with Southampton and Aston Villa beating the drop by the skin of their teeth.
Get set for December and the action-packed Christmas schedule in the Premier League. As always, Sporting Index will be on hand to provide you with all your football spread betting markets and Premier League odds as 2019 comes to a close.