Today is Thanksgiving, a holiday many of us celebrating by overeating and giving thanks for all the wonderful things we enjoy in our lives. If you’ve decided to read this, you’re probably thankful for the beautiful game. In the spirit of the holiday, we’re looking at the Premier League and despite it being a regular Thursday in England, guessing what the fans of each club will be giving thanks for today. Yes, even Swansea.
Chelsea: The 3-4-3
As we’ve previously mentioned, Antonio Conte’s switch to a back three has shot Chelsea up to the top of the table. The change in formation has given the London club a stronger foundation moving forward, and more organization at the back. The fact that Eden Hazard is looking dangerous again after the change is even more reason to be thankful.
Liverpool: The front three
No one has spread out scoring duties this season quite like Liverpool. The forward line of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho have been terrorizing defenses this season. With Daniel Sturridge acting as a super sub, Jurgen Klopp has plenty of firepower to make a title push this year.
Manchester City: Kevin De Bruyne’s health
When Kevin De Bryune injured his knee earlier this season it was the beginning of a dry spell for Manchester City. Since his return from injury, he has proved to be Pep Guardiola’s most important player. His performance against Barcelona earlier this month was world class.
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 19: Olivier Giroud of Arsenal (C) scores his sides first goal during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Arsenal at Old Trafford on November 19, 2016 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Arsenal: Olivier Giroud’s form
Rescuing a point at Old Trafford was a big accomplishment as Arsene Wenger generally hasn’t enjoyed meeting Jose Mourinho in the league. Thankfully, Olivier Giroud was on hand to score a late equalizer. The French striker scored again in the Champions League this week, giving him five goals in his last five games for the Gunners.
Tottenham: Harry Kane is back
With one of the lowest scoring sides in England, Tottenham was desperate to get Harry Kane back into the lineup. With Kane’s return, Spurs have begun to pick up the pace. A dramatic 3-2 win over West Ham with the England striker scoring two late goals underscores the England international’s importance at White Hart Lane.
Manchester United: Juan Mata
Many thought that Juan Mata wasn’t going to be long for Manchester United when Jose Mourinho arrived. Mourinho unceremoniously showed the Spaniard the door at Chelsea. It was a relief for Mata to be given a chance to prove his worth, and prove it he has. Not much has gone right this year for United, but Mata has proven to be a valuable asset in midfield. It certainly wasn’t what the crowd at Old Trafford was expecting this year, what with the signings of Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Everton: Romelu Lukaku
One of the best strikers in England, Romelu Lukaku is a big reason Everton sit in the top half of the table. His seven league goals have come at big times for the Toffees. He picked up a goal and an assist against West Ham earlier this month in a man of the match performance. While Everton hasn’t been doing as well as they were at the start of the season, Lukaku is one player Everton are hoping to hang onto for awhile.
Watford: Only one loss since September
The recent form of Watford has been remarkable. Apart from a recent humbling at the hands of Liverpool, Watford has put up a series of big performances over the last two months. Now, granted, they haven’t faced a single team from the top of the table except Liverpool, but the Hornets can only play who they’re scheduled to play. Their easy run of fixtures is cause for thanks in its own right, especially if it stirs up a little momentum into the holidays.
West Brom: A four-goal explosion
Tony Pullis isn’t known for being much of an offensive genius. His sides are usually fairly pragmatic and rely on a stout defense to beat teams. Monday, his West Brom side put four past Burnley in a thoroughly convincing win. Earlier this season they hit West Ham for four as well. While most days West Brom won’t be very flashy, their fans will enjoy the occasional goal fest. Monday’s particular offensive explosion also moved them into the top half of the table, making it even sweeter.
Bournemouth: Adam Smith
Adam Smith has been a consistent performer for Bournemouth this season, and the fullback is bordering on an England debut. The 25-year-old has three assists on the campaign so far. Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate has been impressed with the defender. If he were to get a call up this year it would make for a pair of Bournemouth players joining the national team as Jack Wilshire was recently recalled.
Southampton: European football
Southampton seems to defy expectations. Nearly every season, they lose one or two of their biggest players to some of the leagues bigger teams (mostly Liverpool). Every year they remain competitive, however. Last season, the club qualified for the Europa League, and unlike a few seasons ago when they failed to get out of qualifying, Southampton are in the Europa league group stage for the very first time. Five years ago, Southampton was in the Championship, now they’re competing against teams like Inter Milan.
Burnley: Tom Heaton
Tom Heaton earned an England call-up this month, and he really earned it. Heaton is currently having the best season of his career and his 11 save performance against Manchester United in a 0-0 draw was the highlight. Things weren’t as glamourous when Burnley lost 4-0 to West Brom, but for the 30-year-old, he’s enjoyed his time this season. If he has more games like the United game, he should easily earn a few more matches with the three lions.
STOKE ON TRENT, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 21: Joe Allen of Stoke looks on during the EFL Cup Third Round match between Stoke City and Hull City at the Britannia Stadium on September 21, 2016 in Stoke on Trent, England. (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)
Stoke City: Joe Allen
It didn’t quite work out in Liverpool but Joe Allen looks like a new man at Stoke City. The Welshman has four goals so far this campaign and picked up a pair of assists. He put in a brace against Sunderland earlier this year and scored in back to back 1-1 draws saving his side from a pair of defeats.
Leicester City : The Champions League
It’s been a different season for Leicester, they’re at the bottom half of the table rather than sitting atop it. However, they’re enjoying their time in Europe. They punched their ticket to the Round of 16 this week with a win over Club Brugge. A strong run in the Champions League has been a nice silver lining to an otherwise lackluster campaign.
Middlesbrough: Stealing points off the top four
The best thing a newly promoted side can do to survive in the top flight is pick up points you have no business winning. Since the start of the season, Middlesbrough has taken points off Arsenal and Manchester City. Both of those were draws, but they were games that Boro was expected to lose. In addition, picking up wins against fellow bottom of the table teams like Sunderland and West Ham will do wonders for their chances of survival.
Crystal Palace: Wilfried Zaha
Palace has lost five Premier League matches in a row, so their supporters would probably be most thankful for a new coach. The one bright spot in this slump has been Wilfried Zaha. The Ivorian winger has picked up assists in each of the last four Palace defeats. He even won a man of the match rating in Palace’s 3-1 loss to Leicester. He had a 92% passing accuracy, as well as 11 successful dribbles and three shots on target. He’s doing everything he can, it’s just a shame it hasn’t been enough.
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West Ham: Potential reinforcements
West Ham fans are probably thankful they have Dimitri Payet, but the Frenchman alone hasn’t been able to get West Ham further up the table. With their new stadium, the Hammers are expected to bring in a lot more money. Money buys players, and good players win games. There are rumors linking Daniel Sturridge and Champions League winner Mario Mandzukic to the London club in January. If that’s the kind of business West Ham fans can expect, they’ll be very thankful when January arrives.
Hull City: They’re three points back of 13th place
If you look at the Premier League table, you can see Hull City are closer to 13th place than they are to the bottom. Despite only winning once in their last eight games, Hull is not far from safety. They’re still thankful for a pair of big wins to start the season against Leicester and Swansea. They will need to start winning again soon to make it to safety, but it’s a nice thought that they’re not far way right now.
Sunderland : Still 26 matches to go
This season has been pretty bad for Sunderland, but they’ve leapfrogged Swansea and are no longer propping up the rest of the table. With a big win this weekend, which included Jermain Dafoe’s 150th Premier League goal, the Black Cats may finally have a little momentum. With 26 more matches left in the season, there is still plenty of time to generate even more momentum and get out of the bottom three.
Swansea: Łukasz Fabiański
This could have been the place to talk about new coach Bob Bradley and the start of Swansea’s turn-around. However, the American has yet to pick up three points with his new team. Things haven’t been great for the Welsh side, but things could be so much worse without Łukasz Fabiański. The Polish goalkeeper has been the best player on the pitch numerous times for Swansea, including this past week when he nearly got his side a 1-0 victory before a last minute equalizer against Everton. But points are points for Swansea and their keeper is doing his part.
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