In this week’s edition of the 5iver, Desh Partharb takes a look at Riyaad Mahrez’s unbelievable form, Eddie Nketiah’s restored confidence and influence and more from the Premier League
There is nothing like the English Premier League.
We were treated to not 1 but 2 of the biggest derby matches during the past weekend. Pep Guardiola arrived at Old Trafford with an unrecognisable City team that had netted just 9 league goals across their preceding 6 league outings.
Despite that, the Citizens opened the scoring but a quickfire United double during the final 15 minutes meant the town was painted RED. Similarly, Arsenal did the double over their local rivals when Mikel Arteta earned his first league victory over Spurs at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium – albeit on his fourth attempt.
Like Arteta, Brighton boss De Zerbi has certainly caught the eye for the right reasons. Since his appointment, only the current top 2 and Newcastle have outscored the Seagulls (24). Following back to back league victories against the Merseyside duo (by an aggregate scoreline of 7-1), his team now hover just outside the top four spots.
The East Midlands rivalry between Leicester and Nottingham Forest went the way of the home side thanks to a Brennan Johnson second half brace. Steve Coopers chargers have lost just one of their previous 6 league fixtures and could add some more distance between themselves and the relegation zone when they square up against Bournemouth this weekend.
Alas, here are my picks ahead of the final matchday of January 2023.
New Reds man Gakpo will come good
Liverpool have scored just 4 goals across their 4 fixtures since the turn of the year, across all competitions. The Merseyside club have bolstered their front line with the addition of Cody Gakpo. The Dutch international is yet to provide an attacking return in a Reds shirt but will have every chance to do so when they welcome a limping Chelsea outfit to Anfield this weekend. The 23-year-old shone at the World Cup, netting in each of Netherlands’ group stage fixtures, indicating that he is a big game player.
James Ward-Prowse strikes again, puts the Saints ahead!
Nathan Jones was still searching for his first point as Southampton boss before a James Ward-Prowse double over the Toffees at Goodison Park saw him emerge with all 3! The midfield maestro has now bagged 4 goals across his previous 4 league appearances and could add to his tally when the Saints host Aston Villa. Ward-Prowse has attempted 10 shots, created 9 chances and registered 29 crosses during that period, so keep an eye out for him.
Mahrez silences the boos!
Riyad Mahrez has been at his silky best for Manchester City. Across his previous 3 league starts, the Algerian wideman has bagged 2 goals (from his 6 shots) and 2 assists (from his 8 chances created). That stint included a superb solo goal in their come from behind victory against Tottenham Hotspur and I back him to follow that up with another against Wolves.
Nketiah enjoying sensational goal-scoring form
Eddie Nketiah is about to tighten the Gunner’s grip on the Premier League trophy. The striker is part of a team that have netted in all but one of their 18 league outings this season. Nketiah’s 4 league starts this season have come in Arsenal’s previous 4 league outings where he has returned 2 goals from his 13 shots. Despite this, he could have added to his tally as seen by his 2 big chances missed. The current table toppers play 3 of their next 4 league fixtures on home soil – watch this space.
‘Sharp’ Arsenal target Mitoma proving his worth
Kaoru Mitoma is the latest gem to be unearthed by Brighton & Hove Albion. The wideman has been tearing up Premier League defences of late including that of Liverpool, Everton and Arsenal in recent weeks. Against those topflight clubs, the Japan international bagged a brace (from 7 shots) and missed 2 big chances. Mitoma & Co travel to the King Power Stadium where Leicester have lost their previous 3 league fixtures – failing to find the back of the net on each instance.