Teamwork makes the dream work

Arsenal, Newcastle on observe for glory in ’23

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It is 2023 and membership soccer is again with a bang! Newcastle United and Arsenal have underlined their Premier League title credentials with a collection of spectacular performances, whereas in LaLiga one of many Qatar World Cup‘s most notorious characters was again within the highlight once more.

ESPN correspondents Julien Laurens, James Tyler, Mark Ogden and Sam Marsden break down the large stuff you must know in regards to the weekend.

Bounce to: Speaking factors | Finest targets | Groups in hassle | MVP of the Weekend

Speaking factors

Howe’s spectacular Toon turnaround

Newcastle fell in need of successful seven successive Premier League video games for the primary time since 1996 with Leeds United holding Eddie Howe’s workforce to a 0-0 draw at St James’ Park on Saturday, however the consequence was solely a minor glitch on the finish of an unimaginable 12 months for the membership.

On Jan 1, 2022, Newcastle have been second backside of the Premier League with 11 factors — and only one win — from 19 video games, however a 12 months on, they sit in third place and now harbour real hopes of qualifying for the Champions League, 19 years after final enjoying within the competitors.

– Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, extra (U.S.)

Newcastle’s resurgence underneath Howe is maybe greatest illustrated by the calendar 12 months desk for the Premier League in 2022. They collected 72 factors from 36 video games, with solely Manchester Metropolis (79), Liverpool and Arsenal (each 77) amassing extra factors between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31.

To go from relegation candidates to Champions League chasers in such a brief house of time is not distinctive — Leicester Metropolis gained the Premier League in 2016 after narrowly avoiding relegation in 2015 — however Newcastle’s turnaround has been past all expectations.

The funding from the membership’s new Saudi Arabia-backed house owners has clearly made a distinction, however Newcastle haven’t benefited from the sort of on the spot monetary transformation loved by Roman Abramovich’s Chelsea or Man Metropolis following Sheikh Mansour’s takeover in 2008.

Newcastle’s enchancment has largely been right down to Howe making under-performing gamers realise their potential, however they need to now maintain it going and 2023 could not begin a lot more durable than Tuesday’s go to to Arsenal. — Ogden



Steve Nicol expects Newcastle United to take care of their wonderful begin and problem for the Premier League’s prime 4.

Lahoz stars as Barca give up LaLiga lead

Referee Mateu Lahoz took the headlines as Barcelona have been pissed off by Espanyol in Saturday’s Catalan derby, drawing 1-1 to permit Actual Madrid to maneuver stage with them on the prime of LaLiga.

Officiating his first LaLiga sport since his controversial outing within the World Cup quarterfinal between Argentina and Netherlands, Lahoz handed out 15 yellow playing cards, despatched off two gamers and overturned a 3rd pink card after referring to the VAR.

– Marsden: Lahoz takes middle stage in Barca’s draw with Espanyol

Marcos Alonso had given Barca an early lead, however the sport boiled over after Lahoz awarded an Espanyol a 73rd minute penalty, resulting in 10 minutes of insanity.

Joselu transformed from the spot earlier than the playing cards began flying out, with Jordi Alba despatched off for Barca and Vinicius Souza for the away aspect. Espanyol’s Leandro Cabrera was additionally despatched off for an obvious stamp on Robert Lewandowski however the determination was reversed.

Barca coach Xavi Hernandez stated Lahoz “misplaced management” of the sport, however he didn’t blame him for the dropped factors, conceding that it was Barca’s fault that they had drawn the match.

It means the Blaugrana are actually stage with Madrid on the prime of LaLiga after a Karim Benzema double helped them see off Actual Valladolid on Friday. The striker has struggled with accidents this season — lacking the World Cup with France — however he could possibly be key within the title race within the second half of the marketing campaign — Marsden

Lens guarantee PSG begin 2023 with a loss

It was the proper conflict to open the brand new 12 months. Lens vs. Paris Saint-Germain, second vs. first, Franck Haise vs. Christophe Galtier — two French managers — head-to-head, depth vs. aptitude, collective power vs. Kylian “greatest participant on the planet” Mbappe, no Lionel Messi or Neymar however probably the greatest atmospheres on the planet on the Stade Bollaert. And it did not disappoint.

Lens put out a masterclass tactically to stop PSG from enjoying or creating probabilities, urgent them when wanted and shutting down the affect of Mbappe. The ways, along with the Lensois’ ordinary work-rate, depth, coronary heart and fixed motion proved an excessive amount of for Galtier’s aspect.

Seko Fofana, the Lens captain, Paris born and bred, was excellent, like all his teammates. They needed a win greater than the Parisians, who bought pissed off and have been too under their ordinary stage, particularly with out Messi and Neymar to have the ability to address every little thing their opponent threw at them.

PSG’s first defeat of the season goes to harm quite a bit even when they’re nonetheless 4 factors away from Lens. However for Lens, Sunday’s 3-1 victory will keep without end within the minds. — Laurens

New 12 months, standard Spurs

Simply when it appears as if Tottenham Hotspur are turning a nook, they flip in a efficiency that makes you marvel why you believed in them within the first place.

Sunday noticed Spurs ring within the new 12 months with a irritating 2-0 house defeat to Aston Villa that was each self-inflicted and absolutely deserved. After a primary half with loads of sterile possession and little to point out for it, Hugo Lloris fumbled a reasonably benign shot from distance, Ollie Watkins beat a torpid Eric Dier to the unfastened ball and squared it neatly for Emi Buendia to calmly open the scoring. You’d assume it could wake the house aspect up, however Harry Kane and Ivan Perisic each squandered good probabilities earlier than Villa’s greatest transfer of the day sliced Tottenham up the center. After Kane misplaced the ball cheaply contained in the Spurs half, some intelligent interaction by John McGinn and Douglas Luiz culminated in Luiz sending a shot past a flailing Lloris to make a secure lead nearly assured.

The defeat means Tottenham taken simply 4 factors from their final 4 league video games and have squandered any edge within the race for the highest 4, with Manchester United and Liverpool catching up having each gained twice within the league because the finish of the World Cup break. Antonio Conte claimed post-match that he wasn’t upset at proceedings — “From the beginning till the tip I’ve seen the fitting dedication, the fitting depth and want to get three factors” — however this workforce is limping into the January switch window with some clear wants, particularly a artistic playmaker in midfield, and no sense of whether or not or not they may exit and get it. You may wager their rivals will, although. — Tyler



Janusz Michallik sees Tottenham’s prime 4 hopes slipping away after defeat to Aston Villa.


Atletico’s Morata again with a bang

Atletico Madrid‘s World Cup stars returned in fashion as they moved again into the highest 4 with a 2-0 win towards all-time low Elche on Thursday, full with a high-quality particular person effort from Alvaro Morata.

Joao Felix and Antoine Griezmann did effectively for Portugal and France respectively in Qatar and so they mixed for the primary aim earlier than Morata’s strike sealed the win.

There appeared little hazard when he picked up a Griezmann go vast on the fitting, however he produced two sensible feints to beat two defenders earlier than his, admittedly closely deflected, shot discovered the again of the web.

After a cold and warm begin to the marketing campaign, coach Diego Simeone will hope this win can present the platform to a sustained run of kind within the New Yr — Marsden



Álvaro Morata aim 74th minute Atletico Madrid 2-0 Elche

Golovin, from Monaco with love

Aleksandr Golovin is simply that sort of participant, is not he? He’s able to the very best, as we noticed on Sunday, however usually — possibly too usually — nameless for 90 minutes and extra.

However when he’s on, he’s a really particular participant. And he was very a lot on towards Brest on the Stade Louis II this weekend. His magnificent aim simply after the break, with a stunning piece of ability on the sting of the field after which an exquisite strike on the highest nook, was decisive once more. It’s only his fourth aim of the season in 16 Ligue 1 video games. He additionally has 4 assists, and he may have added at the very least yet another on Sunday seeing how impressed he was with the ball.

We must always get pleasure from him and these sorts of performances once they come, however we will additionally bemoan the truth that he would not do it sufficient. Since becoming a member of AS Monaco in the summertime 2018, after a great World Cup, he has solely scored 20 targets in 153 appearances. However, at 26 years outdated, it’s not too late for Golovin to turn out to be extra constant and eventually get to the subsequent stage. His expertise definitely deserves it and Monaco have been ready lengthy sufficient for it now! — Laurens

Rashford responds in the fitting means

Marcus Rashford knew that each one eyes could be on him when he climbed off the substitute’s bench at half-time throughout Manchester United’s sport at Wolves on Saturday.

The 25-year-old had been surprisingly dropped by supervisor Erik ten Hag for “inner disciplinary causes” — it turned out that Rashford had overslept on the day of the sport and missed a workforce assembly — so the strain was on him to ship after Ten Hag had given him the prospect to make amends with the sport at 0-0.

Rashford made an on the spot influence, although, by including tempo and goal to United’s attacking play and he gained all three factors by scoring the one aim of the sport late within the second half.

Receiving the ball on the close to touchline, Rashford burst in direction of the penalty space, performed a one-two with Bruno Fernandes, after which beat goalkeeper Jose Sa with a cool end for his third aim in three video games since getting back from the World Cup.

It was the aim of a participant with numerous confidence, but in addition an enormous second as a result of his efficiency confirmed that he had reacted in the fitting technique to Ten Hag’s determination to drop him. — Ogden

Groups in hassle

Leicester Metropolis want some assist

The Foxes scored three targets on Friday at Anfield, however as a result of two of them have been personal targets transformed with equal elements aplomb and calamity by Wout Faes, Brendan Rodgers’ aspect suffered a second straight league defeat after the World Cup. It isn’t terminal, by any means — simply 10 factors separate eleventh place from twentieth — however Leicester are quickly shedding any margin for error. Towards Liverpool, they raced to a 1-0 lead inside 5 minutes after some nifty collaboration between Patson Daka and Kiernan Dewsbury-Corridor, however Faes’ ignominious double earlier than half-time put them in a gap they by no means seemed like clearing.

(And might we marvel at Faes for a second? The primary OG was a slapstick shank over Danny Ward when the goalkeeper had yelled loudly sufficient to assert the cross that everybody within the floor heard him however the Belgian defender. The second was the epitome of “life comes at you quick” as Darwin Nunez‘s emphatic shot pinged off the publish proper into Faes, who may solely bundle it into his personal internet.)

It is true they will not lose to a number of personal targets each week however, mixed with Boxing Day’s 3-0 house thrashing by Newcastle, Rodgers & Co. want a spark from someplace and it stays to be seen simply the place it is coming from. Jamie Vardy, lengthy the scorer of essential targets, has only one within the league this season from 17 video games. Daka, who had the help on Friday, has simply three in 16 appearances. It is merely not adequate, particularly as their protection is all the time liable to concede. Issues have been far too straightforward for Liverpool as soon as they took the lead earlier than half-time, however the subsequent month ought to give the Foxes each probability to recalibrate: video games towards Fulham, Nottingham Forest, Brighton and Aston Villa can allow them to get factors over potential relegation rivals earlier than a brutal February sees them face Tottenham, Manchester United and Arsenal in consecutive matchdays. — Tyler

Sampaoli’s Sevilla hunch continues

The World Cup break doesn’t appear to have modified Sevilla’s fortunes. Jorge Sampaoli’s aspect restarted with a 1-1 draw at Celta Vigo which leaves them within the relegation zone heading into 2023.

It may have been a lot worse, too, after Gabri Veiga gave Celta, who’re additionally in hassle themselves, a primary half lead. Kike Salas did draw Sevilla stage after the break, however they have been hanging on on the finish after Jose Angel Carmona was despatched off.

Sevilla completed fourth final 12 months and have been within the Champions League this season, so it’s outstanding that after 15 video games they continue to be within the backside three with simply two wins and 12 factors. Their performances can now not be put right down to only a blip in kind — Marsden

Weekend MVP

Odegaard displaying management with the Gunners

Erling Haaland is not the one Norway worldwide tearing it up within the Premier League this season — Arsenal captain Martin Odegaard can be having a huge effect and he may but assist his workforce win the title at Haaland and Manchester Metropolis’s expense.

The Gunners midfielder was as soon as billed as a possible world star, identical to Haaland, when he joined Actual Madrid as a 16-year-old.

– Olley: Arsenal celebrates the New Yr in fashion

However whereas his large transfer to the Santiago Bernabeu by no means fairly took off, Odegaard, now 24, is making up for misplaced time at Arsenal and his delivered the newest in a collection of massive performances throughout Saturday’s 4-2 win at Brighton.

Odegaard scored one and made one other for Gabriel Martinelli as Arsenal capitalised on Metropolis being held to a 1-1 draw by Everton to assert a victory which strikes them seven factors clear on the prime of the desk.

And Odegaard is essential to the way in which Mikel Arteta’s workforce play, along with his passing imaginative and prescient and rising management expertise making him one of many excellent gamers of the Premier League season to date.

When he was handed the captaincy final season by Arteta, Odegaard appeared too younger and inexperienced to emulate nice Arsenal captains equivalent to Tony Adams and Patrick Vieira, however he’s now displaying himself to be a worthy successor. — Ogden

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