EPL 2016/17: SK Turning Point, 7 moments/performances from Gameweek 23

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - JANUARY 31:  David Luiz of Chelsea celebrates scoring the opening goal during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Chelsea at Anfield on January 31, 2017 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
David Luiz’s quick and surprising free-kick gave Chelsea an early lead at Anfield

Chelsea were held to a draw by Liverpool at Anfield but the Blues continue to comfortably lead the table with a cushion of nine points over their closest rivals Tottenham Hotspur. Spurs dropped two points at the Stadium of Light while Arsenal were subjected to a 2-1 defeat by Watford at the Emirates.

Manchester City were the only team in the top six to secure all three points as they completed a whitewash of Slaven Bilic’s West Ham. The Red Devils, on the other hand, were held to a draw at Old Trafford by an inspired Hull City.

Also read: EPL 2016/17: 10 things we learned from Gameweek 23

Swansea beat Southampton at the Liberty while Burnley snatched victory in injury time against defending champions Leicester City. Middlesbrough and West Brom played out a 1-1 draw and the full-time scoreline at the Britannia stadium read the same after Everton’s visit to the Potters. Sam Allardyce’s first win at Crystal Palace came against Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth side.

In this article, we take a look at the best/worst performances, along with players and moments that proved to be turning points in their games.

#1 Best goal: Gylfi Sigurdsson

Match: Swansea vs. Southampton

SWANSEA, WALES - JANUARY 31:  Gylfi Sigurdsson of Swansea City celebrates scoring his sides second goal during the Premier League match between Swansea City and Southampton at Liberty Stadium on January 31, 2017 in Swansea, Wales.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Sigurdsson celebrates after scoring the winner for Swansea

By now, Swansea must have lost count of the number of occasions this man has saved or won games for them. He single-handedly fashions opportunities, scores goals and also helps out the defence.

Against the visiting Saints, it was from Sigurdsson’s corner that the home side took a lead.

After Shane Long had levelled affairs at the Liberty, Swansea turned to their man once again and he did not disappoint.

After a cleared corner, Swansea broke away with pace through Narsingh, helped by Jack Cork and Tom Carroll, before Narsingh delivered a cross that lacked in height and power.Sigurdsson, though, ran the entire length of the pitch and volleyed it home in style to score the winner.

Honourable mentions: David Luiz (vs. Liverpool), Alex Iwobi (vs. Watford), Kevin De Bruyne (vs. West Ham)

#2 Defensive bedrock: Eldin Jakupovic

Match: Manchester United vs. Hull City

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 01:  Eldin Jakupovic of Hull City celebrates after the Premier League match between Manchester United and Hull City at Old Trafford on February 1, 2017 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Jakupovic was Hull’s Man-of-the-Match against Manchester United

This game may have ended in a goalless stalemate but visitors Hull City have their goalkeeper’s outstanding efforts to thank for it. Jakupovic was in superb form at the Theatre of Dreams and made a number of saves to keep his side in the game and United’s attackers at bay.

He pawed off and held on to efforts from Pogba, Ibrahimovic, Rojo and Rashford but the best save was made on the line off Juan Mata’s strike.

Fans in the house were almost on their feet to celebrate what they thought was a goal but realised that the visitors’ man between the posts had still not been beaten; Hull’s defence was impregnable and it remained so throughout the night.

Honourable mentions: Scott Dann (vs. AFC Bournemouth), Simon Mignolet (vs. Chelsea), David Luiz (vs. Liverpool), Bacary Sagna (vs. West Ham), Ben Foster (vs. Middlesbrough)

#3 Standout player: Étienne Capoue

Match: Arsenal vs. Watford

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 31: Etienne Capoue of Watford goes past Shkodran Mustafi of Arsenal during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Watford at Emirates Stadium on January 31, 2017 in London, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Capoue tormented Arsenal throughout the game

From one of the worst/most ineffective players on our list only a few weeks ago, the Frenchman has made a turnaround and how!

Capoue was at the centre of every good Watford move as the Hornets wrested the advantage from the home side. His runs were difficult to spot and the Gunners couldn’t keep up with the man; it was also as a result of his quick thinking, vision and effort that Mazzari’s side scored the second goal within minutes of taking an early lead.

Capoue was relentless in his pursuit of the Londoners’ attack, winning second balls and setting up the tempo for Watford moves.

Honourable mentions: David Silva and Raheem Sterling (vs. West Ham), Eldin Jakupovic (vs. Manchester United), Jordan Henderson (vs. Chelsea), Adama Traore (vs. West Brom)

#4 Best team performance(s): Manchester City

STRATFORD, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 01:  Yaya Toure of Manchester City celebrates scoring his team's fourth goal with Leroy Sane during the Premier League match between West Ham United and Manchester City at London Stadium on February 1, 2017 in Stratford, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Guardiola’s proteges swept aside the Londoners

Pep Guardiola has had to face some flak in recent times for his side’s performances but he can certainly be proud of the Citizens’ performance against the Hammers during midweek.

Their first league win came a month to the day they beat Sean Dyche’s side at the Etihad.

David Silva pulled the strings for Manchester City while strong performances from Leroy Sane, Kevin De Bruyne, Bacary Sagna and Raheem Sterling saw off Slaven Bilic’s side with ease.

Manchester City put four past the hapless Hammers as Silva and De Bruyne both got on the score-sheet before Gabriel Jesus scored his debut goal. Their fourth was a penalty – Yaya Toure scored from the spot with minimum fuss after Jose Fonte felled Sterling in the box.

Honourable mentions: Burnley, Swansea, Crystal Palace

#5 Worst/most ineffective player(s): Jose Fonte

Match: West Ham vs. Manchester City

STRATFORD, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 01: Jose Fonte of West Ham United and Leroy Sane of Manchester City in action during the Premier League match between West Ham United and Manchester City at London Stadium on February 1, 2017 in Stratford, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Jose Fonte had a thoroughly forgettable debut for the Hammers against the Citizens

The former Saints captain had a debut to forget as West Ham played host to Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City. Fonte was beaten often by tricks and flicks, and he also made a clumsy challenge in the second half on Raheem Sterling in the box which led to a penalty for the visitors.

The centre-back, who has been solid at the heart of the Saints defence, appeared to be unnerved and uncertain of his surroundings and was often caught out.

Honourable mentions: Jamie Vardy (vs. Burnley), Simon Francis (vs. Crystal Palace), Roberto Firmino (vs. Chelsea), Mason Holgate (vs. Stoke City)

#6 Unlucky miss(es)

(a) Lazar Markovic (vs. Manchester United)

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 01: Lazar Markovic of Hull City hits the post during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Hull City at Old Trafford on February 1, 2017 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Hull City could have gotten all three points at Old Trafford, if only Markovic’s strike had gone in

The Serbian winger, on loan at the Tigers from Liverpool, had a fantastic opportunity to silence Old Trafford late on in the game when set free on goal.

His effort from just within the box came off the inside of the post and United and De Gea were left thanking their stars; the keeper did not anticipate the strike and was left rooted on the far side. If not for the sticks, Hull City could have walked away with all three points!

(b) Lucas Perez (vs. Watford)

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 31: Lucas Perez of Arsenal hits the bar during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Watford at Emirates Stadium on January 31, 2017 in London, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Perez’s shot came off the crossbar, denying the Gunners an equaliser

With Arsenal trailing by two goals at one stage, Iwobi’s strike from Sanchez’s cross gave them a glimmer of hope.

When Perez was brought on, he instantly had an impact upfront with a thunderous strike – only for it to come off the crossbar. It is a miracle the bar saw off the effort, for the shot was so powerful and well-placed that the bar shook for seconds after the ball had gone over.

It was quite unlucky for the Gunners, though, as the goal would have at least fetched them a point. It would not have been the ideal situation to be in during a home game but a point gained is still better than three points lost.

(c) Wilfried Zaha (vs. AFC Bournemouth)

BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - JANUARY 31: Wilfried Zaha of Crystal Palace shoots at goal during the Premier League match between AFC Bournemouth and Crystal Palace at Vitality Stadium on January 31, 2017 in Bournemouth, England.  (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
Wilfried Zaha attempts a shot against Bournemouth

Zaha’s pace and trickery were on show against the Cherries and he was unfortunate to not cap off a splendid performance with a goal.

His shot may not have been perfect but the timing and placement were commendable while under pressure. However, the goalpost had other ideas and the strike simply came off it, denying the player and Palace a fine goal.

#7 Controversial decisions

BURNLEY, ENGLAND - JANUARY 31:  Burnley players celebrate their first goal by Sam Vokes (obscured) during the Premier League match between Burnley and Leicester City at Turf Moor on January 31, 2017 in Burnley, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Sam Vokes’ goal appeared to have come after a slight touch from the hand

(a) Referee Mike Dean failed to notice Danny Drinkwater’s push on Michael Keane as the latter jumped to win a header in the box from a set piece. It should have been a foul and therefore, a penalty to the hosts but the official would have none of it.

Dean also brushed off an incident where Robert Huth all but caught Andre Gray by the shoulders and blocked him, trying to deny the Burnley man entry into the six-yard box.

Burnley’s Sam Vokes scored a goal in injury time to snatch victory for the Clarets at Turf Moor, however, replays show the ball may have clipped his hand before nestling in the back of the net.

(b) Nacho Monreal was booked by referee Andre Marriner for simulation against Walter Mazzari’s Hornets but the call looked harsh. Incessant rains in London had caused the pitch to become slippery and Monreal just lost his footing. While any claims of a penalty can be silenced, there was not enough cynical intent in the Arsenal defender’s actions to warrant a booking.

(c) Jack Rodwell could have seen red for a careless and heavy tackle on Spurs’ Moussa Dembele just over half an hour into the game. Given the end result, a man off could have opened things up for Pochettino’s men and they would definitely be feeling hard done by right now.

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Edited by Staff Editor
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