Reshaping Arsenal: Life after Alexis Sanchez
The much bigger change waiting to happen at Arsenal
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Heading to 2018, the Premier League could be set for the most exciting title fight in its history, but of course, there's a problem. A pretty big one. Manchester City now holds a 15-point advantage over the rest of the pack. Behind them, there are five teams within six points. Here are five notes from Gameweek 20.
1. Kane, the record breaker
As noted, Harry Kane had a chance to cap off 2017 with a historical achievement, and he duly delivered. The Tottenham striker scored his second consecutive hat-trick to break Alan Shearer's record of most Premier League goals in a calendar year. He only needed one goal to pass the former Blackburn Rovers and Newcastle star, but when you're going to break a record, then why not do it in style?
Kane also became the first Premier League player ever to record six hat-tricks in a calendar year and overall, he now has eight three-goal efforts to his name. Only Shearer and Robbie Fowler (both 11) have more Premier League hat-tricks.
The eighth hat-trick across all competitions in 2017 also helped Kane become the player with most goals for club and country in the top European leagues, passing Lionel Messi by two goals.
Though, the Barcelona star wasn't left empty-handed in 2017. Kane failed to reach him and Edinson Cavani in club goals across all competitions.
Kane was left ruining his luck. He's hit the woodwork with six attempts this season. Twice as many as the next “best” players on the list.
The scary thing is that Kane is still only 24 and according to Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino still a few years away from his prime. He'll be peaking just at the right time when Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo will wrap up their careers. Looks like England is set to have their 5th Ballon d'Or winner soon.
2. Tom Ince finally got his goal
Even with all the shots cannoning off the woodwork Kane isn't the unluckiest player in the Premier League. Far from it. That title should go to Tom Ince.
Ince was one of the stars of the Championship last season, getting 14 goals and six assists for Derby County. A £8 million move to Premier League new boys Huddersfield followed, but he's found it tough at the top level.
The former England U21 international hadn't scored a single goal before Gameweek 20. Not that he wasn't trying. He was the player with the most shots without a goal before finally getting his first of the season on Tuesday. In total, it took Ince 45 efforts to open his account, prompting wild celebrations from dad Paul on live-TV in the process.
Ince has played the third most minutes at Huddersfield among outfield players, but he's been quite ineffective. Considering the big price tag and previous form, one goal and no assists with half a season gone is not good enough. But maybe 2018 will be more kind to him.
Huddersfield, who own the fifth-worst attacking record in the league, could certainly use another goal threat, who's capable of getting on the scoresheet himself, while also creating for others.
Funnily enough, back in 2014, Ince scored his first Premier League goal with his first ever shot.
3. Everybody and their mother scoring for Watford
Watford broke a bad run with a nice 2-1 result at home against an improved Leicester side. Marco Silva's team was winless in six and had lost four straight before a Kasper Schmeichel own goal helped them to three points. Molla Wague had gotten the first one for the Hornets at the stroke of half-time. The Mali defender is the 13th different Watford scorer this season. It's the best mark in the league.
It's been quite a turnaround. In previous Premier League seasons, Watford has relied heavily on Odion Ighalo and Troy Deeney to get some goals, and that has lead to them being among the lowest scoring sides in the league. They got 40 goals during the whole of last season. This time around, they already have 29.
French midfielder Abdoulaye Doucoure, who scored only once during his debut season in England, is the top scorer with seven goals. Summer signing Richarlison has six.
The offense is flowing even though Andre Gray has been a disappointment since arriving from Burnley in the summer. Silva spent a club record fee £18.3 million to sign him, but Gray has scored only twice so far.
4. City can't lose, West Brom can't win
Man City picked up their 18th consecutive win against Newcastle, matching an English top flight record with 11 straight away wins. With over a half a season gone, Pep Guardiola's side still hasn't lost a single league game and the chances of going unbeaten through the whole season are growing with each Gameweek. At the other end of the league table, it's the opposite with West Brom.
WBA started the season great, winning both of their first two games, but to this day, these have remained as their only wins this season. Alan Pardew's men managed to record a credible point against a hot Everton side, getting a 0-0 draw, but the Baggies still probably felt disappointed after the match.
They played very well against Everton, recording 17 shots through the match, but in the end, that doesn't offer much joy to the team that's now winless for 18 games. It's the worst run in the Premier League since August 2015 and January 2016, when Aston Villa went 19 matches without a win.
There's a strong chance West Brom will equal Villa's streak as they face Arsenal next. There's also a good chance they will pass the 19-game mark as 2018 starts at the London Stadium for them against West Ham, who have lost only one of their last five league outings.
Pardew started well at the club, avoiding defeat in three of his first four matches in charge, but at the moment, not losing games doesn't help them much anymore. The team badly needs some wins to stay in touching distance with the safety zone.
5. South Coast shambles
West Brom's winless streak is in a league of its own, but the miserable runs of Southampton and Bournemouth also deserve a mention. Both are winless in seven and Southampton has won just once in their last 11. Bournemouth is in the relegation zone with 17 points and the Saints aren't far away from it either, sitting on 19.
Southampton currently has the edge, but actually, it does look like their board should be worrying more. As expected, Virgil van Dijk's time at the South Coast is over, and they'll have a world-record fee to invest in the January transfer window, but by the look of it, manager Mauricio Pellegrino has to buy a totally new starting XI to get things going again.
The 5-2 defeat to Tottenham on Tuesday was only the second game since returning to the Premier League in 2012 in which Southampton conceded over four goals. The team has been known as a solid defensive unit and it was even only the eighth time since returning when they gave up more than three. Basically, the team has lost its identity and isn't responding the right way to Pellegrino anymore.
The league position is a worry for Bournemouth, but compared to their neighbors, things do look a lot better. The team showed great character to get a point against West Ham after blowing a 2-1 lead in the final ten minutes. Even though it was raining cats and dogs, the players fought right until the end and were playing for the manager. The same currently doesn't apply to Southampton.