Winners and losers from Matchday 11 in Premier League

Craig Forrest, Danny Dichio and James Sharman take a look at the life of Leicester City owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha.

Matchday 11 concluded with Manchester City all alone atop the Premier League table thanks to a convincing win over Southampton on Sunday, coupled with Liverpool dropping points to Arsenal.

That opens up a two-point gap between City, Liverpool and Chelsea, with the latter two locked up in a tie for second after the weekend.

At the bottom of the table, Newcastle United and Huddersfield Town earned their first victories of the campaign, with the Magpies out of the relegation zone on goal difference.

Here are four winners and four losers from Matchday 11 in the Premier League.

WINNERS

Leicester City

It was a very emotional afternoon in Cardiff. Leicester City played its first match since the tragic death of owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha after his helicopter crashed outside the King Power Stadium on Oct. 27.

The match itself wasn’t very important, although Leicester managed to defeat Cardiff City 1-0 thanks to Demarai Gray, who dedicated his goal to Srivaddhanaprabha.

Pre-game, there was a small ceremony to honour Srivaddhanaprabha and the rest of the victims. The moment of silence was both chilling and heartwarming because of how well it was observed.

Less than 24 hours after the game, Leicester’s squad flew to Thailand to pay their respects to Srivaddhanaprabha at his funeral. It exemplifies just how much the Thai billionaire influenced everybody’s lives. Let’s hope his son, Aiyawatt, can carry his legacy.

Granit Xhaka

The pre-match storylines for the Liverpool-Arsenal match involved the two attacks, yet it was a midfielder who stole the show.

Granit Xhaka ended up leading by example. Despite facing a high-pressing Liverpool side, Xhaka exuded tranquility in the midfield. He maintained control, circulated the ball so Arsenal could keep possession, and progressed the play when the situation presented itself.

This led to Xhaka leading all players in passes (97), tackles (5) and ball recoveries (16).

As Arsenal develops under manager Unai Emery, so too will Xhaka, especially as he continues to build chemistry with Lucas Torreira in midfield.

The Aguero-Sterling combo

Manchester City took care of business by pummelling Southampton 6-1 and it was thanks in large part to Raheem Sterling.

The England international had two goals and two assists, which includes the cross to Sergio Aguero for his 150th Premier League goal.

Aguero became the ninth player in the Premier League era to accomplish the feat. Only Alan Shearer reached the milestone faster than the Argentine.

As for Sterling, some will point out that “it’s just Southampton.” Nevertheless, he was unplayable on the day. He led City in shots (4), take-ons (5) and was level with Aguero in chances created (3). A complete performance for a special player.

Rafa Benitez

There was some chatter among English media on several mediums about Rafa Benitez and whether he should be under pressure if Newcastle United’s winless run to start the season continued.

Those conversations have subsided for now, which will aid Benitez for at least another week. However, even though Watford was held scoreless, expected goals dictates that the visitors should’ve been ahead at halftime.

Those concerns remain for Benitez, but at least the Magpies picked up a win. Perhaps that could help kickstart some momentum heading into the holidays.

LOSERS

Roberto Firmino

None of Liverpool’s front three were at their best, but it was surprising that Roberto Firmino was ineffective.

Firmino has been recently deployed as a No. 10 behind another forward such as Daniel Sturridge or Xherdan Shaqiri, yet he was back in a false nine role on Saturday. It could also be a symptom of a change in tactics this season.

It certainly wasn’t as relentless of a performance from Firmino, though. Even manager Jurgen Klopp was visibly frustrated with his centre forward, particularly the distribution in the first half.

Firmino also lost all nine of his defensive duels, which is very uncommon. The slight change in position might be affecting the Brazilian’s mentality, so it might take a couple of weeks to adjust to two different roles.

Burnley defence

Burnley’s defensive woes continued in a 4-2 defeat to West Ham United. It was the third straight match that the Clarets allowed at least 20 shots. It’s understandable against Manchester City and Chelsea, but a significantly different story versus West Ham.

Only Fulham have allowed more goals than Burnley’s 25, who is now bottom of the xGA (expected goals against) table, via Understat.com.

Conceding 20 shots in a match isn’t the worst trend, as long as the attempts are from distance and the attack is clinical. This isn’t the case with Burnley, and it might lead to relegation if manager Sean Dyche fails to shake this negative trend.

Watford attack

Sometimes a team will dominate a match, generate the chances, but can’t convert. That happens.

Watford had plenty of opportunities to pull ahead against Newcastle, but the forwards were either too hesitant to shoot or were far too rushed when they forayed into the box.

Most worrying for Watford is its current form. The Hornets have only picked up two wins in their last seven league games after beginning the season undefeated. Logic dictates that the clinical conversion will return, but for now, manager Javi Gracia has to be nervous.

Fulham’s chance creation

Fulham’s defence has been its downfall for several weeks. Now the attack has drastically declined and that was on full display against Huddersfield Town on Monday.

The Cottagers finished the first half without a single shot. This was likely due to Slavisa Jokanovic being wary of Huddersfield’s counter-attack, which meant a deeper defensive line and slightly less possession.

However, when Fulham took initiative in the second half, the shot selection was woeful, as was the distribution in the final third. The attack almost halted as soon as the ball approached the box.

Coming into Monday’s game, Fulham was fourth-bottom in xG in the Premier League with 10.78, according to Understat.com. With the quality of midfielders and forwards in the side, that should not be the case.

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