Premier League Table 2013 Week 10: Examining Clubs That Wasted Big Opportunities
The English Premier League has produced its fair share of surprises this season, and that continued on Saturday as there were a number of eye-opening results. While perennial powerhouses such as Manchester City and Manchester United were able to pull off convincing victories, not everyone was quite as lucky.
Each and every week is of the utmost importance in the EPL, as one misstep can change things significantly. It appears as though there are several teams with the potential to win it all this year, and that simply hasn't always been the case in recent years.
With that said, here is the full EPL table after Saturday's slate of games, along with a closer look at which teams missed golden opportunities to improve their league standing:
Chelsea entered Saturday tied with Liverpool in the standings and just two points behind table-leading Arsenal. Most figured that the Blues would have little trouble taking care of lowly Newcastle, but that simply wasn't the case.
Neither team could get much going in the first half, and Chelsea's offensive futility carried into the second half. The Magpies came alive, however, as midfielder Yoan Gouffran and forward Loic Remy both netted huge markers. The end result was a 2-0 win for Newcastle in front of the home faithful at St James' Park.
While it was a great win for Newcastle, the main headlines relate to Chelsea's shortcomings. The Blues had been having a solid season, but now experts have to be wondering what plagues them. Truth be told, this type of slip-up hasn't been atypical for Chelsea in recent seasons. According to Jeff Borzello of CBSSports.com, Chelsea simply aren't very good in November:
Including today's match, Chelsea has won just three of its last 14 November matches.— Jeff Borzello (@jeffborzello) November 2, 2013
Chelsea got the better of the possession battle, as they held the ball 61 percent of the time, but they couldn't turn that into attacking opportunities. Chelsea mustered only two shots on goal as opposed to Newcastle's eight, and that ended up being the difference.
Newcastle have now put themselves in a tie for ninth place, which is something few expected. Chelsea could have found themselves all alone in second at the very least had they taken care of business, but it wasn't to be.
Few teams have exceeded expectations as much as Southampton this season, as they entered the day ahead of teams such as Manchester City and Manchester United. While Southampton didn't experience a disastrous result like Chelsea, they definitely wish they could have this one back.
Southampton traveled to Britannia Stadium to take on Stoke City, who is currently fighting to avoid relegation. Southampton should have won by all rights, but Stoke were able to battle their way to a draw.
While earning a draw on the road can be forgiven even against the worst clubs, the manner in which it happened has to chap Southampton fans. The Saints found themselves down 1-0 within the first minute, as Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic netted a shocking goal on a length-of-the-pitch drive as seen here:
It's obviously extremely rare for a goalkeeper to score, as evidenced by the fact that Begovic became just the fifth EPL goalkeeper to ever accomplish the feat, according to OptaJoe:
5 - Asmir Begovic is the fifth goalkeeper to score a goal in the Premier League (Schmeichel, Howard, Friedel, Robinson). Elite.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) November 2, 2013
Southampton were able to even the score late in the first half, as midfielder Jay Rodriguez buried a header, but Begovic's goal loomed large in the draw. This type of result would be fine for Southampton most years, but if the Saints are truly going to contend for a Champions League spot, these are the types of matches that they absolutely must win.
Which team squandered the biggest opportunity on Saturday?
Perhaps it seems silly to suggest that a team struggling as badly as Sunderland missed an opportunity on Saturday, but then again, the Black Cats don't get many chances to move up in the standings.
They certainly had a tough task in front of them as they clashed with Hull City on the road at KC Stadium, but they could have easily mustered a draw or even a victory had they not shot themselves in the foot with a multitude of silly mistakes throughout the match.
It all started in the 25th minute as Sunderland defender Carlos Jimenez Cuellar netted an own goal, which put Sunderland behind the eight ball. While the Black Cats hung in there and kept battling, they ruined their chances of a comeback late in the first half.
Both Lee Cattermole and Andrea Dossena were issued red cards in stoppage time, so Sunderland were forced to play with just nine men for an entire half, according to BBC Sport:
Sunderland have two players sent off in a 1-0 defeat at Hull, their eighth loss in 10 league games http://t.co/9aDtmE5h8e— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) November 2, 2013
Sunderland deserve some credit for holding Hull off the scoreboard the rest of the way, but moral victories stop meaning something at a certain point. Sunderland now find themselves just one point ahead of last-place Crystal Palace, so they are in a precarious position to say the least.
Sunderland need to figure out a way to pick up some points, and if not for a comedy of errors, at least one was there for the taking on Saturday. Instead, the squad is left wondering what could have been yet again.
Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter.
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