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Soccer Insights – Jan Vol. 2

With the exception of the Bundesliga, all major European leagues are back following the winter break and there were plenty of big games, surprise results and stunning goals for fans to enjoy. Not to mention a selfie celebration from Francesco Totti!

Premier League

Arsenal 3-0 Stoke
Burnley 2-1 QPR
Chelsea 2-0 Newcastle
Crystal Palace 2-1 Tottenham
Everton 1-1 Manchester City
Leicester 1-0 Aston Villa
Manchester United 0-1 Southampton
Sunderland 0-1 Liverpool
Swansea 1-1 West Ham
West Brom 1-0 Hull

1. Chelsea 49pts
2. Man City 47pts
3. Southampton 39pts
4. Man United 37pts
5. Arsenal 36pts

Talking points
• Manchester United failed to muster a single shot on target as their 10-match unbeaten run came to an end. The Saints have beaten Arsenal and Man United in their last two games – could they really achieve a top four spot this season?
• Tottenham’s inconsistency struck again as they followed up their sensational win against Chelsea with defeat at Selhurst Park. It was the perfect debut for new Palace Manager Alan Pardew.
• Alexis Sanchez scored two and set up one in Arsenal’s comfortable win over Stoke. The Chilean has been involved in more goals than any other player in the EPL this season, with 12 goals and seven assists.

La Liga
La Liga

Almeria 0-2 Sevilla
Athletic Bilbao 1-2 Elch
Barcelona 3-1 Atletico Madrid
Celta Vigo 1-1 Valencia
Eibar 2-1 Getafe
Granada 1-1 Real Sociedad
Levante 0-0 Deportivo
Malaga 1-1 Villarreal
Rayo Vallecano 0-1 Cordoba
Real Madrid 3-0 Espanyol

1. Real Madrid 42pts
2. Barcelona 41pts
3. Atletico Madrid 38pts
4. Sevilla 36pts
5. Valencia 35pts

Talking points
• Barcelona put a troubled week behind them with an impressive win over Atletico to ease the pressure on Luis Enrique. Leo Messi showed no signs of unhappiness with one goal and two assists.
• There was a rare occurrence as Ronaldo didn’t score in Madrid’s win; however, he can console himself with a second straight Ballon d’Or triumph.
• James Rodriguez was on the scoresheet for Los Blancos, and he also picked up an award at FIFA’s ceremony, securing the Puskas award for best goal thanks to his volley against Uruguay at the World Cup.

Serie A

Atalanta 1-1 Chievo
Cagliari 2-1 Cesena
Fiorentina 4-3 Palermo
Inter 3-1 Genoa
Napoli 1-3 Juventus
Roma 2-2 Lazio
Sampdoria 1-0 Empoli
Sassuolo 1-1 Udinese
Torino 1-1 AC Milan
Verona 3-1 Parma

1. Juventus 43pts
2. Roma 40pts
3. Lazio 31pts
4. Napoli 30pts
5. Sampdoria 30pts

Talking points
• Roma lost ground on Juve but can be happy with a draw after they came from two behind in the derby against Lazio. The talismanic Francesco Totti scored both Roma goals, and celebrated the second by taking a selfie with the fans.
• Juventus claimed a first win at Napoli for 15 years as they avenged their Super Cup defeat and reaffirmed their position as favourites for the Scudetto.
• Inter Milan won their first home game since the return of Roberto Mancini, and will be hopeful of a strong second half to the season after a useful January transfer window where they have already added Lukas Podolski and Xherdan Shaqiri.

Ligue 1

Bastia 4-2 PSG
Evian 1-1 Rennes
Guingamp 2-0 Lens
Lille 1-0 Caen
Lyon 3-0 Toulouse
Monaco 0-0 Bordeaux
Montpellier 2-1 Marseille
Nantes 0-0 Metz
Nice 3-1 Lorient
Reims 1-2 St Etienne

1. Lyon 42pts
2. Marseille 41pts
3. St Etienne 39pts
4. PSG 38pts
5. Monaco 33pts

Talking points
• The undoubted shock of the weekend came as Bastia, who started the day in the bottom three, beat PSG. Even more shocking was that PSG had raced into a two goal lead after just 20 minutes.
• Lyon are the new leaders of what might be the most exciting title race in Europe after they took advantage of Marseille’s loss on Friday with a comfortable win over Toulouse.
• St Etienne are a surprise package in the hunt for the Ligue 1 crown, and are up to third after extending their unbeaten run to 11 games.

What to look out for next week

• Premier League – Two of the heavyweights clash on Sunday at the Etihad as Man City host Arsenal.
• La Liga – Real Madrid have a tricky fixture to negotiate against city rivals Getafe on Sunday.
• Serie A – A big game in the race for Champions League qualification sees Lazio at home to Napoli on Sunday.
• Ligue 1 – Laurent Blanc will be desperate for a win to ease the pressure at PSG, and they should get it at home to Evian.
• Asian Cup – The tournament kicked off on Jan 9th, with host nation Australia one of the favourites for the title.
• Africa Cup of Nations – The AFCON gets underway this Saturday, without defending champions Nigeria after they failed to qualify.

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Greg Bortkiewicz