Premier League review – Matchday 19
Thursday 26th December, 2019
Spurs 2 Brighton 1
Harry Kane was your man of the match by a clear margin. Kane has now been voted Spurs man of the match 6 times this season, and I can tell you he has just overtaken Son Heung-min in the player of the season stakes.
Aston Villa 1 Norwich 0
Norwich slipped to the very bottom of the table after this defeat. The win was of course crucial for Villa, but they remain in the bottom three. It was Norwich who showed the early threat with Pukki being closed down by two defenders before Byram headed down and the ball bounced up onto the Villa bar following a corner. The closest Villa came to scoring in the first half was when El Ghazi turned a ball wide of the keeper’s left post.
Douglas Luiz made a great goal-line block from a second half shot by Tettey and Heaton made a good save from Trybull’s header. Grealish forced a diving save by Tim Krul before Byram headed wide back across the goalmouth following Aarons’ cross. Hourihane came off the bench and secured the points with a 64th minute goal (a left footed strike just inside the area) after good work by Grealish. Heaton made another excellent save from a powerful Hernandez shot and the points were secured.
Bournemouth 1 Arsenal 1
Arsenal continue their time in the bottom half of the Premier League and not for the first time this season were in the bottom half of Match of the Day too! The focus was very much on new coach Mikel Arteta.
Bournemouth (still deeply weakened by injuries) took a 35th minute lead when Stacey cut the ball back from the bye-line and Gosling fired home from close range. Aubameyang had had several chances, including one in the first half when goalkeeper Ramsdale had snatched the ball off his feet, and a curler which passed just over the bar in the second half. The Arsenal striker did score after 63 minutes when what looked like an intended shot by Nelson was deflected and fell to his feet where he scored from 8 yards out.
Lacazette pulled a shot wide when he was through on goal. Harry Wilson’s shot was saved by Leno and when Callum Wilson turned the rebound into the net, the offside flag was correctly raised. In added time, Arsenal broke forward and Lacazette won possession when he closed a player down, feeding the ball to Willock whose shot was held comfortably by Ramsdale.
Arsenal’s next two league games are at home to Chelsea and Manchester United, before they host Leeds in the FA Cup.
Chelsea 0 Southampton 2
Chelsea fell to a third home defeat in four Premier League games and their fifth defeat in seven league games in all. It is most upsetting that one of their two wins was at Tottenham, and that despite their run the “Blues” remain in the top four. For Southampton this was a massive result. It was a second consecutive win and puts them three points clear of the bottom three. The result was perhaps all the more remarkable when you consider that top goalscorer Danny Ings was held back on the bench for 69 minutes.
19-year-old Michael Obafemi started in Ings’ place and gave the “Saints” a 31st minute lead with a terrific left footed shot to the right of Arrizabalaga after a Southampton break down the right wing and a very good pass by Hojbjerg. It was Obafemi’s first league goal of the season and only his second Premier League goal with the previous hit coming a year ago against Huddersfield.
Azpilicueta met a Willian corner with a dangerous flick, but McCarthy managed to push the ball clear. Lampard abandoned his back three formation and Abraham hit the side netting with an early shot in the second half. Redmond got inside Rudiger and hit a low cross to the back post which Adams was just unable to reach. Arrizabalaga had to make a good save from Redmond after a decent Southampton build-up.
Redmond made it 2-0 in the 73rd minute after another very good move by the visiting team. Armstrong got the better of Rudiger on the left of Chelsea’s area and chipped a pass to Redmond who dinked the ball over the advancing Chelsea keeper in front of the overjoyed away fans.
Southampton had defended very well to prevent Chelsea from scoring. Goalkeeper McCarthy made a good save to push over a late free kick by substitute Mason Mount. The “Saints” are likely to offer stern opposition to Spurs when they go to St Mary’s on New Year’s Day.
Crystal Palace 2 West Ham 1
This game was won by a sensational late goal by Jordan Ayew which left West Ham floundering only one point clear of the drop zone. The “Hammers”’ game in hand is against Liverpool and their next game is at home to Leicester.
Ayew had missed a good chance early in the game after a dazzling Zaha run had left the veteran Zabaleta and West Ham skipper Mark Noble in his wake. His ball was returned into the area by Meyer, but Ayew could not get the right touch on the ball.
West Ham took a 57th minute lead through Robert Snodgrass’s left foot shot hit to the right of Guaita. Antonio had been the provider and had forced a save by the Palace keeper in the first half. Kouyate equalised against his old club after 68 minutes. McArthur had crossed from the left of the area, and Ayew had touched the ball to the feet of Kouyate, who scored his first Palace goal.
Snodgrass had another goal bound shot well blocked by Palace substitute Riedewald before the late winner. Ayew had received the ball out on the right from another Palace substitute Connor Wickham before running past three defenders across the outside of the area, leaving Rice trailing with a clever reverse spin. Ayew then beat two West Ham defenders inside the box before a delightful finish over keeper Roberto.
West Ham’s highlight of Christmas might have been the sighting of Noble’s number 16 shirt in the special episode of “Gavin and Stacey”!
Everton 1 Burnley 0
The Carlo Ancelotti era began well for Everton, but this was a tough win, with entertainment in short supply. That was probably Burnley’s doing. Pope made an excellent save from a close-range shot by Holgate at the Gwladys Street End. Sidibe hit a shot which was saved by Pope and nearly turned into his own met by a defender, but somehow the ball was cleared. It took the “Toffees” till the 80th minute to score and that came from a Sidibe cross and an excellent diving header by Calvert-Lewin inside Pope’s right post.
Sheffield United 1 Watford 1
Ben Foster was the star of this game, as he preserved his team’s share of the points with some terrific saves. He had made two good early saves from McBurnie in front of the travelling fans. The first had a been a close-range shot inside Foster’s right post. The second was a header on the other side of goal.
Deulofeu gave Watford the lead after 27 minutes. The chance came from a long clearance made by Foster when he was under pressure. Chalobah headed the ball on and Deulofeu made his run down the right channel before planting allow shot past Henderson. The “Blades” equalised after 36 minutes when Norwood scored from a penalty awarded because Hughes brought down Baldock just inside the Watford area.
Foster somehow got in the way of Fleck’s close-range shot after he had received the ball from substitute Mousset after 64 minutes. Sheffield United fell below Spurs on goal difference after this result.
Manchester United 4 Newcastle 1
Having taken a 17th minute lead through 19-year-old Matty Longstaff, who had scored Newcastle’s winner against United at St. James’ Park, manager Steve Bruce would have hoped for more from this game. Dwight Gayle, making his first Premier League start of the season had already fired over a good chance before Newcastle took the lead. It was Gayle who found Longstaff with a great ball from the left before the goal. Langstaff passed forward to Joelinton who returned the compliment before Longstaff found the net with a right foot shot.
United were back on terms within seven minutes when Dubravka failed to deal with a Martial shot which squeezed inside the keeper’s right post. Greenwood was presented with the ball by an errant Newcastle defence and crashed home a rising left foot shot in the 36th minute. Dubravka did make a good save high to his right from a Pereira free kick after Rashford had been taken out on the edge of the left side of the penalty area.
Marcus Rashford headed home a Wan-Bissaka cross inside the 41st minute and despite Newcastle’s protests about an alleged foul by McTominay upon Longstaff early in the build-up, the goal stood.
Martial made it 4-1 in the 51st minute after another defensive error, as the forward took advantage of a very short pass back in the direction of the goalkeeper. Martial hit the inside of the left post with the keeper beaten after another attack, and the ball rebounded across the goal on the wrong side of the line
Paul Pogba had been restricted to another substitute appearance, coming on for the second half, and he soon tested Dubravka with a shot which passed just outside the goal.
Leicester 0 Liverpool 4
European and World Club Champions Liverpool are being hailed as Premier League Champions elect after this devastating win over second-placed Leicester. The win put the “Reds” a full 13 points clear of their East Midland rivals. The only points Liverpool have lost this season were in the draw at Old Trafford.
Trent Alexander-Arnold had another excellent game and tested Schmeichel with a shot after inside the first minute. A minute later Salah crossed from the right and Mane was close at the near post. After Leicester’s first corner, Liverpool broke out and salah hit the side netting from a sharp angle on the left.
Liverpool’s first goal followed a corner and came in the 31st minute. After a couple of Leicester clearances, Alexander-Arnold crossed from left of centre and Firmino headed in at the back post. Firmino had scored the decisive goal in the World Club Cup Final. Schmeichel made a very good save at close range from Mane shortly after the goal.
Leicester had shown little of their attacking capabilities and it was surprising the difference was only one goal for so long. After 57 minutes a second Robertson cross was cleared to the feet of Salah, who hit the woodwork with his shot, but Firmino had been offside earlier in the move. Liverpool were awarded a penalty by referee Michael Oliver (supported by VAR) when Soyuncu handled following a Liverpool corner. James Milner despatched the spot kick in the 71st minute. Three minutes later Firmino had an easy finish when he was in space to receive an Alexander-Arnold cross. The Leicester happy clappers had been silenced.
Alexander-Arnold completed the scoring with a powerful right foot shot after 78 minutes and stood in front of his fans to receive their adulation. I’ve seen the idolatry for Jurgen Klopp in Dortmund and now with three major trophies under his belt in 2019 and perhaps that elusive title win to come in 2020, he is sure to be remembered for as long as his successful predecessors at Anfield.
Friday 27th December, 2019
Wolves 3 Manchester City 2
Wolves came back from 2-0 down against 10-man Manchester City to move into fifth place. Nuno Espirito Santo’s side also became only the second team (after Chelsea in 2016-17) to beat Pep Guardiola’s side twice in the same season.
Sergio Aguero returned to City’s starting line-up for the first time in December, but he wasn’t on long as he was sacrificed when goalkeeper Ederson was sent off and had to be replaced by Bravo. The sending-off came in only the twelfth minute when Jota ran onto Coady’s long ball. Ederson raced out of his area and clipped the Wolves player. He was immediately shown red by referee Martin Atkinson. Bravo held Moutinho’s much-delayed free kick.
There was controversy after 20 minutes when Mahrez theatrically fell in the area after the slightest of touches by Dendoncker. The referee wasn’t interested in City’s claims, but he was overruled by VAR. Sterling’s first penalty was saved by Rui Patricio, but a re-take was ordered for encroachment by Coady who had cleared the rebound. The re-take was also saved but parried and Sterling scored from the rebound. The home fans were livid, and missiles were thrown from the stand leading to warnings via the PA system. Wolves will be in further trouble, I am sure. The goal time was 25 minutes.
City retreated to defensive mode to protect their lead and even played a 5-3-1 formation. Jota had a chance early in the second half as he ran onto Jimenez’s chipped ball forward, but the shot was hit well over the bar. City even went two up in the 50th minute as De Bruyne spotted Sterling’s run towards the left of goal and Sterling finished clinically for his second goal.
There was plenty of drama to come and Molineux would be rocking. Wolves fans were upset again when the referee and VAR denied them a penalty claim for a similar incident to that which led to City’s first half award. Jimenez had a shot go wide and despite a touch by Fernandinho Wolves were denied a corner.
Traore, who had scored both Wolves’ goals at The Etihad, put his side back in the reckoning with a powerfully driven low shot to the right of Bravo from 22 yards after 55 minutes. It was a backs to the wall job for City now and even De Bruyne was taken off to preserve his fitness for their next game as Wolves repeatedly piled forward creating a number of chances.
In the 82nd minute Traore stole the ball off Mendy near the bye-line on the right. Traore crossed low and Jimenez pout the ball in the net to make it 2-2. The drama was complete when Doherty made a run into the City area, taking a back-heeled pass from Jimenez before firing home with his left foot. Raheem Sterling hit the top of the Wolves bar with an added time free kick.
Fixtures & Results 26-27.12.19
Spurs 2-1 Brighton
A. Villa 1-0 Norwich
B'mouth 1-1 Arsenal
Chelsea 0-2 S'hampton
C. Palace 2-1 West Ham
Everton 1-0 Burnley
Sheff Utd 1-1 Watford
Man Utd 4-1 Newcastle
Leicester 0-4 Liverpool
Wolves 3-2 Man City
Premier League Table
P W D L F-A GD Pts
1. Liverpool 18 17 1 0 46-14 32 52
2. Leicester 19 12 3 4 41-18 23 39
3. Man City 19 12 2 5 52-23 29 38
4. Chelsea 19 10 2 7 33-27 6 32
5. Wolves 19 7 9 3 29-24 5 30
6. Spurs 19 8 5 6 34-27 7 29
7. Sheff Utd 19 7 8 4 23-17 6 29
8. Man Utd 19 7 7 5 30-23 7 28
9. C. Palace 19 7 5 7 17-21 -4 26
10. Newcastle 19 7 4 8 19-28 -9 25
11. Arsenal 19 5 9 5 25-28 -3 24
12. Burnley 19 7 3 9 23-30 -7 24
13. Everton 19 6 4 9 21-29 -8 22
14. S'hampton 19 6 3 10 23-37 -14 21
15. Brighton 19 5 5 9 22-28 -6 20
16. B'mouth 19 5 5 9 20-26 -6 20
17. West Ham 18 5 4 9 20-30 -10 19
18. A. Villa 19 5 3 11 25-33 -8 18
19. Watford 19 2 7 10 12-33 -21 13
20. Norwich 19 3 3 13 19-38 -19 12