Premier League review – Matchday 21
Wednesday 1st January, 2020
Brighton 1 Chelsea 1
Alireza Jahanbakhsh, who had scored a stunning first club goal on Saturday, came off the bench in this game and scored a brilliantly executed overhead goal six minutes from time to give Brighton their very first premier League point against Chelsea. Chelsea took the lead inside 10 minutes from a corner by Willian taken from the right. After a couple of touches inside the box, it was the skipper Azpilicueta who finished from just in front of the goal. It was the first Premier League goal of the New Year and indeed the new decade.
Alzate had hit a shot just wide of the post before Chelsea’s goal, and Trossard had a 20-yard shot well saved before the break.
Brighton were worth their point and arguably looked more likely to win as the game reached its close. Connolly had come off the bench for the second half and had a close range shot well saved by Arrizabalaga after a Brighton free kick out on the right. That equaliser came after a corner which was only half cleared with Jahanbakhsh in ample space to go for the overhead kick which he placed well to the right of the Chelsea keeper. The Brighton man was awarded the man of the match trophy after that goal!
In the last minute of normal time Maupay hit a low shot which Arrizabalaga could only save with an outstretched foot.
Burnley 1 Aston Villa 2
Burnley are sliding dangerously downward, whilst with this welcome win, Villa climbed out of the bottom three. Grealish thought he had given his side the lead in the 11th minute, but that was chalked off for one of the most marginal VAR decisions because Wesley’s heel was offside. Grealish teed up Wesley for a shot after 20 minutes, but Pope saved that shot, and also saved the follow-up by Douglas Luiz. Wesley did score after 27 minutes with a low shot from 15 yards after a Grealish pass took a deflection to the striker, who chested the ball down before he scored with his shot. It was Wesley’s first Premier League goal since early October.
Grealish made it 2-0 in the 41st minute with a good right footed finish after receiving a pass from Douglas Luiz. Villa had been well worth their lead. Early in the second half Tarkowski crossed from the right but Rodriguez somehow managed to hit his shot from close range outside the target. Burnley had managed very few shots on target in their recent games.
Wesley had to be stretchered off after a Ben Mee challenge. Chris Wood did head in from short range at the back post after a Westwood cross from the right. Villa goalkeeper Tom Heaton was injured when he tried to make the save and was also stretchered off. Both Wesley and Heaton will be out for six to nine months, which adds to Villa's relegation worries.
Newcastle 0 Leicester 3
Leicester won a second consecutive game and have maintained a hold on second place. Ayoze Perez scored the first goal against his old club in the 36th minute and it followed a very poor defensive pass across his own area by Lejeune, basically presenting Perez with the opportunity, which he took with a right-footed shot. Lejeune was at fault again with a poor clearance and this time Maddison hit a rocket of a shot into Dubravka’s net from 20 yards. Newcastle were in a mess and somehow kept the ball out of the net when Perez raced away down the right before crossing for Iheanacho at the back post.
Steve Bruce made one change just before the break and used his two other subs at half-time in an effort to get back into the game. Shar had to go off injured early in the second half and the “Toon” were down to 10 men. Dubravka dived and cleanly held a Maddison shot from 25 yards, and he also saved from both Iheanacho and Perez after Perez had raced away with a ball sent from deep by Tielemans. Dubravka is a busy man and has made more saves than any other Premier League goalkeeper this season. He couldn’t stop Choudhury scoring though with a 22-yard shot after 87 minutes. Newcastle’s misery was complete.
Southampton 1 Spurs 0
I cannot recall seeing such a low set of grades as a result of the spursometer throughout the whole team. Usually someone manages to score more than 5/10, but not this time. The least said, the better. One saving grace for Spurs, who managed only 4 points from their four Christmas matches is that their close rivals for fifth place (I daren't say fourth any more) also had a relatively poor festive period. Manchester United and Wolves managed 6 points. Sheffield United got 4 points, but their defeats were away to Mnchester City and Liverpool.
Spurs' next Premier League game is at home to Liverpool, who haven't been beaten in the league for a full calendar year!
Watford 2 Wolves 1
Watford’s fine run under new manager Nigel Pearson continues and this time their victims were high-flying Wolves. Ben Foster had to be at his sharpest to save from Doherty early on after Coady’s excellent long ball. Another long ball, this time by Dendoncker, reached Jimenez, who pulled his shot wide. Deulofeu managed to set up Sarr, but Rui Patricio was down to his shot in front of the way fans.
Watford took the lead after half an hour. Sarr picked up an errant ball by Dendoncker and passed to Deulofeu on his left. Deulofeu put his right foot shot inside the keeper’s left post. Doucoure gave Watford a 2-0 lead inside 49 minutes with a piledriver of a shot which did take a deflection before hitting the top left corner of the net. Neto got one back for Wolves on the hour with a less powerful shot hit from outside the area and deflected well to the left of Foster.
Kabasele was initially shown a yellow card when he pulled back Jota as he advanced upon the Watford penalty area, but that was upgraded by VAR to red. Foster made a good save, diving to his left, to keep out Doherty’s well-placed header.
Watford have won three and drawn one of their four festive fixtures and are now within reach of those just above the bottom three.
Manchester City 2 Everton 1
Everton suffered their first defeat in 6 league games. Gabriel Jesus scored both of City’s goals. Bravo was in goal again for City and he made a good save from Seamus Coleman after a good lofted pass by Sigurdsson. Foden thought he’d opened the scoring after 12 minutes, and the teams had nearly restarted before referee Andre Marriner was advised of a City offside in the build-up to the “goal”.
Jesus’s first goal came in the 51st minute and was a shot to Pickford’s top left corner, to which Pickford did get a touch. There was relief at The Etihad after the VAR review which did allow the goal after preceding VAR confusing situations. It was 2-0 seven minutes later as Jesus received from Mahrez and scored with a low shot, squeezed inside Pickford’s right post.
Everton got one back through Richarlison after Walcott’s pass after Bravo had failed to clear, trying to play short balls out of the area. Jesus had a hat-trick chance, again after Mahrez had teed him up, but the shot rebounded out off the post.
Norwich City 1 Crystal Palace 1
Norwich are rooted to the bottom of the table but thought they might at least have gained three points until Wickham equalised for Palace five minutes from full time. The "Canaries" are the only Premier League side not to have recorded a win in December.
Todd Cantwell gave the home side a fourth minute lead, advancing into the box after exchanging passes with Buendia before slotting home. Aarons had a chance to double the lead just the break but pulled his shot wide.
Buendia had a second half free kick saved by Guaita, who dived to his right to concede a corner. Palace might be ravaged by injuries, but 26-year-old Connor Wickham hasn’t made a Premier League start for over three years. He came on after 60 minutes of this game. Having started his career at Ipswich, he was not given a warm welcome by the “Canaries”!
McLean headed a corner to the back post, but Vrancic could not get the ball into the net. McLean was cruelly denied a goal when he hit a rising shot which rebounded out off the underside of the bar. Palace had been operating a barricade defence and hardly had a look-in at the other end, but the fates were on their side when Wickham planted Zaha’s cross into the net. He was initially adjudged offside, but VAR found a Norwich ankle on the right /wrong side of the line and the goal was allowed to stand. It was Wickham’s first premier League goal since November 2016, and his first goal since January 2019. That one had been scored against Spurs in an FA Cup Fourth round win.
West Ham 4 Bournemouth 0
There was no fanfare for returning manager David Moyes, but West Ham did manage a win – a convincing won too. Bournemouth have slipped into the bottom three and have managed only four points in their last ten games since beating Manchester United two months ago. Their one win since then was another 1-0 – at Chelsea! It’s a funny old game!
Mark Noble opened the scoring inside 17 minutes with a deflected shot from 20 yards after Snodgrass had passed back from the bye-line. Haller got the second in the 24th minute, hooking home a shot after Fredericks’ cross. Noble was fouled as he entered the area on the right-hand side, and took the penalty himself, beating Ramsdale to his left inside 35 minutes. That was the first time the “Hammers” have managed such a score in the Premier League inside 35 minutes since 2007.
Fabianski had to punch away a Rico shot before the first half ended. Anderson made it 4-0 in the 66th minute. He received a very good long ball by Declan Rice and raced away from Simon Francis before slotting home his shot. Cresswell was shown a red card for his challenge upon Ryan Fraser, but that was rescinded by VAR, and a yellow card was shown instead.
Solanke hit the inside of the post with a header following Fraser’s cross from the left, and Ramsdale saved a Lanzini header at the other end. The goalkeeper also saved well from Fornals’ shot.
Arsenal 2 Manchester United 0
Arsenal got their first win in five games, and their first for their new manager. They climbed back into the top half of the table, and within three points of Spurs, as bad as they’ve been recently. Arsenal took the lead after only 8 minutes, and it was Pepe who scored. It was only his third Premier league goal. The ball had been crossed from the left by Kolasinac and was deflected into Pepe’s path.
United were showing nothing and pepe hit the post with another shot after a poor ball out from De Gea had reached the £72 million man. It was 2-0 inside 42 minutes when a corner from the right was hit towards De Gea (by Lindelof) who saved but Sokratis followed up with a short-range shot. United did have a free kick just before the half-time whistle but Harry Maguire headed that straight into the arms of Leno.
In the second half Pereira had a chance after a clever ball by Matic, but the midfielder out the shot outside the post. United were offering more of a threat and Greenwood forced a save by Leno at his left post.
Thursday 2nd January, 2020
Liverpool 2 Sheffield United 0
Liverpool had the lead within 4 minutes. "Blades"' right wing-back Baldock slipped as Robertson collected a long ball from Van Dijk. The Liverpool left back crossed and Salah made no mistake with his shot.
Sheffield United did have a couple of chances. One was a shot by scouser Lundstram, who fired wide. A little later Alisson had to push over a shot by McGoldrick.
Henderson had to make a good save from Salah, just managing to get the ball over the bar. Lundstram also had a "goal" chalked off for offside, which had been indicated before he put the ball in the net.
Henderson saved from Salah after 29 minutes, leading to a corner. Liverpool were well on top, but Chris Wilder's men were getting behind the ball.
The game followed a similar pattern in the second half. Henderson carried the ball from right to left before passing to Firmino who hit a good right foot shot wide of Henderson's left post after 56 minutes. Salah lifted a ball into the area after 59 minutes which Van Dijk failed to touch. Goalkeeper Henderson was helpless as the ball hit his right post but rebounded across the goal into his hands.
Liverpool’s second goal came in the 64th minute. Alisson had had to collect an up and under cross, after which Liverpool raced forward through Mane down the left side, he passed inside to Salah, and was in the middle of the area to receive Salah's threaded pass, before scoring with his second attempt, after Henderson had saved the first but not held the ball.
Three minutes later Alexander-Arnold crossed, but Firmino's close range effort was cleared, only as far as Salah on the edge of the area. Salah's shot was pushed round the left post by Henderson. After another good Liverpool move on the left of the area featuring both Wijnaldum and Salah, Mane had a low shot well saved by Henderson.
McBurnie had a late chance from close range when another Liverpudlian "Blade" O'Connell crossed, but Alisson saved and just managed to keep his arms and the ball in front of the goal line.
The mighty Liverpool machine rolls on, with a 13-point lead at the top. The last Premier League game they lost was on 3rd January last year away to Manchester City. If Liverpool win their next Premier League game (that's at Tottenham folks) they will achieve the best top flight start in history.
Fixtures & Results 01-02.01.20
Brighton 1-1 Chelsea
Burnley 1-2 A. Villa
Newcastle 0-3 Leicester
S'hampton 1-0 Spurs
Watford 2-1 Wolves
Man City 2-1 Everton
Norwich 1-1 C. Palace
West Ham 4-0 B'mouth
Arsenal 2-0 B'mouth
Liverpool 2-0 Sheff Utd
Premier League Table
P W D L F-A GD Pts
1. Liverpool 20 19 1 0 49-14 35 58
2. Leicester 21 14 3 4 46-19 27 45
3. Man City 21 14 2 5 56-24 32 44
4. Chelsea 21 11 3 7 36-29 7 36
5. Man Utd 21 8 7 6 32-25 7 31
6. Spurs 21 8 6 7 36-30 6 30
7. Wolves 21 7 9 5 30-27 3 30
8. Sheff Utd 21 7 8 6 23-21 2 29
9. C. Palace 21 7 7 7 19-23 -4 28
10. Arsenal 21 6 9 6 28-30 -2 27
11. Everton 21 7 4 10 24-32 -8 25
12. S'hampton 21 7 4 10 25-38 -13 25
13. Newcastle 21 7 4 10 20-33 -13 25
14. Brighton 21 6 6 9 25-29 -4 24
15. Burnley 21 7 3 11 24-34 -10 24
16. West Ham 20 6 4 10 25-32 -7 22
17. A. Villa 21 6 3 12 27-37 -10 21
18. B'mouth 21 5 5 11 20-32 -12 20
19. Watford 21 4 7 10 17-34 -17 19
20. Norwich 21 3 5 13 22-41 -19 14