Premier League Review
Friday 21.12.18 - Sunday 23.12.18
Wolves 0 Liverpool 2
Liverpool ensured they would spend Christmas at the top of the table with this win on a very rainy night at Molineux. The weather did not deter Wolves from a spectacular pre-match fireworks and light show, but their football did not live up to this billing.
Liverpool survived a couple of errors though. Firstly Traore was off target after Fabinho had gifted possession. Later in the game, after they had taken the lead, Keita gave away the ball but Alisson saved from Doherty.
Liverpool's first goal was scored - inevitably - by Mo Salah after Fabinho made amends for his earlier error by pulling the ball back from the bye-line for the African footballer of the year to flick home. Their second was scored by Van Dijk, who was still up following a corner when Salah lofted the ball over the Wolves defence for Van Dijk to score from close range. It was Van Dijk's first Premier League goal for the "Reds", and the result was never in doubt after he scored.
Arsenal 3 Burnley 1
Mesut Ozil not only returned for Arsenal, but wore the captain's armband too. Aubameyang scored his 11th and 12th Premier League goals of the season to give Arsenal a 2-0 lead. The first came after 14 minutes when Ozil's ball to the far post was cut back into the path of Aubameyang. His second came just after the break following an Arsenal counter attack, and was a right footed shot from the right of goal.
Burnley got one back through Ashley Barnes in the 63rd minute after Arsenal failed to clear their lines despite several opportunities, but Iwobi sealed the points at close range on the right of goal after Ozil's run and a shot which was deflected into Iwobi's path.
Bournemouth 2 Brighton 0
Bournemouth's 21 year old summer signing David Brooks was the star of the show scoring both the "Cherries"' goals. The first was a left footed shot from 23 yards in the 21st minute, and was his first for nearly two months. Stanislas went close for the home side from a free kick given after Brooks had been fouled. Lewis Dunk was sent off by referee Mike Dean for a second yellow, before Brooks headed Fraser's cross over Brighton keeper Ryan.
Chelsea 0 Leicester 1
Chelsea and Man City losing at home on the same day was surely a blessing for their competitors for the title and a top four place, especially Spurs! Hazard had gone close with a shot which hit the top of the bar before Ndidi forced a good save from the Chelsea keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Vardy gave Leicester the lead, and ultimately the win with a right footed shot after 51 minutes, taking on Maddison's pass. Schmeichel saved at his right-hand post from Hazard, but Leicester came as close to adding to their score as did the home side in the remainder of the game. Alonso did hit a shot in added time that rebounded clear off the inside of the post.
Huddersfield 1 Southampton 3
Two wins in two games is a smashing piece of business for new manager Ralf Hasenhuttl, and three goals in both games augurs well for the "Saints"' survival chances too. Redmond gave them a fifteenth minute lead with a right foot finish from Hojbjerg's pass, and when Danny Ings was fouled inside the area he made no mistake from the spot in the 42nd minute.
Billing got one back for the "Terriers" after 58 minutes with a left footed shot that McCarthy should have saved, but when 18 year old Michael Obafemi scored his first Premier League goal after 71 minutes, the points belonged to Southampton.
Manchester City 2 Crystal Palace 3
This shock result included a stunning volley by Andros Townsend (and goal of the season candidate) which gave Palace a 2-1 half time lead.
Pep Guardiola played a 4-1-4-1 formation with John Stones in front of the back four. City badly missed Fernandinho, who was injured. Gabriel Jesus was Pep's chosen front man. Hodgson played 4-5-1. Gundogan gave City a 27th minute lead when he headed home Delph's cross.
It had looked like being a routine win, but Palace equalised five minutes later with their first shot of the match. Schlupp hit a left foot shot across Ederson, who probably ought to have saved, but was taken by surprise. Then came Townsend's cracking goal from approaching 30 yards. It followed a free kick for a foul on Zaha, which was partially cleared to Townsend, who hit an unstoppable left foot volley.
Amazingly, Palace took a 3-1 lead in the 51st minute. A Townsend header rebounded off the post after a cross from the right, then Walker fouled Meyer. Milivojevic made no mistake from the penalty spot.
Thereafter it was pretty much one way traffic as City tried to claw their way back into the game. Sane hit a free kick that hit the outside of the post, and with five minutes left De Bruyne hit a cross from deep on the right which hit the net on the far side of the goal. Sane headed over in added time, but Palace held on for a historic win.
Newcastle 0 Fulham 0
Fulham managed their first clean sheet of the season, but the point did not lift them off the bottom of the table. This was a game of little quality and few chances. Both sides had penalty claims, with Fulham's probably the strongest when Lascelle's arm got in the way of Mitrovic's shot.
West Ham 0 Watford 2
West Ham's winning run came to an end, and they are back in the bottom half of the table. Referee Lee Mason awarded Watford a penalty for a foul on Pereyra and Troy Deeney converted from the spot.
Antonio got his head to a Snodgrass corner, but saw the ball rebound off the post. Hernandez had had one chance saved in the first half, and another go wide in the second. Foster made a great save from a Snodgrass deflected header, before Antonio again hit the woodwork when he followed up. Foster pushed over a header by Carroll in the closing stages.
West Ham's pain was complete when Deulofeu fired home Pereyra's pass in the 87th minute.
Cardiff 1 Manchester United 5
United caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's first game in charge was against his former club Cardiff, and he got a dream start when Marcus Rashford scored direct from a free kick from 22 yards after only three minutes. Solskjaer played Rashford in the middle of a front three between Lingard and Martial, and he also selected Paul Pogba. Luke Shaw also had a recall.
It was 2-0 to United after 28 minutes when Pogba crossed from the left and Herrera's shot from over 25 yards beat Etheridge to his left, taking a slight deflection on the way.
Michael Oliver's assistant spotted a handball by Rashford inside the area after 36 minutes, and Camarasa scored from the spot against his fellow Spaniard - De Gea. (38 mins). Only two minutes later, United restored their two goal lead. Martial was the scorer, entering the Cardiff area with give and go passes by Rashford, and Lingard. Pogba had been involved in the move too.
United were awarded a penalty after 55 minutes for a foul by Bamba on Lingard, who scored from the spot (57 minutes). Rashford could have made it 5-1 five minutes later when the advancing Lindelof played him in with a well weighted pass. The England man pulled his shot just wide of the far post. At the other end, De Gea was required to push a Murphy shot around the corner.
Etheridge made a good fingertip save from Pogba's shot from 22 yards, and then after the corner from Phil Jones's low shot.
With one minute to go Lingard made a run into the box on the right for Pogba's good pass, and slotted home to make it 5-1. It was the first time since the days of Sir Alex Ferguson that United had scored five in the Premier League.
You could argue that it was "only Cardiff", but this was a United performance in their traditional style. With home games to come this week against Huddersfield and Bournemouth they must fancy their chances of drawing closer to the top five. Perhaps also the media will stop promoting a Pochettino move to Old Trafford in the summer!
Everton 2 Spurs 6
Keep an eye on the spursometer which will not be finalised until late today (Christmas Eve) or early tomorrow. At the moment, Son is leading the way by a margin, and I do not expect that to change. The Spurs front four dominated the scoring.
Harry Kane's two goals took him to 119 Premier League gols and 155 club goals, now only four behind Cliff Jones. Harry will soon be our fourth highest all-time goalscorer.
42 points is our highest ever tally after 18 Premier League games, and it is the first time since 1985-86 that three top flight clubs have gained over 40 points at Christmas.
It is now a full 6 years since Everton last managed a win over Tottenham. That was a 2-1 home win. We have now played "The Toffees" 12 times without being beaten, and have won the last four games with an aggregate score of 16-7!
Wolves 0-2 Liverpool
Arsenal 3-1 Burnley
B'mouth 2-0 Brighton
Chelsea 0-1 Leicester
Hds'field 1-3 S'hampton
Man City 2-3 C. Palace
Newcastle 0-0 Fulham
West Ham 0-2 Watford
Cardiff 1-5 Man Utd
Everton 2-6 Spurs
Premier League Table
P W D L F-A GD Pts
1. Liverpool 18 15 3 0 39-7 32 48
2. Man City 18 14 2 2 50-13 37 44
3. Spurs 18 14 0 4 37-18 19 42
4. Chelsea 18 11 4 3 35-15 20 37
5. Arsenal 18 11 4 3 40-24 16 37
6. Man Utd 18 8 5 5 34-30 4 29
7. Watford 18 8 3 7 25-25 0 27
8. B'mouth 18 8 2 8 27-28 -1 26
9. Leicester 18 7 4 7 22-21 1 25
10. Wolves 18 7 4 7 19-21 -2 25
11. Everton 18 6 6 6 26-28 -2 24
12. West Ham 18 7 3 8 25-27 -2 24
13. Brighton 18 6 3 9 20-26 -6 21
14. C. Palace 18 5 3 10 17-25 -8 18
15. Newcastle 18 4 5 9 14-22 -8 17
16. S'hampton 18 3 6 9 19-33 -14 15
17. Cardiff 18 4 2 12 18-38 -20 14
18. Burnley 18 3 3 12 16-36 -20 12
19. H'dsfield 18 2 4 12 11-31 -20 10
20. Fulham 18 2 4 12 16-42 -26 10