Premier League review – Matchday 18
Saturday 21st December, 2019
Everton 0 Arsenal 0
Football is a “funny old game” as Greavsie used to say. Mikel Arteta, who was on Pep Guardiola’s City coaching team was appointed as Arsenal’s new head coach on Friday. Officially he was not due to start his duties until Sunday, but the fixture list gave him a watching brief for his first game at Goodison Park where the Spaniard had spent more of his playing career than he had at Arsenal. Everton announced the appointment on matchday of Carlo Ancelotti, but Duncan Ferguson got the gig for this Saturday lunchtime game.
Jermaine Jenas described this as the worst game of 2019. Who am I to argue? Sigurdsson hit a first half free kick wide and at the other end Martinelli had a chance but hit that wide too. In the second half Jordan Pickford made a good reaction save from Aubameyang’s shot. (That came off his lower leg and not his foot) Aubameyang had another weak shot which was an easy pick-up for the goalkeeper.
Arsenal are in the bottom half of the table at Christmas for the first time in 36 years.
Aston Villa 1 Southampton 3
With this precious win the “Saints” consigned Villa to the bottom three. Danny Ings scored his 10th and 11th goals of the season. Villa lost an important player – McGinn – to injury early in the game. Ings’ first goal came after 21 minutes when Heaton failed to hold Shane Long’s shot and the former Liverpool man snapped up the rebound. It was 2-0 within ten minutes when Jack Stephens headed in a corner in front of the despondent Holte End Stand. McCarthy pushed over a powerful Guilbert shot before the break.
Ings scored his second goal in the 51st minute. He was presented with the ball by a poor Villa attempted clearance following Redmond’s cross, and the striker scored from a sharp angle on the left. Villa did get a goal back fifteen minutes before the end with a well taken right foot shot by Grealish after a corner from the right. Southampton might have gone 4-1 up after a 3 versus 2 break. Hojbjerg teed up Ings for a hat-trick, but his shot was saved and when the rebound came Hojbjerg’s way he scooped his shot over the bar.
Bournemouth 0 Burnley 1
There wasn’t much to enthuse about regarding this game played in ever-increasing rain on the South coast. Burnley grabbed the win with an 89th minute header by Jay Rodriguez following a cross from the right by Westwood.
Brighton 0 Sheffield United 1
Chris Wilder’s “Blades” have now lost just one of their last eleven league games and deservedly sit in fifth place over Christmas. John Egan thought he had given United an 8th minute lead when Matt Ryan missed an in-swinging corner, but VAR disallowed the “goal” for handball. Brighton also had a “goal” disallowed for offside after Henderson could only parry Mooy’s shot and two Brighton players were offside when the follow-up was put in the net. McBurnie did give the visitors a 23rd minute lead when he latched onto Henderson’s long kick and scored with a right footed shot from the right of goal.
McGoldrick made a glaring miss in the second half when he was round two Brighton defenders and the goalkeeper but put his shot into the side netting. The striker hasn’t scored for his club since April, and he hung his head in shame as he turned away from the goal. Another “goal” was chalked off for United when Ryan could only parry Egan’s header following a free kick. O’Connell followed up, but he had been offside. Connolly forced a save from Henderson with a right foot shot, but nothing came of the corner.
McGoldrick had a harder chance towards the end of the game but lifted this effort over the corner of goal. He then got himself booked for a tackle from behind on Mooy. At the other end Bissouma was booked for simulation in the Sheffield United area, and that decision was verified by VAR.
The “Blades” are at home to Watford on Boxing Day but then face difficult trips to Manchester City and Liverpool.
Newcastle 1 Crystal Palace 0
Miguel Almiron finally broke his scoring duck having signed for Newcastle last January and having played in 27 Premier League games. As a result of his goal the “Toon” are in the top half of the Premier League after 18 games. Almiron is a popular player despite his drought and early in the game he sent a good ball into the Palace area where Hayden lost his footing and the chance to score. Almiron had a right footed shot inside the area but hit it straight at Guaita.
Dubravka made a first half save from Zaha’s shot, and Milivojevic hit a free kick just wide. Newcastle had some tricky Palace moments to defend in the second half. Almiron’s moment of magic came after 83 minutes. Newcastle had a throw deep on the right. The ball was crossed and headed down by Andy Carroll before Almiron hit a left foot shot just to the right of the goalkeeper who did get a slight touch. There were ecstatic scenes at The Gallowgate End.
Norwich 1 Wolves 2
Norwich made a bright start to this game with Buendia feeding McLean whose shot was just saved by Rui Patricio. Tettey later hit a low drive which somehow stayed out of goal, rebounding across the line off the inside of the keeper’s right post. The goalie got a slight touch to the ball again. Cantwell did give the home side a 17th minute lead after Wolves failed to clear a McLean cross and presented the ball to the Norwich player who crashed home a right-foot shot. Pukki had a chance to make it 2-0 but hit his shot wide across the goal.
They’re keeping stats now on the number of players booked for fouling Adama Traore this season and Byram became the 25th on the list. After the free kick, Traore was offside as he crossed the ball into the six-yard area. Wolves had yet to forge a meaningful chance, and Buendia hit a shot that rose just above the far corner of the Wolves goal in the second half.
There were four men around Traore when he passed to Jimenez, whose shot was deflected for a corner, after which Saiss scored with a powerful downward header (60 mins). Wolves snatched a win in the 81st minute when Jonny crossed from the left. Neto’s shot was saved but ran to Jimenez who finished.
Manchester City 3 Leicester 1
Leicester were hoping to close the gap on Liverpool with a win over their close rivals Manchester City, but it was Pep Guardiola’s side who won and therefore drew to within one point of Leicester. Kevin De Bruyne hit the outside of Schmeichel’s left post with a shot after 13 minutes when he was teed up by Riyad Mahrez, playing against his old team. Three minutes later Mahrez beat Chilwell with a dazzling piece of skill, passing inside to Jesus, whose close-range effort was just saved by the Leicester keeper.
Another effort by Jesus (a header this time) was easy for Schmeichel. Having been under the cosh for much of the game, it was Leicester who took the lead in the 22nd minute with a good move down the left flank. Harvey Barnes found Vardy, whose run left Fernandinho floundering before the striker beat the advancing Ederson with a good finish. It was Vardy’s 29th Premier league goal in 2019, and his 17th this season alone. Vardy had another chance after a Leicester long ball pass but put this one over the target.
Mahrez equalised after half an hour with a deflected shot which left Schmeichel wrong-footed. Man City had a penalty before the break when Ricardo was adjudged to have fouled Sterling, and Gundogan scored from the spot. Ederson was at full stretch to prevent a Maddison shot creeping inside his right post.
In the second half Barnes just failed to get the right touch on a Vardy cross before Mahrez forced a fine one-handed save by Schmeichel at the other end. It was 3-1 after 69 minutes when Mahrez sent in a low cross from the right and De Bruyne passed the ball to the back post, where Jesus finished from close range. The win brought an end to Leicester’s nine-game unbeaten run.
Sunday 22nd December, 2019
Watford 2 Manchester United 0
United had beaten Watford in 16 of their previous 17 meetings. Only three teams who have been bottom at Christmas have escaped the drop. The last was Leicester when Watford’s new manager Nigel Pearson was at the helm in 2014.
Rashford had an early shot which passed wide and after 34 minutes Lingard was away but hit his chipped shot over the bar. David De Gea made a shocking error after 50 minutes when Hughes’ free kick was headed down and even though Sarr did not hit the ball cleanly (and then into the ground) De Gea let the rising ball slip through his arms.
Watford had a second goal after 54 minutes, and this one was slammed home from the penalty spot by Troy Deeney. The penalty had been conceded by Wan-Bissaka who had fouled Saar. McTominay had a shot saved by Foster before Paul Pogba came off the United bench for his first appearance since September. Rashford had a free kick punched away by Foster, and Maguire headed into the keeper’s hands after a corner. Foster also saved from Pogba, who shot from an angle on the left before one of the Watford defenders cleared.
Pogba hit a delightful long ball to Greenwood who lifted a shot over the target, and Foster saved again from Rashford. Watford held onto their clean sheet and only their second win of the season – their first at home. However, they are still bottom at Christmas.
Spurs 0 Chelsea 2
The lights dazzled at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, but Spurs did not. The least said about this game the better, but it is important to note that despite intensive investigation and cameras which can pick up the actions of every fan in the stadium, no evidence has yet been found to support Rudiger's report of racist behaviour towards him. On the other hand it has been reported that a Chelsea fan was arrfested for racist behaviour towards Son Heung-min, whose red card is being appealed by the club.
Substitute Tanguy Ndombele was voted Spurs best player, but even his mark was nothing to shout about.
West Ham v Liverpool
Due to Liverpool’s involvement in the World Club Cup Final against Flamengo, this game was postponed. Liverpool won the game 1-0 and it was the first time they had won the Club World Cup. Having already won the European Super Cup in August the Anfield trophy cabinet is filling up nicely this season. Liverpool became the first English team to win this competition since Manchester United in 2008.
Fixtures & Results 21-22.12.19
Everton 0-0 Arsenal
A. Villa 1-3 S'hampton
B'mouth 0-1 Burnley
Brighton 0-1 Sheff Utd
Newcastle 1-0 C. Palace
Norwich 1-2 Wolves
Man City 3-1 Leicester
Watford 2-0 Man Utd
Spurs 0-2 Chelsea
West Ham v Liverpool
Premier League Table
P W D L F-A GD Pts
1. Liverpool 17 16 1 0 42-14 28 49
2. Leicester 18 12 3 3 41-14 27 39
3. Man City 18 12 2 4 50-20 30 38
4. Chelsea 18 10 2 6 33-25 8 32
5. Sheff Utd 18 7 7 4 22-16 6 28
6. Wolves 18 6 9 3 26-22 4 27
7. Spurs 18 7 5 6 32-26 6 26
8. Man Utd 18 6 7 5 26-22 4 25
9. Newcastle 18 7 4 7 18-24 -6 25
10. Burnley 18 7 3 8 23-29 -6 24
11. Arsenal 18 5 8 5 24-27 -3 23
12. C. Palace 18 6 5 7 15-20 -5 23
13. Brighton 18 5 5 8 21-26 -5 20
14. B'mouth 18 5 4 9 19-25 -6 19
15. Everton 18 5 4 9 20-29 -9 19
16. West Ham 17 5 4 8 19-28 -9 19
17. S'hampton 18 5 3 10 21-37 -16 18
18. A. Villa 18 4 3 11 24-33 -9 15
19. Norwich 18 3 3 12 19-37 -18 12
20. Watford 18 2 6 10 11-32 -21 12