Premier League Review – Matchday 20
Saturday 28th December, 2019
Brighton 2 Bournemouth 0
I’ll be honest. Living in Chesterfield, I would like at least one of the South coast teams to be relegated. No offence to any of them, but each gives me my longest away trips of the season. With this defeat Bournemouth slipped lowest of the three teams and are just one point above West Ham.
Iranian born Alireza Jahanbakhsh was making his first Premier League start of the season and within three minutes, he was in tears of joy as he scored his first goal in English football. It was a great goal too, as Mooy moved forward and passed to Maupay, who passed back to Jahanbakhsh 15 yards from goal before he fired low to the goalkeeper’s left corner. King had a shot well saved by Ryan at the other end.
Brighton’s Daniel Burn had a “goal” chalked off for the most marginal of offside decisions, given for the moment that Mooy’s free kick had been taken. The ball had pinged around the area several times before Burn had turned and fired home. It would have been his first Brighton goal too. Mooy had one sighter at goal, which passed just the wrong side of the post. Bissouma hit the post and a Jahanbakhsh shot got a touch for a corner. Mooy (who is only on loan from Huddersfield) made it 2-0 with his first Brighton goal after 79 minutes. Trossard crossed from the left and Mooy turned nicely before scoring inside Ramsdale’s left post.
Newcastle 1 Everton 2
Everton, who sacked Marc Silva after a 5-2 defeat at Anfield at the start of the month haven’t lost since and found themselves back in the top half after this win. Newcastle were under early pressure through two corners, one of which should not have been given and in the aftermath Everton had a free kick taken by Sigurdsson which rebounded of the wall before a pass which was deflected to Calvert-Lewin who scored in the 13th minute at The Gallowgate end.
Almiron hit the post with a shot and Andy Carroll hit the rebound into the net but he was offside. Dubravka made a brave close range save from Moise Kean in the second half. Newcastle were level after 56 minutes following a free kick conceded by Walcott. Willems took the kick; Carroll got it back to Schar who scored inside Pickford’s right post. Everton regained the lead in the 64th minute after Carroll was caught in possession by Richarlison before he and Walcott advanced down the right flank. Richarlison crossed for Calvert-Lewin to bag his second goal. Carroll was denied a late penalty despite Sidibe helping him to the ground with both hands.
Southampton 1 Crystal Palace 1
Southampton have had a good Christmas – unbeaten so far – but they were held to a draw here. Palace thought they were one up after 15 minutes through Meyer, but the now notorious VAR system ruled Zaha marginally offside in the build-up. Zaha had created the “goal”. It could have been his hand that caused the offence being just too far forward. Bednarek somehow scooped over a Ward-Prowse free kick when he met the ball at the far post.
Tomkins headed Palace into the lead on 50 minutes after Milivojevic’s free kick was floated in from right of the area. Southampton equalised in the 74th minute when Danny Ings seized upon a poor ball inside by Kelly. Ings scored his 12th league goal of the season. Only Vardy and Aubameyang are ahead of him at this stage. Djenepo had a chance to win it with a late shot but Guaita managed to push the shot over the bar. Djenepo then won a corner from which Ings’ glanced header was saved. Guaita was in action again, saving a James Ward-Prowse free kick taken 25 yards out.
Spurs are in for a tough game at St Mary’s on New Year’s Day.
Watford 3 Aston Villa 0
Nigel Pearson is certainly working some magic for Watford, who have now won two and drawn one of their last three games, drawing themselves closer to struggling Villa. Ben Foster made a brilliant reaction save from Wesley after 25 minutes. Troy Deeney had had a couple of chances in the half for Watford before he did score in the 42nd minute. The goal followed a defensive error; a shot by Doucoure and a save by Heaton into Deeney’s path.
Mariappa was booked for tripping Grealish in the Villa half, and then sent off for a mis-timed kick which brought down Lansbury. (57 mins) 10-man Watford went two up after 67 minutes. Deeney was brought down by Douglas Luiz and hit the spot kick down the middle of the goal in front of the Rookery Stand. Deeney passed to Capoue to his left who crossed and Sarr finished the win with his 71st minute shot.
The Villa defence looked very lethargic in this game and that does not augur well for the remainder of the season. Like Fulham the previous year Villa spent over £100 million in the summer, but it hasn’t done them a lot of good so far.
Norwich 2 Spurs 2
Christian Eriksen was your Spurs Odyssey man of the match. Oh yes he was!
West Ham 1 Leicester 2
Manuel Pellegrini was sacked after this tenth Premier League defeat of the season for the “Hammers”. This was their sixth home defeat and home fans haven’t seen a win since September. On Sunday West Ham announced the re-appointment of David Moyes as manager. Many West Ham fans are not enamoured with this move, although I think they were pleased about Pellegrini’s departure.
Leicester won the game with a below strength side after Brendan Rodgers made 9 changes to his team. Fabianski was back in goal for the “Hammers”. Geoff Hurst led the party laying a wreath on the centre spot as West Ham paid tribute to Martin Peters.
Leicester had a penalty after 9 minutes when Iheanacho was clattered by Fabianski as he ran onto Demarai Gray’s long ball. Fabianski was booked but saved Gray’s spot kick. Schmeichel had to make a good save from Masuaku’s driven shot from outside the area. Iheanacho gave the visitors the lead in the 40th minute. Debutant right back James Justin sent over a high cross which was headed back from the bye-line by Perez for Iheanacho to head home, despite the keeper getting a touch.
West Ham were level before the break after Fredericks and Anderson combined down the right channel cutting back for Fornals to score with a low shot. It was Fornals’ first Premier league goal. Gray scored the winner after Leicester broke from the back and Perez was allowed a run through the middle passing to Gray on his left, who fired home in the 56th minute.
Burnley 0 Manchester United 2
It’s Manchester United who hold fifth place after this round of games in the never-ending battle to catch the top four or at least claim a place in next season’s European competitions. Rashford had a long-range free kick which Pope could only parry, but he did ensure the ball ran well away from danger. Rashford had another powerful shot from 20 yards which curved in to hit the outside of Pope’s left post. Martial had a shot cleared off the line after 35 minutes. It was Martial who gave United a first half lead after a dreadful error by Taylor on Burnley’s left flank. Pereira crossed and Martial slotted home.
Martial thought he had a second goal early in the second half, but referee Mike Dean spotted a push on Tarkowski. Burnley fans were upset with Mike Dean not giving much their way, but after a second half free kick, 34-year-old Bardsley hit a shot from 20 yards which De Gea had to stretch to save to his right. Burnley had another free kick right on the edge of the area, but Gudmundsson put it over the target.
It took United until the 95th minute to secure the win. That came from a break by Daniel James, who passed inside to Rashford, who rounded Pope and scored despite the attentions of McNeil.
Sunday 29th December, 2019
Arsenal 1 Chelsea 2
Arsenal won the first half but lost the second and lost a fourth consecutive home game for the first time since 2006. The Arsenal goal followed a corner won by Aubameyang who headed home after 13 minutes when Chambers headed the ball on to the middle of goal.
Jorginho was booked for a foul on Lacazette in the second half, but in Arsenal’s eyes got away with a second similar offence upon Guendouzi. Referee Craig Pawson thought otherwise and booked Lacazette for arguing too vociferously. It was, of course, Jorginho who was on hand to snap up the easy chance to score when Leno made a gaffe and failed to gather a free kick taken by Mount, which had been given for a Lacazette foul upon Jorginho, whose goal came in the 83rd minute.
Arsenal’s misery was compounded 4 minutes later when Tammy Abraham turned the ball into the Arsenal net. The goal came on a break with Mount, Abraham and Willian side-by-side. Willian made the final pass.
It is always a joy for Spurs fans to see Arsenal lose (and stay 6 points below them), but the downside of this result was that Chelsea opened up a gap between fourth and fifth.
Liverpool 1 Wolves 0
Nuno rested both Jimenez and Traore from his starting line-up but still made Liverpool work very hard for their win. Once again VAR was in the headlines, working in favour of the home side and against the visitors.
Liverpool had an early chance with a fine move from the back culminating in Alexander-Arnold’s cross the near post and a flick by Salah which did not find the target. Wijnaldum hit a shot over the bar following a corner. Mane teed up Salah for another shot, but this was straight into the arms of Rui Patricio.
Liverpool’s goal came in the 42nd minute, and it led to VAR controversy from Wolves’ point of view, but a correct decision in my opinion. A Liverpool ball went off the top of Lallana’s shoulder and fell for Mane who scored. Referee Anthony Taylor blew for handball, but not until the ball was in the net, and he was overruled by VAR. Neto then thought he had scored a quick equaliser, but VAR ruled that there had been an offside by Jonny in the build-up. Once again, it was very marginal. It was after this decision that I tweeted, “I am truly fed up with VAR being the headline on so many games”.
Wolves fought hard in the second half and had a number of chances, but just couldn’t hit the target. The closest they came to a goal was when Alisson blocked a Jota shot at his left post.
Manchester City 2 Sheffield United 0
Ederson was suspended for this game and replaced by Bravo. Sheffield United had not been beaten on their travels until this game. 18-year-old Eric Garcia (a central defender) was given a first Premier League start by Guardiola.
The “Blades” had a good start and Mousset put a good headed chance over the target. Mousset had the ball in the net after 29 minutes, after a great ball from the left by Fleck, but once again VAR said “No!” Mousset put another chance wide near the end of the first half.
City had been below par, but normality returned in the 52nd minute when De Bruyne passed to Aguero on the right of the area from where the striker scored. Chris Wilder was livid as referee Chris Kavanagh had got in the way of one ball and impeded one of his players, but the goal was allowed to stand. I think United also felt there had been a foul on one of their players in the build-up. De Bruyne settled the game with an 82nd minute right foot goal, after Mahrez had passed to him from a central position outside the box. In added time United came close when Stevens lifted the ball into the area and substitute Billy Sharp’s header hit the inside of the post and rolled clear across the goalmouth.
City remain in third place and are a full 14 points behind Liverpool. As it happens, after 20 games (each) last year City were seven points behind.
Fixtures & Results 28-29.12.19
Brighton 2-0 B'mouth
Newcastle 1-2 Everton
S'hampton 1-1 C. Palace
Watford 3-0 A. Villa
Norwich 2-2 Spurs
West Ham 1-2 Leicester
Burnley 0-2 Man Utd
Arsenal 1-2 Chelsea
Liverpool 1-0 Wolves
Man City 2-0 Sheff Utd
Premier League Table
P W D L F-A GD Pts
1. Liverpool 19 18 1 0 47-14 33 55
2. Leicester 20 13 3 4 43-19 24 42
3. Man City 20 13 2 5 54-23 31 41
4. Chelsea 20 11 2 7 35-28 7 35
5. Man Utd 20 8 7 5 32-23 9 31
6. Spurs 20 8 6 6 36-29 7 30
7. Wolves 20 7 9 4 29-25 4 30
8. Sheff Utd 20 7 8 5 23-19 4 29
9. C. Palace 20 7 6 7 18-22 -4 27
10. Everton 20 7 4 9 23-30 -7 25
11. Newcastle 20 7 4 9 20-30 -10 25
12. Arsenal 20 5 9 6 26-30 -4 24
13. Burnley 20 7 3 10 23-32 -9 24
14. Brighton 20 6 5 9 24-28 -4 23
15. S'hampton 20 6 4 10 24-38 -14 22
16. B'mouth 20 5 5 10 20-28 -8 20
17. West Ham 19 5 4 10 21-32 -11 19
18. A. Villa 20 5 3 12 25-36 -11 18
19. Watford 20 3 7 10 15-33 -18 16
20. Norwich 20 3 4 13 21-40 -19 13