Premier League Review – Matchday 12
Friday 11th December, 2020
Leeds 1 West Ham 2
Leeds are without defender Robert Koch for three months, due to a knee injury. Rodrigo got a start in this game, but not in defence. West Ham were missing left wing-back Masuaku who was replaced by Said Benrahma, although Fornals took the position on the left of midfield. David Moyles switched to a back four.
Leeds were given a great start when Liam Cooper put Bamford through after only one minute and Fabianski rushed out, sliding into Bamford to bring him down. Referee Michael Oliver pointed to the spot and showed Fabianski a yellow card. That was after only one minute of play, but the penalty-taking process took four minutes. Firstly, Klich took a pathetic low strength shot which Fabianski saved easily to his right. However, VAR decreed the keeper had moved off his line, so Klich got a second chance and finished well this time to the left of the West Ham keeper.
West Ham equalised in the 25th minute when Soucek headed home from Bowen’s corner. Meslier got a touch and should have done better really. The ball was cleared from the goalmouth, but it had easily crossed the line.
In the second half Rice found Fornals with a diagonal pass. Fornals hit a shot just wide of Meslier’s right post. This was after 75 minutes. Two minutes later the Leeds keeper did make a great save from Balbuena’s powerful header following a free kick taken on the right. The game was won by West Ham from another set piece in the 79th minute. Cresswell took the free kick from the left this time, and Ogbonna rose to power home a header inside the back post. Leeds are good at conceding from set pieces. West Ham are prone to score from them!
Haller didn’t have the best of times leading the Hammers’ line, but he did have a late overhead shot well saved by Meslier. There was still time for a short cross by Ogbonna on the right of the area from which Balbuena headed across the goal, only to see the ball bounce away off the far post. In added time Rodrigo met Ayling’ cross but headed straight at Fabianski.
West Ham have won four of their last five games and are currently in a lofty position. Leeds are a fast and attractive side to watch, but they’ve managed just one win in six games now. They are not clinical enough at the front, nor strong enough in defence. Their 14th place could be where they end the season, but any promoted side has to be happy with that situation.
Saturday 12th December, 2020
Wolves 0 Aston Villa 1
In the absence of Raul Jimenez, Nuno Esperito Santo gave a first Premier League start to 19-year-old Fabio Silva. Villa also had a teenage debutant - Jacob Ramsey in for Hourihane. Bertrand Traore replaced Trezeguet in the attacking midfield line-up.
The Villa defence was exposed after 11 minutes when Neto got away down the right-hand side and crossed for Silva. However, goalkeeper Martinez rushed out and reached the ball first, taking a blow to the head in the process.
Villa had three players booked in the first half-hour. They were offering a little more threat than Wolves although Rui Patricio had yet to have a save to make. The closest Villa came in that period was Konsa heading wide at the near post following a throw from the right.
Wolves won a corner on the right and eventually in a follow-up move Podence hit a low shot from 20 yards which Martinez saved, diving to his left. Three minutes later Wolves attacked again. Traore crossed from the right and Dendoncker's shot was well saved again by Martinez, this time to his right. Fabio Silva headed wide in first half added time after Moutinho's free kick from deep on the right.
Douglas Luiz threatened but did not score with a shot after 56 minutes after Grealish had provided the pass. Neto let fly with a shot from outside the area after coming in from the right flank. Martinez dived to his right, but the shot passed wide. Grealish hit a free kick just over the corner to the left of Rui Patricio's goal.
Wolves came closest to scoring after 68 minutes. Podence was on a run through the middle and pushed the ball forward where Fabio Silva took it on, hitting a shot which rebounded off the inside of the post. A couple of minutes later Saiss was up for a free kick, after which the ball was crossed from the right and the centre-back headed down where Martinez saved. Semedo forced another save by Martinez with a left foot shot inside the left post.
Neto lifted a short cross from the left of the box and Dendoncker hit it first time, bringing yet another save from Martinez. A save from an overhead kick by Fabio Silva was a more routine save for the keeper. Douglas Luiz was shown a second yellow and therefore a red card by the referee for a foul on Podence. The Villa man went into the challenge with his elbow raised, so there was even an argument for a straight red.
10-man Villa managed to put the home side under pressure as the game entered 5 minutes of added time. McGinn got around Semedo and into the area where he was fouled and won a penalty. Substitute El Ghazi slammed home the spot kick in the 94th minute.
There was still time for Moutinho to be shown a second yellow card and have to march off the pitch a little earlier than the rest of the players.
Wolves have picked up just four points from their last five games. Villa have 18 points and two games in hand on most teams.
There were 9 yellow cards (and two reds) shown in this game and apparently at some point referee Mike Dean reached the figure of 3,000 yellow cards shown. Mr. Dean has been refereeing in the Premier League for over 20 years now.
Newcastle 2 West Bromwich Albion 1
After their Covid crisis Newcastle were able to field a team with just three changes from their last match. West Brom were missing the suspended Pereira. Club captain Jake Livermore was on the bench. He too has recently had to self-isolate.
It was 1-0 to Newcastle inside 20 seconds. West Brom had kicked off too. Callum Wilson was gifted the ball on the left flank, then passed inside to Joelinton who laid it on a plate for Almiron to score from the right of the area. It was Almiron's first Premier League goal of the season, and still only his fifth for Newcastle since his debut in February last year. This was also Newcastle's second fastest Premier League after Alan Shearer against Manchester City in 2003.
Almiron had another shot easily saved after 21 minutes. Ten minutes later Joelinton also had a shot easily saved by Johnstone at his right post after Newcastle took a quick free kick down the left flank. Gallagher missed West Brom's first decent chance just before the break but pushed his shot wide.
Charlie Austin replaced Grant at half-time, making his first league appearance of the season. Kieran Gibbs came on for Robinson.
West Brom equalised within 5 minutes of the re-start. Matt Phillips crossed from the left and Darnell Furlong sneaked in to surprise Jamaal Lewis and fire a low shot past Darlow. Gallagher and Austin had further chances, but not good enough to beat Darlow.
Dwight Gayle replaced Lewis and he had a header from a Matt Ritchie corner cleared off the line after 70 minutes by Phillips. Gayle was making his first appearance of the season, due to injury and it became a memorable one too when he headed in Murphy's cross from the right in the 82nd minute. Gayle had spent a season on loan with the "Baggies" two seasons ago.
Manchester United 0 Manchester City 0
Paul Pogba got the nod for this game and started on the left of midfield. McTominay and Fred were in the middle with Fernandes towards the right behind Greenwood and Rashford.
Pep Guardiola maintained his current faith in John Stones. Gabriel Jesus was the City front man, and although he had played Champions League football during the week there was no place in the squad for Aguero.
After 10 minutes of tentative football, United had the first chance when McTominay nearly got on the end of a corner as he slid in at the back post. City's first threat came after another 10 minutes following a good move from the left of the area by Cancelo, De Bruyne and Sterling, whose on-target shot was well blocked.
The United defence was opened up after 34 minutes following a good move ending in passes from Jesus to De Bruyne and finally to Mahrez in space inside the area on the right. Mahrez tried to pick a spot but took too long and his shot did not beat Ederson.
The first half did not live up to the typical pre-match hype. Referee Chris Kavanagh pointed to the spot two minutes into the second half when Walker caught Rashford, but VAR showed that Rashford had been offside when the ball had been crossed from the right.
Guardiola put on Ferran Torres for Mahrez after 65 minutes.
Fernandes did have a couple of shots towards the end of the game. One was straight at Ederson. The other was well off target. De Gea got down comfortably to a Rodri shot which lacked strength.
Even the virtual crowd was quiet for this most boring of Manchester Derby games. Both sides lacked adventure. My theory is that they are both eyeing wins against lowly sides in their next game.
Everton 1 Chelsea 0
Tier 2 Everton were allowed to have 2,000 fans, most of whom were housed in the Gwladys Street End. Their team was without James Rodriguez, as well as the longer standing absentees such as Coleman and Digne. Gylfi Sigurdsson started and captained the team. Giroud started again for Chelsea, for whom Kovacic played instead of Ziyech.
There had been no clear chances in the first 20 minutes. Mendy had spent some time being treated after a heavy fall collecting a free kick a few minutes before he raced out and fouled Calvert-Lewin with a raised arm and a body blow. Referee Jon Moss pointed to the spot and after a debate with Richarlison over who would take the kick, the former Spurs man calmly slotted past Mendy who committed early to his right - the wrong way.
Pickford saved James' free kick at the other end, and after the corner James beat everyone with a right-footed shot from the edge of the area. The shot rebounded across the goalmouth off the inside of the post. Werner had a chance after 36 minutes following Reece James' pass inside to Kovacic who fed the ball to the middle where Werner's attempt went over the bar.
Richarlison hit a shot with less than full strength which was saved by Mendy, but not with conviction.
A minute into the second half Pickford panicked when he was a long way off his line and flapped the ball out of his area where Mason Mount nearly embarrassed his England colleague with a cheeky chip which bounced out off the top of the bar. A few minutes later Mendy pushed away Richarlison's shot to his left for a corner.
After 62 minutes Iwobi sent Calvert-Lewin away down the right channel. Calvert-Lewin got into the box where he went down under Chilwell's challenge. The referee gave a penalty, but VAR spotted that Calvert-Lewin had been offside when Iwobi passed forward.
Ten minutes from time Doucoure committed a risky foul on Reece James just outside the Everton area. James, Chilwell, and Mount were over the ball, but it was Mount whose shot rebounded off Pickford's left post. Werner crossed from the right but Giroud lifted his shot high over the target.
Everton held onto their lead, and it was a deserved win which included stout defending, coupled with determined effort all over the pitch. It was a great result for Everton, but also for Spurs!
Sunday 13th December, 2020
Southampton 3 Sheffield United 0
Four of the five games played today were able to have 2,000 fans in the stadia. This was the first, kicking off at 12 noon. Danny Ings returned to the "Saints" starting line-up. Chris Wilder made four changes to his team which included Billy Sharp starting for the first time in two months and veteran Phil Jagielka making a first league start of the season. Wilder was desperate to bring an end to the worst start by any team to a Premier League season.
The early play was towards the "Blades" goal, but Southampton were being thwarted by some stout defending. Che Adams put Ings through after 15 minutes and Ramsdale held Ings' shot, but it turned out he was offside anyway. Ings got inside one defender to run onto Vestergaard's ball, but Jagielka cleared the ball off his feet. From the corner, Vestergaard headed wide.
McBurnie had been having a battle with Bednarek and was lucky not to get booked for a shove in the back. When Kyle Walker-Peters made a good clearing tackle, McBurnie threw himself to the floor and needed treatment for a self-inflicted shoulder injury. He was able to carry on, but did not complete the game. At the other end Ings was blocked twice, first by Baldock, secondly by Basham.
Sheffield United's first chance came after 31 minutes when Berge got on the end of a good low cross by Stevens but stabbed the ball wide. The breakthrough for Southampton came in the 34th minute after a Ward-Prowse free kick was only half-cleared. The ball rebounded off the back of Bednarek, falling for Che Adams whose shot hit the ground and then the net.
McBurnie had been struggling with his right arm injury. He started the second half but was soon replaced by former "Saint" David McGoldrick. Brewster replaced Billy Sharp after 59 minutes.
Southampton scored a second goal in the 62nd minute when Ings passed inside from the left and Armstrong scored with a deflected shot inside Ramsdale's right post. Ward-Prowse hit a free kick just over the bar after Walcott had been fouled 25 yards out.
Nathan Redmond had replaced Walcott and made it 3-0 after 82 minutes after playing a one-two with Romeu. Redmond placed his shot well, just inside his left post.
Southampton have maintained their excellent start, whilst Sheffield United's dismal season continues. Next up for the "Blades" are Manchester United.
Crystal Palace 1 Spurs 1
For his second consecutive game Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg was man of the match, just edging goal-scorer Harry Kane in our post-match survey. Thanks as always to all those who participate and offer their comments, which are always studied and sometimes included in these reviews.
Fulham 1 Liverpool 1
This game followed Spurs' draw and of course Liverpool were expected to beat lowly Fulham and take a clear lead at the top of the table, but it didn’t work out that way. Jurgen Klopp confirmed before the game that Diogo Jota will be missing for 6-8 weeks with a knee injury. On the plus side, Liverpool did have Alisson and Alexander-Gordon back in the starting line-up. The game was preceded by applause for Papa Boupa Diop who died recently, aged 42. Diop spent three full seasons at Fulham between 2004 and 2007.
Fulham made a bright start and Cavaleiro hit a shot from the right of centre inside the area which Alisson was glad to push away. That was after 4 minutes and Alisson had to save again from the same player ten minutes later, this time on the left of the area after good passes by Robinson and Lookman.
Andre Marriner gave a corner when Fabinho tackled Decordova-Reid near the bye-line and was advised to check the monitor. Mr. Marriner stuck by his decision, seeing no penalty offence. Fulham were playing really well. Aina hit a long diagonal pass to Lookman who cut inside and hit a shot which again Alisson pushed around for a corner. After the corner was partly cleared to the edge of the area, Lookman collected the ball and quickly fed it to Decordova-Reid to his right. The Bristol-born Jamaica international hit his right foot shot across Alisson to hit the net in front of the Putney Stand where some of the Fulham fans were housed. It was a great goal by anybody’s standards. Klopp was apoplectic on the touchline. He probably wanted a foul on one of his players in the build-up, but he was also venting at his players.
Liverpool’s first chance came after nearly 40 minutes and Mane headed that over. Salah hit a shot the wrong side of the post after receiving from Alexander-Arnold. Joel Matip had to go off inured at half-time. Minamino came on and Jordan Henderson covered at centre-back. It wasn’t the make-shift defender who nearly gave a goal away in the first minute of the break. That was Robertson with his attempted clearance which rebounded towards the goal off Cavaleiro with Alisson making a desperate save.
Curtis Jones hit a pass to Salah who hit a shot from distance that was beaten away by Areola. Areola made a very good save from close range from Henderson after 61 minutes. The Liverpool captain aimed for the goalkeeper’s narrow side and not across the keeper which is more desirable. Fulham held their lead until the 79th minute when Salah scored from a penalty given for a handball when the Fulham wall rose to block a Wijnaldum free kick. Substitute Kamara was the unlucky offender whose elbow was raised as he rose and turned. Areola got a hand to Salah’s shot but could not save it. He did make a clean save a few minutes later from Curtis Jones’ shot from just inside the area after the midfielder had made a good run with the ball.
Fulham will justifiably take a lot of confidence from this performance and result against the reigning Champions.
Arsenal 0 Burnley 1
This was a great day to be a Spurs fan, watching Arsenal TV suffer and knowing that their team had lost a fourth consecutive home league game for the first time since 1959, and that Aubameyang’s first goal at home this season was into his own net. The last time that none of the “Big Six” managed to win on a Premier League matchday was in January 2016. Of course, there is an argument that Arsenal should no longer be a part of this group.
Arsenal had three shots well blocked in the same move by a stout Burnley defence before Wood put a chance wide at the other end after a cross from the right. Pope saved well with his leg after a close range shot by Lacazette. Five minutes into the second half Tierney passed forward to Aubameyang and then ran onto the area to receive Aubameyang’s cross, hitting a shot which was saved by Pope. The Burnley keeper made another good save from Saka who got on the end of a short cross by Willian.
There was a spat between Xhaka and McNeil initially, but then one or two Burnley players got involved trying to split them apart. Referee Graham Scott initially showed Xhaka a yellow card but was advised to review the incident in full on the monitor, which revealed that Xhaka had his hands around the throat of Ashley Westwood. The yellow card was upgraded, and Xhaka will miss the next three games. The sending-off came in the 56th minute. Elneny was lucky not to be sent off when he put his hands up to Tarkowski in the Arsenal box before a 72nd minute corner. He got a yellow card. When the corner was taken Aubameyang headed it into his own net from the near post. It was a good finish! (73 minutes)
In the sixth minute of added time Arsenal had a corner and Robbie Brady cleared a header off his line near the left-hand post. This was Sean Dyche’s first win as a manager at the Emirates, and only Burnley’s second league win of the season. Mikel Arteta might be wishing he’d stayed at the Etihad, assisting Pep Guardiola. Some Arsenal fans are already calling for his head. Many of the 2,000 present in the stadium booed their team off the pitch.
Leicester City 3 Brighton & Hove Albion 0
Brendan Rodgers’ Leicester side maintained their challenge for the lead of the Premier League table with a convincing win over Brighton who have won just one of their last ten league games. Brighton's next games are away to Fulham and at home to Sheffield United, which should be interesting.
Brighton had an early chance when Solly March crossed from the left and Jahanbakhsh forced a save from Schmeichel from just inside the area. Jahanbakhsh was making his first league start of the season and three minutes later gave Danny Welbeck a chance, from which Schmeichel saved with an out-stretched leg.
Leicester’s first chance of note came after 26 minutes when Justin challenged for Tielemans ball into the Brighton area. Solly March intercepted and Jamie Vardy hit the post as he followed up. Maddison opened the scoring a minute later after Brighton only half-cleared a cross by Justin. Maddison scored with a left foot shot from just inside the box.
Another Justin cross went to Perez, who hit a right-footed shot across Ryan, who got enough on the ball to concede a corner. Vardy made it 2-0 in the 41st minute and again Justin had been the provider for what was a simple finish. VAR took a long look at offside but confirmed the goal. Maddison scored his second and Leicester’s third goal with a minute of the first half remaining, Maddison had helped Ndidi’s ball onto Vardy who fed it back where Maddison made space for a superb left-footed shot which curled inside Ryan’s right post.
There was no way back for the “Seagulls” and little action of note in the second half.
Friday 11th December, 2020
Leeds 1-2 West Ham
Saturday 12th December, 2020
Wolves 0-1 Aston Villa
Newcastle 2-1 West Brom
Man Utd 0-0 Man City
Everton 1-0 Chelsea
Sunday 13th December, 2020
S'hampton 3-0 Sheff Utd
C. Palace 1-1 Spurs
Fulham 1-1 Liverpool
Arsenal 0-1 Burnley
Leicester 3-0 Brighton
Premier League Table
P W D L F-A GD Pts
1. Spurs 12 7 4 1 24-10 14 25
2. Liverpool 12 7 4 1 27-18 9 25
3. Leicester 12 8 0 4 24-15 9 24
4. S'hampton 12 7 2 3 24-17 7 23
5. Chelsea 12 6 4 2 25-12 13 22
6. West Ham 12 6 2 4 20-15 5 20
7. Everton 12 6 2 4 21-18 3 20
8. Man Utd 11 6 2 3 19-17 2 20
9. Man City 11 5 4 2 17-11 6 19
10. A. Villa 10 6 0 4 21-13 8 18
11. C. Palace 12 5 2 5 18-17 1 17
12. Newcastle 11 5 2 4 14-16 -2 17
13. Wolves 12 5 2 5 11-16 -5 17
14. Leeds 12 4 2 6 17-22 -5 14
15. Arsenal 12 4 1 7 10-15 -5 13
16. Brighton 12 2 4 6 15-21 -6 10
17. Burnley 11 2 3 6 6-18 -12 9
18. Fulham 12 2 2 8 12-22 -10 8
19. West Brom 12 1 3 8 9-25 -16 6
20. Sheff Utd 12 0 1 11 5-21 -16 1