Premier League Review – Matchday 14
Saturday 19th December, 2020
Crystal Palace 0 Liverpool 7
Whilst Jurgen Klopp had a choice about putting Mo Salah on the bench, Roy Hodgson had to leave out Christian Benteke, who was suspended for this game after seeing two yellow cards against West Ham. Jordan Ayew took Benteke's place. Minamino started for Liverpool, who do not have a midweek League Cup game to worry about. Matip was back and Keita played in Liverpool's midfield three.
Minamino had his first Premier League goal within three minutes after Mane received Alexander-Arnold's long ball from the right and teed up his Japanese team-mate with a clever turn and pass. Minamino hit a well-placed shot just inside Guaita's right post.
Milivojevic spotted Alisson off his line when making a clearance and made a genuine attempt at scoring from just inside halfway. The goalkeeper saw the shot coming and held easily. Palace had a genuine opportunity midway through the half when Ayew crossed from the right, but he hit the ball behind Zaha, whose frustration was all too evident. Ayew headed a Milivojevic free kick straight into the hands of Alisson. Alisson also held a glanced header by Schlupp from a Palace corner.
Palace had been giving a good account of themselves, but Liverpool went two up after 35 minutes through Mane who collected Firmino's short pass from the edge of the area, scoring with a right-footed shot. Liverpool were heading for top of the table security for Christmas. It was becoming all too easy as Robertson swung a ball into the box where Firmino had too much room to score with the outside of his right foot.
6 minutes into the second half it was 4-0. After a pass across the area to the right back, Alexander-Arnold passed back to Henderson who scored from 22 yards with a right-footed shot across Guaita. Mane pulled a shot wide across the area after Robertson's cross, then made way for Salah. Minamino had a chance to make it 5-0, but he put his shot wide.
Palace were being given a master class as Liverpool scored a fifth goal in the 68th minute. This one was started by Alexander-Arnold's long ball down the right channel, then a cross-field pass by Salah to Firmino who this time scored with his left foot dinking the ball nicely over the keeper.
The procession continued in the 81st minute following a corner from the right. Matip rose to meet the ball and head down, where Salah hit a reactive header to the right of Guaita, whose touch was not sufficient to keep the ball out of his net. It wasn’t over yet either. Three minutes later Salah received from substitute Oxlade-Chamberlain- this time just outside the area - and hit his shot into the far corner.
Not only will Liverpool now maintain a points difference at the top, but they have also now got a better goal difference than Tottenham and their other rivals. That late Firmino goal last Wednesday might prove a crucial turning point in the season for Tottenham and this result will ring alarm bells for all Liverpool’s rivals. Checkout this bet365 sign up offer if you are interested in the games to come. It was the first time in Liverpool’s history that they won an away game by seven goals.
Southampton 0 Manchester City 1
St. Mary's is one of the very few Premier League Stadia remaining where fans are allowed. The allotted 2,000 were present to see their team try to win and take second place. Djenepo took Armstrong’s place in the Southampton side. Pep Guardiola's side began the game 11 points behind Liverpool and had to go without Gabriel Jesus and with Aguero on the bench. Ferran Torres started in front of Bernardo Silva, De Bruyne and Sterling.
Both sides sought to attack. The first test for either goalkeeper came for McCarthy who dived to his left to save a 25 yard shot by Cancelo after 12 minutes. Rodri had the ball in the net after a City free kick, but he and two other players had been offside. City did have the lead though in the 16th minute when De Bruyne crossed from the left and Sterling had space in the box, scoring with a right foot shot.
Ederson had to save from Walcott four minutes later after Walker-Peters passed inside to the ex-Arsenal and Everton man. Danny Ings headed wide and wanted a penalty for a high boot, without joy. Vestergaard had a header saved by Ederson following a corner. Southampton were giving it their all to get back on terms.
Southampton suffered a blow before half-time when Danny Ings had to withdraw. He was replaced by 21-year-old Nathan Tella, who has made three previous substitute appearances in this season’s Premier League.
After only one minute of the second half Torres received a long diagonal ball from Cancelo, before hitting his shot wide across goal. Bernardo Silva was in a good scoring position and received De Bruyne’s ball from the left but was unable to hit a shot with any strength.
Redmond came on for Djenepo and when Walcott crossed to the right, he missed his kick when trying to shoot. De Bruyne had a chance after a Torres ball from his right, but he too could not get real strength on his shot. McCarthy made an excellent save from a Gundogan shot after 77 minutes. In added time City had a chance to add to the score but they over-played their approach with Bernardo Silva opting to hit a pass across the goalmouth to Mahrez, rather than shooting. Mahrez fired over from a tougher position.
Everton 2 Arsenal 1
Everton are back to winning ways. This was their third consecutive win and those results have been achieved against Chelsea, Leicester, and Arsenal. For Mikel Arteta’s men losing is becoming a regular habit. This was their eighth Premier League loss. The Gooners missed Aubameyang for this game too.
Everton took the lead in the 22nd minute. Former Arsenal man Iwobi crossed from the right and with Calvert-Lewin challenging it was Rob Holding who put the ball into his own net with a deflection across Leno. Arsenal equalised from the penalty spot after Maitland-Niles was caught by Tom Davies as he advanced into the area. Referee Andre Marriner pointed to the spot and VAR supported his decision. Pepe scored in front of the Gwladys Street Stand with Pickford going the wrong way in front of his fans.
Leno made a good diving save from Calvert-Lewin’s 20-yarder before the break, but Yerry Mina headed in from Sigurdsson’s corner. Mina’s last 4 goals have been scored in the 45th minute.
Arsenal had a lot of possession early in the second half and after Pickford couldn’t hold a Willian cross, David Luiz hit the woodwork with a deflected shot. That was as close as Arsenal came to scoring, for all their efforts. Pickford saved a Saka shot in the fifth minute of added time and Everton held onto their lead.
After their Boxing Day game against Chelsea, Arsenal have a series of games against bottom half sides, so I’m sorry Spurs fans, but I do expect Arsenal to climb up to mid-table.
Newcastle 1 Fulham 1
Mitrovic made a first start for Fulham in six weeks, playing against his old club. Steve Bruce’s side have suffered well-documented Covid problems and he made several changes to his team. There was not much significant first half action. Lookman had a header straight at Darlow and at the other end Almiron hit a shot straight at Areola. Fulham had a 42nd minute lead after a corner taken from the left by Lookman which was headed down by Adarabioyo before the ball hit Matt Ritchie in the face near the post and rebounded into the net.
Andersen was booked for a challenge on Almiron just outside the area and Shelvey hit the free kick over the corner of the goal. Newcastle were awarded a penalty when Almiron fed the ball forward for Callum Wilson who went down very easily under Andersen’s perceived challenge. Referee Graham Scott pointed to the spot but was called to the monitor which suggests he was being asked to review his own decision. Mr Scott walked away from the monitor then walked back before standing by his decision and also showing Andersen a red card for “preventing a goal scoring opportunity”. Wilson scored straight down the middle in the 64th minute. Areola had gone to his left. Fulham were aggrieved. Scott Parker and several pundits have alleged that Wilson dived. It was his eighth goal of the season, half of which have been penalties. One of those had been against an aggrieved Tottenham.
Joelinton could have won the game when he got round Hector quite easily, but Areola came out to smother at the striker’s feet.
Fulham subsequently successfully appealed against the red card given to defender Joachim Andersen.
Sunday 20th December, 2020
Brighton 1 Sheffield United 1
The “Blades” won only their second point of the season but wanted so much more. A win for Brighton would have taken them above Arsenal! Goalkeeper Robert Sanchez was again preferred to Ryan.
Ollie Burke replaced John Fleck after only 33 minutes and quickly won a free kick outside the Brighton area. McGoldrick took the kick, which was saved well by Sanchez, diving to reach the ball at his left post. Sheffield United suffered a set-back when Lundstram was initially shown a yellow card for his challenge upon Veltman. Referee Peter Bankes was called to the monitor and upgraded the card to a straight red.
The 10 men had a 63rd minute lead when McGoldrick cut the ball back from the left of the area to substitute Jayden Bogle who was making his Premier League debut. Bogle scored with a deflected shot. Ramsdale had earlier made a desperate double save at the feet of Brighton players, and now had to tip over a good shot by Adam Webster. Osborn had a chance to seal the points at the other end, but hit his right foot shot over the target. Sheffield United paid the penalty three minutes from time and the equaliser for Brighton followed a free kick conceded by Osborn’s foul. Trossard floated a ball into the area where after one or two touches substitute Danny Welbeck slammed the ball home from close range. Brighton fans haven’t seen a home league win since June (against Arsenal) but those present were very happy to see that goal.
Brighton might have taken all three points. In the fourth minute of added time Welbeck’s header was headed off the line and Jahanbakhsh followed up with a header against the post before the ball was finally cleared.
Spurs 0 Leicester 2
It's a while since we've had one of these "least worse player" results in the Spurs Odyssey survey and as often happens Hugo Lloris was that player.
The least said about this game the better, but I have picked this comment from those offered:-
"What a completely stupid penalty to give away! The team had made a poor start, but to barge into the back of opponent in penalty area was a lack of brains! The set up was defend /counter attack, Leicester knew the predictability! Sissoko was nowhere near his imacculate self as Hojberg! Ndombele simply got no service and overall its sad on home ground when your side are completely outplayed!"
Manchester United 6 Leeds 2
24-year-old Scott McTominay had only ever scored 6 Premier League goals before this game, and never had two in a game. Today he achieved that in the first three minutes and became the first Premier League player to achieve the feat. His first goal came early in the second minute after Fernandes had slid a pass to his right which was perfect for McTominay to drive a shot with power inside Meslier’s left post. The Leeds keeper was hardly able to move towards the ball. A minute later the United midfielder ran ahead of Martial who passed to him inside the left of the area. This was a left foot shot across Meslier.
Bamford had a chance at the Stretford End, but pushed his shot wide across the goalmouth. Bruno Fernandes was on the end of a move involving Fred and Martial. The Portuguese star drove a shot from the right through some legs and into the net to the right of the Leeds keeper. United were rampant. Bielsa’s men were being battered! (20 mins)
Bamford had another chance with a header after 25 minutes, but this too was off target. It was 4-0 in the 37th minute following a corner taken from the left, headed on by Martial and fired low into the net by Lindelof. Leeds did get a goal back before half-time when Liam Cooper headed in from a corner.
Early in the second half Fernandes fed nice short ball to Martial who picked it up as he moved to the right. He hit a shot towards Meslier’s left post, but just the wrong side. De Gea had to make a superb reaction save from Raphinha’s first-time shot after a cross by Rodrigo. The ball somehow went out of play but struck the bar and the post on the way.
Daniel James was making only his fourth Premier League appearance of the season. After a spell of Leeds pressure United broke out and James made a run to the Leeds area where he went down and was shown a yellow card by Anthony Taylor. James scored in the 66th minute after receiving from McTominay, moving towards the left of the goal area before hitting a shot through Meslier’s legs to make it 5-1.
Rashford and Martial exchanged passes and ran in opposite directions inside the box. When Martial went down Mr. Taylor took his time but pointed to the spot. True to form Fernandes scored from the spot with his trademark hop and a skip to make it 6-1 in the 70th minute. Meslier managed to save with his out-stretched from Martial after McTominay had carried the ball for a distance before passing. Leeds got a brilliant second goal through Dallas’s 22 yard shot after a poor clearance by De Gea had been picked up by the Leeds midfield. Meslier had more work to do, saving a Telles shot five minutes before time. When he held Maguire’s header from a corner it was his most comfortable save of the game. Meslier then got enough on Fred’s shot to concede a corner with his defence nowhere.
Harrison should have scored another after 90 minutes when two of his team-mates left or missed their chance to shoot. Harrison pushed his shot wide across the goal. The game had provided great entertainment and joy for United fans with pain for Leeds fans. Sadly, like most around the country at this time, the stadium was empty.
West Bromwich Albion 0 Aston Villa 3
Sam Allardyce’s first game in charge of West Brom was not a happy occasion. The “Baggies” lost their last home game 5-1 and had a player sent off in the first half. Today they only lost 3-0 but skipper Jake Livermore went off for a straight red after 37 minutes. The word is that “Big Sam” is on a £2 million bonus if he can keep his side in the Premier League. That looks a massive task at this stage.
West Brom conceded the first goal inside five minutes when El Ghazi met Bertrand Traore’s ball and scored at the back post. Livermore’s sending off came as a result of a high challenge upon Grealish. Referee Martin Atkinson initially showed yellow, but he upgraded that to red after viewing the pitch-side monitor.
Sam Johnstone saved Watkins’ left foot shot after Grealish had made the pass after 61 minutes. Watkins thought he had scored 11 minutes later from Cash’s cross, but VAR ruled offside. Johnstone made a great save from El Ghazi, getting down low to his right to push the ball around the post. Traore finally scored a second goal for Villa in the 84th minute. He had taken a pass from Grealish before advancing and beat Johnstone to his right with a well-placed shot. Two minutes later Grealish went down inside the box under Ajayi’s challenge. El Ghazi scored a second personal goal from the spot.
Monday 21st December, 2020
Burnley 2 Wolves 1
Wolves made 4 changes to their team with 19-year-old midfielder Owen Otasowie, Joao Moutinho, Max Kilman and Rayan Ait-Nouri coming into the side, at the expense of Boly, Marcal, Dendoncker and Fabio Silva. Sean Dyche replaced Rodriguez with Ashley Barnes up front alongside Chris Wood.
Chris Wood made a nice, flicked contact with a McNeil cross at the near post after 15 minutes with the ball running just wide.
Ben Mee had already been struggling with an injury picked up when making a challenge on Semedo who had been allowed to proceed, despite an apparent offside. Under the current policy, the flag was not raised until the end of the play when Mee was initially injured. Mee carried on after treatment. I have always felt that this policy not to put the flag up - even for clear offsides - has the ptoential to cause injuries which would otherwise be avoided if play had been correctly stopped.
Wolves had been having more attacks with little direct threat. Neto did bring a save from Pope with a shot after 23 minutes. Rui Patricio was left exposed when Barnes ran onto Pope's long clearance. The goalkeeper saved with his leg. Barnes gave Burnley the lead in the 35th minute after a counter attack down the left flank which ended with Charlie Taylor lifting a cross from the left. Barnes headed down into the net at the back post to score his first goal for over a year.
After a poor Wolves throw-in after 49 minutes, Burnley's Josh Brownhill hit the top of the bar with a 25 yard shot. A minute later Burnley had a second goal after a free kick floated into the area and headed back into the danger zone by Mee. After another header, Chris Wood smashed the ball into the net from close range.
With 60 minutes on the clock Nuno replaced Otasowie and Ait-Nouri with Adama Traore and Fabio Silva. Traore had an instant impact getting a cross into the box where Neto headed just over. Chris Wood was closer to scoring though, receiving Westwood's ball in the middle of the area before hitting a shot which Rui Patricio saved.
Wolves had a corner on the left after 72 minutes and Neves hit a good shot from 20 yards which Pope saved confidently. Wolves were desperately trying to get something out of the game. Podence wriggled through two defenders inside the area but one of those defenders got a touch on his shot which went over the bar for a corner.
Dwight McNeil suffered in a challenge and was replaced by 21-year-old Josh Benson, who, within a minute had conceded a penalty when he fouled Fabio Silva. Fabio Silva took the spot-kick himself scoring with power inside Pope's right post, although the keeper made a valiant effort to save. (89 mins)
Burnley held onto their lead and are now unbeaten in four games, having won two of those games. One of those wins was against Arsenal and Sean Dyche's team are now only one point behind the gooners with a game in hand!
Chelsea 3 West Ham 0
Mark Noble made his first Premier League start since September, replacing Benrahma in the line-up. Reece James is out with a knee injury and Azpilicueta started this game.
Declan Rice hit the ball into the net from a very sharp angle after 6 minutes, but he had clearly been offside behind the defensive line when a West Ham free kick was taken. Chilwell had to be replaced after suffering a twisted ankle in an accidental collision with Jarrod Bowen. Emerson came on after 8 minutes.
Chelsea took the lead in the ninth minute when Thiago Silva was allowed a free header to score his second Chelsea goal. There were few chances being created at either end. Cresswell went close for West Ham after 25 minutes with a cross/shot which passed across the goalmouth.
Three minutes before half time Pulisic got away from Balbuena in the middle and ran to the edge of the West Ham area before passing to Werner to his left. Fabianski was equal to the German's shot.
Fabianski needed treatment when colliding with Werner early in the second half when they were both trying to reach Abraham's cross. The goalkeeper was able to continue.
Despite its London Derby status, the game lacked both excitement and quality, although the "Hammers" were putting their opponents under a little pressure.
Chelsea increased their lead in the 78th minute after Werner miscued a shot but Abraham was able to prod the ball into the net. West Ham appealed forlornly for offside. Almost immediately it was 3-0. Pulisic had driven forward with the ball, passing to Mount who crossed from the left. Mount crossed and Pulisic challenged Fabianski for the ball which ran to Abraham beyond the far post who scored with a low shot back across the West Ham keeper.
Werner hit the top of the bar after 88 minutes, but it was game over and Chelsea climbed above Spurs into fifth place.
Saturday 19th December, 2020
C. Palace 0-7 Liverpool
S'hampton 0-1 Man City
Everton 2-1 Arsenal
Newcastle 1-1 Fulham
Sunday 20th December, 2020
Brighton 1-1 Sheff Utd
Spurs 0-2 Leicester
Man Utd 6-2 Leeds
West Brom 0-3 A. Villa
Monday 21st December, 2020
Burnley 2-1 Wolves
Chelsea 3-0 West Ham
Premier League Table
P W D L F-A GD Pts
1. Liverpool 14 9 4 1 36-19 17 31
2. Leicester 14 9 0 5 26-17 9 27
3. Man Utd 13 8 2 3 28-21 7 26
4. Everton 14 8 2 4 25-19 6 26
5. Chelsea 14 7 4 3 29-14 15 25
6. Spurs 14 7 4 3 25-14 11 25
7. S'hampton 14 7 3 4 25-19 6 24
8. Man City 13 6 5 2 19-12 7 23
9. A. Villa 12 7 1 4 24-13 11 22
10. West Ham 14 6 3 5 21-19 2 21
11. Wolves 14 6 2 6 14-19 -5 20
12. Newcastle 13 5 3 5 17-22 -5 18
13. C. Palace 14 5 3 6 19-26 -6 18
14. Leeds 14 5 2 7 24-30 -6 17
15. Arsenal 14 4 2 8 12-18 -6 14
16. Burnley 13 3 4 6 8-19 -11 13
17. Brighton 14 2 6 6 16-22 -6 12
18. Fulham 14 2 4 8 13-23 -10 10
19. West Brom 14 1 4 9 10-29 -19 7
20. Sheff Utd 14 0 2 12 8-25 -17 2