Premier League Review – Matchday 15
Saturday 4th December, 2021
West Ham United 3 Chelsea 2
Aaron Cresswell was still missing with a back injury and David Moyes made two changes to the team which drew at home to Brighton. Fornals and Benrahma made way for Diop and Lanzini in a 3-4-3 formation, to match that of Chelsea. Thomas Tuchel made four changes including the return of Reece James, Thiago Silva, Jorginho and Ziyech. Tuchel's bench included Lukaku, Werner and Pulisic.
It took a while for "The Hammers" to get a foothold in the game, but Bowen and Soucek had chances go wide before James at least forced a save from Fabianski at the other end. Havertz hit the side netting after receiving a short cross from Mount. Havertz was probably offside anyway. Soucek, who scored from a corner against Brighton, had another glanced header across goal, but this one was held by Mendy.
Havertz was on target after 25 minutes with a header from James' ball, but Fabianski was equal to the attempt on goal. Chelsea had a couple of corners and fr9m the second of these, taken by Mount, Thiago Silva rose to head into the net beating Fabianski's left hand. (29 mins). At the other end, Thiago had to come to the rescue and clear Bowen's shot off the line.
Chelsea had a defensive disaster after 38 minutes when Bowen tried to intercept a poor back pass by Jorginho and Mendy fouled the West Ham man, conceding a penalty. This was taken and scored convincingly by Lanzini. Chelsea regained the lead with an excellent goal when Ziyech crossed from the left and Mason Mount volleyed home from the back of the area. (44 mins)
Havertz was replaced by Lukaku at half-time having collided with Zouma just before the break. West Ham's Ben Johnson had already been replaced by Masuaku.
Jarrod Bowen hit a super left foot equaliser in the 56th minute. The shot came from the edge of the area after a short pass from Coufal when a high ball into the Chelsea area had only been half-cleared.
Zouma didn’t make it to the end of the game and was replaced twenty minutes before the end by Fornals. West Ham reverted to four at the back. Tuchel put Pulisic on for Alonso. Bowen missed a glorious chance to make it 3-2 when Antonio crossed from the right but Bowen was perhaps over-stretching to strike the ball, firing wide of the back post.
West Ham scored an amazing winner in the 87th minute following a throw on the left. Antonio made a little space for Masuaku who was surely intending to cross but scored with Mendy only able to help the ball into the net. Bowen had a chance to make it four, taking Antonio's pass on the right of the box, but firing over the target.
Chelsea's only previous league defeat this season had been at home to Manchester City. West Ham fans have rarely been so happy. Their team had consolidated their position in fourth place.
Newcastle United 1 Burnley 0
At the fifteenth time of asking, Newcastle finally managed a Premier League win, thanks to Callum Wilson’s 40th minute goal. It was enough to take Newcastle off the bottom.
Burnley had the early chances, with Cornet hitting a shot wide and Gudmundsson hitting the left post with a deflected shot at The Gallowgate End. Newcastle’s goal followed a cross from the left which Nick Pope failed to hold. Schar got a touch as the keeper dropped the ball before Wilson took it on and scored with a right foot shot. Pope felt he had been impeded, but the officials did not agree. Vydra made a mess of another good chance for his team in front of goal.
After taking a pass from Wilson, Almiron hit a left foot shot just wide of the far post after 55 minutes. He had another shot from inside the area deflected outside the target after 77 minutes. Nathan Collins made the vital headed interception. Rodriguez had come on for Gudmundsson and thought he had equalised, but he had been offside.
Southampton 1 Brighton & Hove Albion 1
For the second game in succession, Brighton found themselves down to 10 men and Neal Maupay scored a dramatic late equaliser. This one came in the eighth minute of added time. Graham Potter’s men have now failed to win any of their last 10 league games. They could be without up to seven players for next week’s clash with Spurs.
Broja had been preferred to Adam Armstrong and after 4 minutes he raced away and had a right foot shot saved by Sanchez, with Adams hitting the rebound straight at the goalkeeper. Mwepu had a shot saved by McCarthy as he dived to his left. The Southampton goalie also had to beat away a shot by Trossard.
Broja did score for the home side in the 29th minute. A Sanchez clearance came straight back towards his goal with Redmond getting a touch to tee up Broja towards the right of the area.
Broja had another chance in the second half after Trossard went down injured and “The Saints” were allowed to go forward. Redmond and Livramento were the players involved before Broja’s right foot shot passed just outside the far post. McCarthy made a good save from Maupay’s low shot after a good Brighton move. Trossard went down again after a Redmond challenge and was stretchered off by which time Brighton had made all their substitutions.
The equaliser followed a foul by Romeu on Bissouma and a Brighton free kick. This was taken by Moder and blocked with the ball rebounding to the same player. He quickly hit the pass beyond the wall and Maupay was onside to grab the dramatic equaliser. Ward-Prowse was the player who did not get out in time from his deep position.
Wolverhampton Wanderers 0 Liverpool 1
Divock Origi, making only his third Premier League appearance of the season (all as substitute) scored a 94th minute winner to take Liverpool temporarily to the top of the table before Manchester City’s evening win over Watford. Origi has scored two league goals in only 41 minutes of playing time! Liverpool until this game had scored twice in every game played since August.
Ex-Wolves star Diogo Jota headed wide after 31 minutes when he met an Alexander-Arnold cross at the back post. Seven minutes later, Jota passed to Robertson whose cross passed through the 6-yard box with Mane and Salah both agonisingly close to converting. In first half added time, Alisson got a touch to a cross by Ait-Nouri to prevent Traore from scoring.
Thiago had two goes at a Salah cross early in the second half. The first shot was blocked and when he involuntarily hit the rebound, goalkeeper Sa saved that too. Thiago also got a touch to the rebound of the keeper, but the ball passed wide. Jota had the goal at his mercy after a mistake by Sa on the left edge of his area, but the Liverpool man hit the ball straight at Conor Coady, who was one of two players on the line on the entre of goal.
Wolves were under pressure 6 minutes from time, but Sa got a touch to Mane’s shot towards the keeper’s right post. Origi’s killer blow followed a Wolves attack which broke down. Van Dijk hit a long ball to Mo Salah on the right flank. Salah cut the ball back but Origi needed a touch and turn before he fired low into the net. Liverpool’s players, fans and bench were ecstatic.
Watford 1 Manchester City 3
After Chelsea's defeat at lunchtime, City were seeking a win to take over at the top of the table. Pep Guardiola included Walker, Laporte, Gundogan, Foden and Jack Grealish, all of which were changes from the team which narrowly beat Aston Villa on Wednesday. City had a strong bench.
Claudio Ranieri started with Danny Rose in place of Masina. Watford had lost their last 13 games in all competitions against City going back to January 2013. The aggregate score in the last three meetings was 18-0!
I noticed that Emmanuel Dennis did not take the knee but stood respectfully as do Zaha and Toney in other teams.
Watford's Joao Pedro had already had to make a goal-line clearance following an early corner, but City took a fourth minute lead when Foden crossed from the left and Sterling was unmarked to meet and score with a header from the cross. Danny Rose had fallen over on the touch line and struggled to make his ground, but of course other defenders might have challenged Sterling.
Watford's goal was under siege with Bachmann having to save from Sterling and Grealish. Grealish might have had a second goal after 10 minutes, but the keeper saved again, this time from close range.
With 16 minutes on the clock, Dennis received a ball down the right flank and got into the box, before hitting a low shot which Ederson saved at his left post. A Grealish shot took a heavy deflection and Bachmann had to save again. Grealish spurned a fourth chance firing over the target midway through the half.
Watford were pressing City well as the half-hour mark approached, but unfortunately the ball fell to Sissoko whose shot went towards the back of The Rookery Stand. After that good moment, City went two up. Bernardo Silva combined inside the Watford area and after Bachmann saved from Gundogan, Bernardo Silva took the ball to a narrow angle on the right and managed to score with a low right foot shot behind the keeper. Referee Simon Hooper had allowed play-on in the build-up to this goal but booked Rose for a foul on Grealish in midfield. (31 mins)
Foden turned down a gift situation in front of goal, pulling his shot wide. City really should have been further ahead at the interval.
Dennis tried to make headway, but City defended well, and Sterling had a good shot well saved by Bachmann after 51 minutes. Foden hit the bottom of the keeper's right post with a powerful shot after 58 minutes. Bachmann got a touch too.
Bernardo Silva made it 3-0 in the 63rd minute with a goal of simplicity but also beauty. Kyle Walker delivered the pass before Bernardo cut inside and curled a left foot shot inside Bachmann's right post.
Grealish made a run and had a shot deflected onto the top of the crossbar before De Bruyne came on for Gundogan and Mahrez replaced Grealish. Oh, for such reserves!
The siege on Watford’s goal continued, but one substitute (Kucka) had a shot saved by Ederson, and a little later another substitute (Hernandez) beat Ederson, but not the post, but when he got another chance, he scored with a shot that went in off the City keeper. (74 mins) Josh King might have swept in a cross from the right by Hernandez, but his shot passed wide.
Substitute Gabriel Jesus was clipped by Cathcart from behind. Cathcart was booked and Jesus needed treatment. He had been City's third substitute, and he struggled on.
City fans were in full voice throughout the game and will be singing for a long time yet.
Sunday 5th December, 2021
Leeds United 2 Brentford 2
Patrick Bamford came off the bench to play for the first time since mid-September. The Leeds striker scored a late equaliser in the fifth minute of added time to deny Brentford a win. Brentford were without Toney who had tested positive for Covid. Marcelo Bielsa lost Cooper to injury early on. He was replaced by Harrison, but Leeds had to make adjustments at the back.
Leeds took the lead after Raphinha crossed for a second time. The second cross went into the danger zone where Roberts converted low past the keeper. (27 mins) Roberts had another shot tipped over by Fernandez after a pass by James.
Luke Ayling was back in the Leeds side and Fernandez made a brilliant second half save from Ayling’s powerful header after a Raphinha free kick. Brentford equalised in the 54th minute. They had attacked deep down the left flank and Canos’s ball into the area reached Baptiste whose shot hit the net inside Meslier’s right post. Henry had got the better of Dallas near the corner flag. Canos’s cross had been half-blocked but still ran to Baptiste who had his first club goal.
Kalvin Phillips also had to go off and was replaced by Klich. Ayling blocked a Canos shot with the ball smacking his face at short range. The Leeds defence came under pressure in and around their area on the hour and Canos headed off target. Canos did score a minute later after another attack, this time down the right side. Mbeumo provided the pass for Canos to fire home with a right foot shot.
Dallas had a left foot shot comfortably saved, and it was a Dallas cross that was not held by Fernandez with the ball running out for a corner. That was taken by Raphinha from the right, headed short across the 6-yard area by Ayling and scored by Bamford with his thigh!
Manchester United 1 Crystal Palace 0
Manchester United won their first game with Ralf Rangnick at the helm. His selection was the same as the starting line-up of the team which had beaten Arsenal in midweek. United did seem to be playing a higher line and Fred had a first half shot on target which was deflected out for a corner. Guaita saved a Fernandes shot which might have been going wide in any case.
In the second half Fernandes found Rashford deep down the right flank with a good ball. Rashford was fouled by Guehi, and Telles’ free kick rolled off the top of the bar. Palace had a corner after 74 minutes, won by Ayew. When the kick was taken from the right corner, Tomkins headed the ball back across goal where Ayew managed to hit his shot all the way across the goal in front of the line. The miss was expensive because United’s goal followed three minutes later. Dalot crossed from the right. Substitute Greenwood touched the ball back to Fred who scored from 20 yards with a curving right foot shot.
Spurs 3 Norwich City 0
Oliver Skipp was voted man of the match for the second consecutive game. Skipp even out-scored Lucas Moura who had his best grade of the season to date. Here are a selection of your comments:-
"Antonio has only been here a month. All players seemed to have improved! Incredible goal by Lucas! Harry Kane working his socks off! No team is easy in PL! Chelsea got pasted! MOTM had to be Ben Davies! This turnaround is quicker than expected!"
"Another energetic performance but defensive inefficiencies will be found out against better teams. On the positive side 3 league games 7 out of 9 points is something to build on."
"The improvement continues with another clean sheet. Still plenty of work to do but very encouraging signs. Incredibly mature performance from Oliver Skipp and good to see Ryan Sessegnon back playing. Bigger tests lay ahead but so far so good."
Aston Villa 2 Leicester City 1
Steve Gerrard won this battle of former Liverpool player against his former Liverpool boss. Brendan Rodgers had also been Celtic’s manager but left for Leicester before Gerrard took over at Rangers. Jamie Vardy was rested on the bench in favour of Patson Dak making his first league start. Rodgers also gave 23-year-old Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall a first Premier League start.
Daka had an early shot on goal after taking Lookman’s pass but Martinez saved at his left post. Referee Michael Oliver allowed a pause in the game enabling the officials and players to take part in the applause for 6-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes (R.I.P).
Harvey Barnes gave Leicester a 14th minute lead with a shot across the keeper, which hit the net just inside the far post. Daka provided the assist after determined approach play. Villa equalised after a free kick had been floated into the area from the left and after one back-header, Buendia headed the ball towards the keeper’s left post with Konsa getting the final touch. Schmeichel protested, but the goal was good. Schmeichel had not seen one of his defenders behind him, playing Konsa onside.
Villa were denied a second goal just before the break when Schmeichel failed to hold Cash’s header and Ramsey took advantage. VAR and a monitor review decreed that Schmeichel had a hand on the ball (and therefore under his control) when Ramsey hit the shot.
Villa did have the lead in the 54th minute after a corner won by Watkins’ shot being put out of play by Thomas. McGinn floated n a deep corner and Konsa headed in from a narrow angle at the back post. The ball was squeezed into the net to the right of Schmeichel who could only help it in with his knee. Schmeichel did make a good save from Watkins with his leg, having come out to close the angle after McGinn had passed to the striker. Ramsey fired over for Villa before Martinez made a great athletic save from a Barnes header at the other end.
Monday 6th December, 2021
Everton 2 Arsenal 1
Following the weekend fixtures, Everton had dropped to 16th place and after 8 games without a win they were desperate for success here. Arsenal needed a win to regain fifth place from Spurs. Rafa Benitez was pleased to have Yerry Mina back in the middle of defence. Digne stepped down, with Godfrey playing at left back. Mikel Arteta made four changes, one of which was to hold Aubameyang on the bench, with Lacazette taking both his place and the captain's armband.
Apparently, Everton fans planned a protest in the 27th minute. The significance being the number of years/seasons since their team won a trophy. That was actually the 1995 FA Cup, after they beat Gerry Francis's Spurs in the semi-final.
There was a natural pause in the passage of play which enabled the players to take part in applause for 6-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, who has been remembered around the country this week.
The arrival of "Storm Barra" is the most exciting item to report regarding the first fifteen minutes. The Everton protest consisted of a banner displayed at the Gwladys Street End saying:- "We demand Nil Satis, Nisi Optimum. It’s about time our club did too." A few fans walked out apparently and yet their team was enjoying more possession and threat at this stage.
Yerry Mina only lasted half an hour and was replaced by Mason Holgate. Everton thought they had broken the deadlock in the 44th minute when Richarlison headed in a Townsend free kick. VAR found him offside. Had it been legitimate, that would have been the first effort on target. Arsenal did score a legal goal in the second minute of added time when Tierney crossed from deep on the left near the corner flag and Odegaard met the cross to score with his left foot.
Richarlison conceded a needless free kick 6 minutes into the second half. Gabriel headed down Odegaard's kick, but the ball bounced into Pickford’s arms. Richarlison took a pass from Doucoure and hit a shot into the net just inside the post, but he was again denied (very narrowly) by VAR.
The game became more and more scrappy with Everton players and fans becoming irritated by Arsenal's game management (time-wasting) techniques. Finally, after 79 minutes Richarlison scored a legitimate goal. The Brazilian had passed inside to substitute Gomes, whose shot was blocked. Demarai Gray's shot rebounded off the bar and Richarlison headed over Ramsdale into the net.
Odegaard had a shot blocked by Godfrey and a header by substitute Nketiah hit the post before he involuntarily headed the rebound wide. As the match entered added time, Odegaard had another excellent chance blocked by Coleman.
Demarai Gray scored a sensational winner in the 92nd minute. Gomes made an excellent run in the middle before passing to Gray to his left. Gray moved to his right and hit a cracking right foot shot into the net off the inside of the post. Goodison Park was rocking for the right reasons!
Iwobi should have scored against his old team after receiving Richarlison's pass, but Ramsdale closed him down. Referee Mike Dean found more than the allotted 6 minutes of added time and Aubameyang pulled a shot wide after Nketiah had found him in space.
Everton's win lifted them to 12th place, whereas Arsenal stayed in seventh.
Fixtures and results - 04-06.12.21
Saturday 4th December, 2021
West Ham 3-2 Chelsea
Newcastle 1-0 Burnley
S'hampton 1-1 Brighton
Wolves 0-1 Liverpool
Watford 1-3 Man City
Sunday 5th December, 2021
Leeds 2-2 Brentford
Man Utd 1-0 C. Palace
Spurs 3-0 Norwich
A. Villa 2-1 Leicester
Monday 6th December, 2021
Everton 2-1 Arsenal
Premier League Table
P W D L F-A GD Pts
1. Man City 15 11 2 2 32-9 23 35
2. Liverpool 15 10 4 1 44-12 32 34
3. Chelsea 15 10 3 2 35-9 26 33
4. West Ham 15 8 3 4 28-19 9 27
5. Spurs 14 8 1 5 16-17 -1 25
6. Man Utd 15 7 3 5 25-24 1 24
7. Arsenal 15 7 2 6 18-22 -4 23
8. Wolves 15 6 3 6 12-13 -1 21
9. Brighton 15 4 8 3 14-16 -2 20
10. A. Villa 15 6 1 8 21-24 -3 19
11. Leicester 15 5 4 6 23-27 -4 19
12. Everton 15 5 3 7 19-25 -6 18
13. Brentford 15 4 5 6 19-21 -2 17
14. C. Palace 15 3 7 5 19-21 -2 16
15. Leeds 15 3 7 5 15-22 -7 16
16. S'hampton 15 3 7 5 14-21 -7 16
17. Watford 15 4 1 10 20-29 -9 13
18. Burnley 14 1 7 6 14-21 -7 10
19. Newcastle 15 1 7 7 17-30 -13 10
20. Norwich 15 2 4 9 8-31 -23 10