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Spurs Odyssey Reviews the Premier League Season
for 2021-22 - Matchday 17

Premier League Review – Matchday 17

Tuesday 14th December, 2021

Brentford v Manchester United (Postponed)

This match was postponed just before midnight on Monday, due to Covid issues in the Manchester United camp.

Norwich City 0 Aston Villa 2

Dean Smith had a win and two draws in his first three games as Norwich manager. Now he has lost three consecutive games. This one was to his former team who have won four of Steven Gerrard’s six games in charge.

Villa dominated the early stages and John McGinn’s shot from 30 yards was pushed over the bar by Tim Krul. Jacob Ramsey scored a fine solo goal, making a run from half-way before beating Krul with a left foot shot. (34 mins)

Krul saved a Watkins header in the second half with an out-stretched leg. Norwich sub Idah headed straight at Martinez after a Norwich free kick, but there was an offside flag anyway. Villa secured their win three minutes from time after sub Chukwuemeka picked up a long ball forward and crossed low from the left allowing Watkins to score at the back post.

Manchester City 7 Leeds United 0

Leeds were unchanged after their 3-2 defeat at Chelsea. Pep Guardiola had the pundits guessing regarding his team selection with Stones, Dias and Laporte all selected and no obvious right back/wing back. Stones was covering at right back. Cancelo was suspended and Kyle Walker was absent with illness. Gundogan, Sterling and Gabriel Jesus were on the City bench.

Grealish had a run at Ayling and hit a right foot shot after only two minutes. Meslier saved, although not cleanly. After 6 minutes, and yet another failed attempt to play out from the back, Llorente gave the ball away and De Bruyne teed up Bernardo Silva for what should have been the first goal. Bernardo pulled his shot wide. City did have the lead within two minutes though. Foden put Rodri through and when his shot rebounded to Foden outside the area, the England man did not fail, placing his shot nicely.

Goal number two came in the 13th minute and followed a corner which was initially cleared. Mahrez returned the ball to the centre of the Leeds area where Grealish headed past the keeper. This was all too easy.

Leeds were struggling to get any quality possession in the Leeds half. Meslier saved cleanly from De Bruyne's right foot shot, and then at the feet of Rodri as he staggered towards goal. De Bruyne did score City's third goal in the 32nd minute, taking Rodri's pass as he ran into the left side of the area before despatching his left foot shot.

Leeds lost Shackleton to injury, and he was replaced by Klich after 38 minutes. Two minutes later, Foden pulled a left foot shot just wide after taking De Bruyne’s pass.

Both sides made a half-time change. Leeds brought on Gelhardt for James, while City swapped Bernardo Silva for Gundogan. It didn’t take City long to increase their lead. Gundogan passed across the area to Mahrez, whose shot took quite a wicked deflection to beat Meslier. (49 mins) Two minutes later Meslier had to push a Mahrez free kick over his bar.

City were giving an exhibition. Mahrez lifted a ball over the defence towards the left post, where Gundogan's touch put the ball wide back across the goal. Leeds had crafted one or two rare moves of quality and after a Harrison cross was cleared to the feet of Dallas, the Leeds man hit the outside of the post with his shot.

Guardiola felt confident enough to rest Rodri in favour of the veteran Fernandinho, less than ten minutes into the second half. Harrison worked his way into the centre of the City area before winning a corner with a deflected shot.

Foden was denied a goal for offside, after Mahrez passed from the left but De Bruyne soon made it 5-0 with a ripping 20 yard right foot shot. (62 mins) Pep made his third substitution with Ake coming on for Ruben Dias. None of the City changes had been enforced.

Meslier made a double save from Laporte then Stones, following a corner, but Stones had a second pop at goal and hit the net in the 74th minute. Ake got in on the act with a 78th minute header from a Foden corner. Ake was the sixth City scorer of the game.

The Leeds fans valiantly sang for their team throughout the game and proportionately speaking more City fans left before the end than away fans.

Wednesday 15th December, 2021

Brighton & Hove Albion 0 Wolverhampton Wanderers 1

Brighton have now played 11 Premier League games without a win and last won in the league on 19th September. It was a first win in five games for Wolves who climbed to eighth place overnight. Perhaps Brighton’s lack of winning form was as much of a reason for empty seats as the current Covid Omicron fears. This was referee Tony Harrington’s first Premier League game. He is a regular in The Championship. Jimenez was suspended after his reckless double booking against Manchester City. (Incidentally, I thoroughly recommend the BBC "Code Red" 30 minute documentary on the I-Player regarding Jimenez's horrific head injury. Nuno Espirito Santo features in his Spurs kit)

Wolves lost Hwang to injury early on. Traore took his place.

The deadlock was broken in first half added time after a corner on the right. Neves returned the ball with a pass over the defence towards the right of the area where Saiss scored across the keeper with a well-placed right foot shot. After a free kick, Trossard hammered a shot from the edge of the area which Sa saved, but Mwepu managed to miss scoring from the rebound from very close range.

Marcal was covering at left wing-back for Wolves and in the second half he showed good control before chipping a cross which rolled off the top of the bar. Traore put Trincao in with a nice ball into the area, but Sanchez saved well. Following a Wolves corner, Neves’ cross was headed beyond the back post where Saiss had another shot, this time hitting the post. Traore was away after 58 minutes and passed to Podence to his right, but his shot went straight to the keeper.

Burnley v Watford (Postponed)

This match was postponed less than three hours before the scheduled kick-off because Watford had Covid issues.

Crystal Palace 2 Southampton 2

This was drawn match number 8 for both sides. Southampton took a first half lead, but their hopes of a win were extinguished by Jordan Ayew’s first Premier League goal since November 2020. Palace featured former England goalkeeper Jack Butland making only his second Premier league appearance for the club. Caballero was again covering between the sticks for “The Saints”.

Palace had a great start within two minutes after a good challenge by Will Hughes led to Southampton losing the ball in midfield. Edouard fed the ball to Zaha towards the left of the area and the Palace talisman scored his 65th club goal with a low right-footed drive. Edouard missed a good chance to increase the led after Palace attacked down the left through Mitchell before Zaha crossed. Edouard was in the middle but pushed his effort wide of the far post.

Southampton equalised through a brilliant Ward-Prowse free kick in the 32nd minute, beating Butland in his top right corner. Broja made it 2-1 four minutes later after Gallagher lost out to Walker-Peters who quicky crossed to Broja who struck home from 20 yards with a right foot shot.

Caballero made a double save from Edouard’s close range shots in the second half. Benteke replaced Kouyate and the striker had a hand (or should I say foot) in the equaliser when he passed short to Edouard inside the Southampton area. Edouard’s shot was saved by Caballero but only ran to Ayew just beyond the back post where the Ghanaian International scored for the first time in 43 Premier League matches.

Arsenal 2 West Ham United 0

Mikel Arteta gave Lacazette the captain’s armband (not for the first time) and fielded an unchanged team. Aubameyang was once again not included in the Arsenal squad. David Moyes made one change, bringing Fornals in for Benrahma. The West Ham manager was taking charge of his 600th Premier League game. Only three others have preceded him - Messrs. Wenger, Ferguson and Redknapp!

The game was preceded by a minute’s applause for Ray Kennedy, who recently passed away. Kennedy had great success with Liverpool, but famously scored the goal at White Hart Lane in May 1971 which secured the league element of Arsenal's first double.

There was plenty of needle between the two teams in the first twenty minutes, but no shots on goal. A couple of Arsenal free kicks and a corner were poorly executed while a West Ham corner was not held cleanly by Ramsdale. Arsenal were putting "The Hammers" under more pressure and were getting into the box more. They appealed over a couple of challenges but got short shrift from referee Anthony Taylor.

At last, there was a shot on goal. It followed a free kick awarded on the right when Soucek went down a little easily with Lacazette hardly making contact. The ball reached Fornals who curled a shot the wrong side of Ramsdale’s left post.

After a neat passing move by Arsenal into the box where Dawson blocked a shot, the ball ran outside the area to Tierney who hit the crossbar with his shot, after a touch from Fabianski. The West Ham keeper could only parry a Lacazette shot but when Martinelli followed up, he put his shot wide from close range. Dawson did enough to put him off too.

Arsenal took a 48th minute lead when Lacazette laid on a through ball which was taken on by Martinelli who scored across Fabianski’s left hand just inside the post. Four minutes later, Ramsdale made a good save from Bowen's left foot effort which took a slight deflection off Gabriel.

Odegaard took a free kick after a foul on Lacazette, but Fabianski held the shot in front of his left post. Referee Anthony Taylor took his time but gave a penalty when Coufal tackled Lacazette inside the area after 75 minutes. Coufal was shown a second yellow card to make matters worse. VAR supported the penalty decision. Fabianski made an excellent save, diving to his left to stop Lacazette's spot kick.

After an Arsenal corner from the left Gabriel hit a left foot shot just wide. Saka had a shot deflected wide after a short cross by Martinelli. The game was sealed in the 87th minute after Arsenal broke out of their own half. Saka passed to substitute Smith-Rowe who came in from the right of the area and scored with a low left foot shot inside the goalkeeper’s left post.

With the win, Arsenal seized West Ham's fourth place.

Thursday 16th December, 2021

Leicester City v Spurs (Match postponed – COVID)

Since the November International break, we have played four of our eight scheduled games. Three of the postponements have been for Covid issues, and these have been our last three games. The backlog is becoming disturbing, and it seems the Omicron variant of the virus is going to cause more games to be lost. At the time of writing half of this weekend's Premier League programme is off already.

Chelsea 1 Everton 1

Chelsea's selection was affected by Covid with Lukaku, Werner and Hudson-Odoi having tested positive, along with the injured Ben Chilwell. Kai Havertz was also absent awaiting a test result. At least all of Tuchel's team were recognised first team players.

Struggling Everton could only name 7 subs, which included two goalkeepers. Delph, Townsend, Gray and Richarlison were missing from the squad and the starting line-up included 19-year-old Jarrad Branthwaite at the back, 20-year-old Anthony Gordon in midfield and 20-year-old Ellis Simms up front. Simms was making his senior debut. Allan and Coleman were on the bench. Everton's Sunday game against Covid-stricken Leicester had already been postponed.

As it happens the under-strength Everton team put up a brave fight; scored an equaliser (a first goal for Branthwaite) and might even have taken all three points. Chelsea lost a valuable two points and a little ground on the top two.

Reece James put an early chance wide after a good pass by Jorginho. Ziyech turned Holgate before advancing and delivering a cross from the left. Pulisic got a shot at close range, but Pickford held the ball. Alonso was next to deliver a dangerous cross into the 6-yard area. Mount connected, but Pickford saved again. Following a Chelsea corner, and with Rudiger still on the edge of the Everton area, the Chelsea defender slipped a pass to Mount, whose shot was saved at close range by the Everton keeper.

Chelsea had had 80% possession and in the 51st minute Mount took a pass from Ziyech and hit a deflected shot which Pickford also touched as the ball went out for a corner. Alonso delivered the corner, but Loftus-Cheek hit the ball over the back post, off his back. Chelsea finally scored with twenty minutes to go. A Doucoure run had failed, and Chelsea retaliated with sub Barkley feeding James who passed to Mount who got into the area on the right and fired past the keeper.

Four minutes later, after James fouled Gordon, the Everton player delivered a free kick to the back post where Branthwaite poked the ball into the net, causing great delight among the travelling fans. By this time, Everton had another youngster on the pitch – 18-year-old Lewis Dobbin and he nearly benefitted from another Gordon cross, but Thiago put the ball out for a corner. Mendy’s handling of Gordon’s delivery was uncertain, but then Chelsea had a free kick in their favour inside the area when Dobbin threw himself to the ground.

Former Everton man Ross Barkley delivered aa corner and Thiago headed goalward, but Pickford dived to his right and made his best save of the game.

Liverpool 3 Newcastle United 1

As the news was breaking that four of Saturday's scheduled games have been called off because of Covid, the Liverpool team news was that they were missing Van Dijk, Fabinho and Curtis Jones with "possible" positive tests. No doubt they await the result of PCR tests. In truth Jurgen Klopp might have rested one or more of these players and his team was still strong. Konate came in to partner Matip. The midfield three was Oxlade-Chamberlain, Henderson and Thiago. Salah, Jota and Mane were the front men.

Eddie Howe's changes were made by choice, and Callum Wilson started on the bench.

Liverpool’s first threat on goal came after five minutes when Jota turned on Salah's pass and Dubravka saved at his left post. Newcastle scored a shock goal inside seven minutes. They broke from their own half with Fraser sending Saint-Maximin away down the left channel. Fraser over-lapped and crossed into the Liverpool box where Thiago gave the ball away to Shelvey lurking in space 25 yards out. The one-time Liverpool player left Alisson standing with a great shot inside his right post. The Kop was stunned!

Mane soon hit the post at the Anfield Road end but had been offside. Jamal Lewis had to go off with a hamstring injury after only 13 minutes. Matt Ritchie was his replacement. Jota hit the side netting with a left foot shot after 18 minutes.

Liverpool equalised in the 21st minute after a corner had been cleared. Newcastle had two men, then one player down in the area, but Liverpool showed no mercy (or charity) and carried on. Mane crossed and Jota's first attempt (a header) was saved, but the Liverpool man fired home the rebound. Isaac Hayden needed treatment.

Alisson saved one-handed low to his right from a Saint-Maximin shot, but Liverpool had the lead in the 25th minute. It followed a poor backward ball by Shelvey. Dubravka initially saved Mane's effort but then Salah swept up the rebound.

Salah missed a good opportunity after picking up an excellent pass from Oxlade-Chamberlain, ten minutes before the break.

There were half-chances at either end in the second half, but Newcastle came close to scoring when Fraser was set to pounce on a cross into the area, but Alexander-Arnold stole the ball off him with a great tackle. (63 mins) Shelvey had a pop at goal from a free kick seven minutes later but pulled his effort wide.

Salah was relieved of duty after 73 minutes and was replaced by Firmino. Keita took over from Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Saint-Maximin limped off and was replaced by Wilson. Mane and Jota had shots saved or blocked ten minutes from time. Newcastle had generally been compact at the back. Keita hit a speculative shot from 25 yards which Dubravka plucked from the air.

Newcastle’s fight was ended in the 87th minute by a blistering right foot shot from 25 yards by Alexander-Arnold. Dubravka had no right, but actually got a touch to the ball. The goal followed a free kick taken short and a couple of passes.

Fixtures and results - 14-16.12.21

Tuesday 14th December, 2021

Brentford   P   Man Utd
Norwich    0-2  A. Villa
Man City   7-0  Leeds

Wednesday 15th December, 2021

Brighton   0-1  Wolves
Burnley     P   Watford
C. Palace  2-2  S'hampton
Arsenal    2-0  West Ham

Thursday 16th December, 2021

Leicester   P   Spurs
Chelsea    1-1  Everton
Liverpool  3-1  Newcastle 

            Premier League Table

               P  W  D  L   F-A   GD   Pts

 1. Man City  17 13  2  2  40-9   31   41 
 2. Liverpool 17 12  4  1  48-13  35   40
 3. Chelsea   17 11  4  2  39-12  27   37
 4. Arsenal   17  9  2  6  23-22   1   29
 5. West Ham  17  8  4  5  28-21   7   28
 6. Man Utd   16  8  3  5  26-24   2   27 
 7. Spurs     14  8  1  5  16-17  -1   25 
 8. Wolves    17  7  3  7  13-14  -1   24
 9. Leicester 16  6  4  6  27-27   0   22
10. A. Villa  17  7  1  9  23-25  -2   22
11. C. Palace 17  4  8  5  24-24   0   20
12. Brentford 16  5  5  6  21-22  -1   20
13. Brighton  16  4  8  4  14-17  -3   20
14. Everton   17  5  4  8  21-29  -8   19
15. S'hampton 17  3  8  6  16-26 -10   17
16. Leeds     17  3  7  7  17-32 -15   16
17. Watford   16  4  1 11  21-31 -10   13
18. Burnley   15  1  8  6  14-21  -7   11
19. Newcastle 17  1  7  9  18-37 -19   10
20. Norwich   17  2  4 11   8-34 -26   10

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