Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 Burnley: After the immense high of Tuesday night, which left my right foot and voice feeling rather worse for wear, Spurs looked to be suffering again from the Champions League hangover that has plagued the club for many years (beating AC Milan then losing to Blackpool being the worst example…). Burnley had clearly come to ruin the game and grind out a boring point, goalkeeper Joe Hart resembling a pensioner trying to cross an A-road whenever he had a goalkick to take. Spurs put many good chances narrowly wide and had many attempts blocked, their dominance reflected in the possession stats of 71 percent to 29. In the cold and wet December air, many fans started their long journey out of the Wembley hovel early, but missed some glorious hold-up play by Harry Kane to tee up a 91st minute winner from Christian Eriksen. Joe Hart suddenly found his running legs, much to the amusement of the fans in the stands. Spurs stay very much in touch with the top two…
Fulham 0-2 West Ham: Four consecutive Premier League wins. It most certainly is a very, very merry Christmas. But it could’ve been very different, had Fulham not wasted some of the 12 shots they had during the first half. The best of their many chances saw Aboubakar Kamara break through the West Ham back line, but he couldn’t get the ball past Lukasz Fabianski. Best goalkeeper outside the top six? Go on then. Felipe Anderson, as we seem to expect nowadays, danced through the Fulham and found Robert ‘Neymar’ Snodgrass totally unmarked on the edge of the area. The Scottish superstar unsurprisingly took his chance, giving the Hammers the lead after 17 minutes. What was surprising was that even Michail Antonio had a good game, something we rarely seem to see nowadays. He got the second after thirty minutes, with Javier Hernandez getting his first assist in the Premier League since April 2014. The second half was fairly flat, with neither side offering much. Fulham remain bottom on nine points, whilst West Ham move up to ninth, just two points behind Manchester United in sixth.
Manchester City 3-1 Everton: This could have been a lot more uncomfortable for City, had Everton had their sights accurately fixed on the opposition net, Richarlison in particular wasting a golden opportunity early in the first half. Yerry Mina’s weak clearance was picked up by City’s Leroy Sane who set Gabriel Jesus up for his first goal of a brace, the second also provided by Sane and finished with a bullet header. Dominic Calvert-Lewin gave the Toffees hope of a resurgence in the 65th minute, but that hope was extinguished four minutes later when Raheem Sterling nodded in from close range moments after being introduced from the bench. Theo Walcott had a good chance late on that would have reignited Everton’s fire, but he spooned it over the top and but for a bit of handbags between Calvert-Lewin and Fabian Delph, there was little more action. City’s title defence rumbles quietly on.
Liverpool 3-1 Manchester United: The previous two games between these two sides at Anfield both finished 0-0. That would certainly not be the case this time. United were poor, even by recent standards, and it really was surprising how they went in at the break still in with a chance. Liverpool took the lead midway through the first-half, when Sadio Mane finished off a beautiful cross from Fabinho. After spending the last four days raving about how Alisson is the best goalkeeper the world has and will ever see, Liverpool fans were feeling a bit awkward when he made a complete howler to gift Jesse Lingard United’s equaliser. At the break, Mourinho decided to introduce Marouane Fellaini over Paul Pogba, but it was an uninspiring performance from the Belgian. Liverpool continued to dominate the game and wrapped it up with two goals from Xherdan Shaqiri. Admittedly, they were both lucky deflections, but Liverpool fans will rightly not care one bit. The win puts them back to the top of the table, a point clear of Manchester City. Surely United can’t keep going on like this?
Huddersfield 0-1 Newcastle: Huddersfield will be reeling hard from this result. The Terriers had been on top for the entirety of the match, when Salamon Rondon scored his fourth goal in six games against the run of play. On another day, Huddersfield may have come away comfortable winners, Philip Billing and Chris Lowe spurning excellent opportunities that would have given them three vital points in a elegation dogfight that looks increasingly difficult. Newcastle’s fourth win of the season leaves them in 14th place in the table, a height that many fans didn’t believe they’d see after their abysmal start. Manager Rafa Benitez continues to work wonders at St James’ Park.
Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-0 Bournemouth: Wolves are firmly cementing their status as a Premier League outfit this year, emphasising it further by beating the once high-flying Bournemouth, who have hit a poor run of form that has seen them lose six in their last seven matches. The Wolves win was set in motion on 12 minutes, when Raul Jimenez slid the ball into the net from close in following a deflection from Diogo Jota’s attempt at goal. Bournemouth came close to an equaliser when Junior Stanislas hit the crossbar with a tunning free-kick and will feel hard done by at the outcome, as the Cherries spent much of the game camped in the Wolves half. However, seconds from time, Wolves displayed once again their prowess on the counter, breaking away through Ivan Cavaleiro who slotted home to seal the victory. Wolves now lie in seventh place, just one point behind Manchester United in sixth.
Southampton 3-2 Arsenal: I, Patrick, was quite critical of Arsenal last week and that was perhaps unfair of me, as they maintained the greatest unbeaten run in the history of football with a narrow win over titans Huddersfield. As such I’ll go easier on them this week and just say – HAHAHAHAHHAAHAHA! Okay, the game. The impact of new boss Ralph Hasenhuttl is clearly making waves on the south coast, as the Saints went ahead after just 20 minutes through Danny Ings, whose career has had a revitalisation following his move south from Liverpool. Each goal in Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s brace brought Arsenal back level after falling behind, and Arsenal fans may be disappointed that they didn’t go on to win the game, largely down to goalkeeper Alex McCarthy having a very good game in the Southampton net. His Arsenal counterpart Bernd Leno however, will not be so pleased with himself, again displaying significant weakness from crosses which has been a concern for the new Arsenal goalie. Leno came to claim a lofted cross when there was really no need to, missed it entirely, which Charlie Austin capitalised on to steal the win for Southampton. Arsenal now lie five points behind Tottenham, but I’m not going to make any more comment on that… 😊
Watford 3-2 Cardiff City: Despite racing into a three-goal lead, Watford desperately hung on for all three-points, after an inspired fightback from Neil Warnock’s Cardiff. Gerard Deulofeu scored a wonderful goal to give the Hornets the lead, but Greece’s Jose Holebas went one better when he doubled their lead after half time. Former West Ham player Domingos Quina put Watford 3-0 up, and that looked to be that. However, they were almost made to look very silly, when Cardiff pulled two goals back in quick succession through Junior Hoilett and Bobby Reid. Thankfully for Javi Garcia, his side just about held on to earn their first league win since October. Watford go back into the top half of the table, whilst Cardiff drop to 16th, four points clear of the drop zone. They’ll look to make things even worse for Jose Mourinho, when Manchester United visit South Wales on Saturday night.
Brighton & Hove Albion 1-2 Chelsea: Despite beating Manchester City and Brighton in the League and progressing through in the Europa League, Chelsea have had a pretty disastrous week on the PR front. A group of fans have been suspended after supposedly chanting racist abuse at Raheem Sterling, and another group of fans found themselves in more trouble for supposed anti-Semitic chanting during their away tie to Mol Vidi. Fortunately, all of the talk after Sunday’s tie on the South Coast was about the football. Pedro tapped in Eden Hazard’s beautiful ball after 17 minutes, and the Belgian then doubled the lead, running away from Brighton’s defence and beating Mat Ryan. Brighton offered very little in the first-half but managed to claw one goal back midway through the second thanks to Solly March. Lewis Dunk went agonisingly close in the dying moments, but his header went wide. Brighton visit Bournemouth on Saturday, who Chelsea face midweek in the Carabao Cup. Maurizio Sarri’s men then host Leicester on Saturday afternoon in the league.
Crystal Palace 1-0 Leicester City: Wilfried Zaha is incredibly important for Palace. When he’s not playing, they lose. Saturday finally changed that miserable statistic, as the Eagles beat Leicester to record their first win without Zaha in over two years. Luka Milivojevic got the only goal, although it was some strike. Struck delightfully into the corner, Schmeichel did all he could, the Serbian making a claim for one of the goals of the tournament. The game itself wasn’t particularly good, the two sides managing a total of three shots on target between them. Leicester drop to 12th, and it looks like a mid-table finish may be the best they can muster up this campaign. Crystal Palace’s win takes them up to 15th, five points clear of the relegation zone. They visit Manchester City on Saturday, who Leicester play in the Carabao Cup, before a weekend tie with Chelsea.