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Premier League Round-Up: Gameweek 19

The traditional Boxing Day festival of football takes us to the half-way stage of the Premier League season...

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Tottenham Hotspur 5-0 AFC Bournemouth: After hitting Everton for six on Sunday, Spurs faced a relatively calm Boxing Day clash with Bournemouth, a side who they are yet to lose to in the Premier League. Bournemouth had a couple of good chances, Ryan Fraser misjudging a close-range header and David Brooks failing to lift the ball over Hugo Lloris. This sparked Spurs into life, and on 16 minutes the scoring started when Christian Eriksen’s effort was deflected past Asmir Begovic. On 23 minutes, in-form Heung-Min Son scored his first of the game, before Lucas Moura made it three after 35. The buzz around Wembley was palpable and this transferred to the players in the second half, Harry Kane deploying some world class forward play to create a move by himself, then expertly finishing a lofted through ball from Eriksen over his shoulder, calmly sliding the ball underneath Begovic. A goalmouth scramble that had Kane at the centre fell to Son, who ended the scoring on 70 minutes by stealing the ball from Begovic’s grasp and smashing home from 3 yards. This makes it 11 goals in 2 games for Spurs who are flying, and now sit second in the table, one point ahead of Manchester City and only six points behind leaders Liverpool. With a favourable run of games involving Wolves (H), Cardiff (A), Man United (H), Fulham (H) and Watford (H), Spurs could well be leading the pack in a month’s time. Unlikely, but possible. I for one am enjoying the ride.

Southampton 1-2 West Ham: 40 Million down the drain. Felipe Anderson scores again. Back in business. Up to 9th. Understandably, West Ham weren’t optimistic coming into this, given the impressive form Southampton have been in recently under new manager Ralph Hassenhutl. The first half wasn’t particularly exciting, and it was a ten minute period early in the second half that provided all three of the games goals. Nathan Redmond put the Saints in front despite the best efforts of Lukasz Fabianski, but their lead would last just three minutes. After failing to clear their lines, the home side gifted the ball to Felipe Anderson on the edge of the area. A silly idea, as he perfectly placed the ball into the bottom left corner, beating Alex McCarthy at his near point. Just six minutes later, a quick break from West Ham allowed Felipe Anderson into a one-on-one situation. I don’t need to tell you the outcome. The win sees West Ham climb above Bournemouth, Wolves and Watford into 9th place, an impressive position given the number of injuries the Hammers currently have. After excellent wins at home to Arsenal and away to Huddersfield, Hassenhuttl’s men have crashed back down to earth somewhat. They’re in 16th position, just three points above the drop zone. The quality in their side should be enough to keep them up, but the remaining 19 games will be tense affairs for Saints fains.

Crystal Palace 0-0 Cardiff: Palace came into this one on the back of one of their most famous Premier League results ever at the weekend and looked as though they were going to back it up with victory over relegation rivals Cardiff. However, they had to settle for a draw, despite amassing an onslaught of 31 shots on the Cardiff goal. Andros Townsend and Luka Milivojevic, two heroes from the win at Manchester City, both struck the woodwork and nearly everyone in blue and red had an effort denied by in form Neil Etheridge in goal for Cardiff. Palace manager Roy Hodgson said that he rued their poor finishing and was disappointed to not back up their shock win with an essential victory on Wednesday. They should still be safe but winning this one would have made life a little more comfortable.

Leicester City 2-1 Manchester City: Absolutely a result that infuriated everybody besides Liverpool and Leicester fans. This was the reigning Champions second consecutive defeat after being stunned by Crystal Palace at the weekend and means the gap between them and Liverpool is a staggering six points behind. Even Tottenham have gone above them. What on earth is going on?
Bernardo Silva gave City the lead early on in the first half, capitalising on a defensive error, but Leicester were back on level-terms minutes later thanks to Marc Albrighton. Guardiola’s men had a vast majority of the population throughout the game, but Leicester actually had more shots on target. A pretty surprising statistic, considering Man City’s attacking strength. Ricardo Pereira put the Foxes in front with nine minutes remaining with a delightful finish. With moments remaining, Man City’s afternoon went from bad to worse, as Fabian Delph was sent off. This was Leicester’s second win in four days after a surprise upset at Stamford Bridge, and they now sit 7th in the league. It seems the mixed feelings over Puel’s future have disappeared. Manchester City desperately need to get a win at Southampton on 30th December, before they host Liverpool on 3rd January.

Fulham 1-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers: Akeksandr Mitrovic had a stinker of an afternoon, spurning seven clear efforts in the first half, in which the only other moment of not was an excellently controlled cross brought into position by the shoulder of Wolves forward Raul Jimenez for an acrobatic effort the went just over the bar. Wolves came into the game in the second half, but still fell behind to a Ryan Sessegnon volley in the 74th minute. It looked like Fulham may be getting only their third win of the season, but for a Wolves equaliser coming in the 85th minute through Romain Saïss. Mitrovic had yet another chance to make an impact on the game in the final moments when he wasted yet another golden chance that would have shored up three vital points for The Cottagers.

Burnley 1-5 Everton: There can’t be another top-flight division in the world where a team can concede six goals at home on Sunday, only to score five away from home three days later. This was however the case for Everton, who gave their fans an added Christmas present at Turf Moor. Yerry Mina put them ahead after just two minutes, before Lucas Digne doubled the lead just eleven minutes later. Gylfi Sigurdsson made it three from the penalty spot after 22 minutes, pretty much putting Marco Silva’s men out of sight. Ben Gibson managed to scramble one back, but unfortunately his defence would shed another two goals in the second half. Lucas Digne got his second and Everton’s fourth after 70 minutes, with Richarlison ensuring a lovely day out for the Toffees with a 93rd minute goal after coming on as a substitute. Burnley remain in the relegation zone, having conceded the second most amount of goals in the league. At the halfway point in the season, things are definitely not looking promising for Sean Dyche. Everton’s impressive win came after their thumping at the hands of Tottenham on Sunday, but they’re now back up to eighth place.

Liverpool 4-0 Newcastle: Liverpool face a disheartened Newcastle coming into this one on the back of a disappointing draw at home to Huddersfield. Liverpool opened the scoring after 11 minutes when the self-proclaimed ‘best defender in the world’ Dejan Lovren sent a strong half-volley into the roof of the Kop end net. On 47 minutes, the truth of Mohamed Salah was laid bare once again, when he was stroked on the arm by Paul Dummett, and subsequently jumped up into the air and rolled onto the floor, unfairly gaining a penalty which he put away which all but killed the game off. To call this guy ‘humble’ and ‘honest’ is a disgrace to the very definitions of those words, and the continuing love-in that Salah and Liverpool receive from all angles of the media is laughable. This was a weakened Newcastle XI and despite them winning 4-0 with a tap-in from Xherdan Shaqiri and a close-range header from Fabinho, teams don’t seem to want to beat them. The sooner they are put in their place, the better. There is no room for cheating in football, and Mohamed Salah is a beacon for it, again influencing a result through blatant, unpunished diving.

Man Utd 3-1 Huddersfield Town: A fair few United supporters now seem fairly confident that it’ll be twenty-one league titles come May, after wins against struggling Cardiff and Huddersfield in recent days. Nouse will put its perspective to one side for the time being, at least until two legs have been played with £G in the Champions League. Nevertheless, it was another solid, cheerful performance from Solskjaer’s men. They were ahead after 28 minutes though Nemanja Matic, after Huddersfield’s keeper Jonas Lossl doing his best to keep the Reds at bay with some brave goalkeeping. Paul Pogba doubled the lead midway through the second half, before wrapping it up 12 minutes from time with a peach of a finish. He understandably seems the most reenergised since Mourinho’s departure, and United fans will be hoping it continues. Huddersfield pulled one back with two minutes left, at least reducing the impact of the defeat on their goal difference. With Fulham earning themselves a point, David Wagner’s side have now dropped to the foot of the table. They take on Fulham at Craven Cottage on Saturday – a massive, massive game for both sides.

Brighton & Hove Albion 1-1 Arsenal: Surprisingly, Brighton left the AMEX Stadium post-match feeling as though they had dropped two points. Arsenal had a(nother) stroke of officiating luck when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang benefitted from an offside Alexandre Lacazette’s pass to send the Gunners into the lead after just seven minutes, beautifully curling the ball into the top-right corner of the Brighton goal. Brighton keeper Mat Ryan was man of the match, keeping Brighton only one goal down until their equaliser came through Jurgen Locadia on 35 minutes after a defensive error by Stephan Lichtsteiner, giving Arsenal fans a throwback to the woeful defending that characterised the latter part of Arsene Wenger’s tenure at the club. Arsenal failed to continue their 17-game run of scoring in the second half of matches in the league, and Brighton were unable to find another way through a leaky Arsenal back line. Arsenal now sit fifth in the table, two points behind Chelsea with a tough trip away to Anfield up next.

Watford 1-2 Chelsea: Eden Hazard grabbed his two goals to surpass the 100 mark at Vicarage Road, but it was by no means a walk in the park for Sari’s men. The opening period of the game was marred by a horrific injury to Watford’s Christian Kabasele, reminiscent of the iconic Phil Babb ‘nutcracker.’ Rushing back to defend, he didn’t have time to assess where exactly he was running too, sliding into the post with his legs either side of it. Ouch. He was supposedly taken to hospital on oxygen after being taken off, but hopefully he’ll be OK to perform on and off the pitch as soon as possible. Chelsea took the lead shortly before half-time, when Eden Hazard broke through the Watford line and took it around Ben Foster. This was his 100th Premier League goal, and he’s the tenth Chelsea player to achieve such a milestone. However, Watford equalised barely a minute later through Roberto Pereyra’s fantastic volley from the edge of the area. Twelve minutes into the second half though, and Chelsea were back in front. Ben Foster crashed into Eden Hazard and a penalty was awarded, which was obviously only going one way. Watford did their best to get back into the game, but Chelsea were just that little bit better.



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