Manchester City 2 – Crystal Palace 2
Every premier league team is trying to exploit Manchester City’s defensive issues this season. Crystal Palace’s first goal summed up the issues Manchester City are having each game due to their lack of fit and in-form defenders. Gary Cahill rose above City;’s defense and Tosun was left unmarked to head home his header. For all of City’s stunning play on the ball, defensively they always look vulnerable from set piece situations. That is why they are so far off Liverpool. Manchester City’s title race will be 100% over this week if Liverpool can defeat Manchester United and win their game in hand. Anybody who had a slight feeling that City could get themselves back in the title race will now be feeling otherwise.
For Crystal Palace, over the last few months Wilfried Zaha has been superb and he really is taking games by the scruff of the beck. Crystal Palace have lost just one of their last 10 matches and they have proven a tough team to beat in every match this season. Similar to Sheffield United, they have shown a never give up mentality and this match was the perfect example of that as Wilfried Zaha’s probing run and cross set up the equalizer and Crystal Palace were always constant threat.
Watford 0 – Tottenham 0
Tottenham didn’t muster a shot on target in the second half and they lacked cutting edge in attack. There were plenty of nice touches from Lamela, Dele Alli and Son but you didn’t feel like a goal was inevitable when they attacked. Tottenham were still all over the place at the back. Vertonghen gave away a penalty kick, Alderweireld was bullied by Deeney and their full backs had a tough time locking down Ismaila Sarr and Gerard Deulofeu.
Watford are unbeaten in their last six games in the Premier League, the first time they’ve ever done that, but Nigel Pearson and Watford will be feeling a little miffed they didn’t make it four wins on the trot. Deeney’s missed penalty kick was the big moment but Watford hung in there, battled hard and although they didn’t create too many clear cut chances, they looked solid and steady.
Brighton and Hove Albion 1 – Aston Villa 1
Aston Villa needed their captain Jack Grealish to stand tall amongst injury mayhem in the squad and he did it again. Even in recent heavy defeats Jack Grealish has tried to drive Villa on and he has now scored in their tight win at Burnley and grabbed them a point at Brighton. Against relegation rivals, Jack Grealish has delivered for Aston Villa and at 24 years old he continues to mature.
Brighton and Hove Albion have won just one of their last eight league games and they keep letting leads slip in tight games. Graham Potter‘s side have plenty of the ball and dominate games but just can’t score the second goal to finish teams off. They have only scored more than one goal once in their last seven games and for all of their fine attacking play, Brighton are three points off the bottom because they can’t finish teams off.
Both teams showed why they will be in a relegation battle all season long. Brighton can’t score or finish teams off, while Villa are too reliant on Jack Grealish and have no real attacking options as they rode their luck at Brighton.
West Ham 1 – Everton 1
Calvert-Lewin kept the team afloat with a goal, and he increasingly linked play well as the afternoon went on, but there wasn’t enough, consistently, from the others and there needs to be, especially when the Brazilian can’t play.Mercifully, Ancelotti has been hopeful Richarlison will be fit for the next game. Everton need him. The chronic lack of creativity is a massive problem in Everton’s game. In the absence of Andre Gomes especially, Everton really lack any players who can unlock a defence with consistency. The Toffees seemed tired and jaded once again and lacked any real creativity, especially when Carlo Ancelotti took off Bernard in second half. There was a VAR decision against Everton as well but wasn’t the reason why Everton could only manage a draw in this game. In truth the Blues didn’t deserve anything more from this match than a single point.
West Ham continued to skirt the edges of the relegation zone. It’s in 16th position with a one-point cushion over 18th-place Aston Villa. Hundreds of West Ham fans protested before the game, unhappy with the club’s apparent lack of progress under owners David Sullivan and David Gold. They took over 10 years ago with the club in 17th place in the Premier League, and West Ham was in the same position as Saturday’s game kicked off. The home team were on top for some time, although they were hardly playing that well, and created several good chances. West Ham striker Sebastien Haller had a succession of chances but was very wasteful, if he hadn’t been then the game might have been over by halftime. Jordan Pickford was called into action several times though despite this wastefulness, before the Hammers took a probably deserved lead.
Arsenal 1 Sheffield United 1
Sheffield United were the better side for much of this game, strangling their opposition in midfield and effectively using long, direct passes to get into dangerous positions in the final third. John Fleck’s late equaliser was fully deserved for Chris Wilder’s side in the end, and they remain above Arsenal. At this point, though, that is not a surprise. There is plenty to be positive and optimistic about for Sheffield United supporters. They will survive this premier league season but question is before the team heads to next transfer window chaos, will they achieve something special for hard work put in by club, manager and players.
Arteta has wasted little time in reinstating Ozil’s position in Arsenal’s starting XI. Ozil is still some way off his best and there will still be questions raised over his future at Arsenal. But the signs are promising, at least. His link-up play with Alexandre Lacazette in the build-up to Gabriel Martinelli’s goal was particularly impressive. Arsenal, even on their best days this season, have looked alarmingly susceptible at the back. And that sense of constant danger was elevated against an accomplished Sheffield United side. If not for some squandered changes by Blades, the game could have been completely different.
Norwich City 1 – AFC Bournemouth 0
Bournemouth have now picked up only four points from a possible 36 in the Premier League – fewer than any other top-flight team in that period. Their visit to Carrow Road was described before the game as “massive” by Eddie Howe, who was forced to deny reports during the week that he had been asked to step down as Cherries boss. The result does little to ease the pressure on Howe, whose side welcome fellow strugglers Brighton and Aston Villa to the Vitality Stadium in their next two league games. This may be the period which tests both AFC Bournemouth club and manager Eddie Howe for survival instincts and level of quality.
While Norwich’s football this season has been pleasing on the eye, a lack of clinical edge in front of goal and frailties in defense have been their undoing. Daniel Farke’s side have also tended to save their best for the big occasion, taking points off Manchester City, Tottenham and Arsenal while losing to fellow strugglers Aston Villa, West Ham, Watford, Burnley and Brighton. Norwich had led in six of their previous nine league games without registering a single victory, but the Canaries held on to claim a priceless three points and a first clean sheet at Carrow Road this season.
Southampton 2 – Wolverhampton Wanderers 3
Southampton have done well to climb up the table but today’s results suggests they cannot yet be considered completely out of relegation battle. Southampton were fortunate to be 2-0 up at half time in an even game. After beating Tottenham, Leicester and Chelsea spirits were high but Ralph Hasenhuttl will have to pick his team up from a shocking defeat. This feels like another key moment in their season as they now sit six points off the bottom three but a win or draw would see them much closer to the top six battle. Fine margins decide games and Long’s header hit the post moments before Wolves made it 2-1. Southampton’s season can now go either way.
Wolverhampton Wanderers have conceded the first goal in a league-high 16 PL games this season and it is now seven in a row. But they keep fighting and they showed incredible spirit with Jimenez and Traore leading the charge, once again. Imagine where Wolves would be in the table if they actually started games well. They are five points behind Chelsea and in the top four hunt now. However, their coach Nuno Espirito Santos has also admitted that wolves are down to the bare bones with injuries to Vinagre, Boly and Jota hitting them hard but they are getting the job done in remarkable fashion. Wolves have such a small squad so January transfer window will determine how their season pans out for business end… reminds premier league fans of squeaky bum time.
Newcastle United 1 – Chelsea 0
There is nothing exotic or innovative about Steve Bruce. He would likely admit that himself. His teams have, for the most part, always been functional, organized, resilient: sides built in the image of their rugged, hard-nosed coach. Many tipped Newcastle for certain relegation. But Bruce, who would be forgiven for feeling slightly smug, has so far confounded his critics and this game was a perfect example with Newcastle United squad affected by injury. Newcastle’s average possession is by far the lowest in the division – a remarkably low 33.6 per cent, significantly less than the next lowest (Burnley with 40.1 per cent) – but it has proved effective.
Chelsea’s away form has been largely impressive of late, with most of their struggles coming at Stamford Bridge. But they were surprisingly lacklustre here, lacking any real cutting edge or creativity. Tammy Abraham was unusually wasteful, while Willian and Callum Hudson-Odoi were mostly ineffective. Reece James was impressive but Chelsea would be wondering how they couldn’t capitalize on the chances they found and make most of 70 percent possession of the ball.
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