Premier League Review – Matchday 13
Tuesday 15th December, 2020
Wolverhampton Wanderers 2 Chelsea 1
Wolves reverted to a back three with Semedo and Marcal their wing-backs. Boly returned to the defence. Neves replaced the suspended Moutinho. There was one change to the Chelsea side with Pulisic starting instead of Kovacic. Adama Traore was on the bench for Wolves.
The first half was not exciting, and the first real chance fell to Giroud when he headed over from a corner after 19 minutes. Chelsea had been ahead on possession at this stage of the game. Fabio Silva gave Neto a nice short pass just outside the box and Mendy dived to his right to push Neto's shot out for a corner.
Zouma came closest to scoring a minute before half-time when he headed against the bar from a corner. Unfortunately for Chelsea the ball rebounded out of play for a goal kick off Giroud.
At half-time time Nuno gave 19-year-old American International Owen Otasowie a debut, replacing Dendoncker who had not been moving too smoothly late in the first half.
Chelsea took the lead in the 49th minute when Chilwell crossed from the left and Giroud hit a snap-shot with power. Goalkeeper Rui Patricio could not hold the ball cleanly, but it looked as though he had batted it away second time, but the ball was over the line - just. Fabio Silva hit the net five minutes later after Neto's pass, but he was offside. Fabio Silva was replaced by Traore after an hour. Traore was soon in difficulty after being caught by Giroud.
Wolves had a couple of corners before Podence scored with a lovely right-footed shot from the left side of the area, hitting his shot to the right of Mendy. All this time Traore was a passenger. (66 mins)
Lampard made a couple of changes replacing Havertz with Kovacic, and Giroud with Abraham.
Wolves had a good fast move down the right flank, with successive short passes allowing an advance by Traore and Semedo. They got the ball to the middle, but the Chelsea defence was resistant. After 80 minutes referee Stuart Atwell pointed to the spot after Neto went down under James' challenge. VAR Michael Oliver called the referee to the monitor and the decision was reversed.
There was a sting in the tail for Chelsea as the game entered a scheduled 5 minutes of added time. Wolves broke well from their area and Neto was given a good pass and advanced into the left side of the area before hitting the net with a telling shot. That 5 minutes turned into 8 minutes but when the whistle finally blew Wolves were on the attack again.
That's two successive defeats for Chelsea and advantage to the teams above them regarding the chase for the leadership of the Premier League.
Manchester City 1 West Bromwich Albion 1
The morning after this determined effort by his players against a powerful City side Slaven Bilic was sacked. The decision had been made after Saturday’s defeat to Newcastle. The fact that Sam Allardyce was announced as the new manager later on Wednesday indicates that “Big Sam” had been teed up. This is Allardyce’s 13th managerial appointment, and his eighth Premier League club.
Whilst the "Baggies" were clearly set up to defend against a City onslaught it was Karlan Grant who had the best early chance when a Gallagher attempted pass was diverted into his path. Grant had a great opportunity to take a surprise lead but hit his shot straight at the grateful Ederson.
City broke the deadlock after half an hour when Sterling got to the bye-line on the right, cutting the ball back to Gundogan who hit a right foot shot past Sam Johnstone. The “Baggies” shocked the home side two minutes before the break with an unexpected equaliser. It followed a free kick from the left which had not been fully cleared before Ajayi took a shot which beat Ederson due to a firm deflection by Dias. Ajayi and his team-mates naturally celebrated enthusiastically!
The second half was predominantly a backs to the wall defensive operation by West Brom, which City were unable to break down. Former Manchester United man Sam Johnstone made some vital saves. First, he blocked Sterling at short range at his left post, and in the closing minutes he dived to his left to push away a De Bruyne free kick. In added time Johnstone saved a Gundogan close-range header with his outstretched left leg after De Bruyne had crossed from the right. Gundogan hit a free kick into the side netting in the third minute of added time with the keeper beaten this time, but there was still time for one more save when Sterling was denied from six yards.
Johnstone will be tested many more times this season. I wonder how precious this last Bilic point will be for the “Baggies” at the end of the season. Apparently Allardyce, born in Dudley, is a Wolves fan!
Wednesday 16th December, 2020
Arsenal 1 Southampton 1
Arsenal suffered a third red card of the season (two in the last two games) when Gabriel was shown a second yellow card in the 62nd minute. By then, Aubameyang had scored his first home goal of the season to draw level with Southampton. They held onto their point but that was not enough to lift them above 15th place. Arsenal’s next two games are against Everton (away), and at home to Chelsea on Boxing Day. Pepe, who had been shown the first of those three red cards was back in the side today.
In a delightful piece of schadenfreude for Spurs observers it was Theo Walcott who not only scored against his old club but celebrated too. Che Adams had passed to Walcott who ran into the box and finished with a dink over Leno in the 18th minute. It’s a good job there were no fans in the stadium.
McCarthy saved well at his right-hand post from Saka after 38 minutes. The shot had been deflected by a Southampton defender towards goal. Arsenal had been getting forward without testing the Southampton keeper. Aubameyang’s goal came in the 52nd minute. It followed skilful play by Saka and a quick short through pass by Nketiah. It was Arsenal’s first goal in open play for over 13 hours in the Premier League.
Gabriel’s two yellow cards came in the space of four minutes. The second came for a foul on Walcott. It was the seventh red card shown in 33 Premier league games under Arteta.
Southampton hit the woodwork after 70 minutes when Romeu lifted a ball over the defence for substitute Redmond whose shot hit the corner frame of the goal to the right of Leno. Redmond had another shot which hit the side netting just behind the same post. In added time after a foul on Tierney and a free kick from the left, Holding headed against the bar. The scores remained level.
Leeds United 5 Newcastle United 2
This was a welcome second win in seven games for Leeds and a goal feast for those who managed to see the game on Amazon Prime. The last time Leeds scored this number of goals in the Premier League was in April 2003 when they got six at Charlton. Mark Viduka got a hat-trick and Harry Kewell scored two. Viduka’s last club was Newcastle. Kewell is currently managing Oldham Athletic.
There had been good chances and saves at either end before Newcastle took the lead in the 26th minute. Ryan Fraser’s cross from the left was met at the near post and headed across the goalmouth by Callum Wilson where Jeff Hendrick fired home. Darlow saved from Raphinha six minutes later, but it wasn’t long before Leeds were level. Raphinha crossed from the right. Rodrigo’s looping header rebounded off the bar and Bamford snapped up the falling ball in front of goal.
There was a lot of debate about an incident in the Leeds area where Cooper challenged Wilson for the ball, but referee Simon Hooper saw no offence and VAR did not intervene. Rodrigo put Leeds in the lead in the 61st minute with a fine goal. He had passed the ball out to Harrison on the left and when the ball was returned, Rodrigo met it with a beautifully placed header across Darlow and inside his left post. Darlow saved from Bamford at his right post and Newcastle broke down the right flank from the corner. Murphy crossed and Wilson’s effort was saved by Meslier just under the bar. Ciaran Clark headed home from a subsequent corner in the 65th minute.
Leeds went 3-2 up in the 77th minute when Klich crossed from the left of the area and right back Dallas ghosted in to score at the back post. Leeds added two more goals from similar scenarios. They were defending after a Newcastle corner when they broke out in numbers. Hernandez, towards the right of the area had his pick of at least three players for his final pass. He chose Alioski who scored with a shot from the left of the box. (85 mins) In a similar situation three minutes later Hernandez this time sent Harrison away with a good long pass. Harrison took it on for a brilliant solo goal, hitting a great left-footed shot from over 25 yards.
Leicester City 0 Everton 2
Leicester have won 8 but lost 5 of their 13 Premier League games. They’ve lost three of their last five, two of which have been at home. Everton have suddenly re-emerged as a threat to the top four with consecutive wins over Chelsea and now Leicester. Carlo Ancelotti gave Swedish International keeper Robin Olsen another Premier League outing, while insisting that Jordan Pickford’s place was not under threat. Cengiz Under made a first league start for Leicester.
Everton took the lead in the 21st minute when Richarlison surprised Schmeichel with a shot from the edge of the area which beat the keeper to his left. He got a hand to the ball but with insufficient strength. Vardy had a chance with a header from a Justin cross, but it was hit straight into Olsen’s arms.
Everton’s second goal came in the 72nd minute, following a corner taken from the left by Sigurdsson. Schmeichel saved an initial header by Richarlison then pushed the follow-up by Calvert-Lewin onto the bar, but he could not prevent Holgate from scoring at Everton’s third time of asking in this sequence.
Referee Lee Mason gave a penalty to Leicester when Gomes challenged Perez, but he was called to the monitor and overturned his decision seeing that Gomes had cleanly got the ball first.
Fulham 0 Brighton 0
This was a true six-pointer with Fulham hoping for a performance to match the one they gave against Liverpool, but also hoping for three points which would have taken them above Brighton. Brighton manager Graham Potter made six changes to his team including goalkeeper Robert Sanchez for Matt Ryan.
Welbeck failed to make contact with a Lamptey cross after Adam Lallana had started the move from the middle. Three minutes before the break Sanchez saved a powerful Cavaleiro shot with his left hand, pushing the ball over his bar at the Putney End. Areola slapped away a Solly March cross two minutes later.
Early in the second half Lewis Dunk had two chances saved by Areola after a corner. The first was a header, then when the ball came back Dunk managed to hit a shot whilst laying on the floor. The keeper saved again. Lallana thought he had scored his first Brighton goal after 48 minutes, but VAR cancelled the goal, because Welbeck had handled the ball after it had been crossed from the left and before it reached Lallana. There were appeals for a penalty at the other end when Lookman was challenged by Webster, but that was deemed a fair challenge. Webster hit the bar at the other end with a header following a Brighton corner.
Loftus-Cheek was through on goal after 68 minutes, but his shot was saved by Sanchez’s leg. The Chelsea loanee should have done better with his shot. Sanchez saved again from Lookman who had two efforts in quick succession near the keeper’s right post.
Liverpool 2 Spurs 1
Both Spurs defeats so far in the Premier League, in their first and thirteenth games, have been to the Liverpool sides. Everton beat us in the opening match of the season.
Two players shared your vote for Spurs man of the match. Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg won the vote for his third consecutive game, whilst in his 94th Spurs appearance and in his fourth season with the club Serge Aurier won the vote for the very first time. Serge played in the momentous 6-1 win at Old Trafford on October 4th, but wasn't getting as many games as new signing Matt Doherty at that time. Competition has been very good for Serge, and for the club as he has put in some very good performances in recent matches.
Heung-min Son, who scored our goal won The FIFA Puskas Award for best goal at The Best FIFA Football Awards 2020, wgich was announced this week. the award was for "Sonny"'s fantastic end to end run and goal in our 5-0 win over Burnley last December.
The South Korean star made it into the final three from a shortlist of 11, and then beat Luis Suarez, his goal for Barcelona, now with Athletico Madrid, and Giorgian de Arrascaeta of Brazilian side Flamengo to the prize. It’s the first time a Spurs player has picked up a FIFA award. Son currently shares the lead in the Premier League goalscorers' list with 11 goals. He has scored 15 club goals so far this season, level with Harry Kane.
West Ham United 1 Crystal Palace 1
There was a sending-off at The London Stadium and it was Christian Benteke who was shown two yellow cards feeling aggrieved about his second alleged offence. Benteke had earlier given Palace the lead with a third goal in three games, something not seen since 2016-17. The first yellow card was shown as a result of an aerial challenge with Ogbonna. Three minutes later (34) the Palace striker met Joel Ward’s cross with a perfect header which beat Fabianski to his right. Guaita saved from Bowen before Andros Townsend got into the area and hit a shot pass to Benteke who tried to flick the ball into the net but failed.
Another striker who has not been performing consistently recently is West Ham’s Sébastien Haller, but he equalised with a superb overhead kick in the 55th minute from Coufal’s cross. Fabianski managed to get a slight touch on a Zaha shot to concede a corner and at the other end Bowen fired just over from 25 yards. Benteke’s second yellow was in the 70th minute and was for a similar offence to the first where he hit his opponent too forcefully with his arm.
Thursday 17th December, 2020
Aston Villa 0 Burnley 0
Villa were without the suspended Douglas Luiz and Matt Cash. There were four changes in all with Nakamba, Elmohamady, Kortney Hause and El Ghazi all making their first Premier League starts of the season. Burnley were unchanged.
Gerard Houllier spent the 2010-11 season in charge at Villa, so he was remembered fondly here, as well as at Anfield.
Villa dominated the early possession and half chances over the first 19 minutes, but neither goalkeeper had a noteable save to make. Burnley then had a good move started by a good run through the middle by McNeill, who passed to Jay Rodriguez. Rodriguez cut the ball back and Westwood hit a curler just wide.
Bertrand Traore then had a chance smothered in front of the Burnley goal before Wood's header was well saved by Villa keeper Martinez. After half an hour a shot by Elmohamady took a couple of nasty deflections, including an involuntary touch by Watkins. The ball was well cleared off his line by Lawton just inside Burnley's right-hand post.
Grealish was unfairly stopped in his tracks 25 yards out by Ben Mee who escaped a yellow card. El Ghazi's free kick was brilliantly saved by Pope just inside his right post. Brady had a free kick for Burnley a little further out at the other end, but this was easy for Martinez. Watkins hit a shot straight at Pope from the inside of the area.
Two minutes before the break Villa had a corner on the right and a Kause header rebounded off the post.
After the break Traore put the Villa defence under pressure with a short ball across the goalmouth, and then Watkins had a shot held after latching onto Elmohamady's ball. After a touch back from Watkins, El Ghazi hit a powerful right-footed shot, but it passed wide of Pope's left post. Once again Villa were the more dominant team.
After a Grealish pass from left of the area, El Ghazi was on target, but Pope was equal to his effort. Brady had a decent effort plucked from the air by Martinez, who wasn’t seeing much action. After a good ball by Mings to Grealish the midfield star raced to the edge of the area before teeing up El Ghazi to his left whose shot was disappointing and an easy pick-up for Pope.
After a Burnley free kick in the 72nd minute Ben Mee hit a good shot on the turn, but into the hands of the Villa keeper. There was more pressure on the Burnley goal with no end result. Two minutes from time, Grealish was fouled and after the free kick Mings had a good headed chance but that was wide. Grealish also hit a shot over from just outside the area.
Sheffield United 2 Manchester United 3
Dean Henderson was given a start by Solskjaer against the club where he spent the last two seasons on loan. Telles, Matic and Martial also started for Manchester United. Chris Wilder made three changes, including Jack Robinson, Oliver Burke, and David McGoldrick.
Henderson had a nightmare return to Bramall Lane in only the fifth minute. He was closed down by Burke trying to play out after a free kick in the area. The ball fell to McGoldrick, who scored with ease. This was only the second goal from open play so far this season for the home side.
The "Blades" lost Sander Berge to injury soon after the goal, and he was replaced by veteran defender Phil Jagielka. Basham moved into midfield.
Rashford equalised with a great goal in the 26th minute. The striker had earlier had a shot wide from an offside position, but this time he was onside when he received Lindelof's ball from defence and after a great touch to take control of the ball, beat Ramsdale with a powerful right foot shot from the edge of the area.
The "Blades" defence was pierced again in the 33rd minute when Martial raced into the area onto a lifted ball by Pogba. Ramsdale closed down and got a touch, but the ball ran free for Martial to score. Soon after, Ramsdale had to save with an outstretched leg from Rashford. Henderson saved from close range with his leg from McGoldrick, who shot from a sharp angle outside Henderson’s right post.
Two minutes before the break Ampadu slipped a ball to the right side of the area where Burke hit a shot from a sharp angle. Henderson saved at his left-hand post.
Rashford had already gone on one beautiful run from the left flank making a pass to Greenwood, who didn’t get a shot in, but the England international was on the end of another great move to score a personal second and his team's third goal in the 51st minute. Referee Michael Oliver deserves credit too for spotting Jagielka's foul in the middle before waving play-on. Rashford made it to the edge of the area before scoring beneath Ramsdale. United were well on their way to a tenth consecutive Premier League away win.
With nearly half an hour still to play substitute Jagielka was replaced by a striker, Mousset, with Sheffield United desperate to try and get back on terms. Both substitute Juan Mata and Bruno Fernandes had shots blocked inside the "Blades" area after 74 minutes.
Sheffield United gave themselves a chance in the 87th minute when after a corner on the right Lindelof actually headed the ball against the back of McGoldrick's head and the ball fell into Henderson’s goal. There were four minutes of added time and in the first of these Henderson made a good save diving to his right to push away Mousset's well-struck shot after Brewster headed the ball to his feet.
United held onto the win and climbed to sixth place in what is becoming a compacted race for a top four place, if not the title itself.
Tuesday 15th December, 2020
Wolves 2-1 Chelsea
Man City 1-1 West Brom
Wednesday 16th December, 2020
Arsenal 1-1 S'hampton
Leeds 5-2 Newcastle
Leicester 0-2 Everton
Fulham 0-0 Brighton
Liverpool 2-1 Spurs
West Ham 1-1 C. Palace
Thursday 17th December, 2020
A. Villa 0-0 Burnley
Sheff Utd 2-3 Man Utd
Premier League Table
P W D L F-A GD Pts
1. Liverpool 13 8 4 1 29-19 10 28
2. Spurs 13 7 4 2 25-12 13 25
3. S'hampton 13 7 3 3 25-18 7 24
4. Leicester 13 8 0 5 24-17 7 24
5. Everton 13 7 2 4 24-19 5 23
6. Man Utd 12 7 2 3 22-19 3 23
7. Chelsea 13 6 4 3 26-14 12 22
8. West Ham 13 6 3 4 21-16 5 21
9. Man City 12 5 5 2 18-12 6 20
10. Wolves 13 6 2 5 13-17 -4 20
11. A. Villa 11 6 1 4 21-13 8 19
12. C. Palace 13 5 3 5 19-18 1 18
13. Leeds 13 5 2 6 22-24 -2 17
14. Newcastle 12 5 2 5 16-21 -5 17
15. Arsenal 13 4 2 7 11-16 -5 14
16. Brighton 13 2 5 6 15-21 -6 11
17. Burnley 12 2 4 6 6-18 -12 10
18. Fulham 13 2 3 8 12-22 -10 9
19. West Brom 13 1 4 8 10-26 -16 7
20. Sheff Utd 13 0 1 12 7-24 -17 1