ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE ROUND UP WEEK 19 and 20

 In Gary Mabbutt Blog

Please see following a precise round-up of the Premier League games, with games coming every two days it has been hectic.

In the Christmas Boxing Day games, Liverpool dominated second-placed Leicester to move 13 points clear at the top of the Premier League on a day where two managers in new roles enjoyed mixed starts.

The Anfield side eased to a 4-0 win at the Foxes as two goals from Roberto Firmino, a James Milner penalty and a fine Trent Alexander-Arnold strike also moved the Reds 14 points clear of champions Manchester City in third.

The shock of Christmas came at Molineux as Manchester City threw away a two-goal lead to lose 3-2 away at Wolves.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s goal was enough to get Carlo Ancelotti’s reign up and running with a win at Goodison Park, as Everton claimed a gritty 1-0 victory over Burnley.

Mikel Arteta’s first game in management saw his Arsenal side recover to take a point at Bournemouth after Dan Gosling’s first-half goal had put the hosts in front.

But Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s close-range finish ensured a share of the spoils for the Gunners, who are now 11th in the top flight.

Manchester United responded to defeat at Watford by hammering Newcastle 4-1 despite falling behind to Matthew Longstaff’s strike.

Goals from Marcus Rashford, Mason Greenwood and a double from Anthony Martial moved Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side seventh, four points off the Champions League qualification places.

I was at the New THFC Stadium nice and early on Boxing day, as the early kick-off saw Harry Kane and Dele Alli score as Tottenham recovered from going a goal behind to beat Brighton.

Adam Webster had put Graham Potter’s side ahead at the interval but Spurs move up to fifth, three points behind fourth-placed Chelsea.

Dele Ali’s goal was one of the best goals scored during the Festive time.

Nearly as big a shock was at Stamford Bridge as Michael Obafemi’s first Premier League goal in over a year set Southampton on their way to a surprise 2-0 win against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

Nathan Redmond sealed their victory when he finished off a stunning team goal to help the Saints up to 14th in the table, the highest they have been since September.

Watford moved off the bottom of the Premier League table with a battling 1-1 draw at in-form Sheffield United.

The Hornets went ahead in the first half through Gerard Deulofeu’s breakaway goal, but Oliver Norwood’s penalty pegged them back before the break.

Roy Hodgson’s Crystal Palace condemned West Ham to their third Premier League defeat in four games thanks to Jordan Ayew’s 90th-minute winner at Selhurst Park.

West Ham had taken the lead through Robert Snodgrass before Cheikhou Kouyate equalised against his former club, who are now a point above the bottom three.

Conor Hourihane’s goal gave Aston Villa three precious points as they halted their four-match losing streak against fellow strugglers Norwich.

The result lifts Villa closer to safety and a point behind 17th-placed West Ham, while the Canaries slip to the foot of the table.

Two days later the teams were in competition again.

Spurs were away at bottom club Norwich, in a game that VAR was on the Spurs side 🙂

A great goal from Pukki would have put Norwich two up at half time, but the goal was disallowed by VAR, a decision the human eye had absolutely no chance, an mm or two, was the distance Pukki’s armpit was offside, I have never seen an armpit score a goal before 🙂 VAR HAS TO GO – FULL STOP.

Spurs twice went behind, a goal from Vrantic put the home side ahead, only for Christien Erikksen to score a wonderful free-kick to level the scores.

An Aurier own goal gave Norwich the lead back, only for Harry Kane to ruin the hame fans celebrations, putting away a clear penalty.

Brighton beat relegation rivals Bournemouth, thanks to their Iran winger Alireza Jahanbakhsh making his 27th appearance for the club, who blasted home from 16 yards after Neal Maupay’s lay-off.

He appeared close to tears afterwards with even goalkeeper Mat Ryan running forward to join in the jubilant celebrations.

Dan Burn had a second goal ruled out by the video assistant referee for marginal offside several phases of play before he smashed home. And Yves Bissouma struck the post as Brighton, not for the first time this season struggled to get a second goal to kill the game off.

But the clinching strike came as Aaron Mooy controlled Leandro Trossard’s cross before firing in his first Seagulls goal. Graham Potter’s Brighton move three points above Bournemouth, with both clubs on a similar run of form.

Everton got a much-needed win away from home at Newcastle, where Calvert-Lewin’s scored the two definitive goals, his opener was a classic poacher’s goal poking home after Gylfi Sigurdsson’s deflected strike fortuitously arrived in front of him. Newcastle equalised when Fabian Schar fired home a volley from Andy Carroll’s nod-down.

But six minutes after setting up the equaliser, Carroll’s mistake led to Everton’s winner.

Theo Walcott dispossessed the striker and played a pass out wide to Richarlison. The Brazilian sped down the right and delivered an excellent low cross for Calvert-Lewin, who slid in and scrambled home.

The Toffees move above the Magpies into 10th, with their opponents level on 25 points now down in 11th.

Southampton managed to share the points against Crystal Palace after Danny Ings capitalised on an error by Martin Kelly to earn Southampton a share of the spoils at home to Crystal Palace.

Ings pounced on Kelly’s misplaced backpass before slotting confidently past Vicente Guaita for his 12th league goal of the season.

James Tomkins had given the visitors the lead early in the second half, heading Luka Milivojevic’s delivery into the net via the underside of the crossbar.

Watford’s revival under new manager Nigel Pearson continued as the Hornets survived being reduced to 10 men to beat relegation rivals Aston Villa 3-0 and move within three points of safety.

The Hornets played for more than half an hour with 10 men after defender Adrian Mariappa was sent off following two yellow cards in the space of six minutes.

Watford was leading 1-0 when Mariappa was sent off – Hornets captain Troy Deeney reacting quickest to slot home after Tom Heaton had palmed away Abdoulaye Doucoure’s shot following a mistake by Ezri Konsa.

Deeney doubled the lead from the penalty spot after he was fouled by Douglas Luiz before the impressive Ismaila Sarr added the third from Etienne Capoue’s cross.

West Ham’s miserable home record continued as defeat by a much-changed Leicester side left them stuck in a Premier League relegation battle.

Boos from the Hammers fans greeted the final whistle at London Stadium as Manuel Pellegrini’s side racked up a fourth straight home defeat, with the veteran Chilean manager paying the price by being sacked less than two hours after the final whistle. Second-placed Leicester, who made nine changes from the Boxing Day defeat by Liverpool, had a measure of control throughout and deservedly won through Demarai Gray’s composed second-half finish. Gray did see an early penalty saved by Hammers keeper Lukasz Fabianski, but the Foxes still took the lead through Kelechi Iheanacho’s instinctive close-range header.

West Ham levelled through Pablo Fornals’ precise finish on the cusp of half-time, but they could not build on that in the second half.

Instead, it was Leicester who was the more composed, illustrated by the slick move and finish by Gray which consolidated second place ahead of Manchester City.

The Foxes are four clear of City, who have a game in hand, but trail runaway leaders Liverpool, who have played two games fewer, by 10 points.

Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford were on target as Manchester United defeated Burnley at Turf Moor to move within a point of the Premier League’s top four.

After his brace against Newcastle on Boxing Day, Martial tapped home his 10th of the season from close range a minute before the break after Andreas Pereira had robbed Charlie Taylor and crossed superbly from the right. Rashford then raced clear in stoppage time to seal a deserved win.

Chelsea overcame an “awful” start, said boss Frank Lampard, as they staged a stunning late comeback to snatch victory and wreck Mikel Arteta’s return to Emirates Stadium as Arsenal manager.

Arteta, taking charge of his first home game since succeeding the sacked Unai Emery, looked on course for three important points after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s early header put the Gunners in front.

Chelsea, with Lampard making a first-half tactical switch when he introduced Jorginho for the struggling Emerson, were gifted an equaliser seven minutes from time when goalkeeper Bernd Leno hopelessly misjudged Mason Mount’s free-kick to leave the substitute with a simple finish.

Arsenal was doubly frustrated because Jorginho was fortunate to escape a second yellow card earlier for a cynical foul on Lucas Torreira – but Arteta’s home bow was to get even more painful.

Chelsea struck again with three minutes of normal time left, Tammy Abraham turning Arsenal substitute Shkodran Mustafi far too easily in the area to beat Leno and complete the smash-and-grab raid.

Liverpool finishes the year with a 13-point lead at the top of the Premier League table following the victory over Wolves amidst more video assistant referee controversy at Anfield.

Sadio Mane scored the winner in the first half, slotting it past keeper Rui Patricio after it bounced off Adam Lallana’s shoulder in the box.

There was a lengthy VAR review for handball by Lallana before referee Anthony Taylor eventually confirmed the goal.

Wolves then had a goal disallowed by VAR for a marginal offside against Jonny after Pedro Neto had drilled his shot into the bottom left corner on the stroke of half-time.

Liverpool had chances to extend their lead – Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino coming close either side of the break – but Wolves were also bright.

Diogo Jota had two big chances in the second half – the first a shot from a tight angle in the box which flew wide of the right post, the second a festive gift from a Virgil van Dijk mistake which he hit straight at Liverpool keeper Alisson.

Liverpool finish the year as resounding favourites to win their first league title in 30 years, while Wolves end 2019 in good form despite defeat at Anfield.

In a year which saw Manchester City claim a historic domestic treble, they far from their best in their final game of 2019, fortunately for them goals from De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero saved their blushes.

Over the Christmas period, there were twenty games and I got fifteen correct results and one score spot on. My best sequence for a while 🙂

Please see following my predictions for week 21 :-

Brighton & Hove Albion 1 v 3 Chelsea

Burnley 2 v 1 Aston Villa

Newcastle United 1 v 2 Leicester City

Southampton 1 v 3 Tottenham Hotspur

Watford 1 V 2 Wolverhampton Wanderers

Manchester City 3 V 1 Everton

Norwich City 2 V 1 Crystal Palace

West Ham United 2 V 1 AFC Bournemouth

Arsenal 2 V 1 Manchester United

Liverpool 3 v 1 Sheffield United

 

Have an amazing 2020

Take care,

Gary

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