After the Christmas and New Year games, we go into 2016 with Leicester City falling off the pace after dominating the top of the table for much of the season.
It has been a very enjoyable season so far, with Leicester’s unexpected rise to the top, adding to the suspense, Crystal Palace and West Ham have also been hovering around the top five. Many teams who you would have expected to be there have faltered, with Chelsea being the most surprising, every pundit (myself included) named Chelsea as their favourites to win the league this season and a few months after completely dominating the league last season they have imploded, players not reaching anywhere near their expected level of performance and the Special One, not so special any more.
Liverpool and Manchester United are also struggling to find their feet.
Tottenham have had an excellent first half of the season, we (sorry I always refer to Spurs as we) are looking very solid defensively and are not conceding soft goals, which has been a particular achiles heel over the last years, with Hugo Lloris (one of the best goalkeepers in the world) playing magnificently, the defensive partnership between the Belgian’s Jan Vertongen and Toby Alderweireld getting stronger with each game, full backs Danny Rose and Kyle Walker have stepped up to the mark and Eric Dier playig in a holding midfield position, just in front of the back four has been a revelation. The solid back five has allowed the likes of Dembele, Ali, Erikksen, Lamela and Kane to reap havoc amongst opposition defences and in my opinion Spurs are now an outside bet to win the title.
However our biggerst rivals, Arsenal are now in pole position at the top of the league and have an excellent opportunity of winning the Premiership title, although slip ups, like the 4-0 defeat at Southampton last week, will be cause of concern for the Gunners fans. Manchester City are not to dismissed as potential winners, but they are going to have to be a lot more consistent away from home, their 2-1 victory at Watford was their first away win since the beginning of September !!!!
West Ham 2 v 0 Liverpool
Andy Carroll scored against his former club as West Ham leapfrogged Liverpool in the table thanks to a first league double over the Reds for 52 years, Michail Antonio beat Nathaniel Clyne to Enner Valencia’s early cross to net the Premier League’s first goal of 2016.
Liverpool midfielder Emre Can was denied by the bar but Jurgen Klopp’s side were off the pace throughout.
Carroll, who cost Liverpool a record £35 in 2011, sealed the points after meeting Mark Noble’s cross.
West Ham’s second straight win lifted them to sixth in the table, Liverpool dropping to eighth.
All Hammers fans click here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=980A7O0ZeD4
Arsenal 1 v 0 Newcastle
Arsenal moved two points clear of Leicester at the top of the Premier League table with a win over Newcastle.
The unconvincing Gunners looked set for a point on a soggy Emirates Stadium pitch until defender Laurent Koscielny came to the rescue with a close-range poked winner in the 72nd minute, the Magpies should have come away with at least a point, having been on the front foot for much of the second half, Georginio Wijnaldum went closest but his shot was saved by Petr Cech.
Click here for the goals – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oSMqYnKD1VQ
Leicester 0 v 0 Bournemouth
Riyad Mahrez saw a second-half penalty saved as Leicester could only draw with Bournemouth to fall two points behind Arsenal at the top of the table, moments after Bournemouth captain Simon Francis was sent off for denying Jamie Vardy a goalscoring chance, Artur Boruc denied Mahrez with a two-handed save, Vardy had struck a post when well-placed in an even first half, but the red card left the Cherries hanging on.
Boruc again denied Mahrez late on, but the visitors deservedly earned a point.
Man United 2 v 1 Swansea
Wayne Rooney’s brilliant instinctive winner beat Swansea as Manchester United ended a run of eight games without a win.
The England striker flicked home Anthony Martial’s cross with 13 minutes to go to settle a close contest.
After a dour first half, Martial had headed United in front, before Gylfi Sigurdsson’s glancing effort set nerves on edge at Old Trafford.
Manchester United move up to fifth, two points behind Tottenham.
Click here for Rooney’s deft flick for the winning goal – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bkr_CfsBM28
Norwich 1 v 0 Southampton
lex Tettey’s second-half goal gave Norwich a hard-fought win over 10-man Southampton at Carrow Road.
Saints went a man down when Victor Wanyama was sent off, with Norwich scoring just three minutes later.
Norwich move onto 23 points, just one behind Southampton.
Ronald Koeman’s side have now lost six of their past eight Premier League outings.
Sunderland 3 v 1 Aston Villa
Sunderland boosted their Premier League survival hopes as they ended a run of five straight defeats with a win over bottom side Aston Villa.
The hosts took the lead against the run of play when Patrick van Aanholt’s low 20-yard shot deflected wickedly off Micah Richards and into the net.
A brilliant acrobatic volley from Carles Gil levelled after the break, before Jermain Defoe’s low strike.
Defoe added a late third, leaving Villa with no wins in 18 league matches.
West Brom 2 v 1 Stoke
Jonny Evans grabbed a stoppage-time winner for West Brom as Stoke suffered just their third defeat in 13 matches.
After a sterile first 60 minutes, Stephane Sessegnon fired the Baggies into the lead with a powerful shot.
Stoke created little in the second half but substitute Jonathan Walters headed them level from a superb Joselu cross.
Almost immediately, the visitors’ Geoff Cameron was sent off for striking Claudio Yacob before Evans tapped home after a goalmouth scramble.
Watford 1 v 2 Man City
Brilliant late goals from Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero rescued Manchester City as they came from behind to beat Watford in an entertaining finale.
Watford went ahead after the break when Aleksandar Kolarov headed Ben Watson’s corner beyond Joe Hart, who had the situation covered, for an own goal. with defeat looming, Toure side-foot volleyed Kolarov’s corner into the near post to level, and Aguero headed Bacary Sagna’s fine cross home to secure a rare away win, the title contenders were eight minutes from falling six points behind league leaders Arsenal, before Toure and Aguero struck for goals which could prove pivotal this season.
Click here for the goals – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QFCNko0pur0
Crystal Palace 0 v 3 Chelsea
Guus Hiddink remains unbeaten in his second spell at Chelsea, as they secured their first victory under Hiddink to move six points clear of relegation with a deserved win at Crystal Palace. Oscar put the Blues ahead against the run of play, tapping home after being put through by Diego Costa, once they scored Chelsea dominated, deservedly doubling their advantage with a spectacular Willian strike.
Costa sealed the win with a tap-in for a goal his performance deserved after Palace failed to clear Willian’s shot.
The Blues’ four-match run without defeat is their longest this season and moves last year’s champions to 14th in the league, still 12 points adrift of a Champions League spot.
All Chelsea fans click here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7aqilKyrlO0
Everton 1 v 1 Tottenham
Tottenham cemented their place in the Premier League’s top four but had to be satisfied with a point after they were held to a draw at Everton.
Aaron Lennon’s angled half-volley against his old club after 22 minutes gave Everton a lead that was completely against the run of play as Spurs dominated the first half.(I knew we should never have sold Aaron !!!)
Harry Kane and Ben Davies both struck the woodwork either side of Lennon’s goal before Dele Alli controlled Toby Alderweireld’s superb long pass to volley low past Everton keeper Tim Howard in first-half stoppage time.
Everton exerted much more pressure after the break as Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris saved superbly from substitute Muhamed Besic’s 25-yard shot and Romelu Lukaku just failed to turn in Gerard Deulofeu’s cross.
Click here for two lovely goals – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oR1hR0AevUY
My form continues to improve in my predictions, with six correct results and two correct scores this week :-
My week 21 predictions :-
Aston Villa 2 v 1 Crystal Palace
Bournemouth 2 v 1 West Ham
Newcastle 1 v 2 Man Utd
Chelsea 2 v 1 West Brom
Man City 2 v 1 Everton
Southampton 2 v 1 Watford
Stoke 2 v 1 Norwich
Swansea 2 v 1 Sunderland
Liverpool 1 v 2 Arsenal
Tottenham 2 v 1 Leicester
Have a good week