This week’s Premier League Refresher!
Premier League Week 17 boasted 2 mouth-watering clashes; Manchester City vs Arsenal and the Merseyside Derby, and it is safe to say that the much awaited fixtures didn’t disappoint.
Pep Guardiola’s men rallied back to overcome a one-goal deficit to beat Arsenal 2-1, at the Etihad. An early opener from Theo Walcott, after a slick Arsenal move, was cancelled out by sublime goals from Sane and Sterling. It was a classic game of two halves. Guardiola’s men struggled to find any rhythm in the first half and were the second best team in all departments
In the break, Guardiola fired up his players and switched his tactics. Arsene Wenger’s team talk however had the opposite effect on the Gunners who roamed around like headless chickens at the beginning of the second half. Leroy Sane, who up till now had struggled to make an impact in Manchester, came up with the goods this time, as he latched on to a perfectly weighted ball from David Silva(but he had probably drifted offside in his endeavor) and coolly slipped it past Cech. City drew great confidence from the goal and piled on the pressure, with another goal seeming just a formality, and they finally had their goal when Sterling took advantage of Monreal’s hesitance and got his shot away from between his legs, with an unsighted Cech reacting too late. In all honesty City should have had a couple more but they’ll draw a lot of confidence from this result nonetheless. Arsene Wenger though needs to address the lackadaisical approach of players like Mesut Ozil.
Liverpool scored right at the death to secure a dramatic late win over city rivals, Everton. Sadio Mane found the back of the net in the 94th minute, giving the Toffees no time respond.
Liverpool leapfrogged Manchester City into second place and cut short leaders’ Chelsea’s lead to 6 points. Everton started off brighter of the two teams with good chances going to waste as Lukaku failed on multiple occasions to get a clean shot away. Liverpool grew into the game and in the second half took control. Ross Barkley was lucky to get away with a horror tackle on Jordan Henderson as lunged in with his foot off the ground and caught Henderson’s leg. Firmino warmed Joel Robles’ gloves with a spectacular volley as Liverpool pushed men forward.
Daniel Sturridge’s introduction proved to be instrumental as it was his hopeful shot which rolled past Robles and came off the right post and Mane was on hand to stroke the ball into the back of the net.
League leaders Chelsea continued their sensational form as they beat Alan Pardew’s Crystal Palace 1-0, at Selhurst Park. An intelligent dribble and pass by Eden Hazard saw Cesar Azpilicueta bomb forward and chip in a beautifully weighted ball into the box for Diego Costa, who rose highest to head the ball past Hennessey.
Chelsea went 1-0 up at half-time and didn’t look back. Antonio Conte’s men recorded their 11th straight PL victory, but lost both N’golo Kante and Diego Costa to suspensions for the Bournemouth game.
Reigning champions Leicester City fought back to secure a notable 2-2 draw against Stoke City, even after being reduced to 10 men early on in the game. Jamie Vardy was controversially sent off for a “two-footed” challenge on Diouf.
Stoke raced into a two goal lead soon after Vardy’s sending off and looked all set to take the three points, but substitutes Gray and Ulloa combined to score Leicester’s first goal and offered the perturbed champions a ray of hope. Holding midfielder Daniel Amartey headed in his first goal for Leicester, to restore parity.
West Ham’s captain Mark Noble converted from the spot to hand the struggling Hammers all three points against Hull City. Mike Phelan’s side wasted some glorious opportunities and were left to rue their luck as Referee Lee Mason pointed to the spot after Tom Huddlestone committed a foul in the box. Just like last week, skipper Mark Noble chose to stroke the ball into the bottom right corner of the goal. Bilic’s men saw out a nervy last 15 minutes of the match and secured a much needed 3 points.
Middlesbrough brushed aside Swansea City 3-0 at home. A brace from Alvaro Negredo and a goal from De Roon made sure that Karanka’s men got back to winning ways. Negredo’s first goal was a sublime finish, as Clayton’s low cross into the box fell behind Negredo who did extremely well to cushion the ball across Fabianski and into the bottom right corner. He chose the same corner to slot the ball in from the spot, after Adam Forshaw was hacked down in the box. An early ball into the box caught the Swans off-guard and De Roon slotted the ball home and sealed the points. This result however cranks up the heat (even more!) on struggling Swansea boos, Bob Bradley.
David Moyes’ Sunderland got themselves a crucial 3 points at home against Watford. A fast break from the Black Cats resulted in Patrick van Aanholt artistically turning the ball into the net after Jermaine Defoe’s cutback found him in the box.
Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United continued their good form as they edged Tony Pulis’ West Brom 2-0 at The Hawthorns. A brace from Zlatan Ibrahimovic proved to be the difference in a tight game. This win sees United move within 3 points of the top 4.
Southampton deservedly bagged all three points against Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth, at the Vitality stadium. After a lively first half, wherein full-backs Ake and Bertrand both scored for their sides, Southampton took control of the second half. Jay Rodriguez inspired the Saints to all three points with his brace. His first goal came after a beautiful move from the Saints which saw him turn in Steven Davis’ ball into an empty net. His second one was a thing of beauty; Redmond’s shot ricocheted off a Bournemouth defender and fell kindly for Rodriguez, who caught the ball sweetly on the turn and found the top corner with a gorgeous half-volley.
Mauricio Pochettino’s Spurs side were slightly fortunate to win against Sean Dyche’s resolute Burnley. The visitors took the lead after Ashley Barnes (somehow) scrambled the ball into Lloris’ goal after utter chaos in the Spurs’ box. Their joy was short-lived though as a couple of minutes later Kyle Walker lashed the ball viciously into the box and Delle Ali was at hand to poke the ball past a helpless Heaton. Danny Rose smashed the ball home in the second half to give Spurs the lead. Pochettino’s men dealt with a few nervy moments in the game and gifted their fans a much need three points.
So this was the Kaam before the Storm viz. the crazy festive period which kicks off with another tasty Boxing Day fixture list! It will be interesting to see what happens in the next couple of weeks, as important fixtures are coming up which could make or break a team’s year at either end of the table!
Till then I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!