greenwood manchester united

Premier League Festive Football – Five things we learned on Boxing Day

Boxing Day provided a genuine feast of Premier League football with nine fixtures served up.

There was a lot to play for at either end of the table as teams scrapped it out for crucial mid-season points to help shape the rest of their campaigns.

Here’s a look at five things we learned from the best of the action…

Trent Alexander-Arnold shows his class against Leicester City 

League leaders Liverpool notched a vital victory over second placed Leicester City at the King Power Stadium on Boxing Day. Jurgen Klopp’s men recorded an impressive 0-4 win after a dominant display against Brendan Rodger’s Foxes.

However, it was 21-year-old full-back Trent Alexander-Arnold who really stole the show during Thursday’s late kick-off. The 21-year-old was at his superb best for the Reds, chalking off another two wonderful assists for the season. Twice he teed up Roberto Firmino, first with a looping ball in from to the far post and then with a delicious ball cut back across the box to find the Brazilian forward from out wide on the right.

He also rounded off a dominant and mature display by scoring his second goal of the season after Sadio Mane played the youngster in following a superb late run from deep. Since the start of last season, Alexander-Arnold has registered 20 assists for Liverpool, a staggering figure for a right-back who continues to set the bar so high for his hometown club.

Mason Greenwood impresses for United in comfortable win over Newcastle 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needed a reaction from his Manchester United players after their loss to Watford last weekend. The Norwegian opted to throw academy graduate Mason Greenwood into his starting XI for only the second time in the Premier League this season as he looked to secure three points against an improving Newcastle United.

It’s fair to say the 18-year-old repaid his manager back and then some, smashing home an impressive finish to put the home side 2-1 up following a shaky start. Greenwood was lively for United all afternoon during an emphatic 4-1 victory over the Magpies.

The academy graduate made aggressive, instinctive runs into the box and though his touch let him down at times, he can be delighted with yet another positive step forward towards a more sustained role in the first team. He has now scored eight goals this campaign, leaving him behind only Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho in Europe’s teenage top scoring charts.

Dele Alli continues his renaissance for Spurs under Jose Mourinho 

Sometimes change is as good as a rest, so the old saying goes anyway, and perhaps this maxim can be best applied to Spurs midfielder Dele Alli who continues to shine in the early stages of Jose Mourinho’s tenure in North London.

Spurs were made to graft for their win over Brighton, but there were plenty of positives including the continued good form of Alli who looked hungry and sharp once again for the home side. After a lengthy dip in form and some plainly anonymous displays over past 12 months, the England international has flourished under the guidance of Mourinho and seems to have more license to make crucial runs into the box.

His excellent winning goals against Brighton takes him to five goals and three assists registered since the Mourinho arrived at Spurs in November. At 23-years-old, Alli should have his best years firmly ahead of him and if Mourinho can continue to reap the benefits of this kind of form from his number 20, it could well prove to be decisive in the race for a top four finish.

Jordan Ayew moment of magic keeps Eagles flying high 

Crystal Palace v West Ham was a fixture distinctly lacking in quality and inspiration, at least until the clock ran into stoppage time at Selhurst Park.

With the game heading for a drab 1-1 draw Palace’s Ghanaian forward Jordan Ayew stepped up to deliver arguably the goal of the season to date. The former Villa and Swansea man picked up the ball just outside the box and duly slalomed his way around a host of West Ham players with silky footwork and quick thinking before dinking a cute finish over the onrushing Roberto Jimenez for a dramatic winner.

It was a touch a class from Ayew worthy of winning any game and leaves Roy Hodgson’s men firmly in the top hop half of the table at the half-way stage. For a side that have scored the second lowest amount of goals in the league with just 17 strikes, this is a truly staggering feat for the South Londoners.

Ben Foster inspires Watford to big point as the Nigel Pearson turnaround continues 

Nigel Pearson was parachuted into Watford earlier this month tasked with a salvage effort to somehow turn around the ailing Hornet’s miserable season.

Three games in and it’s looking as though it could pay off as the basement club continue to impress after a hard-fought point against Sheffield United at Bramall Lane.

Embed from Getty Images

One of the stand out stars of the season has been veteran shot-stopper Ben Foster. The 36-year-old was bang in form once again on Thursday afternoon as he pulled off a point-blank save with his feet to deny John Fleck a close-range winner in the second-half.

He also sprung the route one trap for the visitors after his long kick out was flicked on to Gerard Deulofeu for the opening goal. With such an experienced stalwart in goal Watford at least have one key ingredient in place as they look to pull off the great escape in the second part of the season.