Another weekend, another frantic pile up of Premier League fixtures! The festive period is a joy for football fans, and so far the early Christmas fixtures have delivered big time. Here is a look at five things we learned from the action after the 16th round of Premier League fixtures.
City hand the advantage to Liverpool – for now
A glance at the score line at Stamford Bridge would have any football fan sitting up and paying attention. You had to pinch yourself, but yes, Manchester City actually lost a Premier League game of football.
Chelsea are something of a bogey side for Pep Guardiola with the Catalan manager once again floundering in West London with a 2-0 defeat. It’s a result which leaves City in second and many proclaiming the title race as officially up and running.
This result though is a tad misleading. For most of the first half, City did what they do – they dominated. Chelsea were chasing shadows, with defenders left to heroically block on the line for the home side as City flew forward. Chelsea’s sucker punch opener came from their first effort on target and their second stemmed from a contentious corner. They deserve credit for a stoic display, but this is not a result that rips apart City’s hopes or abilities. On a different day, they may well have been over the hill by the time Chelsea mustered a shot on goal. For now though, its advantage Liverpool as City lick their wounds.
Mo Salah inspires Liverpool to the summit
The early kick off this weekend saw Liverpool take a trip to the South Coast to play Bournemouth. Eddie Howe’s men have been excellent this season and would have been quietly confident of getting something against Liverpool. However, their hopes were obliterated by the supreme talents of Mo Salah as The Reds romped to victory.
The Egyptian bagged himself a wonderful hat-trick, of which, the third goal was mesmerizing. The Cherries could do little, aside from aim kicks, as they were torn apart by Liverpool’s sharp movement and work rate.
This was, arguably, Liverpool’s best attacking display this season with the likes of Keita and Firmino also shining on a wet and windy day of wonderful football in Bournemouth. Their focus will now be on their old enemy as Mourinho comes to Anfield next weekend, Liverpool will need a display to match this one, if they are to keep their momentum at the top of the league.
New man, same big problems for Fulham
In a description that only Claudio Ranieri could have conjured up, it was wolves against lambs at Old Trafford as United tore their opponents apart on Saturday. The new manager had come in and taken four points from three games going in to this fixture, a clear improvement. However, his side’s defensive efforts have been woeful this season and show no signs of improvement.
That’s now forty conceded in sixteen games for Fulham. Only Barnsley have a worse record in the Premier League after this number of games. It’s only going to end one way for them, unless they can find a way to stop the goals going in. Ranieri has already worked the most famous of Premier League miracles, keeping Fulham up with that defence would be another act of god-like genius from The Italian.
Ali and Son give Spurs a taste of 17/18
Tottenham have bounced back brilliantly from their North London Derby woes. A 2-0 victory away at Leicester was yet another encouraging result for Pochettino’s men, in a match which saw them rest Eriksen and Kane.
This left Dele Ali and Son to lead their attacking line. The wonderfully gifted duo lit up the league last season with almost telepathic link up play, which saw many an opponent swept aside.
Saturday’s evening game saw a return of that wonderful combination as Leicester ultimately had no answer for the Alli and Son’s movement and pace. Son scored a thunderous opener, before intelligently dinking a ball to the far post for Alli’s header in the second half. It was excellent stuff from the pair, who really do give Spurs an extra boost.
Newcastle unlucky, but in dire need of a goal scorer
When a victorious opposition manager says his side didn’t deserve to win, you know there has been more than a little sprinkle of bad luck for the other side. Nuno Espirito Santo’s assessment of his team’s victory at Newcastle was accurate though. Wolves rode their luck to get the win, with The Magpies worthy of a point.
Benitez was visibly furious with the red card decision on DeAndre Yedlin in the second half. The Newcastle boss voiced his frustrations afterwards and you have to have some sympathy.
However, the brutal truth for Benitez is that his side will continue to be bogged down in the mire of the dogfight, until they can find a bit more quality upfront. Perez, Richie and Rondon are all honest pros and ran their hearts out against Wolves, but the club need an upgrade on one of those three if they want to well and truly, pull away from danger. They are hard working and organised, but they will need more than that sooner or later in the Premier League this season.