Thursday, December 29, 2022

Premier League Results Matchweek 17: Moaning Monday For Home Sides; Gunners Blast West Ham; Newcastle Continue Top Four Form; Eagles Crash Land; Wolves Show Some Bite Under New Management; Saints Take Over Basement; Chelsea Snaps Winless Streak; Haaland Fastest Ever To 20

It was quickly clear which clubs were prepared for Monday’s restart and which clubs need to seriously refocus. Saturday was also a bad day for the home teams. Home supporters were disappointed as away squads went undefeated in the first six Boxing Day matches by an aggregate margin of 15-5.

Arsenal, despite a worrying 1-0 halftime deficit at the Emirates, would ultimately end that trend with the final match of the day at the Emirates. A 3-1 win over West Ham kept Arsenal as one of only two clubs to be undefeated at home this season. Bukayo Saka ignited the Gunners with a 53rd minute goal as the English international opportunistically found the net after collecting a mishit shot from Martin Odegaard. Gabriel Martinelli tied matters just five minutes later and Eddie Nketiah delivered the insurance goal in the 69th minute to complete the trifecta. Nketiah’s goal could be important going forward as Arsenal will need the young winger confident and in good form as he stands in for the injured Gabriel Jesus.

Despite first half frustrations, the league leaders dominated possession in the match and displayed the quality of a title contender. Applauding from the stands was former longtime manager Arsene Wenger who returned to the Emirates for the first time since his 2018 departure from the club. West Ham lost a fourth league match as the disappointing Hammers hover just a point above the relegation zone.

Newcastle is on a much different trajectory from struggling West Ham. The Magpies served notice that they intend to continue their top four quest as the Magpies dominated Leicester in a 3-0 victory. Eddie Howe’s side were already up by two goals inside of the first ten minutes of play as shellshocked Leicester were embarrassed at home. Newcastle, playing without ill striker Callum Wilson, easily won its sixth consecutive outing in the league. Leicester was unable to put a shot on target until the 82nd minute as the Foxes were able to generate very little in the absence of injured playmaker James Maddison.

Another disappointed home crowd on Monday saw Crystal Palace play a sloppy match at Selhurst Park. The Eagles fell 3-0 to Fulham and finished an ugly performance, in which they failed to have a single shot on target, as the first side this season to go down to nine men. There are storm clouds over south London as Crystal Palace has now put in terrible performances on both sides of the World Cup break. Reportedly there are differences festering between Crystal Palace President Steve Parish and Manager Patrick Vieira regarding how active the club needs to be in the January transfer window as recent results highlight a seeming talent deficit. Fulham feasted on the disorganized Eagles and striker Aleksandar Mitrovic had the most fun, setting up the first two goals and scoring the third for the Cottagers.

Goodison Park was the site of another humbling home loss as Everton fell 2-1 to Wolves as new Wolverhampton Manager Julen Lopetegui enjoyed a successful Premier League debut. Rayan Ait-Nouri scored the winner in the fifth minute of extra time on a cross from Adama Traore to ruin Boxing Day for the Toffee faithful. The home loss to what was the league’s bottom most club entering the day was damaging for Manager Frank Lampard who saw his side fail to win for an eighth consecutive league match and left the pitch to the boos of the home fans. Wolverhampton, meanwhile, won on the road for the first time this season as Lopetegui made a fine first impression with two of his second half substitutes providing the extra time assist and goal.

Brighton banked a 3-1 away win at Southampton as the Seagulls won for a fourth time in their last five league matches under Manager Roberto De Zerbi. Brighton’s win helped remove the bad taste left by their Carabao Cup loss to lower tier Charlton earlier in the week. Southampton manager Nathan Jones, who took over in November, has his work cut out for him after a fourth consecutive league loss by the Saints saw them settle to the bottom of the Premier League table.

Mohamed Salah took only five minutes to score for Liverpool as the Reds sailed to a 3-1 away victory over Aston Villa. 18-year-old Stefan Bajcetic scored his first senior squad goal for Liverpool in the 81st minute to end the hopes of the Villans as Liverpool, with a game in hand, moved to within five points of Tottenham Hotspur in the chase for fourth position in the table and automatic Champions League qualification. Aston Villa, meanwhile, lost for a third time this season at Villa Park, a record of home defeats exceeded only by the table’s bottom five clubs.

Disappointment for home sides (not playing at the Emirates) had begun with the first match on Monday when homestanding Brentford squandered a two-goal advantage to drop points as Tottenham Hotspur rallied to salvage an away point in a 2-2 final at the home of the Bees. Spurs striker Harry Kane responded to the disappointment of his World Cup penalty kick miss for England by scoring in the 65th minute to set a new Premier League record with his tenth career Boxing Day goal.

Teammate Pierre Emile-Hojbjerg scored six minutes after Kane to secure the away point. Despite the comeback effort, falling behind for a ninth consecutive match needs to be a worry for Tottenham Hotspur Manager Antonio Conte. Spurs were also the only club in the top six of the table to drop points this week. Brentford will rue dropping points Monday, but the greater concern for the Bees will be the potential gambling related suspension of one of their Boxing Day scorers, Ivan Toney. The striker recorded his 11th league goal of the season but is under investigation for more than 250 alleged betting violations under English Football Association rules.

Tuesday’s Premier League matches featured dominant performances by Chelsea and Manchester United in 2-0 and 3-0 victories over Bournemouth and Nottingham Forest, respectively, as the two upper tier home sides had little difficulty in squashing the hopes of their visiting undermanned opponents. Both newly promoted clubs are prime contenders for relegation this season with Bournemouth having invested little in their roster and Forest seeming to have spent unwisely. Former Manchester United player Jesse Lingard, one of Nottingham Forest’s poor investments, was lifted in the 53rd minute after his latest unproductive performance for Nottingham Forest. Lingard’s former United teammate Marcus Rashford had a goal and assist in the Red Devils’ easy win at Old Trafford. Chelsea’s win over Bournemouth, meanwhile, snapped a five-match winless run for Graham Potter’s Blues and featured goals from Kai Havertz and Mason Mount, two key players who have struggled to produce for Chelsea this season. While gaining a much-needed victory, Chelsea appears to have lost Reece James for up to a month after the young defender reaggravated knee problems which have already cost him much of the current season. Bournemouth, meanwhile, lost for a fifth time in their last six league matches, the only victory for the Cherries coming against a poor Everton side.

Manchester City concluded Matchweek 17 with a 3-1 win at Leeds as Erling Haaland scored two of City’s goals to become the fastest Premier League player to the 20-goal mark in league history. Jack Grealish assisted both Haaland goals as the Citizens remain five points behind league leading Arsenal.

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