Friday, December 8, 2023

Premier League Results Match Week 15: Villa Stuns Manchester City; Hammers Defeat Spurs; Arsenal Survives Scare From Hatters; McTominay Sinks Chelsea; Everton Moves To Safety With Upset of Newcastle; Liverpool Spoils Wilder Welcome; Forest Flummoxed by Fulham

Aston Villa defeated Manchester City 1-0 to move past the defending champions into third place in the Premier League table. A 74th minute goal by Leon Bailey capped a stellar all-around effort for the Villans as they equaled a club record 14th consecutive league victory at Villa Park. The 22 shots by Aston Villa were the most Manchester City has faced during Pep Guardiola’s term as manager. The Citizens themselves, meanwhile, managed only two shots on target as they extended their winless league run to four matches. With his first win in 14 tries facing Guardiola, Aston Villa Manager Unai Emery has his club just four points behind league leading Arsenal as the clubs prepare to collide at Villa Park on Saturday.

The Gunners survived a wild shootout at Kenilworth Road to prevail 4-3 over Luton Town. Arsenal was trailing in the 60th minute when Kai Havertz equalized with his third goal in his last four appearances across all competitions. It then looked like the clubs were headed for a draw before Declan Rice struck in the 97th minute to snare all three points for Arsenal and keep the Gunners two points ahead of second place Liverpool.

Liverpool spoiled the return of former manager Chris Wilder to the touchline at Bramall Lane with a 2-0 victory at Sheffield United. Virgil van Dijk’s first half goal was the only scoring until Dominik Szoboszlai notched a second for Liverpool four minutes into second half stoppage time. Despite Sheffield United’s 12th loss in its 15 matches this season, Wilder will take heart in a competitive match which saw the Blades still battling for a possible point before Szoboszlai’s insurance goal for the Reds.

An undefeated 10 match run to open the season has now turned to ash for Tottenham Hotspur. Spurs relinquished another early lead in losing its London derby to West Ham 2-1. It was the first time in history that a Premier League side has failed to win after taking a 1-0 lead in five consecutive matches. Despite a bad run of injuries, Manager Ange Postecoglou’s stubborn adherence to an overly aggressive style of play is doing the club no favors of late. Ninth place West Ham is now only three points behind their London rival in the table after second half goals by Jarrod Bowen and James Ward-Prowse delivered the comeback win for the Hammers.

Kudos to Everton and Manger Sean Dyche after the Toffees blasted Newcastle 3-0 at Goodison Park. The victory moved the Toffees back out of the relegation zone despite its 10-point deduction levied by the Premier League. Newcastle was staggered by a late onslaught from the Toffees which saw all three goals Everton come in the 79th minute or later. Two uncharacteristic giveaways by Newcastle’s Kieran Trippier opened the floodgates for an Everton side which had missed a number of earlier chances. Without the ten-point penalty, Everton, rather than Chelsea, would be tenth in the Premier League table.

A pattern of one step forward and two steps back continued for Chelsea in a 2-1 defeat at Manchester United which ended any enthusiasm taken from last weekend’s win over Brighton and marked a second loss in three matches for the Blues. Scott McTominay continued his renaissance for the Red Devils by scoring both goals to defeat the Blues. The Scottish international, once out of favor with Manager Eric ten Hag, ironically may have lessened the pressure on his manager with his game winning form. McTominay leads Manchester United with five goals this season. Chelsea’s Cole Palmer also scored his fifth goal of the season to level the match late in the first half. Goalkeeper Robert Sanchez and Palmer kept Chelsea temporarily in the match despite a first half marked by 18 Manchester United shots, Sanchez’s penalty kick save on Bruno Fernandez and numerous missed goal opportunities by Palmer’s teammates. McTominay’s 69th minute game winner, however, ended any hopes that Chelsea had turned the corner in its frustrating season. Manchester United meanwhile, moved into sixth place in the table, just three points from the top four, as its league form, in terms of results if not the attractiveness of play, seems to belie all the criticism heaped on its manager. Only Arsenal has garnered more Premier League points than the Red Devils since the beginning of October.

Brighton rebounded from its loss to Chelsea by defeating Brentford 2-1. Eighteen-year-old Jack Hinshelwood scored his first senior goal for the Seagulls to complete a comeback victory for eighth place Brighton. Brentford lost for the third time in four matches and lost forward Bryan Mbeumo to an ankle injury after his penalty kick gave the Bees an early lead.

Nottingham Forest Manager Steve Cooper could be looking over his shoulder as he leads the sack race following a 5-0 loss to Fulham. The Tricky Trees are at risk of being pulled into the relegation fight after losing a fourth consecutive match, conceding 12 goals during that damaging run.  The Trees are four points clear of the drop zone. Fulham, meanwhile, has scored 11 times in its last three matches, winning twice and dropping a 4-3 heartbreaker to Liverpool. Raul Jimenz and Alex Iwobi each scored a brace in the win over Forest.

Crystal Palace Manager Roy Hodgson is also purportedly on the hot seat after the Eagles lost for a fifth time in their last five matches, falling 2-0 to Bournemouth. An unfortunate post-match incident, as the Eagles were booed from the pitch by the home fans, saw a dissatisfied supporter throw an object from the stands at the venerable manager. Hodgson didn’t help his current popularity by claiming that his fan base has been spoiled in recent years by the Eagles’ continued existence in the Premier League. How quickly things can change as Bournemouth Manager Andoni Iraola was on the hot seat himself not so long ago. Now the Cherries have won four of their last six matches after going winless in their first nine matches of the season. Bournemouth’s run of form has seen the Cherries move seven points clear of the drop zone and close to within a point of 15th place Crystal Palace.

Burnley remains mired in the relegation zone after its latest 1-0 loss at Wolverhampton. The Clarets have beaten only fellow promoted sides Luton Town and Sheffield United this season. Wolverhampton’s Hwang Hee-Chan’s scored his club leading eighth goal of the season to secure all three points a Molineux Stadium.

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