Boxing Day Soccer

It’s come to that post-Christmas busy period for the Premier League, with teams playing a number of games between now and the New Year. 18 of the 20 teams took to the pitch today, Southampton and West Ham face of tomorrow.

The Boxing Day fixtures gave us 29 goals, 25 yellows and had Fabian Delph seeing red late in City’s loss to Leicester.

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Fulham v Wolverhampton Wanderers 

1-1 

The hosts missed out on what would have been just their third Premier League win of the season as Romain Saiss snatched an ugly late equalizer for Wolves at Craven Cottage.

The Cottagers were on top in the first half but Aleksandar Mitrovic missed several chances, whilst Raul Jimenez went close for the visitors with a bicycle kick. Wolves were the more confident after the break, dominating possession but without really troubling the home defense.

Ryan Sessegnon was introduced after the break, having missed Fulham’s previous two matches with a groin injury. He gave the hosts more attacking momentum and the 18-year-old scuffed in a volley on the stroke of 74 minutes.

Just as it looked like the Cottagers were heading for victory, Wolves substitute Ivan Cavaleiro shattered the dream, just 10 minutes after Sessegnon‘s goal, with a sublime pass to Saiss, who scored his first Premier League goal.

Thanks to Manchester United beating Huddersfield on Wednesday afternoon, the draw was enough to lift Fulham off the bottom of the table.

Up Next:

Fulham v Huddersfield – Saturday, December 29th (10am)

Spurs v Wolves – Saturday, December 29th (10am)

 

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Burnley v Everton 

1-5 

Three early goals helped the Toffees return to winning ways as they thrashed Burnley at Turf Moor. Yerry MinaLucas Digne and Gylfi Sigurdsson found the target as the visitors went 3-0 up inside 22 minutes. Coming into the game they were on the back of two consecutive defeats.

Ben Gibson got Burnley on the scoreboard before the break but Digne added his second with an impressive long-range shot in the second half, substitute Richarlison then came off the bench to score his side’s fifth of the match.

The visiting side, who looked a completely different team to the one who got mauled 6-3 by Spurs last weekend, raced into the lead after just two minutes courtesy of Mina‘s header. 11 minutes  later Joe Hart could only palm Digne‘s excellent free kick into his own net, before Benn Mee was penalized for handling the ball inside his own area. Sigurdsson stepped up and sent Hart the wrong way.

The hosts were much more in tune in the second half, but as they attacked they left space behind for Bernard to exploit. He might not have got himself on the scoresheet but his teammates took full advantage. When the ball fell to Digne outside the area, he drilled it into the far corner, putting the game to rest. Then on came Richarlison to add the Toffees’ fifth, moving the Merseyside club to eight, whilst the Clarets remain 18th and in the relegation zone.

Up Next:

Burnley v West Ham – Sunday, December 30th (9:15am)

Brighton v Everton – Saturday, December 29th (10am)

 

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Crystal Palace v Cardiff City 

0-0 

In the only goalless Boxing Day match up Cardiff survived a Palace barrage to secure only their second road point of the season to edge clear of the relegation zone.

The hosts dominated possession but disappointed in front of goal, coming closest through Andros Townsend and Luka Milivojevic, with Townsend flicking his shot against the crossbar and the Serb hitting the post.

Cardiff, who were still seething from their 5-1 thrashing by Man United, delivered the sort of performance that manager Neil Warnock is renowned for – doggedly defending and attempting to counter whenever possible. They had limited opportunities to score and were denied the ultimate smash-and-grab victory by Palace keeper Vicente Guaita, who made a world class save from Kadeem Harris at point blank range.

Whilst the Eagles had 31 shots on goal, they failed to build upon their shock victory at the Etihad just four days ago. The result leaves them in 14th place on 19pts, while the Bluebirds remain 17th with 15pts.

Up Next:

Palace v Chelsea – Sunday, December 30th (7am)

Leicester v Cardiff – Saturday, December 29th (10am)

 

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Leicester City v Manchester City

2-1 

Man City were handed their second shock defeat in less than a week as Ricardo Pereira‘s spectacular late effort gave Leicester victory, dropping Pep Guardiola‘s side down to third thanks to Spurs’ home win.

Ricardo blasted home the winner from the edge of the penalty box in the 81st minute after Leroy Sane weakly headed the ball, leaving Manchester City seven points behind leaders Liverpool and a point behind Tottenham.

The visitors took a 14th minute lead when Sergio Aguero released to Bernardo Silva who calmly slotted the ball past Kasper Schmeichel. Their lead only lasted five minutes however as Marc Albrighton headed in Jamie Vardy‘s cross, which was later followed by Ricardo‘s stunning winner for a Leicester side who were still in shock after their 1-0 upset at Stanford Bridge on Saturday.

Man City ended the game a man short after Fabian Delph was shown a straight red for a knee-hitting slide on Ricardo.

City fans are starting to worry after losing twice in five days to teams they should have easily beaten. The reigning champions only lost twice in the entirety of the 2017/18 campaign.

Up Next:

Leicester v Cardiff – Saturday, December 29th (10am)

Southampton v Man City – Sunday, December 30th (9:15am)

 

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Liverpool v Newcastle United

4-0 

Is this finally Liverpool’s season?

With City’s shock defeat at Leicester, victory saw the Reds extended their lead at the top of the table to six points.

Goals by Dejan Lovren, Xherdan Shaqiri, Fabinho and a penalty from Mo Salah shortly after the break, ensured Jurgen Klopp‘s side will start the new year at the top of the Premier League.

The hosts wasted some great chances, most notably when Joselu failed to connect with Matt Ritchie‘s superb cross with the game at 0-0. They were then punished when Lovren found the roof of the net on the half-volley.

Salah‘s penalty doubled their lead after referee Graham Scott deemed Paul Dummett had fouled the Egyptian. Shaqiri then struck home a third from Trent Alexander-Arnold‘s cross.

The home side topped off the afternoon with substitute Fabinho‘s header. They now lead the table by six points, ahead of second-placed Tottenham who leapt to second with their 5-0 demolition of Bournemouth.

Up Next:

Liverpool v Arsenal – Saturday, December 29th (12:30pm)

Watford v Newcastle – Saturday, December 29th (10am)

 

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Manchester United v Huddersfield Town 

3-1 

Ole Gunner Solskjær got his first home win as caretaker manager with his Man United side looking vastly different, once again, from that under Jose MourinhoPaul Pogba, who Mourinho was openly at war with, scored twice to help the hosts make it back-to-back wins under their former player.

Nemanja Matic scored the opener, poking home from close range after Victor Lindelof‘s header was saved by Jonas Lossl. The in form Pogba then added his two in the second half, the first coming from a first-time shot at the edge of the box and then he smashed the other one in from 30 yards out, stunning the fans, players and maybe even himself, so much so that he didn’t move to celebrate, he just stood there looking pleased with himself and smirking.

Mathias Jorgensen‘s late consolation was the highlight of the afternoon for Huddersfield, who missed many chances. The loss sees the Terries slip to bottom of the table. Victorious United sees them sit 6th on 32pts with a 6pt deficit to fifth-placed arsenal and 8pts behind fourth-placed Chelsea.

 

Up Next:

Man Utd v Bournemouth – Sunday, December 30th (11:30am)

Fulham v Huddersfield – Saturday, December 29th (10am)

 

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Tottenham Hotspur v AFC Bournemouth 

5-0 

Tottenham annihilated a mid-table team for the second time in three days. Their ruthless victory against Bournemouth, a fifth league win in a row, moved them up into second place in the Premier League. The North London club have now scored 11 goals in less than a week.

Defender Kyle Walker-Peters was in excellent form today as he created all three of the host’s first-half goals. The 21-year-old teed up Christian Eriksen‘s opener before Song Heung-min and Lucas Moura put the hosts firmly in control. Harry Kane added a fourth from a sharp Eriksen pass and Son grabbed his second of the game after a scramble in the box.

The Lillywhites rode the luck wave moments before Eriksen‘s opener, with Ryan Fraser heading against teammate Junior Stanislas on the line and David Brooks being unable to lift his effort over Hugo Lloris. 

After that early scramble, Bournemouth spent most of the game defending from Tottenham, who made the visitors pay with three goals in 22 minutes. Eriksen‘s shot struck Lerma to wrong-foot Asmir BegovicSon finished smartly from the edge of the box and Moura turned in Walker-Peters‘ clever pull back. England Captain Harry Kane volleyed in their fourth just after the hour mark, effectively putting the game to bed. Son‘s second came just 20 seconds from time, extending his impressive run of form.

The win for Tottenham coupled with City’s loss to Leicester sees them leapfrog to second, whilst Bournemouth sit 11th.

Up Next:

Spurs v Wolves – Saturday, December 29th (10am)

Man Utd v Bournemouth – Sunday, December 30th (11:30am)

 

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Brighton & Hove Albion v Arsenal 

1-1 

The Seagulls ended their run of three consecutive defeats by holding the Gunners to a draw in Brighton.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang curled home the opener following some beautiful work by Alexandre Lacazette just seven minutes into the game. Arsenal dominated for the next half hour, with the hosts requiring two stunning saves from goalkeeper Mat Ryan on Aubameyang to stay in the game.

In the 35th minute Arsenal’s Stephan Lichtsteiner made a poor decision, heading a long ball into the path of Brighton’s Jurgen Locadia, who rounded goalie Bernd Leno to draw things level.

The hosts pressed for a winner, catching out a tattered Arsenal on the counter-attack, but Locadia and Solly March both missed their promising opportunities.

The draw sees Arsenal remain fifth in the league, two points behind Chelsea and six ahead of Manchester United.

Up Next:

Brighton v Everton – Saturday, December 29th (10am)

Liverpool v Arsenal – Saturday, December 29th (12:30pm)

 

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Watford v Chelsea

1-2 

Eden Hazard scored twice for Chelsea as they secured a hard-fought win at Watford to reclaim fourth place in the Premier League. The Belgian opened the scoring after collecting Mateo Kovacic‘s pass and taking it around goalkeeper Ben Foster to calmly finish for his 100th Blues goal, he is only the 10th player in club history to reach 100 goals in all competitions. Hazard now has 101 goals for Chelsea, which sees him sit in 10th on the all time top scorers list.

Their lead only lasted two minutes, with Roberto Pereyra volleying past Kepa Arrizabalaga from the edge of the box. Hazard then ended any glimpse of hope for the hosts to secure a point when he converted a penalty after Foster had pulled him down.

Earlier in the day Chelsea had dropped to fifth with Arsenal’s draw at Brighton, but the victory sees them back in fourth, 11pts behind leaders Liverpool.

Up Next:

Watford v Newcastle – Saturday, December 29th (10am)

Palace v Chelsea – Sunday, December 30th (9:15am)

 

ALL TIMES U.S. EASTERN

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