EPL Week 18: Nightmare before Christmas

EPL Week 18: Nightmare before Christmas

Liverpool fans were undoubtedly grinning ear to ear by the end of the whistle. One near-impossible scenario played out to their favour, but two in a single day was unheard of.

Described by Roy Hodgson as “one of those bonanza days”, he might be implying this league-wide.

Manchester City fell to a usually-blank-firing Crystal Palace at the Etihad Stadium 2-3 and at Stamford Bridge, Maurizio Sarri bemoans his team’s lack of creativity and mentality as Leicester City hands the Italian his first home defeat of his tenure. Manchester United delivers a final insult to Jose Mourinho after a 5-1 thrashing of Cardiff City while Jordan Pickford attempts to salvage his position as England’s number one custodian after letting in six goals from Tottenham Hotspurs.

Crystal Palace coming from behind to win was a sight to behold. Andros Townsend lashed out a 30-yard volley to put it into the top corner past Ederson, and although we are just midway through the league, it could very well be one of the contenders for goal of the season. Guardiola tried to rally a fight-back after the break, sending on record goalscorer Sergio Aguero to cut the deficit. Instead, Palace scored again this time from the spot after Kyle Walker fouled Max Meyer in the box.

Guardiola’s last resort was subbing in the inspirational Kevin De Bruyne who has bailed the club out several times last season on their way to the title. The Belgian did score a freak goal after his cross was misjudged by Vicente Guaita and went in direct.

City has a reputation of being a fortress at home, but in recent times struggled to keep a clean sheet. The Citizens has allowed 13 goals in their last 10 matches. In fact, their 4-0 victory over West Ham was the only match that they did not concede. This was Pep Guardiola’s third defeat at the Etihad since taking charge in the summer of 2016.

Chelsea’s surprise loss to Leceister was indeed strange as they truly dominated the match in the first half. A high line from both teams kept counter-attacks prone and poor finishing paired with bad luck denied Chelsea a point. Belgian star Eden Hazard was deployed as a false nine and had a shot come off the cross bar in the first half. Marcos Alonso had another shot striking the inner woodwork but ricocheted out agonizingly. The Blues were unable to overcome Jamie Vardy’s goal and seemed out of sorts after the Englishman’s goal.

“I think that we played very well for 55 minutes, very good football,” said Sarri. “After the goal our reaction was strange, not in the right direction, not as a team, as 11 different players.”

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Image by Getty

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer returned to former club Cardiff City holding the reins of Manchester United and in spectacular fashion, led the Red Devils to a 5-1 win – the first time they scored five since Sir Alex Ferguson’s last game in charge.

A brace from Jesse Lingard and Paul Pogba’s return to the starting line-up fueled much needed morale for the visitors. It was a completely different Manchester United on the pitch and at times, one could not stop but wonder what happened under Mourinho’s charge. Slick passes and free-flowing attacks spun possession into goals and the interim manager could not be happier.

“It’s a great start and we are going to enjoy the next couple of days but Boxing Day is coming and nothing is history quicker than a football game, so there are still things to work on. But they grasped some of the ideas very quickly. The attitude has been fantastic.” said the 45-year-old Norwegian.

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Image by Gareth Copley 

Tottenham moved up to third place after dispatching Everton in an emphatic 6-2 victory at Goodison Park. Two goals a piece from Son Heung-Min and Harry Kane, and one from Dele Alli as well as Christian Eriksen gave the team a well deserved win. Everton’s defence was nowhere to be found as Pickford appears to be the only sentinel of the back-line. The Merseysiders gave the visitors too much space for runs and the effortless defending was ugly even by Everton’s standards.

 

 

 

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