After a busy and stressful festive season for Premier League teams we entered the new year with the last bunch of Premier League fixtures before the FA Cup 3rd round which was to take place on the 4th, 5th and 6th of the month. All teams besides Liverpool and Sheffield United would play on New Years Day meaning 18 teams would play on the same day, a pleasing sight for a neutral like myself. The fixtures were as followed:
1st January 2020:
Brighton & Hove Albion vs Chelsea
MOTM: Alireza Jahanbasksh (Brighton & Hove Albion)
Match report: Chelsea tried to continue their quest for a top 4 spot as they visit the Amex stadium with opponents Brighton hoping they can stay in the top flight for yet another season after being promoted in 2017.
Chelsea open the scoring fairly early with Cesar Azpilicueta opening the scoring after a scrappy corner kick taken by Willian. Despite going 1-0 down Brighton create a good chance with Leandro Trossard forcing a good save by Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa. Later On Pulisic flashes his shot wide of the post putting the pressure On Brighton.
Chelsea start the 2nd half brightly with N’golo Kante trying a volley inside the penalty area which didn’t really trouble Brighton goalkeeper Matt Ryan. However Brighton force a brilliant low save from Kepa through a shot just outside the 6 yard box by Aaron Connolly. Brighton then score a goal of the season contender with Lewis Dunk heading the ball across the box from a corner to be met by a stunning overhead kick by substitute Alireza Jahanbakshsh who left Kepa glued to his starting position. Chelsea try to get themselves back in the lead through substitute Callum Hudson-Odoi but he fails to hit the target letting Brighton of the hook. The tables turned in the dying embers of the game as Neal Maupay forces yet again another save from Kepa keeping things all square between the sides.
Burnley vs Aston Villa
MOTM: Jack Grealish (Aston Villa)
Match Report: Villa started the game with a high intensity adopting a new formation using 3-4-3 with Tyrone Mings returning from injury and being placed the heart of defence as a sweeper in this more attacking line up. This proved to be a smart choice by Villa manager Dean Smith as Villa opened the scoring through a Jack Grealish header flying past Nick Pope, or so Villa thought as the goal was ruled offside by VAR due to Centre Forward Wesley’s heel being offside. Such a fine margin and could not have been spotted by the human eye. Despite this setback Villa were dominant and posing a real threat to Burnley throughout the first half. This finally paid off as Grealish’s deflected cross falls into the feet of Wesley who strikes it home to make it 1-0 to Aston Villa. Burnley’s problems were worsened as they lose the ball in midfield cheaply, Villa start a sharp counter attack with Douglas Luiz finding Jack Grealish with a pass where he curled in a great effort outside the box to make it 2-0 for the first half.
Continued pressure on Burnley’s back line continued for the second half with Villa being the dominant team they could have put the game to bed by the 60th minute if it wasn’t for there lack of clinical finishing . A few minutes later Burnley created a good chance with Jay Rodriguez flashed the ball past the post fro m 6 yards out. Burnley create another chance and covert it through a Chris Wood header which put the Claret’s back in the game. Ex Burnley goalkeeper Tom Heaton injured himself trying to save the ball and will be out of action for a few months. Wesley unfortunately injured himself towards the end of game, 2 big losses for the club but Villa take the all important 3 points at Turf Moor.
Newcastle United vs Leicester City
MOTM: James Maddison (Leicester City)
High flying Leicester continued their fantastic form in a 3-0 win over Newcastle.
Leicester started the game positively forcing a double save from Newcastle goal keeper Dubravka who has been a standout player in a rather lacklustre team this season. Despite Leicester positive start they get caught on the break by a brilliant over the top through ball by Jonjo Shelvey putting £40 million signing Joelinton through on goal however the Brazilian fluffed his lines and was unable to convert a golden opportunity for Newcastle. Newcastle paid the price as Florian Lejeune makes a risky pass across the back which is intercepted by ex Newcastle player Ayoze Perez who slotted it home to give the foxes the lead. Lejeune made another terrible mistake as his half clearance is intercepted again, James Maddison prowled around the penalty area and thunders in a strike with his left foot making it 2-0 to Leicester at half time.
2nd Half was a similar story to the first with Leicester being very resourceful and efficient on the ball, they create another chance but Dubravka makes a. great double save again facing shots from Iheanacho and Perez. It was only a matter of time before Leicester made it 3 as Wilfried Ndidi lays the ball of to Hamza Choudary who side foots it top corner giving the Newcastle keeper no chance and rounding off a very good day for the Foxes.
Southampton vs Tottenham
MOTM: Danny Ings (Southampton)
Match Report: Spurs travelled to St Mary’s looking to make a statement and be pushing for Champions League qualification for next season whilst Southampton have had a good run of form beating Chelsea 2-0 only a few weeks before the fixture with Tottenham Hotspur On New years day.
Southampton start positively by pouncing On an overhead clearance by Serge Aurier they give the ball to Nathan Redmond who makes a surging run through the heart of the Spurs defence which Spurs goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga saves from close range with Toby Alderweireld clearing it out for corner. Southampton make it 1-0 through Danny Ings as a overhead pass from Jack Stevens puts him 1 On 1 with Alderweireld and the keeper Ings flicks it over the Spurs defender and let it bounce before he half volleys it into the bottom corner giving Southampton the edge. Spurs try to respond with Harry Kane having a shot outside the box with Saints keeper Alex McCarthy spilling the first shot and saving the rebound from Dele Alli which put a lot of pressure On the Saints. Tottenham continue to put the pressure On Southampton as Jan Vertonghen flashes the ball over the bar from point blank range but Saints hang On for the first half.
Saints started the second half by attacking Spurs. There was an appeal for a handball as a cross was put in to the Spurs penalty area and it makes contact with Alderweireld’s hand which Saints players and fans deemed it to be in an unnatural position, VAR and referee Mike dean did not seem to agree with Saints having not received a penalty. Spurs had one final chance with Lucas Moura’s shot being blocked by the Saints defender as the final chance of the game.
Watford vs Wolves
MOTM: Gerard Deulofeu (Watford)
Wolves who are fighting for European spaces faced Watford who have been On a good run of form under new manager Nigel Pearson both teams could benefit massively by taking the 3 points home but Watford came out as Victorious.
Wolves start brightly in the beginning minute of the game with Ben Foster saving an effort from Matt Doherty from point blank range. Watford created a chance down the other end with Gerard Deulofeu giving the ball to Ismailia Sarr who had his shot saved from Wolves stopper Rui Patricio. Sarr returns the favour to Deulofeu after a poor back pass from Dendoncker. Deulofeu slots the ball into the bottom corner giving Watford the lead. Watford continue to put On the pressure as Sarr nearly converted a chance which hit the side netting created by Troy Deeney.
Watford started the second half very well as Deulofeu gives the ball to Dourcoure. His shot is deflected and goes into the top corner giving Watford the 2 goal advantage. Wolves brought a goal back as Moutinho passes to Pedro Neto who scored a deflected shot which fizzed into the top corner making him the first teenager to score in the Premier League for Wolves. Watford defender Christian Kabasele was sent off later in the game by pulling Diego Jota’s shirt when the Wolves forward was through On goal. The original decision was a yellow card but was overturned and made a red card from VAR. Dendoncker was denied in the final moments of the game where his header was denied by a great stop by Ben Foster.
Manchester City vs Everton
MOTM: Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City)
Despite being way off the pace compared to last season Manchester City are looked to get back to being title contenders where they faced Everton who were travelling from neighbouring city Liverpool.
Everton started off very positively under new manager Carlo Ancelotti with Seamus Coleman forcing Claudio Bravo the tip the ball over the cross bar after a decent effort from the Irishman. Phil Foden thought he had opened the scoring converting a chance from a couple of yards out, however it seemed that Riyad Mahrez was offside in the buildup as proven by VAR so the score stayed 0-0 for the first half.
City started well second half with Ilkay Gundogan threaded a through ball to Gabriel Jesus who finished perfectly into the top corner with a full stretch Jordan Pickford beaten. City doubled their lead with ease as Riyad Mahrez played the Brazilian through On goal and finished at the near post giving City a comfortable lead. Claudio Bravo plays a poor ball from the back giving it to Moise Kean gives it to Theo Walcott who crossed it to the back post for Richarlison to tuck it away making it giving Everton a lifeline. Gabriel Jesus could have made it a hat-trick but his effort hit the post, City saw out the game giving City a big 3 points.
Norwich City vs Crystal Palace
MOTM: Todd Cantwell (Norwich City)
Norwich have been in deep trouble as they’ve been fighting for survival in their return season of the Premier League Crystal Palace were the visitors at Carrow Road where Roy Hodgson has since steadied the ship and made Palace a regular fixture in the Premier League.
Norwich started well with great attacking football with local academy graduate Todd Cantwell opening the scoring beating Palace goal keeper Vicente Guaita. Norwich get let off moments later as James McCarthy’s shot was blocked after poor defending by the Canaries. A few more chances for Norwich took place and they looked like they were going to see out the game comfortably with little trouble from Palace.
Emiliano Buendia’s stunning free kick was equally matched by Vicente Guaita at the beginning of the second half with Norwich still being the dominant team. This followed by a shot off the crossbar from Kenny McLean. Connor Wickham equalisies late for Palace with the goal originally being ruled as offside making it a 1-1 draw, a result Norwich will feel hard done by.
West Ham vs AFC Bournemouth
MOTM: Mark Noble (West Ham)
Match report: It was David Moyes’ first game back for West Ham as he departed the club in 2018 for Manuel Pellegrini who has since been sacked to be replaced by Moyes. Bournemouth were looking for a big 3 points after a poor run of form that has threatened relegation for them.
West Ham had the perfect start with Robert Snodgrass putting a cross in for Mark Mobile who was On the edge of the box. Noble took the shot first time which deflected past Bournemouth keeper Aaron Ramsdale leaving the 21 year old goalkeeper helpless. Haller followed up with a fantastic volley with cross from Ryan Federicks who was overlapping from the right hand side. Later On in the first half Mark Noble was brought down in the 18 yard box giving Noble a penalty which he converted making it 3-0.
Felipe Anderson made it 4-0 in the second half by touching down the ball exquisitely from Declan Rice and slotted it past Ramsdale who can’t be blamed for any of the goals. Cresswell was sent off for a poor challenge but VAR overturned the decision to a yellow card making it a perfect start to David Moyes’ 2nd spell in charge of the club.
Arsenal vs Manchester United
MOTM: Nicolas Pepe (Arsenal)
Match report: Arsenal looked for their first win with new manager Mikel Arteta as he was unsuccessful in his previous 2 games suffering a 2-1 defeat to Chelsea the previous fixture. Ole Gunner Solskjaer looked to retain faith in the Manchester United fans as his team has been been performing under satisfaction for Manchester United standards.
Arsenal open the scoring through a deflected cross by Sead Kolasinac which fell to the feet of Nicolas Pepe who converted the chance first time giving Arsenal the upper hand. Arsenal continued to create chances with Aubameyang who produced a skyward volley, Pepe who hit the post from a long range effort and Lacazette went for an effort On his left foot which was way off his standards. Sokratis doubles the lead after he thumped in a rebound which gave Arsenal a decent advantage before the half time whistle.
United looked more threatening in the second half but failed to score with a free kick from Fred at the end summing up their abysmal performance.
Liverpool vs Sheffield United
MOTM: Mohammed Salah (Liverpool)
Match report: Liverpool wanted to extend their league at the top of the table and they played against Sheffield United who have had a strong start to the Premier League under manager Chris Wilder.
Liverpool opened the scoring straight away with Virgil Van Dijk playing an over the top through ball to attacking left back Andy Robertson who made a cross to Mohammed Salah who converted the chance from point blank range. Salah then forced a wonderful save from Dean Henderson from his right footed volley which was tipped over the cross bar. The Sheffield United stopper made a save from Salah again to keep the scoreline 1-0 at half time.
Salah’s inviting cross is untouched and it made contact with the post which was a surprise to everyone watching and a big let off for Sheffield United. Sadio Mane finally puts the game to bed by scoring from a Salah through ball. After a few more saves by Henderson the score stayed 2-0 to Liverpool.