Arsenal get a win as big names drop points
Arsenal surprised one and all, winning after nearly two months and seven League games, when they trounced Chelsea 3-1 in the London derby at the Emirates stadium on Boxing Day. That however, was not the only surprise at the end of Matchday 15 of the 29th Premiership, as almost all other big names dropped points in an intriguing game week.
Sam Allardyce inspired West Bromwich Albion perhaps pulled off the biggest surprise of the week, holding Champions Liverpool 1-1, even as half of the 10-game schedule witnessed stalemates.
For his scintillating display against Manchester City, a game which his team Newcastle lost 0-2, Karl Darlow will be the first goalkeeper to get our Star of the Week honour.
Darlow, made four fantastic saves in the game to not only help his team avoid humiliation, but also in the process help the Magpies end the week a spot higher than what they might have, if even a couple of those had gone in.
This is also not a one-off by Darlow. He has been probably the top keeper of this League season. All his stats, save only two clean sheets, rank among the top two of the 20+ keepers in the fray.
He is No.2 in the Saves list with with 59- only Sam Johnstone of West Brom is better, but the Baggies are in relegation zone, while the Magpies are mid-table. He is also No.1 in Punches made, No.2 in High Claims (15) and is among only five keepers who have saved penalties. Given such stats, it is safe to assume that the low clean-sheet count is more to do with defensive frailties.
Bamford back among top-five
Patrick Bamford scored a fifth minute penalty against Burnely, to help Leeds United record a sixth League win and in the process get back among the top five on the scorers chart. It was Bamford’s 10th league goal and puts him joint fifth with United’s Bruno Fernandez, who also scored against Leicester.
Mo Salah continues to rule the Scorers charts with 13 while Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Jamie Vardy and Son Heung-Min are joint second with 11 strikes each. Bruno Fernandez also added to his Assists column in the Leicester game, putting him in third on that list now, behind Harry Kane and Kevin De Bruyne.
Gunners lift themselves with London derby win
Arsenal’s win over Chelsea at home was by far the biggest talking point of the game week, given The Gunners woeful form going into the big game. They had lost eight of their 14 League games and were looking in tatters.
Mikel Arteta did field a new look eleven, the likes of Brazilian teenager Gabriel Martinelli, Emile Smith-Rowe, Pablo Mari and Alexandre Lacazette starting together for the first time probably. It paid dividends and Arsenal began the game looking like a side, which did not carry the baggage of the previous losses.
Frenchman Lacazette put them ahead from the spot in the 35th minute of the game and Granit Xhaka scored from a beauty of a free-kick just a minute before the break, to double the lead. Chelsea did make a late dash for it after young Bukayo Saka had scored the third 10-minutes from resumption, but failed to take all their chances including a penalty, which was brilliantly saved by keeper Leno.
Foxes halt United’s away run
Manchester United and Leicester City played out an exciting 2-2 draw at The King Power stadium, The Foxes in the process halting a 10-game winning run away from home, for the 13-time Champions.
Talisman Jamie Vardy, pulled out early in the previous game by Brendon Rogers, was at hand to side-foot an excellent Ayoze Perez cross five minutes from regulation time, the ball going in eventually of United defender Tuanzabe’s deflection.
The Red-Devils had earlier taken the lead twice in the game, only to be thwarted each time by the determined Foxes. It was also Leicester’s first draw of this League campaign, achieved after 15 games.
Everton biggest movers
Everton were the other winners of the week, having to wait late for an 80th minute Gylfi Sigurdsson winner, to put it across wooden-spooners Sheffield United.
This was Carlo Ancelloti’s side’s ninth win in what has been an impressive campaign so far and saw them move up to second on the table, just three points separating them from the Champion.
Matchday 16: No breaks
There will be no break in days between Matchdays 15 and 16, with the latter beginning on Monday, December 28, 2020, with three games lined up. The first pits Crystal Palace against Leicester City while the second is a match-up between Chelsea and Aston Vila. The final game on Monday evening is between Everton and Manchester City.
Tuesday has five games scheduled while Wednesday has two, with the final game between The Champions and Newcastle.