The highlight games for Christmas weekend action are LIVERPOOL versus LEEDS UNITED and NORWICH versus ARSENAL. Our feature columnist, John Newsome previews these as well as all game-week 19 matches with his unique and insightful commentary. You can view all previous analysis from John’s regular column here: English Premier League Predictions For Saturday.
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All these Boxing Day fixtures are the reverse of Game Week-4, which took place over the weekend of September 11th, 12th and 13th, 2021.
LIVERPOOL v LEEDS UNITED
12.30 in England.
Probably the best day of the year to watch football. Last year, going to the Boxing Day football was put on hold due to the pandemic meaning everyone stayed indoors, watching the telly.
Let’s hope, all can get to a game. As George Michael once said, ‘This year, to save us from tears, everyone’s going to Oakwell!’ Hopefully, the stadiums will be full, (that includes the Etihad).
Boxing Day is a day to get out of the house having spent the previous day indoors, putting batteries in Toys that had ‘Batteries Not Included’ on the box.
The kids would be shouting, ‘Daaa-d there’s no batteries in this Evel Knievel bike!’ The best toy of the 70s ever!
So Dad, having been given the clue of ‘Batteries Not Included’ but choosing not to heed that warning, had to nip down to the local shop, that he knew would be open on Christmas morning in the hope of finding some Double AA batteries.
The shopkeepers were aware of this phenomenon and the normally £2.99-4-pack of Double AA batteries, were now £8.99 for 2, as the shopkeeper knew that Dad’s life wasn’t worth living if he returned home, without the batteries. This phenomenon only happens on Christmas morning.
Come Boxing Day, Mum and Dad (other combinations of parenting are available in this ever-evolving Cosmopolitan world we live in!) are ready for the boozer and a few liveners, talking with their mates as ones fed-up of talking to the wife/husband, wife/wife or husband/husband (or Gender Neutral/Neutral) and kids, then a stroll down to the ground to watch their beloved team lose.
No one is bothered that the manager of the team, picked the wrong formation or only used 2-Subs, not the permitted 3, leaving the star-striker on the bench because the lad has indulged in a bit too much Turkey the day before.
The Midfield general is in the stands, not able to play, because he picked up his 5th-booking of the campaign, in the previous game, knowing that the 1-game ban would allow him to have a good Christmas Eve in the local nightclub, ‘Japanese Whispers’ and Christmas Day on the food and drink.
‘Sorry boss’ he says with a wink, as he walks off the pitch, in that last outing, with the thought in his head that he’s not playing on Boxing Day.
The parents are still happy, back in the boozer asking who’s won the King George VI at Kempton and realises the horse that was backed at 20/1 fell at the final fence whilst 50-yards in front of the rest and after cursing the said horse and its jockey, ‘The useless little ……..’
They order another few pick-me-ups to take away the hurt of going back home to the in-laws and kids.
After the cold Turkey from the day before, as been warmed up and turned into a Turkey Biriyani and a few glasses of Sherry, just to be polite, the Christmas Special of Downton Abbey is on the 55-inch. The good old days.
Liverpool played in Game Week-18, gaining a point from a draw against Tottenham by a Desmond 2-2 score.
Jurgen’s Reds were looking to match Man City who had just beaten Newcastle, prior to the kickoff against a Spurs team that hadn’t played since December the 5th, due to games cancelled because of the Coronavirus.
However, what that did mean is Antonio Conte had time to work with his boys and that was evident in the performance at the Chas and Dave Memorial Stadium.
Tottenham are and will be, a different beast, under the Italian gaffer. After falling behind to a rare Harry Kane goal, Diogo Jota equalised before the half-time whistle, to take both teams in level at the break.
Andrew Robertson then had a bizarre 10-minute spell, where the Scots Left-Back scored a goal, with his head, to give Liverpool a lead, then after Tottenham had levelled through Son Heung-Min, Andy received a straight Red Card for a horrendous challenge on Emerson Royal.
Alisson made a huge error, trying to play as the sweeper-keeper, completely missing the ball, gifting Tottenham the equaliser. The man less didn’t cause too many problems with the game finishing in Mr Tutu’s favourite scoreline.
With Chelsea also registering a draw, the weekend winners were Man City. Jurgen’s Reds, having 41-points, from the full complement of 18-fixtures, sit 2nd, 3 adrift of Pep’s High Flying Blues and 3-points more than Thomas’s Blue Engines.
Leeds United have also contested a complete set of 18-fixtures following last Saturday’s game against Arsenal. Unfortunately for the Marching On Together crew, their idols suffered another defeat, this time by a 4-1 scoreline.
Raphinha converted a 2nd-half penalty but the Whites were already trailing by 3-goals, then conceded a late 4th. The defeat leaves Leeds in 16th-place with 16-points.
The worrying thing for the Whites, is Leeds have played all 18-fixtures, whereas Burnley, who sit in the final relegation place, with 11-points, have only played 15-times. Watford, just below Leeds with 13-points, have 2-games in hand over Marcelo’s boys.
In the late 1970s, there was a Rock Band formed out of Manchester, called Joy Division. The members were Ian Curtis, Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook and Stephen Morris.
The band later went on to form the group called New Order, who were responsible for the England World Cup song of 1990, World In Motion, where the legend that is John Barnes, does his famous ‘rap’.
A quick side note about another famous England football song, Three Lions, (It’s Coming Home) by David Baddiel and Frank Skinner and the band, The Lightning Seeds.
Ian Broudie, the lead singer, named the band after lyrics in a Prince tune, ‘Raspberry Beret’, where the line,
‘Thunder drowns out what the lightning sees’
Ian misheard the lyrics and thought the Purple One, sang ‘Lightning Seeds’
Most will be thinking,
‘Bit boring that John!’
However, when a contestant on ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire’ is asked by Jeremy Clarkson, ‘Where did The Lightning Seeds’ get their name from, one can all scream at the Telly in unison,
‘C-Jeremy, The Prince Song Raspberry Beret’
Joy Division had a brilliant song, entitled,
‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’
The opening verse is as follows,
‘When routine bites hard and ambitions are low And resentment rides high but emotions won’t grow and we’re changing our ways, taking different roads. Love, love will tear us apart again, love, love will tear us apart again.’
The football fraternity faithful, or Triple F as they are affectionately known, cheekily composed, their own words to the tune of the Joy Division song, when Marcelo’s Whites were struggling in the Championship, trying to win promotion. ‘Leeds, Leeds are falling apart again, Leeds, Leeds are falling apart again.’
After conceding, a massive 11-goals in the last 2-games, it does appear that the Elland Rd outfit are actually falling apart again. The midweek defeat against Man City, by the 7-0 score, was disastrous, however, not unexpected.
Marcelo mixed things up a bit, against Arsenal on Saturday, starting Joe Gelhardt upfront, aged-19 and Cody Drameh, a 20-year old Right-Back.
On the bench, was Crysencio Summerville, aged-20, who saw 50-minutes of action, Liam McCarron, another 20-year old Forward and Sam Greenwood, 19. All, seeing game time, against the Gunners.
Also named as a Leeds United in substitute, was Archie Gray, aged 15. Yes, 15-years old.
Archie has a Leeds United heritage, his Grandad is Frank Gray, who played for the Whites back in the 1970s, along with Frank’s brother, the legendary Eddie Gray. For the YouTubers out there, check out some of Eddie’s skills in a Leeds United shirt. The lad’s goals against Burnley, in 1970, are up there with the greatest.
Archie’s dad, Andy, was a Forward, himself, starting at Elland Rd but moving on playing for a few clubs, including Nottingham Forest, Sheffield United and Barnsley.
Read about Archie’s dad Andy in the Man City v Leicester preview, further on in this Boxing Day Bonanza edition. Going back to the Joy Division song and the opening verse,
‘When routine bites hard and ambitions are low And resentment rides high but emotions won’t grow and we’re changing our ways, taking different roads. Love, love will tear us apart again, love, love will tear us apart again.’
It appears that Marcelo Bielsa’s routine is biting hard on the Leeds United players, with all the injury’s at the club, the biggest being the injuries to Patrick Bamford and Kalvin Phillips.
Resentment isn’t riding high at the moment and emotions won’t grow just yet but Marcelo isn’t changing his ways or taking different roads. Leeds, Leeds are falling apart again! Marching On Together.
Last season’s affair between the Reds and the Whites, was the opening fixture of the delayed 2020/21 campaign, that took place in mid-September. This was Leeds United’s 1st-game back in the Top Flight since 2004.
Marcelo Bielsa introduced himself to the Premier League fraternity, with his boys involved in a brilliant first outing, 7-goal thriller, at Anfield. Unfortunately for Marcelo’s Whites, Liverpool inflicted a defeat on Leeds by a 4-3 scoreline.
The 1st-half scoring was as follows, Mo Salah 1-0, 4-minutes, Jack Harrison 1-1, 12-minutes, Virgil Van Dijk 2-1, 20-minutes, Patrick Bamford 2-2, 30-minutes and Mo Salah 3-2, 33-minutes.
Mateusz Klich equalised for the Whites after 66-minutes and when it looked like Leeds would hold on for a famous opening day point, Big Mo completed his hat-trick with 2-minutes to go, to give the Reds the victory.
Whilst it was a defeat for Leeds United, it offered up a few ideas as to how Marcelo Bielsa would send his boys out and perform and also, allowed other managers to set up their own teams when visiting Anfield.
Sean Dyche, Graham Potter, Pep Guardiola, Carlo Ancelotti, Thomas Tuchel and Scott Parker, all took note from Mr Bielsa and earned great away-day victories at Liverpool’s iconic home.
These two have met already this term, in Game Week-4 at Elland Rd. The Egyptian King scored to give the away team a lead at the break. Fabinho and Sadio Mane added the 2nd-half goals to give Liverpool the victory by a 3-0 score. Pascal ‘Alphabet’ Struijk, was shown a Red Card, before Sadio’s late 3rd.
888 Sport offer Liverpool at Odds On 2/15, the draw at 29/4 and 15/1 for Leeds United to come away with all 3-points.
888 Sport offer 6/1 that Mo Salah Scores Two Plus Goals and slight Odds On 4/6 that there are Over 3.5 Goals.
WOLVES v WATFORD
12.30 in England.
Wolves gained a great point from a goalless draw against Chelsea at Molineux on Sunday.
Thomas Tuchel wanted the fixture called off, like the others over the weekend but the Premier League officials said no and the game took place.
With Bruno’s Gold and Blacks a different proposition these days, Thomas’s Blue Engines found it hard going to break down the home side. The point gained gives Wolves 25 from 18-fixtures and leaves Bruno’s boys in 8th-place.
Watford didn’t play at the weekend, due to the fixture against Crystal Palace, being postponed because of the Coronavirus situation. So Claudio’s men, come into this fixture fresh, still just above the relegation zone, with 13-points, from 16-fixtures played.
The Hornets sit 3-points adrift of Leeds United, however, the Elland Rd Whites, have now played 2-games more. The other side to that is Watford have 2-points more than Burnley, who are in the final relegation place but the Clarets have only completed 15-fixtures.
A quick story about the 2013/14 campaign, where Watford finished 3rd in the Championship and took on Leicester in the Play-Off Semi-Final.
After the 1st-game finished, by a 1-0 scoreline, in favour of Leicester at the King Power, it was all to play for at Vicarage Rd, 3-days later.
Gianfranco Zola was in charge of Watford at the time, with the one time Hornets gaffer, Nigel Pearson at the Leicester helm.
A Leicester team that included a certain Harry Kane, on-loan from Tottenham and Jamie Vardy, who remained on the bench for the 2-fixtures, not seeing any game time.
Matej Vydra, opened the scoring for Watford after 15-minutes, effectively putting the tie level, following David Nugent’s Foxes goal from the 1st-leg.
David scored again 4-minutes after Matej notched to take both teams in level at the break, however, with Leicester still having the 1st-leg goal advantage.
Matej scored his and Watford’s 2nd, midway through the 2nd-half to make the score 2-1 on the day but level at 2-2 overall.
In the 97th-minute, Leicester were awarded a penalty to have the chance to score the winner and go through to the Final at Wembley, ultimately with the prize of promotion to the Premier League.
Anthony Knockhaert, who had been fouled by Marco Cassetti, to win the penalty, took the spot-kick. If watched, Mr Cassetti was unlucky and hardly touched Mr Knockhaert, who went down easily. The referee on the day was the current Premier League man in black, Michael ‘Del Boy Watch’ Oliver.
In a bizarre set of circumstances that followed, Anthony’s kick was saved by the Hornets stopper and ex-Arsenal goalkeeper, Manuel Almunia, the ball rebounded straight back to AK, who couldn’t convert, with Marco Cassetti clearing upfield.
With time up on the clock, it appeared that the game would finish in a draw, however, Marco’s clearance eventually found Fernando Forestieri, who crossed into the box and following a header back, the ball fell to Troy Deeney, who smashed home the winner in the 98th-minute, some 25-seconds after the initial save by Manuel.
Watford were in the Play-Off Final at Wembley, however, went on to suffer a defeat against Crystal Palace by a 1-0 scoreline. It’s a funny old game.
At Vicarage Rd back in September, a Francisco Sierralta own-goal and a Hwang Hee-Chan strike, gave Bruno’s Gold and Blacks the victory by a 2-0 away-day score over Xisco the Disco’s Hornets.
888 Sport offer Wolves at Odds On 4/5, the draw at 5/2 and 10/3 for Watford to come away with all 3-points.
888 Sport offer 8/5 that Raul Jimenez Scores Anytime and 2/1 that Wolves Win To Nil.
BURNLEY v EVERTON
15.00 in England.
It will be exactly 14-days since Burnley last played, come kickoff against Everton on Boxing Day. Sean’s Clarets have had Game Weeks-13, 17 and 18 off, firstly due to snow, then the Covid situation.
The good thing for everyone connected with Burnley is those around them, Norwich, Newcastle, Watford and Leeds have all lost, so although Sean’s men sit in the relegation zone with 11-points, Burnley now have 3-extra games to play, having only completed 15-fixtures so far.
Watford are just above with 13-points, from 16-fixtures and Leeds United have 16-points from 18-fixtures, so Sean Dyche won’t be worrying too much just yet. Everton’s fixture against Leicester fell at the Coronavirus hurdle.
The Toffees played and got a great draw last time out against Chelsea, which leaves Rafas Blues in 14th, with 19-points from 17-fixtures completed so far.
At Goodison Park in September, Rafa Benitez was still liked by some of the Toffees, having achieved 2-Wins and a Draw, 7-points, from the opening 3-fixtures. The 4th, against Burnley, ended in a 3rd-victory, by a 3-1 score. After a goalless 1st-half, Ben Mee opened the scoring to give the away team a lead.
Ex-Burnley boy, Michael Keane quickly equalised, with Andros Townsend and Demarai Gray adding 2 and 3, to give Rafas Toffees the win.
Everton have only achieved 2-further victories, in the following 13-fixtures, with 8-defeats and 3-draws included.
888 Sport offer Burnley at 7/5, the draw at 85/40 and 2/1 for Everton to come away with all 3-points.
888 Sport offer 85/40 that Chris Wood Scores Anytime and 39/20 that there are Under 1.5 Goals.
MAN CITY v LEICESTER
15.00 in England.
Man City were the real winners of the Coronavirus affected Game Week-18 fixtures.
Whilst the chasing pack of Liverpool and Chelsea failed to win, Pep’s High Flying Blues, got a victory at St James Park against a struggling Newcastle side.
Ruben Dias opened the scoring after 5-minutes, with his fellow Defender, Joao Cancelo adding a 2nd, just before the half-hour mark.
There was a contentious issue regarding Joao that everyone, including Alan Shearer on March of the Day, said that Newcastle should have been awarded a penalty when Ederson appeared to wipe out Ryan Fraser.
The on-field referee, Wakefield boy, Martin Atkinson, waved play on, however, everyone and their Auntie (or Uncle) and Alan, said that it was a definite penalty, or at worse, the dreaded VAR should have at least got involved. Neither happened.
Having watched the incident, it wasn’t a penalty, Joao Cancelo had got the ball before Ederson was anywhere near Ryan and tried to pull out but Mr Fraser continued into the goalkeeper. Martin Atkinson was correct, not a penalty, sorry Mr Shearer.
Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling added 3 and 4 in the 2nd-half, to give Man City the victory by a 4-0 scoreline.
The win leaves Pep’s Blues at the summit, with 44-points, from 18-fixtures, now 3 more than Liverpool, after the Reds could only manage a draw in their Sunday fixture against Tottenham.
Leicester haven’t played for a fortnight, with the midweek game against Tottenham, being postponed. Brendan’s Wonderful’s sit 9th, with 22-points from 16-fixtures.
Lennon the Puppy was happy over the weekend and received extra pre-Christmas doggy treats as Sir Roderick was in an extra special mood.
Rod Stewart’s beloved Green and White Hoops, won the 1st-trophy of the Scottish campaign, defeating Hibernian (who?) in the Scottish Pub League Cup Final at Hampden Park, on Sunday by a 2-1 scoreline.
Unfortunately, there was a downside to the victory, as the arch-rivals, Rangers got a victory in the SPL, against Dundee United (who?) by a 1-0 score, meaning Giovanni Van Bronckhorst’s Blues sit top of the Pub League with 48-points, 7 more than Celtic.
Lennon wasn’t bothered, the pooch was happy sat in front of the Christmas tree, whilst Penny and Rod sat down to watch the Royal Variety Performance on ITV.
Sir Roderick was on the show, recorded a week or so ago, performing some of the legendary crooner’s famous tunes.
Lennon had a giggle when ‘You’re in My Heart’ came on, with Rod singing the wrong words, live on telly. Penny, with a glass of Pinot Grigio in hand, was witness to Mr Stewart singing.
‘You’re an essay in glamor, please pardon the grammar but you’re every schoolboy’s dream. He’s Celtic, United, but Brendan has decided that Leicester is the best place to be’ Ho-Ho-Ho!
Happy Christmas Sir, Roderick, Penny and Lennon from everyone at EveryTip. Woof Woof!
Earlier, in the Liverpool v Leeds United preview, it was mentioned that Marcelo Bielsa included a 15-year old as a substitute for the fixture against Arsenal.
Archie Gray’s dad Andy had a distinguished career himself, starting at Elland Rd, then for several clubs, including Nottingham Forest, Sheffield United and Barnsley FC.
One particular Barnsley game, John Newsome remembers well, was an away fixture at the King Power, back in January 2012.
This was a Championship affair and no one would have considered at the time, that Leicester, would go on and win the Premier League, 4-seasons later.
Barnsley FC could consider themselves as the catalyst to that historic title victory. Most will think, John’s had a bump on his head, however, to explain, what it’s meant by that.
Barnsley, under the guidance of Keith Hill, ventured over to Leicester for a mid-January Saturday afternoon contest against the Foxes. John, Widdy and Matty, all in attendance. At the time, the Super Reds had a player on loan from Manchester United.
Whilst it’s fair to say, the lad was never going to get anywhere near Sir Alex’s first team, the player would go on to be a Premier League winner.
Danny Drinkwater, had a superb game against Leicester, for Barnsley, tearing the Foxes apart, setting up 2-goals for Andy Gray to score. Scoring past the current goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel, to ultimately give Barnsley the victory by a 2-1 away-day score. The girls and boys were ecstatic on the journey back home, all having a post-New Year drink.
As Danny was only on loan at Barnsley, the Leicester manager at the time, Nigel Pearson, was straight on the phone, not to the bosses at Oakwell but Sir Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford.
With it being the January Transfer Window, Leicester paid United a small fee (just short of a Million Pound) and gave Mr Drinkwater, close to £10,000 a week, taking Double D to the King Power. Barnsley couldn’t compete with that.
Leicester, finished 9th in the 2011/12 season, with Barnsley finishing just above the relegation places, in 21st. Nigel then purchased a certain Jamie Vardy from Fleetwood.
The following season, the Foxes finished 6th but lost in the Play-Off Semi-Final, against Watford.
As there wasn’t much football last week and not much to preview, there’s a quick story about that playoff Semi-Final in the Watford section.
In the 2013/14 Championship campaign, Leicester got promoted as champions with 102-points. Barnsley were relegated to League 1, at the same time.
Two seasons later, Leicester were the surprise 5000/1 Premier League title winners, all starting from Danny Drinkwater’s Man of the Match performance, assisting Archie’s dad, Andy Gray’s 2-goals for Barnsley against Leicester in January 2012. Tenuous? maybe but nonetheless, true.
The Game Week-4 affair back in September, at the King Power, promised to be a goal-fest following, the previous encounters between Pep’s High Flyers and Brendan’s Wonderful’s.
Unfortunately, for the watching faithful in attendance, there was only 1-goal, scored by the mercurial Bernardo Silva, after the break to give City the victory by a 1-0 score.
888 Sport offer Man City at Odds On 2/11, the draw at 23/4 and 49/4 for Leicester to come away with all 3-points.
888 Sport offer 4/1 that Raheem Sterling Scores First and 11/10 that there are Over 3.5 Goals.
NORWICH v ARSENAL
15.00 in England.
Norwich’s fixture against West Ham last Saturday was postponed. The Canaries sit at rock bottom of the Premier League table with 10-points from 17-fixtures completed.
James from Swinton, nowhere near Carrow Rd, is double excited about the impending visit of the Big Fella.
The Little Blunt has pinned his stocking to the bottom of his bed, hoping that Santa brings him 3-things, a new Sheffield United shirt, a Barnsley FC pair of mittens, with string, so that Jim can put one hand up his coat sleeve, around the back then out the other sleeve so that he doesn’t lose them when his hands become warm. The 3rd-gift that James asked for was a Unicorn.
When Jim visited Father Christmas in Meadowhall, a famous shopping mall in Sheffield, whilst sitting on the Big Fella’s knee, Santa asked the Little Blunt what he wanted for Christmas.
Jim replied, ‘A Unicorn!’
Mr Claus, smelling of Warniks Advocaat and cheap perfume, replied to Jimbo,
‘Don’t be a silly little Blunt, be realistic’
So, Jimmy, taken aback and with tears in his eyes, said,
‘Ok, 3-points on Boxing Day, for Norwich, Sheffield United and Barnsley’
Father Christmas replied,
‘What colour Unicorn?’
Happy Christmas Jade and Jimbo x
Arsenal were one of just 8 of the 20-Premier League teams to play in Game Week-18 and got a pre-Christmas present of 3-points from a victory against Leeds United at Elland Rd, by a 4-1 scoreline.
Gabriel Martinelli scored twice in the 1st-half, with Bukayo Saka adding a 3rd, to give the Gunners a convincing lead at the break.
Ben White, who was on-loan at Leeds in the Championship, helping the Whites gain promotion to the Promised Land, dove in on Joe Gelhardt to concede a penalty that allowed the away team to pull a goal back.
Emile Smith-Rowe continued his fine goal scoring run, adding a Gunners 4th, to inflict the defeat on Leeds United by a 4-1 score. That’s Emile’s 7th-goal of the campaign, added to the 1 scored for England.
The last-2 goals have come from being introduced by Mikel Arteta as a 2nd-half substitute. The victory gives Arsenal 32-points leaving the Gunners in 4th, now a 4-point gap to West Ham sitting 5th.
A Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang strike, midway through the 2nd-half was the difference between the two teams back at Carrow Rd, to give Mikel the victory over the excitable Daniel Farke. It’s unlikely Bad Boy Aubameyang, will be on show today.
888 Sport offer Norwich at 59/10, the draw at 7/2 and Odds On 2/5 for Arsenal to come away with all 3-points.
888 Sport offer 4/1 that Emile Smith-Rowe Scores Anytime and 13/10 that Arsenal Score in Both Halves.
***Premier League Team of the Week***
GOALKEEPER- Aaron Ramsdale- Arsenal
RIGHT-BACK- Joao Cancelo- Man City
CENTRE-BACK- Ruben Dias- Man City
CENTRE-BACK- Eric Dier- Liverpool
LEFT-BACK- Fernando Marcal- Wolves
MIDFIELDER- Ruben Neves- Wolves
MIDFIELDER- Emile Smith-Rowe- Arsenal
MIDFIELDER- Dele Alli- Tottenham
FORWARD- Son Heung-Min- Tottenham
FORWARD- Raheem Sterling- Man City
FORWARD- Gabriel Martinelli- Arsenal
STAR MAN- Gabriel Martinelli- Arsenal
TOTTENHAM v CRYSTAL PALACE
15.00 in England.
Having not played since December the 5th, it appeared that some of Antonio’s Lilywhites, thought that was that, until after Christmas, however were shocked they had to get the boots dirty against Liverpool.
The boots were put to good use, with Tottenham being one of the only 6-teams this term, to take points off Liverpool.
Harry Kane scored the opening goal, having gone 6-games in the Premier League without notching, only scoring twice in the campaign so far. Liverpool equalised to take both teams in level at the break.
There was an issue with one of Harry’s challenges that went unpunished but on reflection should have seen the Striker receive a Red Card for a lunge in on Andy Robertson.
Andy himself was shown a Red Card for a challenge on Emerson Royal when the Tottenham Right-Back was royally taken out. At the time of the sending off, Son Heung-Min had equalised an Andy Robertson goal, scored 5-minutes before.
With no further goals, Antonio’s Spurs got the point, from a draw by a Desmond 2-2 score. That leaves Tottenham in 7th-place, with 26-points, from just 15-fixtures completed.
In theory, if victories were achieved in the 3-extra games, Spurs would have 35-points and sit 4th, however, football isn’t built on ‘theory,’ it’s built on 90-minutes of hard graft on the pitch. Antonio Conte will certainly demand nothing less.
Crystal Palace didn’t play at the weekend, with their Game Week-18 affair being cancelled. Patrick Vieira’s Eagles sit 11th, with the same 20-points as Brentford and Brighton but above the two on goal difference. Palace have completed 17-fixtures.
At Selhurst Park back in September, Tottenham’s Japhet Tanganga was shown 2-Yellow Cards in quick succession, followed by the Red, midway through the 2nd-half whilst the score was still 0-0.
That man advantage for Palace told straight away, with Spurs immediately conceding a penalty, converted by Wilfried Zaha.
Patrick Vieira then introduced the new signing from Celtic, Odsonne Edouard, who scored twice to give the Eagles an easy victory over Nuno’s Spurs by a 3-0 scoreline. This is a different Tottenham side under Antonio Conte.
888 Sport offer Tottenham at Odds On 4/6, the draw at 11/4 and 39/10 for Crystal Palace to come away with all 3-points.
888 Sport offer 4/1 that Harry Kane Scores First and 3/1 that Tottenham Win To Nil.
WEST HAM v SOUTHAMPTON
15.00 in England.
Both West Ham and Southampton got the weekend off due to the postponement of their fixtures against Norwich and Brentford respectively.
West Ham stay in 5th-place in the table, with 28-points, from 17-fixtures, 4 adrift of Arsenal and a point more than Manchester United.
Southampton are down in 15th-place, with 17-points from 17-played. Neither team could muster up a goal at St Mary’s with the Game Week-4 fixture finishing in a draw by a 0-0 scoreline.
Michail Antonio somehow managed to get himself sent off in the 95th-minute, following a 2nd-Yellow Card. The lad must have thought the hot water in the showers was limited. Enough said!
888 Sport offer West Ham at Odds On 46/63, the draw at 57/20 and 10/3 for Southampton to come away with all 3-points.
888 Sport offer 2/1 that Jarrod Bowen Scores Anytime and 23/20 that there are Under 2.5 Goals.
ASTON VILLA v CHELSEA
17.30 in England.
Aston Villa’s Game Week-18 fixture against Burnley was scheduled to go ahead but postponed, 2-hours before the 15.00 kickoff on Saturday.
The Claret faithful were not happy, having ventured down to the Midlands, just in short sleeve shirts, wanting to watch the football without wearing 2-coats. Without playing, Steven Gerrard’s Claret and Blues sit in 10th-place, with 22-points from 17-fixtures played.
Chelsea wanted to cancel Sunday’s fixture against Wolves at Molineux, however, the Premier League wouldn’t, so the game went ahead.
What was interesting in that, is TT put out a really strong side against Bruno’s Gold and Blacks, which included N’Golo Kante, Mason Mount and Thiago Silva plus most of the other regulars, however, only had 6-substitutes. Six!
In the early days of football, back in the late 1800s and early 20th-Century, teams played on Christmas Day, then the reverse fixture on Boxing Day, without any substitutes, eleven v eleven, 2-days in a row.
Back in 1959, at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea beat Portsmouth by an entertaining 7-4 score, with a young Jimmy Greaves finding the net 4-times for the Blues before the festivities began.
On Boxing Day, the two teams met again, at Fratton Park, with the away team having a bit too much turkey and Portsmouth getting the revenge by a 3-0 scoreline. No such thing as 6-substitutes.
The game at Molineux against Wolves ended up in a goalless draw. The point gained gives Thomas’s Blue Engines 38, from the 18-fixtures completed. All the Top Four clubs have played the full complement of 18-games.
When the Villa visited London back in September, Dean Smith’s Clarets suffered a defeat by a 3-0 scoreline, against Thomas’s Blue Engines. Romelu Lukaku scored to give Chelsea a lead at the break.
Mateo Kovacic added a 2nd before Romelu scored the 3rd in the 93rd-minute, to give the home team the easy victory.
888 Sport offer Aston Villa at 9/2, the draw at 11/4 and Odds On 12/19 for Chelsea to come away with all 3-points.
888 Sport offer 8/5 that Ollie Watkins Scores Anytime and 21/20 that there are Under 2.5 Goals.
BRIGHTON v BRENTFORD
20.00 in England.
Both these teams had their weekend fixtures postponed due to the ongoing Coronavirus situation. Brighton lie 13th in the table, with the same 20-points as Brentford from the 16-fixtures both teams have completed. Brentford are a place higher, with a slightly superior goal difference.
A Leandro Trossard goal on the stroke of full-time, was the difference between the two sides at the Wellard Stadium back in September, giving Brighton the away-day victory by a 1-0 score.
888 Sport offer Brighton at slight Odds On 9/10, the draw at 119/50 and 31/10 for Brentford to come away with all 3-points.
888 Sport offer 8/5 that Neal Maupay Scores Anytime and 13/10 that Ivan Toney Scores Anytime.
NEWCASTLE v MANCHESTER UNITED
20.00 in England.
Both teams come into this reverse fixture with new managers, from those at the helm in the game at Old Trafford, with Eddie Howe and Ralph Rangnick replacing Steve Bruce and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Newcastle suffered their 3rd-defeat in a row after a draw and a victory from the 2-games prior. That’s 10-losses from the full 18-fixtures played by the Magpies, with a win and 7-draws coming in the other 8. Those good at Math will have worked out, that’s a total of 10-points which leaves Newcastle in 19th-place.
In a very precarious position as the others around, haven’t played the full 18-fixtures, so all have at least a game in hand over Eddie and the Magpies.
Burnley, with 11-points, have 3-games in hand, with Watford, 13, having 2 fixtures more than Newcastle to play. Even Norwich who have the same 10-points and sit below the Magpies have only played 17-times.
The defeat against City on Sunday by a 4-0 scoreline, whilst bad, should be taken on the chin, as most will lose against Pep’s Blues.
The Toon Army were witness to 2-goals conceded in each half, however, the Black and White faithful in attendance at St James weren’t happy with the referee when it was thought that Ryan Fraser was fouled by Ederson that should have warranted a penalty.
The referee waved play on and the dreaded at Stockley Park, who were busy watching the Snooker World Grand Prix on ITV 4, didn’t get involved.
Whilst contentious and appears that the world is against Newcastle, it wasn’t a penalty, despite what the Newcastle legend, Alan Shearer thought on Match of the Day. It wasn’t a foul and the decision was correct.
The Snooker World Grand Prix that the girls and boys at Stockley Park were intrigued by, saw the mercurial and enigmatic Ronnie O’Sullivan get back to winning ways. In Snookers version of the Ashes, English Ronnie inflicted a defeat on Aussie Neil Robertson by a 10-8 score.
There is no better sight in sport than Ronnie O’Sullivan, with a cue in hand, making break after break.
The youths such as Luca Brecel and Zhao Xintong may be coming through on the Green baize slowly but the old-timers such as the Rocket, John Higgins, Mark Williams Mark Selby and Neil, plus Judd Trump, are keeping the brilliant game of Snooker going. Go on Ronnie!
As for the real Ashes, in Cricket, enough said and no doubt a few lines, will be written in next week’s column by John Newsome.
Manchester United have had their previous 2-fixtures against Brentford and Brighton cancelled and haven’t played since December 11th.
Ralph Rangnicks Red Devil’s, which is a mouthful in its self and those who cannot pronounce their ‘R’s’ like Jonathan Ross, United fan and TalkSPORT host, Andy Goldstein and Tony Angelino, should be careful when saying, sit 6th in the Premier League table, with 27-points from 16-fixtures.
One of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s trusted coaches, Kieran McKenna, has left Old Trafford to become the new manager at Portman Rd, taking charge of Ipswich Town. Ole would have been better off with Paul McKenna, good luck Tractor Boys!
It was the Cristiano Ronaldo show at Old Trafford, with CR7, scoring twice on his reappearance for United after 12-years away.
Cristiano scored on the stroke of half-time, then added a 2nd on the hour-mark. Javier Manquillo had equalised for Newcastle after the break, to give the travelling Toon Army hope.
Bruno Fernandes and Jesse Lingard scored 3 and 4, to put the game to bed, giving Ole’s Trollies the victory over Brucey’s Boys by a 4-1 scoreline and a great return for CR7-2.0.
888 Sport offer Newcastle at 29/5, the draw at 18/5 and Odds On 9/20 for Manchester United to come away with all 3-points.
888 Sport offer 5/1 that Mason Greenwood Scores First and 13/10 that Manchester United Score in Both Halves.
Happy Christmas Everyone, keep on keeping on.
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