Families all over the world will be waking up on Christmas Eve and making sure that they have ticked off everything on their list, meaning Christmas celebrations can start. The English Premier League is exactly the same.
Wild Dele Alli tackle -check.
Dele Alli falling over in the box – check.
Harry Kane hat-trick – check
Jose Mourinho blaming his players – check
Manchester City battering their opponent – check
Liverpool and Arsenal agreeing that defending is for wimps – check
Sam Allardyce keeping it tight against a big club – check
Watford falling faster than snow in a blizzard – check
Everyone can have a very Merry Christmas now.
Oh, you actually want more than that?
After Arsenal and Liverpool produced six goals on Friday night Arsene Wenger was asked why he didn’t “park the bus” after Arsenal led 3-2. Arsene gave one of his wonderfully disdainful looks and suggested that whoever came up with that phrase knew little about football. Imagine if a bunch of aliens landed on Earth and only had 20 minutes to fully understand Arsenal and Liverpool then the second half was perfect. Liverpool slipped into a 2-0 lead but about ten minutes later had found a cunning way to be trailing 3-2. Arsenal, having come back from three goals behind didn’t fancy a morale-boosting victory and let Liverpool leave with a point. You can call the game all-out attacking if you want, but it was more down to the collective decisions to ignore the basics of defending and, Simon Mignolet, goalkeeping.
In fairness, we probably got the identikit Tottenham Hotspur performance up at Turf Moor as well. Dele Alli probably shouldn’t have been on the pitch when he tumbled over in the box to win Spurs a penalty. Burnley have been excellent so far this season, but when Harry Kane has a goalscoring record on his mind he is going to take a lot of stopping. Alan Shearer will be worrying about it all over his turkey as Kane drew level with his record of 36 Premier League goals in a calendar year. Just don’t tell Al that Harry has done it in fewer games so it probably counts more. All Kane has to do now is score a couple against Southampton and he will move ahead of Shearer and then, wait for it, Lionel Messi’s annual record. Spurs moved back up to 5th with their 3-0 win.
It’s been a tough couple of games for Bournemouth, losing 4-0 to Liverpool and then having to travel to Manchester City. Eddie Howe sent his men out to out-City City and came away with another 4-0 defeat which included a brace for Sergio Aguero. Let’s face it, we all expected that present from City, there were no surprises.
Equally expected was Jose Mourinho managing to blame anyone other than himself for dropping two points at Leicester City. If Jose is cooking Christmas Dinner tomorrow you can guarantee that if he screws up the roast spuds it will be the guests’ fault and not his. Jamie Vardy scored his 50th Premier League goal to give Leicester the lead in a style that reminded everyone of Christmas’ gone by – well, 2015 to be exact, as the Foxes lumped it forward to Mahrez, he found Vardy and he found the net. Ah, the days when a team like Leicester could actually win the league. God, the world has changed. Juan Mata scored twice only for Harry Maguire to score so deep into injury time that Father Christmas and his reindeer had already knocked off for the year.
Sam Allardyce will be feeling rather pleased with himself as he tucks into a pint of wine and some mince pies over the next few days. He’s still unbeaten as Everton boss and his side have only let in two goals since his arrival. Sure, they didn’t have a shot on target at home to Chelsea but those Everton fans don’t care much for attacking football. It’s all about results, right?
You know it’s the end of the year when you check the Watford form guide and see they haven’t won in a while having been on the verge of European places. Marco Silva’s men are falling faster than snow in a blizzard and lost 1-0 to Brighton who could not have expected to be tucking into their Christmas Pudding in 12th place.
West Ham United are the parents that disappoint their kids when it comes to presents under the tree. Having looked like they were going to deliver everything that was asked for in time for the family unwrapping with wins, draws and clean sheets recently they managed to throw away all the goodwill to Newcastle United who, frankly, were crying out for some Christmas cheer as they have Scrooge in charge of their transfer budgets. West Ham lost 3-2 and managed to miss a penalty. Newcastle won in London which is rarer than catching a glimpse of a certain fat man coming down the chimney, and I don’t mean Mike Ashley.
Mark Hughes will spend Christmas Day in employment having led Stoke City to a 3-1 win over West Bromwich Albion. Alan “the off the leash psychologist” Pardew has piped down a bit since he turned up at the Baggies. That’s what not winning a game since arriving does to you. WBA are terrible whereas Stoke are just massively inconsistent.
Little Britton took charge of his first ever Swansea City match, looking after the team whilst the owners’ dream of Frank de Boer and probably end up with Garry Monk again. Swansea drew 1-1 with Crystal Palace, a result that keeps the Swans bottom of the table.
Finally, who says justice doesn’t get served even at Christmas? Charlie Austin scored Southampton’s opener before unkindly breaking the nose of the Huddersfield keeper with his foot. It was a needless act, but then Austin pulled his hamstring meaning he is out of the rest of the festive fixtures. You see, Santa knows if you have been naughty…
Have a good one folks, we are back the day after Boxing Day.