In what has been an uncertain time most people on planet earth, COVID reared its ugly head again in the Premier league 4 days before the turn of a forgettable year, proving that you just never know what's around the corner in this day and age.
Less than 24 hours ago, football fans were looking forward to settling down on a cold, cozy Monday evening to witness what was sure to be a great game of football at Goodison Park between Everton and Manchester City. Separated by only 3 points in the table, a win for either side would have taken them into 2nd place behind leaders Liverpool. But, there was our old mate COVID who turned up and pissed all over our parade yet again.
So... that meant we were left with jus the 2 games to cover.
Brendan Rodgers was left "frustrated" after seeing his side fail to close the gap on leaders Liverpool after a dominant performance was only enough to earn his side a draw at Selhurst Park on Monday.
Leicester had most of the possession in the first half but didn’t do anything that noteworthy, there was lots of pointless backwards and sideways passes in front of the Palace defence. They put a good few crosses into decent areas but were lacking that final finish, most of the time no one was even there to be on the end of the cross at all. Kelechi Iheanacho had the best chance of the first half after Leicester received a penalty for a foul by James Tomkins on Luke Thomas. But the man who came in to the side to give 33 year old Jamie Vardy a rest, saw his penalty saved by Vicente Guaita. It was a very poor penalty to be honest. Not long after a deflected Ayoze Perez cross spun up onto the crossbar and for Palace, Andros Townsend saw an effort fly wide around 30 minute mark. Leicester striker Iheanacho missed another wonderful chance before half time. This time he headed over at the near post after a cross by Dennis Praet. Ayoze Perez also struck the frame of the goal from a deflected cross in the first half.
Zaha punished them for missing their chances on 58 minutes. The winger finished a move which he started after a break out of defence saw him pass to Townsend on the right flank. Townsend turned onto his left foot and picked out Zaha with a great cross, who then dispatched a side footed volley between keeper Kasper Schmeichel and the post from a tight angle for his 8th goal of the season. Great finish and it was 1-0 Palace. Roy had clearly got his wooden spoon at halt time like all good old grandparents do for their naughty grandkids.
With just 7 minutes left though, Palace were pegged back by a Leicester side who just don't know when to give up. After a late equaliser on Boxing Day saw them take a point at home to Man Utd, they did the same again at Selhurst. Harvey Barnes was there again, after scoring a stunning goal against the Red Devils 2 days ago, he followed that up with another brilliant strike with his left foot from the edge of the area, holding off 2 palace defenders in the process in order to get his shot away. It surely cant be long before he gets a call up to the England senior squad?
That goal was to be the last goal of the game for either side, but there was enough time for another Leicester chance and it was a good one. Perez fired over from a James Justin cross in the 94th minute, it was a miss that summed up Leicester's afternoon.
PALACE 1 LEICESTER 1
Zaha 58 Barnes 83
Frank Lampard looked a lost, lonely figure as he saw his side continue their poor form with a draw at home to this seasons surprise package Aston Villa. Its now just 1 win in 5 games with 3 defeats in that time for the Blues, and after their summer spending spree, fans and the board will be expecting things to turn around quickly. As we all sadly know, there is no loyalty in football anymore and certainly no room for sentiment. The Chelsea boss will be well aware of this fact though and I'm sure believes he has the tactical awareness and common sense needed to turn their form back around. Lets be honest, it started well for him. There is no reason things cant improve but they need their new signings to start repaying the faith shown in them, and live up to their price tag.
Flip that and you have Aston Villa who are currently loving life in England's top tier. They ended 2019 in 18th place and go into 2021 in 5th which is a massive cause for optimism for the Birmingham side. They made some excellent signings in the summer and manager Dean Smith is certainly repaying the faith shown in him by his board.
Chelsea went ahead in this game through Olivier Giroud. The French forward finishing with a fine near post header after an excellent cross from Ben Chillwell, who was outstanding all game. The Chelsea striker has now scored in 10 goals in 10 games against Aston Villa, and has scored 8 goals in 8 games now for Chelsea. To think he was in the wilderness not long ago, how times change! 34 minutes were gone and it was 1-0.
Villa levelled in the second half after 50 minutes through El Ghazi's far post finish which found its way through the legs of Chelsea keeper Edouard Mendy, after an excellent Matty Cash cross.
Chelsea were fuming, the hosts wanting a foul on Andreas Christensen from Jack Grealish and a handball from Matt Targett, both in the build up to Villa's goal. Sometimes when your lucks out, its out. It certainly appears that way for Chelsea and Frank Lampard at the moment. 1-1.
Both sides pushed on for a winner, John McGinn struck the bar with a brilliant long range effort, whilst sub Jacob Ramsey curled inches wide. For Chelsea Christian Pulisic was denied by Emi Martinez's save and Chilwell was awfully unlucky with a stunning volley in injury time that would have been a contender for goal of the season. The technique involved should be taught to kids all over. Unreal.
CHELSEA 1 VILLA 1
Giroud 34 El Ghazi 50