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Premier League round-up 29th December: Leeds destroy Baggies, Rashford relief for Ole


The worst 2 defensive sides in the league met at The Hawthorns on Tuesday night, but there was no sign of anything threatening the Leeds defence on this occasion. The same definitely cannot be said for the backline of West Brom.

The game couldn't have started worse for the home side. In contrast to their solid performance at Anfield last game, they were a shambles in this one. After just 8 minutes, Romaine Sawyers scored a bizarre own goal, not looking before he played a back pass to keeper Sam Johnstone who had positioned himself to the left of the Baggies goal. But he could only watch on in horror when Sawyers awful pass flew past him into the net. Leeds were 1-0 up and this was the start of what was to be a night from hell for new Baggies boss Sam Allardyce.

On 20 mins West Brom did threaten to score from a corner, their forward being held in a headlock by a defender as the ball came in was no help to them. Id say they had a great shut for a penalty, but VAR chose not to step in.

After 28 minutes Leeds winger Jack Harrison, who was dangerous all night, shot well over. But Bielsa's rampant side were to score 3 minutes later to make it 2-0, with Macedonian Alioski smashing home with his left foot from 18 yards out after a ball had fell kindly to him. It was a great finish and Leeds were well worth their lead.

Shortly after they would add more misery to Big Sam and his players. Jack Harrison played a lovely one-two with Patrick Bamford, before expertly cutting back and finishing into the top corner with his left foot from 12 yards. West Brom fans would have been leaving in their droves had fans been allowed to attend.

5 minutes before half time things got even worse for The Midlands side. Rodrigo hit a shot from the edge of the penalty area which took a deflection, sending a helpless Sam Johnstone the opposite way to the ball. It was 4-0 and Allardyce was down the tunnel 1 minute before the half had even ended.

Brazilian Raphinha then then added a 5th with around 20 minutes left to play. He picked the ball up on the right hand side, cut in, did a couple of fancy step-overs before finishing with an outstanding left footed strike which would have beaten any keeper on the planet. Thankfully for West Brom it was the last goal of the night.

It could have been more in truth, the Baggies were lucky to keep the score in single figures.

Allardyce has a lot of work to do. If Bielsa can shore up his defence against the better sides, who knows where Leeds could end up. They are the most exciting side to watch in the Premier League.


WEST BROM 0 LEEDS 5

Sawyers OG 9

Alioski 31

Harrison 36

Rodrigo 40

Raphinha 72


 

In what was nearly another game where Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would be left reeling after watching his side drop vital points at home, he had nothing to fear in the end as Marcus Rashford would provide a vital goal to push Man Utd within 2 points of rivals Liverpool.

The first half wasn't much to write home about. No one really had the better of it, Wolves were seemingly happy to frustrate their hosts and play on the counter attack. With the pace of Adama Traore that isn't a bad idea in fairness. But if truth be told, i miss the wolves from a few years back when they first arrived back in the Premier League. They went into every game with the intent of winning in those days, I'm not so sure they do now. They last won at Old Trafford in the 80s and never showed too much intent to change that. United weren't at their best either, but they managed to get the job done through a moment of class.

After 13 minutes Wolves had a chance to take the lead when Ruben Neves had a go at goal from 20 yards, but David De Gea was equal to it.

Later on it was Cavani who couldn't connect properly with a good cross from the left, taking the ball away from Bruno Fernandes in the process who would have surely found the net. The Portugal midfielder was then denied a goal by his fellow countryman Rui Patricio in the Wolves goal, the keeper making an instinctive save with his legs after Bruno had connected with a cross from just 5 yards out. Either side of the keeper its 1-0.

38 mins into the game Wolves had a free kick on the right hand side. The ball came into the box by Pedro Neto, Romain Saiss connected well, only to see his shit well saved at the near post by Dea Gea.

Cavani had a goal ruled out for offside in the 2nd half, turning in after a Luke Shaw corner had found its way to him right infront of goal, via a Connor Cody arm. VAR got involved by ruled the United forward was interfering when the ball struck the Wolves defenders arm.

Pogba pulled a good save out of Patricio, Martial smashed one over the bar from edge of the area. Wolves forced a half decent save out the Man Utd keeper before it was Marcus Rashford who stole the show.

94 minutes were on the clock when the United forward latched on to a loose pass, he twisted & turned, creating himself the perfect angle before unleashing an unstoppable effort into the back of the net. 1-0 and that would be the end of that for Wolves this evening.

Ole has to be happy with that, his side dug in and gave everything until the last kick, scoring a late goal in the process. Is it time for Manchester United to start competing PROPERLY in the top 4? They have as good of a chance as anyone.

Wolves deserved a point overall and can be pleased with their performance. They will bounce back.


MAN UTD 1 WOLVES 0

Rashford 94


 

Arsenal recorded another important win as they aim to climb out of the bottom half of the Premier league table. It was a close game at The Amex and Brighton will certainly feel their performance was enough to warrant at least a point.

After 28 minutes Arsenal had a free kick in a dangerous position, Granit Xhaka couldn't pull off another screamer like he did VS Chelsea the other day though.

2 minutes before HT Brighton would test Leno in the Arsenal goal for only the first time, but the shot at him was easily saved.

Youngster Bukayo Saka then put one on a plate for Aubameyang in the 2nd half, but the forward saw his effort well saved by Robert Sanchez in Brighton's goal. Another Arsenal youngster, Martinelli, was unlucky with a dipping shot not long after that, before Aubameyang spurned another chance for the Gunners, this time shooting over the crossbar from 15 yards.

Brighton's Davy Propper forced Leno into only his 2nd save of the game with about an hour played, before substitute Alexander Lacazette put Arsenal 1-0 up. The Arsenal forward controlling and finishing well with his right foot after a good pass into him from youngster Bukayo Saka.

Brighton fans want the manager gone if you take twitter seriously, they do look to be in a world of trouble.

Arsenal will hope that their last 2 victories will give them a platform to build from, the team are playing for Arteta and its good to see youth prevailing for the North London side. Long may it continue.


BRIGHTON 0 ARSENAL 1

Lacazette 66


 

After a hard fought game at Turf Moor on Tuesday evening, it was the home side who left the game with a massive 3 points after this battle at the bottom of the Premier league table.

The First half was a close one with only the eventual winning goal separating the sides as Chris Wilder would go on to bemoan his sides lack of cutting edge in attacking areas.

The first real chance of the game fell to Ex Liverpool academy graduate Rhian Brewster, who saw his header diverted away off the goal line by a Burnley defender Ashley Westwood, with the ball just coming off the defenders shoulder rather than his arm, saving himself from a possible red card and conceding a penalty for his side in the process.

Burnley striker Chris Wood then pulled a great save out of keeper Aaron Ramsdale in the Blades goal from a point blank header. But Burnley would take the lead from their next corner as skipper Ben Mee headed into bottom corner after a good in swinging corner from Robbie Brady.

Towards the end of the first half Sheffield United's Rhian Brewster saw a shot from the edge of the penalty area saved comfortably by Nick Pope, as the game would finish 1-0 at the halfway mark.

Not long into the second half and it was Sheffield United who would threaten first, Enda Stevens playing in David McGoldrick down the right before his shot was palmed away by Pope who got a good hand to it.

On 74 mins The Blades were coming on strong and having better of the game, looking more likely to score next when wing back George Baldock had a very good shot deflected just wide when seemed to be heading into the net for a screamer and well deserved United goal. Just after that it was again Sheffield Utd who nearly scored, this time it was central defender John Egan who nearly scored a screamer, with his left footed effort flying just over the bar with Pope beaten. Burnley were rocking, they were on the ropes and it felt like there could be an inevitable equaliser on the cards. And in the last minute it nearly came.

Sheffield United had one last free kick which they swung into box, the ball made its way to the back post but Ben Osborn could only divert his weak header straight into the grateful arms of Burnley keeper Nick Pope. It was all over and this would be Sheffield United's 7th 1-0 defeat of the campaign, an undeserved 1-0 defeat at that.

Burnley have another massive game at home to lowly Fulham next, they will surely be confident of securing another victory at Turf Moor.

United battle on but they look a side who are destined for the drop already. 11 points adrift and no sign of anything changing soon. Wilder needs to work some serious magic in January to keep his boyhood club in this division.


BURNLEY 1 SHEFFIELD UNITED 0

Mee 32


 

Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl had to manage his side from home via video link, as he is self isolating following a member of his household testing positive for coronavirus.

And he could only watch on as his side were unable to claim the victory they needed to move into the Premier League's top six, despite dominating most of the ball throughout the game, and having a goal unluckily chalked off. It was Saints top scorer Danny Ings, who was returning for the hosts having missed Saturday's 0-0 draw with Fulham through injury, who was was denied what would have been an excellent early opener after finishing brilliantly after some good build up play from Che Adams. Sadly Adams had strayed into an offside position before passing for Ings to finish.

West Ham nearly took the lead through Ryan Fredericks' header, but it was collected by Alex McCarthy in the Saints goal. That was only West Ham's first shot on target ... after 41 minutes. This wasn't a game anyone was enjoying watching.

The 2nd half wasn't much better, Tomas Soucek went close to heading his fifth goal of the season for the Hammers as they upped their intensity in the second half. Then substitute Said Benrahma was denied a late winner at close range after a decent save by Saints stopper McCarthy.

A draw was more than fair in this one, Saints will be disappointed they couldn't get then win which would have taken them up to 5th. David Moyes should see this result as a well earned point on the road.


SAINTS 0 WEST HAM 0




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