FOOTBALL IS BACK… Even Though It Never Left!
For those of us football lovers who enjoyed all the thrills of the world Cup in Qatar, Club football is back like it never left.
Matchday 18 of the EPL had all the big teams, except Spurs who are not that big anyways, winning their games. The same Spurs continued a 9-game tradition of conceding first and Erling Haaland resumed with a brace, shattering a record that has stood for over 20 years. Neymar had his two minutes madness and needed bailing out in the final minutes and Arsenal came from behind to win again, rosy wins for Newcastle, Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea.
Leicester City 0:3 Newcastle
Leicester might have had an upturn in form before the break for Qatar, but the showing at St. James Park was a reminder of how much more they need to do to avoid the relegation scrap. Miguel Almiron was in the goals once again making it 9 goals in 16 games this season, equaling the total he had scored in his previous EPL 116 games.
The Geordies continue their amazing season in 3rd place with 7 points from Arsenal in 1st place.
Aston Villa 1:3 Liverpool
Unai Emery was brought back to reality by an effective Liverpool side, after winning his first two games as Villa Boss, a home fixture vs an inconsistent Liverpool scared onlookers with the potential of an upset. 5 minutes in and all fears were put to bed when Salah tapped in from close range after a pass from record breaking Andy Robertson who became the defender with the highest assists in the League as a result. Some more Nunez frustration for fantasy managers by the way.
Chelsea 2:0 Bournemouth
Chelsea eased past a Bournemouth side who never threatened to upset The Blues at any point in the 90 minutes. Kai Havertz scored a goal and provided an assist for Mason Mount to score from range. A clean sheet for Kepa Arrizabalaga and a good showing for Christian Pulisic all seemed good and well for Chelsea until their talismanic right back Reece James motioned for replacement after 50 minutes having just returned from a lengthy layoff with a knee injury. Chelsea has since announced that he is due to be out for 3-4 weeks.
Manchester United 3:0 Nottingham Forest
Rashford’s confidence seem sky-high at the moment and the goals are pouring in. With 10 goals so far this season in all competitions, 5 goals and 3 assists in the league, eclipsing his total of 4 goals and 2 assists in the league last season just halfway through the league season. United were largely in control of the game for majority of the 90 minutes with a clean sheet albeit expected, and with Martial and Fred making it a perfect game at Old Trafford.
Leeds United 1:3 Manchester City
Jesse March’s side put in a decent performance in the first half even though City were in control of the game, the breakthrough didn’t come until Rodri buried a rebound from a Riyadh Mahrez shot with 45+1 minutes played. In the second half when ERLING HAALAND happened, Meslier conceded a brace from the Norwegian wizard after saving a couple or more from him in the first half. Leeds pulled one back through Pascal Struijk’s header from Sam Greenwood’s corner in the 73rd minute, but City had done enough to enjoy all three points from this one.
PLAYING WITH FIRE
PSG 2:1 STRASBOURG
A 96th minute Kylian Mbappe’s penalty saved d Le Parisiens’ blushes after their Brazilian superstar Neymar got a second yellow card one minute after being booked for diving. Ten minutes before the first yellow card, fellow Brazilian Marquinhos had equalized for his opponents after scoring for his own team in the 14th minutes with an assist from none other than Neymar. With the score at 1:1 and PSG reduced to 10 men, there was a mountain to climb; Marquinhos thought he had won the match scoring into an empty net, but the referee had pointed to the penalty spot as the goalkeeper was deemed to have fouled Mbappe after dribbling past him before the ball fell to Marquinhos. Mbappe would go on to convert the penalty and grab three points for his team. Just a reminder: Marquinhos is a defender.
ARSENAL 3:1 WESTHAM UNITED
A first half penalty converted for The Hammers meant the league leaders were one goal down at the start of the second half. They did not take too long to remind the world why they are in first place; the forward line of Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and Eddie Nketiah all scoring at 53rd, 58th and 69th minute respectively, all goals assisted by either Xhaka or Odegaard, putting all uncertainties about the effect of Jesus’ absence to bed.
BRENTFORD 2:2 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR
For the 9th consecutive match Spurs has conceded the first goal. They are the team that has picked up the most points from losing position, they are in 4th place with one point ahead of fifth place Manchester United who has a game in hand. Antonio Conte is tasked with finding a solution to how his team start games and how to start on the front foot, for a coach who prides himself in having control of phases of play, he must be reeling for the past months as the same struggle persist. On the night, they went into the break one goal behind, shortly after the restart, Brentford added another goal through Ivan Toney. Spurs would go on to equalize from Kane and Emile Hojbjerg both of whom had average performance. If Spurs want to maintain their top 4 status, they’d better started scoring first and conceding less.
It’s the New Year in a bit, and football breaks would not exist till the season ends, except something as unprecedented as Covid hits!
There’s so much more to come from this stable.