DESPITE bad weather threatening to wreak havoc on the English Premier League’s (EPL) busy festive season fixtures, all scheduled games went ahead last night. Arsenal extended its lead at the top, while Burnley finally recorded their first home win of the season.
Arsenal 2 v Wolverhampton Wanderers 1
Arsenal underlined their title credentials with a scintillating first 20 minutes that brought two beautifully worked goals. Wolves were left bewildered by the speed and incision displayed by Mikael Arteta’s side. The visitors were much improved after the break and gave the Gunner’s a scare when they managed to pull one back towards the end. But the North Londoners held on to extend their lead at the top as their closest rivals played on Sunday.
Burnley 5 v Sheffield United 0
Burnley finally secured their first home win of the campaign in this relegation six-pointer. The omens were definitely good when Vincent Kompany’s team scored straight from the kickoff—15 seconds was all it took for the Blades rear guard to be punctured.
The away side was reduced to ten when Oli McBurnie saw red just before halftime, and already down by two, they capitulated to a humbling defeat that leaves them rock bottom. Paul Heckingbottom was heckled by Blades supporters and looks odds-on to be axed soon.
Newcastle United 1 v Manchester United 0
Hunger, commitment and desire—only one team displayed these traits and it wasn’t the expensively assembled side from Old Trafford. The Magpies who are facing a bit of an injury crisis but still put the Red Devils to the sword with a combative performance full of heart.
Manchester United were pinned inside their own half for most of the game as they were seemingly second best to every 50/50 ball. They were lucky not to lose by a bigger margin as chances went begging for Newcastle, not least the skipper’s Kieran Trippier’s thunderous free kick that came off the underside.
Nottingham Forest 0 v Everton 1
Everton have appealed against the ten-point penalty imposed for breaking sustainability rules. While they await the outcome, Sean Dyche’s men must continue to put in battling performances like this. On the basis of this showing, Everton have every chance of surviving even if the appeal is unsuccessful.
The win moves them two points short of safety and given the struggles of the teams around them, the Toffees will be quietly confident of their survival. Forest will need to rediscover their mojo sooner rather than later if they want to avoid taking Everton’s place in the relegation dog fight.
Brentford 3 v Luton Town 1
Brentford were a class above and showed why they have managed to establish themselves in the top flight. Dominant in possession and carving out chances for fun, The Bees toyed with the Hatters throughout the game. But they only managed to break the deadlock in the second half through Neal Maupay, though the breakthrough was never in doubt.
Luton’s game plan seemed restricted to containment and seemed to be playing for a draw. They will certainly need to show more ambition if they want to escape the drop. – Dec 3, 2023
All photo credited to The Guardian