By: Alex Greenberg
The neutral American viewer would have hoped that they would be rewarded for waking up early for Sunday’s Premier League match between Tottenham and Chelsea. Last year’s fixture at White Hart Lane between these two teams finished 5-3 to Spurs in one of the most exciting matches in recent memory. Unfortunately for those who woke up in time for the 7 a.m. kickoff on the East Coast, this match was not as exciting.
Spurs and Chelsea played to a 0-0 draw in what was billed as the biggest match of the weekend, but to be fair the game was more exciting than the scoreline indicates. Both teams had chances, but Spurs will be less happy with the draw than Chelsea. Tottenham had 58 percent possession and outshot the Blues 4-1.
Chelsea were happy sitting back for much of the game and allowing Spurs to keep possession, a stark contrast to previous matches between these two teams. With Chelsea still struggling in 14th place it is understandable that Jose Mourinho would have his team play in a way that suggests they were thrilled to earn a point.
If Chelsea are to be back in the Champions League next season they will have to start stringing together wins over the busy Christmas period. With their title hopes certainly dashed, a comfortable top 4 finish could also be out the window if they struggle during the holiday season.
The most talked about moment from this match was towards the end of the game when Diego Costa was warming up on the sideline but wasn’t subbed into the game. Costa was recalled to the bench and he tossed his training bib up in the air in frustration. Mourinho did not notice at the time, but he certainly had a word with Costa about it post game, he also won’t enjoy John Obi Mikel laughing as Costa rebelled against his manager.
The Bournemouth-Everton matchup from Saturday was on the complete opposite end of the spectrum than the Tottenham-Chelsea game. This match was probably the best of this Premier League season so far. There were 4 goals scored after the 80th minute, including 2 in stoppage time.
Bournemouth scored twice to come back from a two-goal deficit. Then Everton thought they won when Ross Barkley scored in the final minute of stoppage on a bizarre shot that saw him turn 360 degrees before shooting. The traveling Everton fans loved it a little too much, and they started rushing onto the field to celebrate with their heroes. Nothing shows the raw emotion of football like fans rushing on the field, but it’s also pretty dangerous. The fans are usually intoxicated and there is a history of fan on player violence in English football.
When the fans were cleared and play was resumed, the referee added even more time on to the original five minutes of stoppage time that had been given. This extra time allowed Bournemouth one more attack up the field, which they made the most of. Junior Stanislas scored his second goal of the game with a header to once again equalize for Bournemouth.
It was a dramatic end to a dramatic game, but it shouldn’t have happened. Tim Howard’s positioning on the cross to Stanislas was very poor. Stanislas header is right in the middle of goal, but Howard is scrambling back from his near post and is unable to reach it. As they showed once again here, Everton look dangerous in attack, especially when Romelu Lukaku is on the ball. But I worry that their goalkeeping issues with Howard may resurface against some of the better teams in the league.
Arsenal are supposed to be one of those better teams in the league, but they haven’t looked like it as of late. The Gunners dropped points again this weekend when they went to Norwich and drew 1-1. The scoreline probably even flattered Arsenal in what was a very poor performance from them.
The Gunners once again scored first in the match only to quickly relinquish the lead. Lewis Grabban scored less than 15 minutes after Mesut Ozil game the visitors the lead on a mistake by Norwich keeper John Ruddy.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but Arsenal have more injury issues. Injuries to star players Alexis Sanchez and Laurent Koscielny in this match may prove more costly to them than the dropped points. Sanchez has consistently been Arsenal’s best player since he signed for them, and many football fans consider him to be too good for an Arsenal team that loses early in the Champions League year after year. Extended injuries to Sanchez and Koscielny would only encourage the other sides hoping to take advantage of what looks like the most open title race in years.
Two of those other teams with title aspirations, Manchester United and Leicester City, also faced off this weekend. No one had Leicester down as a title contender before the season, despite the appointment of a very experienced manager in Claudio Ranieri. The Foxes will still be daring to dream after holding the Red Devils to a 1-1 draw in Leicester.
No matter where Leicester finish the season this match will be remembered for the record breaking moment of Jamie Vardy. Vardy scored for the 11th straight game, breaking a record Ruud Van Nistelrooy set during his legendary spell at United.
Everyone and their mother has talked about Jamie Vardy and his new record, so I’m going to focus on another aspect of his record breaking goal. David De Gea should’ve saved it.
De Gea is often considered to be the best keeper in the Premier League, but I don’t think he has done much to deserve it. De Gea seemed to shy away from the ball as he came out to confront Vardy on his breakaway. The ball ended up going through De Gea’s legs and into the back of the net. The Spanish keeper has a tendency to concede goals when shots are low and directly at him. United fans think the world of him, but I’d much rather have Hugo Lloris or Thibaut Courtois in my team’s goal.
The hectic month of December in the Premier League gets underway this weekend with some interesting matches.
Arsenal take on a Sunderland team that has been steadily improving since Sam Allardyce took over early in the season. If the Gunners continue to struggle I could see Sunderland getting a result. American international DeAndre Yedlin had an assist for Sunderland last weekend, how great of a time would this game be for him to get his first Premier League goal!?
Manchester United have proven to be one of the most boring teams in the Premier League this season, but they’re playing a West Ham side that plays some entertaining football. United this year have been defined by a lot of possession with little chances created. I think this trend will continue, and the Hammers will surprise United with a 2-0 win.
Everton and Crystal Palace is the match that I’m most looking forward to. Both teams play attacking football and feature players, Lukaku for Everton and record signing Yohan Cabaye for Crystal Palace, who are among the best in the league at their positions. Palace’s Yannick Bolasie is often compared to Brazilian legend Ronaldinho. Bolasie is skillful, confident, and has an eye for the spectacular. The Congolese winger always wants to put on a show, he had two goals against Newcastle last weekend. If he can show more consistency, and Palace can continue scoring at a high rate, they’ll beat Everton and may find themselves in the Europa League for the first time in club history by season’s end.