Crystal Palace were up against bottom placed Swansea but in a first half where Palace were lacking in both confidence and energy it was Swansea who unsurprisingly took the lead after 40 minutes when Mawson nodded in with the back of his head from a Swans free kick to score his first goal for the Welsh club. The Palace defenders to a man stood still like robots in fact Palace were so poor in the first half that you would have bet your money that it was Swansea that were the home team and not the Eagles who certainly played as though their wings had been clipped. In the second half a spectacular goal from Wilfried Saha levelled the proceedings as late as the 83rd minute with a scissor kick from 12 metres out. Palace were far better in the second half so it was a shock when substitute Angel Rangel scored against the run of play to give the welsh men a much needed win in front of new boss Paul Clement. Angel Rangel’s parents must get the blame for their son’s ridiculous name but his exhaltation after scoring wasn’t to be missed jumping with joy as those Swansea players around him were celebrating for the first time in a very long season. For Crystal Palace they draw closer to the relegation zone while at long last a life line for the Swans. Palace seem to be playing without ideas and they look in trouble and yet on paper they should easily be in mid-table so manager Sam Alladyce has some tough work ahead in trying to rally his troops to keep the boys from South London in the premiership. Simply Alladyce needs to roll the dice and take a chance or two with his squad and hopefully get one or two new signings in January.
Bournemouth played Arsenal in an absolutely thrilling match. Bournemouth were winning three nil up until the 70th minute when Arsenal finally woke up from their New Year’s Eve hangovers when Sanchez scored what looked like a consolation goal. However a goal from Perez 15 minutes from time gave Arsenal hope and when Simon Francis was dismissed in the 82nd minute Arsenal threw everything including the kitchen sink at home team Bournemouth. Incredibly Girould replied two minutes into stoppage time to send the away fans home in raptures. As far as entertainment goes this was a blockbuster unfortunately for Bournemouth they fell asleep towards the end of a fantastic encounter they should have won. Eddie Howe’s team seem to have a really set the premiership alight this season with some scintillating games particularly this match against Arsenal and the unforgettable victory against Liverpool late last year. For the majority of this match Bournemouth looked like World beaters and the Arsenal defence looks like panel beaters. Goals from Daniels and Wilson in the first half and after 58 minutes a goal from Fraser looked like securing the three points the cherries richly deserved. Unfortunately they fell apart instead and they can look on losing out on a valuable two points. Still on this form they can still chase a top 10 finish while the Gunners are still in the hunt in the title race. This victory puts Bournemouth up to ninth position while Arsenal still remain in the top four. For Arsenal this was Sanchez’s 13th goal of the season and special mention should go to Bellerin at the back who was absolutely appalling.
In the third game on Tuesday evening Stoke entertain Watford. Stoke won the match by two goals to nil with Ryan Shawcross notching in injury time at the end of the first half. Peter Crouch scored in consecutive games to add a second goal in the second half to halt Stokes recent run of poor form. This was their first victory in six games and for the Hornets they have won just once now in the last eight matches. Things need to change and soon for Watford as they like Palace are dropping down the table faster than the speed of light.
Wednesday saw the match of the week when Tottenham entertained Chelsea at White Hart Lane. Chelsea were looking for a record 14th consecutive victory in the main league but were denied by a resilient and at times fantastic Spurs team. Spurs matched Chelsea in a 3-5-2 formation and Dele Ali scored a brace in a two nil victory over the blues. Christian Eriksen was on fine form providing Ali with two inch perfect crosses that Ali obligingly headed in on both occasions. Spurs tactics was spot on playing high up the pitch and allowing absolutely no time for the three Chelsea defenders to play with to set in motion any form of Chelsea attack. Unusually Chelsea did not look too threatening coming forward as this Spurs midfield controlled large masses of the match and Diego Costa so often a thorn in the side of many teams this season looked stranded on his own deep in the Spurs half. That’s six goals in three games now for Ali and his inspiring work rate and ability to find the net must have been just what the Doctor ordered for the watching England manager Gareth Southgate up in the grandstand. Chelsea despite this defeat lie 5 points ahead of second placed Liverpool but this victory by Spurs will give them much hope and confidence for the remainder of the season. Whether they can vie for the title with the likes of Chelsea and Liverpool remains to be seen but this victory can only do them good. Harry Kane also looked good for the Spurs and the defence were solid.
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