The seventeenth round of the English Premier League season got underway with Tuesday Dec 12’s matches where Burnley hosted Stoke City at Turf Moor with the visitors looking to bounce back after the weekend’s heavy defeat, whilst the hosts were looking to pressure those above them to get into the European places, and Burnley clinched a hard fought 1-nil victory courtesy of a late edge of the box strike from substitute Ashley Barnes that lifted them above Arsenal, Liverpool and Spurs and into fourth and into the Champions League places, before those teams play on Wednesday night.
Also on Tuesday Dec 12, Crystal Palace entertained Watford at Selhurst Park and, after Watford had taken an early 3rd minute lead through Daryl Janmaat that put them in control of the game, the game turned in the last 5 minutes when Watford’s Tom Cleverley was red carded for a second yellow card in the 87th minute, and Palace utilised the advantage to score an equaliser from Bakary Sako in the 89th minute, before good work from Wilfried Zaha resulted in a cross for a strike from around the penalty spot from James McArthur for a 2-1 victory that lifted them out of the relegation places for the first time this season.
Huddersfield entertained Chelsea at the John Smith Stadium, and were beaten 3-1, courtesy of first half goals from Timeoue Bakayoko and Willian, and an early second half third from Pedro, before Laurent Depoitre salvaged a late consolation for the hosts.
On Wednesday, Liverpool entertained West Bromwich Albion at Anfield, where stubborn defence by the visitors coupled with a failure of Liverpool’s normally destructive front 4 to fire led to a nil-all stalemate.
Manchester United hosted Bournemouth at Old Trafford and, in a game lacking much spark, prevailed with a 1-nil victory courtesy of Romelu Lukaku’s 25th minute far post header from Juan Mata’s cross.
Newcastle United entertained Everton at St James’s Park, where the hosts twice hit the woodwork in the first half through Matt Ritchie and Mikel Merino but could not manufacture a goal, and where the match was settled by a close range finish from Wayne Rooney, continuing his good run of goalscoring form, his 9th goal of the season, for a 1-nil Everton victory, whilst Newcastle’s woes were compounded by the red card collected in injury time by midfielder Jonjo Shelvey.
Southampton hosted Leicester City at St Mary’s Stadium, where the visitors raced to a 3-nil half time lead courtesy of Riyad Mahrez’s 11th minute 20 yard shot after cutting in from the left wing, Shinji Okazaki’s close range finish in the 32nd minute after Christian Fuchs’ shot had been saved, and Andy King’s conversion of Harry Maguire’s 38th minute cross, before Maya Yoshida pulled a goal back for Saints with a far post header back across goal from a corner in the 61st minute and Leicester quickly restoring their 3 goal advantage in the 69th minute when Okazaki collected his brace after converting Jamie Vardy’s cross for a 4-1 victory.
Spurs entertained Brighton at Wembley Stadium, and took the lead after stout defence from the visitors, when Serge Aurier’s 40th minute cross from the right wing drifted over Brighton goalkeeper Mat Ryan and in off the post, before Son Heung-min added a second in the 87th minute with a near post header for a 2-nil Spurs win that lifted them back up to 4th in the table.
Swansea hosted leaders Manchester City at the Liberty Stadium, and suffered a 4-nil defeat with David Silva opening the scoring for the visitors when flicking the ball into the net from close range in the 27th minute, Kevin De Bruyne adding a second with a 34th minute free kick which eluded the defence, Silva collecting his brace in the 52nd minute after playing a one-two with Raheem Sterling before clipping the ball over Swans goalkeeper Lucas Fabianski, and then Sergio Aguero completing the scoring in the 85th minute with a driven finish.
West Ham entertained Arsenal at the London Stadium, with the game ending in a nil-all stalemate.
Manchester City lead the table with 49 points from 17 matches, with Manchester United in second on 38 points, and Chelsea third with 35 points, from the same games, whilst Swansea City hold up the table with 12 points from 17 matches, two points below the 3 teams occupying the places immediately above them all on 14 points, Crystal Palace, West Bromwich Albion, and West Ham. Manchester City’s record setting 15 game winning streak, and only loss of points the result of one drawn game as we approach the half way point of the season puts them on target for breaking numerous other records.
Allan Jackson has been involved in soccer for more than 40 years as a player, referee, administrator and freelance writer.