The Christmas period certainly is the most wonderful time of the year for football fans. December is crammed with nearly 70 games in itself. Having played the first weekend of December football, there wasn’t much time before the sides were in action again with fixtures to be contested on the following Tuesday and Wednesday.
Perhaps the main attraction of the two days was that of Manchester United vs Arsenal at Old Trafford. Coming off the back of a North London derby win and given United’s stumbling form, Arsenal would have been optimistic of grabbing a win in a fixture where they have traditionally struggled. A win this time round would be their first in 12 years in this particular game, but it wasn’t meant to be. Despite leading twice in the match, Arsenal struggled to defend their one goal advantage for any significant period of time. Conceding straight from kick off the second time round, the away side had to settle for a single point in a match which ended 2-2. Though the Gunners may have wanted more prior to the game, a point earned from a game where they often come away with nothing can be viewed as a positive. It’s something to build on as they look to continue their impressive start to the campaign shattering their reputation of being brittle and falling apart by Christmas.
More so in this game than any other this season, it is the United players who have to take the majority of the responsibility for not securing the win rather than their manager. Arsenal had their fair share of chances but it’s safe to say that both of their goals were completely avoidable from a United point of view. The first saw keeper David De Gea almost push the ball towards his own goal rather than away from it leaving Herrera unable to prevent it from crossing an inch over the line. The second saw Rojo wanting more time than he had in his own half which allowed Mkhitaryan to pick his pocket and assist Lacazette, who put the ball in the net with the help of a last ditch challenge from the United man. Players at the top level of the English game should not have to be told by the boss that they can’t be making such avoidable and costly mistakes.
Even though Arsenal only managed a draw, they still managed to close the gap to their London rivals Chelsea. The two sides are now level on points after the blues threw away a 0-1 lead against a Wolves side who have dipped in form following a decent start to life in the Premier League. The game ended 2-1 to the home side, a result which saw Chelsea drop back below Spurs to 4th place. Loftus-Cheek has again enhanced his claim to a consistent place in the first team after scoring another goal, albeit a slightly lucky, deflected one. On a day where Chelsea have been linked with a permanent move for loanee Mateo Kovacic, you have to question whether they would be smarter to save the money and put some faith in their homegrown talent. Ultimately, Loftus-Cheek has and still is producing something which the Croatian has failed to provide; goals. The strikers at the club are looking far from prolific so surely any player who is in reasonable goal-scoring form has to be played on a regular basis.
Another side struggling for goals this season is Crystal Palace, who travelled to their fierce rivals Brighton on Tuesday night. The Eagles had just earned a rare three points in their previous match against Burnley, a game which the home side should really have won by a much greater margin. Yet, they were unable to continue this as being somewhat embarrassed by the seagulls. It’s hardly surprising to see Palace struggling so much in front goal of when they willingly let go of clinical strikers like Glenn Murray, their former striker coming back to haunt them from the penalty spot. A Shane Duffy red card hardly altered the pattern of the game as 10-men Brighton added two more goals before the end of the first half. Palace were only able to claw one back in the remainder of the game resulting in a 3-1 defeat. Losing to your most hated rivals is never easy but this one will be particularly difficult to take for Palace fans given that Brighton were disadvantaged for the majority of the game.
Not even a week into the Premier League’s Christmas period, we have already been treated to plenty of drama from red cards to shock results. Both United and Arsenal will be satisfied with a point for their own reasons whilst Chelsea will most definitely be looking to improve after losing to Wolves if they want to keep up in the title race. Things are heating up at the bottom of the table too with a fiery fixture between Brighton and Palace leaving the eagles in an even even greater danger of facing the drop.