LIVERPOOL & MAN UNITED KEPT APART IN EFL CUP SEMI FINAL!
Liverpool reached their third consecutive EFL Cup semi-final beating a spirited Leeds side 2-0 at Anfield. Ben Woodburn scored the second goal, breaking Micheal Owens record to become the clubs youngest ever goal scorer – remember the name!
Manchester United made light work of West Ham at Old Trafford with Mkhitaryan finally shining (as we knew he could), giving a man of the match performance which led to him teeing up goals for both Zlatan Ibrahimovic and another recent outcast Anthony Martial – both scoring a brace.
Hull City overcame Newcastle on penalties to be awarded with a semi-final with Mourinho’s Manchester United, which will see former assistant boss Mike Phelan return to his old club.
The statisticians out there will also point to the fact that the first ever penalty shootout was played between these two teams in the 1970 Witbury Cup Semi Final! Hull lost the shootout 4-3 to a side hosting Best, Law & Charlton! How fitting would it be to see a repeat in the next round and what a stage for Hull City to get their own back!
Finally, Southampton won at Arsenal for the first time in 23 visits.
Even though Arsene Wenger continued to traditionally field a ‘B Team’ equivalent; playing a host of youngsters, Southampton made eight changes themselves, from the side that beat Everton at St Mary’s at the weekend.
They convincingly won this tie with excellently taken goals from Jordie Clasie and Ryan Bertrand.
Arsenal fans rightfully booed the players at the final whistle, so inept was their performance. Take nothing away from Southampton though, as they stay disciplined throughout and as a result, Arsenal were unable to penetrate their opponents.
Saints have been drawn with Liverpool, with the first leg at St Mary’s. The last time the two teams met at Southampton, Liverpool ran out 6-1 winners. A vast improvement will be required if Claude Puel’s men want to march on to Wembley.
Ties to be played 10th & 24th January 2017 respectively.
EPL TOP 4 SIGNED SEALED DELIVERED?
Chelsea, Man City, Liverpool & Arsenal all claimed victories this weekend cementing their places among the top 4 league positions after 12 games.
The biggest scalp was surely at Chelsea, where the league leaders beat rivals Tottenham 2-1 thanks to goals from Pedro and arguably the most improved player in the division thus far, Victor Moses. Though the defeat to Chelsea is Spurs first loss of the season, it seems increasingly certain that even though this will be the most open Premier League season yet, the Top 4 teams currently in the table are the teams most likely to finish in the European Champions League places.
This all said, Man City play Chelsea this week, so there may be a possibility for Spurs, Southampton or Man U to catch up some points this weekend, if either team suffer defeat.
There’s still a long way to go but if all four teams can remain in the Champions League places over the busy festive period, then it may be conclusive come 2017 that this current top 4, truly are that little bit better than the rest.
Swansea Win 9 Goal Thriller!
Bob Bradley’s first taste of victory as Swans boss resembled more of a NFL score than a ‘Soccer’ result. The defending by both teams for this game was abysmal but Swansea’s former U.S. national coach seemed content with getting his first three points in the Premier League, praising his side’s resilience and fighting spirit till the end, which saw his team score two goals in added time, to steel victory from the grasp of Alan Pardew’s Eagles.
After his recent change of allegiance, new Ivory Coast international Wilfred Zaha opened the scoring for Palace before strikes from the ever reliant Sigurdsson and a double from Leroy Fer put Swansea 3-1 ahead with just 22 minutes of the game remaining.
James Tomkins and then a Jack Cork own goal brought the tie level before Christian Benteke seemed to have won the game for The Eagles – smashing the ball emphatically against both posts from all of a few yards out to bring a huge sigh of relief to Palace fans, with just six minutes remaining.
The relief was short lived however, as substitute Fernando Llorente scored two well taken goals in added time, to send the Liberty Stadium into a frenzy and gave manager Bob Bradley his first win for Swansea.
The victory leaves Pardew’s future as Crystal Palace manager finely balanced, with reports prior the game reporting this match was a must win.
If you read recent reports, his next two games are crucial, if he is to stay in the job at Selhurst Park.
The game at The Liberty Stadium was Crystal Palace’s sixth league defeat in a row. Ex England manager Sam Allardyce is the rumoured favourite to replace the former Palace player, if the team continue to slide.