It’s nearly here! The Africa Cup of Nations 2017 kicks off this weekend and it’s a tournament we love and have covered in detail in the past on Just Football. Ahead of this year’s edition in Gabon here are a selection of promising young African talents that have risen to prominence and could play an essential […]
The Premier League games have continued to come thick and fast, with barely a break at all for some sides. Names of the Premier League continues too. So, who made fans sit up and pay attention over the festive and New Year games? Who makes the list from weeks 19 and 20?
Ryan Fraser (Bournemouth)
A thrilling game at the Vitality Stadium saw Arsenal come from three goals behind to grab a point against Bournemouth.
A key moment during the game was the withdrawal through injury of Ryan Fraser. He had been causing Arsenal problems all game. Fraser’s tenacity and work rate were a constant threat to the Arsenal defence and he was involved in two of Bournemouth’s goals, winning the penalty for their second and scoring the third.
After full back Charlie Daniels had given Bournemouth the lead, momentum was with the home side. Fraser was played in on 20 minutes only to be caught in a tangle with Granit Xhaka. The ref pointed to the spot and Callum Wilson converted the resulting penalty. After 58 minutes Fraser got a goal of his own, showing strength and perhaps getting away with a foul on Hector Bellerin before making his way into the box from the left and scoring through Petr Cech’s legs.
Then came a turning point. After another fine attacking move from Fraser he picked up a knock and had to be replaced after 68 minutes. Eddie Howe chose to replace him with defender Adam Smith and Bournemouth lost their attacking momentum. Two minutes after Fraser came off they conceded a goal and another one five minutes later. A red card to Simon Francis followed and ultimately so did an Olivier Giroud equaliser.
Tom Davies (Everton)
— Thomas Davies (@1TomDavies) January 2, 2017
It was a day to remember for Tom Davies as the 18-year-old made his first ever league start in a 3-0 win for Everton against Southampton.
The youngster is a local lad and has been at the club his whole career, progressing through the academy and now playing for the first team. Fans have been calling for him to get his chance following promising substitute performances and he didn’t disappoint against Southampton.
The midfielder was calm and composed on the ball, helping his side to keep over 50% possession against the Saints. The manager was clearly impressed with Davies performance, as he played the whole game despite Ronald Koeman using all three substitutes.
He showed his quality with a perfect first time through ball to Romelu Lukaku late in the game. The Belgian then lashed into the back of the net to get Everton’s third goal.
Dele Alli (Spurs)
A mouth-watering fixture between Spurs and Chelsea ended the Premier League’s festive programme and a brace from Dele Alli gave Spurs a 2-0 win.
The result saw Chelsea’s winning run end after 13 games, leaving them a five point gap at the top of the table. Spurs and Chelsea had the best defensive records in the league before the match and showcased it early on, with both sides struggling to maintain possession and create chances.
In first half stoppage time though Spurs grabbed the opener. Christian Eriksen was given time to play the ball from the right hand side and find Alli who had ghosted in between Cesar Azpilicueta and Victor Moses. Alli planted his header into the top right corner giving the keeper no chance.
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) January 6, 2017
A resurgent Chelsea looked to get a quick equaliser after the break but Alli got his second just ten minutes into the second half to all but end any hopes of a Chelsea comeback. It was almost identical to the first with Eriksen picking out Alli who once again ghosted between Azpilicueta and Moses to finish.
Alli has now scored six goals in his last three games. The England international has more goals than Sadio Mane and Eden Hazard and the same amount as his teammate Harry Kane. Alli is starting to show why there were comparisons last season to the likes of Frank Lampard and is becoming increasingly influential in the Spurs side.
Jermain Defoe (Sunderland)
A battling performance and some defensive errors saw Sunderland claim a draw against Liverpool.
Liverpool went in front twice during the match but defensive mistakes saw them concede two penalties, which allowed Jermain Defoe to help himself to another two goals.
Defoe netted the first penalty after 25 minutes striking the ball perfectly into the bottom left corner, following a foul on Didier N’Dong. Sadio Mane had looked like he would win the match for Liverpool with a goal 20 minutes from time but he then handballed a free kick in the penalty area to give Defoe another chance in the final five minutes. Defoe went to the same corner this time with more power and sent Simon Mignolet the wrong way to make the score 2-2 and clinch a draw.
Defoe’s work rate was as impressive as his penalties, with both him and Adnan Januzaj often pressurising the Liverpool backline and allowing the defence some respite from the relentless Liverpool attack. West Ham’s subsequent bid for Defoe was swiftly rejected.
Alfie Mawson (Swansea City)
A crucial battle at the bottom of the table saw Swansea City win 2-1 away to Crystal Palace.
That result saw Swansea move off the bottom of the table, just one point away from Crystal Palace who remain in 17th position. Sam Allardyce has now got one point from his first three matches in charge and may now realise the challenge he has at Selhurst Park.
Alfie Mawson was the star man for Swansea, scoring the opener and restricting the Palace attack to very few clear chances in just his 10th appearance for the club. Signed from Barnsley for £5.5 million in the summer, Mawson had rarely played above League One before moving to Swansea but has since established himself as a promising defender at just 22 years old.
His goal was a fairly simple one with no Palace defender picking up his run and Mawson flicking on a Gylfi Sigurdsson free kick into the bottom right corner. Both Mawson and his teammates were a lot more resolute than they have been in recent weeks and only allowed Palace three shots on target.
Robert Snodgrass (Hull City)
Honours were shared in the Friday night fixture at the KCOM Stadium as Hull City and Everton both struck twice.
Hull City went ahead twice in the match and involved in both goals was Hull’s best player of the season so far, Robert Snodgrass. Snodgrass has the quality that perhaps his teammates lack, whether that be a superb pass or a brilliant shot. The Scottish midfielder is always a threat from set pieces too and he proved it once again on Friday with both goals coming from them.
The first came after just six minutes. Snodgrass’ corner was flicked on at the near post by centre-back Curtis Davies and finished by his defensive partner Michael Dawson at the far post. A mistake from goalkeeper David Marshall meant Everton drew level, but midway through the second half Snodgrass produced a moment of quality to put his side back in front.
Hull won a free kick 25 yards out and Snodgrass had previously struck a similarly positioned free kick onto the bar just minutes earlier. This time he made no mistake, curling a strike into the top left corner of the net.
— Hull City (@HullCity) December 31, 2016
Snodgrass now has six goals this season. Hull, however, are the joint lowest scorers in the league and need to keep hold of Snodgrass, who may be the subject of interest in the January transfer window.
Andre Gray (Burnley)
David Moyes stated after the game that his side’s defending was poor in the game. You can see why he thought that – with all three of Gray’s goals being fairly simple.
Gray now has four goals in his last three games and after a difficult start to life in the Premier League looks to have found his scoring boots once more – much to the delight of Sean Dyche and the Burnley supporters.
Matt Phillips (West Brom)
📷 Matty Phillips' last nine @premierleague games…
✅ Four goals
✅ Five assists
— West Bromwich Albion (@WBA) January 2, 2017
West Bromwich Albion’s impressive form this season continued as they came from behind to beat Southampton 2-1 at St Mary’s. The result helped the Baggies leapfrog the Saints into 8th in the table.
Tonu Pulis’ team once again proved they can be an attacking threat when the shackles are off and summer signing Matt Phillips again impressed with a goal and an assist.
Phillips’ goal came less than two minutes after Shane Long had given Southampton the lead. Hal Robson-Kanu found Phillips on the edge of the box. The winger then showed great footwork to work the space to shoot with his favoured right foot and find the bottom right corner.
The assist for the winner really showed the quality that Phillips does possess, with a reverse through ball which sent through Robson-Kanu who emphatically found the top left corner from 20 yards. It was a wonderful goal and it meant the Baggies picked up all three points.
Olivier Giroud (Arsenal)
Goal Of The Game – The Olivier Giroud Show pic.twitter.com/CJEvRKViLB
— EmanDaGoon #MANDM (@EmanDaGoon) January 1, 2017
Arsenal started the game strongly with Giroud guilty of missing a great chance. The ball was played across the six yard box and the Frenchman failed to connect. Giroud made up for that miss though only moments later.
No description can do it justice. An Alexis Sanchez cross was played behind him, but he adjusted his body and connected with a scorpion kick which found the top corner. It was a breath-taking finish. Alex Iwobi added another in the second half to give Arsenal a deserved victory in a game where Palace rarely looked like scoring.
The stats after this game spoke for themselves. Giroud has now started and scored in his last three games for Arsenal. He might be forcing Arsene Wenger into a decision to make on whether the previously out-of-favour Frenchman once again becomes his regular forward.