Premier League Preview: Manchester United v Aston Villa

Ole Gunner Solskjaer’s 2nd placed Manchester United face Aston Villa on New Year’s Day and may have their work cut out if they are to keep up with league leaders Liverpool.

The Red Devil’s have steadily worked their way up the Premier League table in recent weeks and will be looking to continue their good run of form against a Villa side who are unbeaten in their last 5 games.

United haven’t tasted defeat since Arsenal visited Old Trafford on November 1st but Dean Smith’s Villains will be no walk in the park.

Villa come into the game off the back of a Jack Grealish inspired 1 all draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge that manager Dean Smith said showed his teams great character.

This ones bound to be a cracker and takes place on New Years Day at 8pm.

Manchester City return to training after no new positive Covid-19 tests

City retested their first-team squad and staff after Monday’s Premier League fixture at Everton was postponed due to previous positive tests for coronavirus.

City announced two players – Gabriel Jesus and Kyle Walker – as well as two members of staff had tested positive on Christmas Day. Three further positive tests were reported on Monday ahead of the scheduled game at Goodison Park.

More tests will take place later in the week, the results of which will determine whether Sunday’s trip to Chelsea and next Wednesday’s Carabao Cup semi-final at Manchester United can go ahead.

Spurs-Fulham off due to Covid-19 cases in Cottagers’ camp

The Cottagers returned a number of positive test results on Tuesday and after more came in on Wednesday the Premier League decided to call the match off less than three hours before the scheduled 6pm kick-off.

It becomes the third top-flight game to be wiped out by the virus, following Newcastle’s match with Aston Villa earlier this month and Monday’s game between Everton and Manchester City.

A Tottenham statement said: “The Premier League informed us of the decision this [Wednesday] afternoon, with Fulham having requested the postponement on the grounds of the number of Covid-19 positive cases among their players and staff.

“Everyone at Tottenham Hotspur sends their best wishes to Fulham for a safe and speedy recovery to all those who are affected.”

No new date for the game has been announced.

Marcus Rashford snatches dramatic Manchester United 1-0 win over Wolves

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side were forced to wait until the 93rd minute to edge out Wolves as Marcus Rashford’s strike secured a huge three points at Old Trafford.

Nuno Santo’s side actually started the brighter of the two sides with Pedro Neto and Ruben Neves testing David De Gea.

United had to wait until well into the second half to carve out their best opening as Bruno Fernandes’ drive brought the best from Rui Patricio.

But just as this one looked to be drifting off to a boring 0-0 the chance began to fly at both ends.

Rayan Alt-Nouri’s deflected effort kept De Gea sharp in the United goal before Paul Pogba blazed over from Fernandes square ball.

And Fernandes was right at the heart of it as Rashford nicked it in added time.

His long ball released the England star in behind and his powerful drive deflected past Patricio for the win.

Full Time at old Trafford it’s Manchester United 1 Wolves 0

Leeds United hammer West Brom 5-0 at The Hawthorns

On a night were Marcelo Bielsa’s side probably expected to be frustrated by Sam Allardyce’s hosts, they produced the best performance of 2020.

Four first half goals set the tone for a dominant display from Leeds as Bielsa’s squad returned to form at a critical moment to leave Allardyce facing a bleak January.

Despite Leeds looking slick right from kick off in the West Midlands, they were given a helping in the first few minutes, as Romain Sawyers netted a ridiculous own goal.

The Baggies defender completely misjudged Sam Johnstone’s position in behind as he chipped past his own keeper.

However, if there was a touch of comedy about Leeds’ opener there was no joking about with the second as Ezgjan Alioski smashed past Johnstone.

And there was no slowly down from there as the rampant visitors smelt blood, with Jack Harrison finishing off a flowing move and Rodrigo fired home a fourth.

Leeds did almost shoot themselves in the foot after the restart as Illan Meslier reacted quickly from an error to deny Matheus Pereira.

But in truth, Leeds had the Baggies are arms length again after the break, as Raphinha saved the best goal for last.

The Brazilian has caught the eye with some spectacular goals during his first few months in England and he bent home a superb effort to make it five.

Full Time at The Hawthorns it’s West Brom 0 Leeds United 5

Burnley deepen Sheffield United’s misery with 1-0 Turf Moor win

Chris Wilder’s miserable run stretches on into the New Year but the Clarets find themselves cruising away from the drop zone.

Burnley have forged a well-earned reputation of being tough to crack at home, and they were on the front foot early on, as Ashley Barnes tested Aaron Ramsdale.

And with Dyche’s team firmly on top in the first half, skipper Ben Mee nodded them in front before the break.

The Blades tried to make a fist of it after the restart, with David McGoldrick bringing a smart reflex stop from Nick Pope.

But the expected United onslaught never really materialised as they limped to another disappointing defeat.

Full Time at Turf Moor it’s Burnley 1 Sheffield United 0

Southampton and West Ham battle 0-0 Premier League draw

Both sides created chances to win it, but with no real cutting edge at either end, a draw will go down as fair.

With the game bogged down in midfield in the first 45 minutes, Ryan Fredericks’ header went down as the game’s first meaningful chance.

With Saints boss Ralph Hasenhuttl missing from the touchline, the hosts were unable to really get themselves going after the break, it was West Ham that created the better chances to win it.

In form Tomas Soucek proved again what a handful he can be as the Czech star brought a diving stop from Alex McCarthy.

But just as the game looked to drifting off towards a complete, Said Benrahma was presented with a golden opportunity inside the box, but McCarthy spread himself to preserve his clean sheet.

Full Time at the St.Mary’s Stadium it’s Southampton 0 West Ham 0

Arsenal secure crucial 1-0 Premier League win at Brighton

The Gunners will now kick off the New Year in 13th place after Alexandre Lacazette secured a vital three points.

Despite showing signs of moving in the right direction in recent weeks, the Gunners were second best in the first half, as Brighton created the better chances.

Alireza Jahanbakhsh’s low drive was the best Graham Potter’s team could muster in the first 45 with Bernd Leno equal to his effort.

Arteta’s side did slowly begin to turn the tide after the break as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang tested Robert Sanchez and Gabriel Martinelli fired over.

And as Arsenal found themselves in the ascendency late on, Lacazette grabbed his chance to put them in front.

Bukayo Saka’s driving run had the Brighton defence on the back foot and Lacazette collected his square ball to fire home.

Neither side were able to create a grandstand finish on the south coast as Arsenal grabbed back to back wins for the first time since the opening day.

Full Time at the Amex Stadium it’s Brighton 0 Arsenal 1

Premier League Preview: Newcastle United v Liverpool

The Reds slipped to a late draw against West Brom last time out, and with Everton and Manchester United breathing down their necks, Klopp needs a result on Tyneside.

The German coach rotated against the Baggies and he looks likely to tinker again to keep his options fresh with James Milner and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain potential starters in this one.

As for the hosts, Steve Bruce’s selection plans are still be governed by an ongoing Covid-19 outbreak at the club.

Jamal Lascelles and Allan Saint-Maximin are still sidelined for the Magpies, but Bruce can recall Callum Wilson and Jeff Hendrick.

And it’ll be a late start to complete this round of Premier League action with an 8pm kick off at St. James’ Park on December 30th.

Premier League Preview: Tottenham v Fulham

Jose Mourinho’s side have hit a bump in the road in December with just two points in their last four Premier League matches.

However despite that drop in form, the Portuguese boss is not expected to make sweeping changes as he looks to turn things around in North London.

Gareth Bale has joined the growing injury list at the club in recent days, but the returning Lucas Moura and Carlos Vinicius could push Mourinho for a starting spot.

As for Fulham, Parker will encouraged by their improving form in recent weeks, with four successive draws heading into this one.

And the ex Chelsea midfielder is likely to follow his former boss’ example with the absolute minimum changes to his team.

But on loan midfielder Mario Lemina could return to face Spurs after being ineligible to play against parent club Southampton last time out.

And it’s a 6pm Kick Off in this London derby on December 30th at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Premier League: Chelsea 1-1 Aston Villa

But Frank Lampard’s men could not get back to winning ways after their 3-1 loss at Arsenal on Boxing Day, to be left instead with just one victory in their last five league matches.

Villa, by contrast, extended their unbeaten run to five matches, to sit fifth in the table and hold off Chelsea in sixth.

Chelsea boss Lampard made six changes from the Boxing Day defeat at Arsenal but will have been frustrated not to receive the upswing in performance he had demanded.

Villa’s neat build-up play and compact work off the ball kept Chelsea pegged back regularly throughout a cagey opening half-hour.

But just when Villa were gearing up to be reasonably satisfied with their work, Chelsea finally strung together a move of purpose and incision.

The first true flowing attack from the Blues yielded the breakthrough, as Chilwell delivered the telling cross – and Giroud applied the deadly finish.

Villa snatched an equaliser shortly after the break to halt Chelsea’s momentum, though the legitimacy of the goal would be long debated.

El Ghazi tapped home at the far post but would arguably not have had the space to do so had Grealish been censured for his tackle on Christensen in the build-up.

Villa managed to see the rest of the game out, leaving Stamford Bridge with a 1-1 draw.

Manchester City vs Everton postponed due to COVID-19 outbreak

Three days after Kyle Walker and Gabriel Jesus were among four individuals to return positive tests the club announced another round of testing had “returned a number of positive cases”.

City lodged a request to postpone the match on Monday morning with confirmation coming around 4pm after a hastily-arranged Premier League board meeting.

“With the security of the bubble compromised, there posed a risk that the virus could spread further amongst the squad, the staff and potentially beyond,” said a statement from City.

“Based on strong medical advice the Premier League, in consultation with both clubs, has decided to postpone the fixture.”

The Premier League, in agreeing to the postponement, insisted the health of players and staff was paramount.

“The board agreed to rearrange the game as a precaution, and further testing will now take place tomorrow,” said a statement.

“The decision has been taken with the health of players and staff the priority.”

Second-placed Everton, who could have gone level on points with neighbours Liverpool at the top of the table with a victory, had no say in the decision to postpone the match.

Having to call off the game at such a late stage was also a huge disappointment to 2,000 supporters as Goodison Park is one of only two Premier League grounds – the other being Anfield – allowed to admit fans.