Jesus gives Man City a Christmas miracle
When Jamie Vardy sensationally put Leicester ahead at the Etihad Stadium, the hush that descended suggested that Man City’s supporters believed that this was potentially the point their title challenge had ended.
It would’ve kept Pep Guardiola’s side 14 points behind Liverpool with the Reds also having a game in hand.
A swift response was required, and who else but former Foxes wide man, Riyad Mahrez, levelled on the half hour.
Thereafter, it was vintage City as they tore the visitors apart.
Ilkay Gundogan gave the hosts the lead just before half time with a penalty, with Gabriel Jesus adding a third with 20 left to play.
Were it not for Kasper Schmeichel, City’s 12 shots on target could’ve earned even more reward.
The result leaves these two sides just a point apart but Liverpool remain 10 clear heading into the festive fixtures.
Almiron finally opens his account
Another game that was drifting towards a 0-0 draw was lit up with seven minutes to play by Miguel Almiron.
The forward has been waiting an awful long time to get his name on the scoresheet for Newcastle, but when the chance fell to him, he didn’t need asking twice.
That it turned out to be the winner owes much to the excellence of Magpies goalkeeper, Martin Dubravka.
On at least three occasions, he was equal to anything that Crystal Palace threw at him, and he was never better than when denying Wilfried Zaha what would’ve been the opening goal.
Jonjo Shelvey had tried his luck from almost the half-way line in the first half, but his spectacular effort was too well hit.
On the balance of play, Newcastle were the better side, but Palace had the better chances, and Roy Hodgson will bemoan his strikers’ inability to finish.
De Gea hands Watford the three points
Just when you think things can’t get any worse for Manchester United.
This performance was abject, and the critics are rounding on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer now.
Against a team who’ve won once all season, and have scored eight goals less than the entire division bar Crystal Palace (who are still four goals better off), United couldn’t string two passes together.
They hadn’t even mustered a shot on goal in the opening half hour. Regardless of a ‘new manager bounce’ at Watford, that simply isn’t good enough for the Red Devils.
Jesse Lingard, who hasn’t scored or assisted for a year, had the perfect opportunity to put the visitors ahead at Vicarage Road, but chose a much more difficult lob – which landed on the roof of the net – rather than sliding the ball past the keeper in the one on one.
And United were made to pay in four second half minutes.
David De Gea, another who could do with some time out of the firing line, allowed a tame Sarr header to slip through his fingers on 50 minutes, before a reckless Wan Bissaka tackle gave Troy Deeney a chance from the spot on 54.
He made no mistake, meaning that the journey home for United and their supporters will be a long, hard one right before Christmas.
Willian’s double downs Mourinho
It was the game billed as the apprentice against the teacher, but at the end of 90 minutes it was Jose Mourinho thinking he could probably learn a thing or two from Frank Lampard.
His Chelsea side were vibrant, sharp in possession and always on the front foot, and Tottenham couldn’t match them in any department.
Willian gave the visitors the lead on 12 and they never looked like surrendering it at the new White Hart Lane. That, more than anything, will be a concern for the special one.
The Brazilian’s penalty in first-half injury time was no more than the Blues deserved, and any hopes the hosts had of a comeback were dashed just after the hour mark when Son Heung-min was sent off.
One shot on target for Spurs in the whole game speaks of Mourinho’s United rather than his free-flowing Madrid side, and with the festive fixtures immediately on the horizon, he will be expecting a vast improvement.
Lampard, meanwhile, continues to prove the doubters wrong, with Chelsea consolidating their fourth place.