Recently appointed managers
The main story of the week is Mikel Arteta’s first win in charge of Arsenal. Having taken one point from his first two games in charge, the Spaniard led the Gunners to a 2-0 victory against Manchester United. In contrast to their defeat to Chelsea just three days earlier, this time Arteta’s side held onto their first-half lead and recorded a first clean sheet at the Emirates in three months.
Elsewhere, David Moyes returned to West Ham with a 4-0 win against Bournemouth, with captain Mark Noble twice finding the net. It was the Irons’ first home win since late September. Watford manager Nigel Pearson registered a third win in five games since he took charge in December, taking the Hornets to just two points from safety.
England’s exciting midfielders
Despite having an early goal ruled out for yet another marginal offside infringement, Jack Grealish was the standout player as Aston Villa beat Burnley on Wednesday afternoon. The Villans skipper did get on the scoresheet before half time with a powerful drive, encouraging further calls for him to be included in the England senior squad. Not to be outdone, Leicester’s James Maddison scored an eye-catching goal of his own at Newcastle, firing in from the edge of the box with his weaker foot. Norwich’s Todd Cantwell, another attacking midfielder, scored his sixth goal of the season in his side’s draw with Crystal Palace. Euro 2020 is just months away and England manager Gareth Southgate has a tough decision to make.
Victory over Tottenham moved the Saints to 12th in the Premier League table, five points clear of the relegation zone. Danny Ings’ goal, his ninth in his last nine starts, was enough to put his side just six points behind fifth-placed Manchester United. Considering that they looked set for a relegation scrap just three weeks ago, these are signs of real encouragement for Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side.
Manchester United defence
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side had a night to forget at the Emirates and, although their forwards failed to find the net, it was the rear-guard that came in for the most criticism. David De Gea had already been lucky to go unpunished for a poor clearance before he failed to deal with a routine corner, allowing Sokratis to double Arsenal’s lead. Harry Maguire’s poor positioning played Sead Kolasinac onside for the Gunners’ opener, while team mate Victor Lindelof inadvertently assisted both of the hosts’ goals. Luke Shaw was unable to deal with the lively Nicolas Pepe and Aaron Wan Bissaka’s dive late on marred his performance. In short, there is room for improvement in all areas at the back.
The Cherries’ 4-0 defeat at West Ham was their eighth in ten league games and the fifth time in which they have failed to score in their last seven matches. That result, along with a win for Aston Villa, has sent them into the relegation zone. Their current run of four points from ten games is their joint worst since arriving in the Premier League in 2015. Eddie Howe’s side certainly have the quality to survive, but a change in fortune is needed sooner rather than later.
After back-to-back defeats for the first time since August, Newcastle’s luck went from bad to worse against Leicester. At 2-0 and with half time approaching, Steve Bruce was forced to make two substitutions due to injuries, while Jonjo Shelvey was removed at the break. At the start of the second half he was followed by Fabian Schar, who could not continue after pulling his hamstring. That meant the Magpies were left to play with just ten men. Bruce later bemoaned the busy festive schedule but, with Jamal Lascelles and Allan Saint-Maximin also sideline, he needs to find a solution.