The Premier League midweek fixtures had plenty of talking points. Here are the Winners and Losers from Matchweek 15. Bet on football here.
Marcus Rashford and Manchester United
Manchester United returned to winning ways with 2-1 win over Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham Hotspur. The Red Devils theme of performing against the top six sides was on display as they dominated Spurs. Marcus Rashford’s brilliant form continued after he struck the two goals. With a superb finish at the near post and a penalty, the Englishman was a constant menace throughout the game. United are now sixth with 21 points. Rashford has now scored nine goals in his last 10 games for United.
Liverpool’s back-up brigade
One of the most lingering questions about Liverpool’s title bid is their depth and how they could perform when the starters are injured. They answered that in emphatic fashion when they hammered Everton 5-2 in the Merseyside derby. Divock Origi and Xherdan Shaqiri excelled, filling the role of Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino perfectly. The display of their fringe players showed that the Reds have to depth to sustain a title challenge in a long season.
Southampton have won their last two games. Yes! That’s right. They beat bottom club, Watford, last Saturday and defeated 19th-placed Norwich City on Wednesday to move out of the relegation zone. Although the battle for survival is still a long one, they showed signs of recovery. They have a favourable run of fixtures this December. Their next three matches are against Newcastle, Aston Villa and West Ham. This gives them a chance to climb up the table.
Of the ten games played in midweek, seven of them saw the home teams emerge victorious. In Wednesday’s matches, all the five teams won their home matches. Crystal Palace’s win was more satisfying for the fans who watched their team play with ten men for nearly 70 minutes.
Marco Silva’s reign as Everton manager came to an end when he was dismissed on Thursday after 18 months in charge. His sacking was preceded by a 5-2 thwacking in the Merseyside derby which left Everton in the relegation zone. Silva, who took charge in May 2018, won 24 and lost 24 of his 60 games. Silva had entered the game under heavy pressure following consecutive defeats to Norwich City and Leicester. The embarrassing derby loss proved to be the final straw in what is a dreadful campaign so far.
The Gunners dismal season continued when they lost 2-1 to Brighton at the Emirates on Thursday night. This result was an embodiment of how dreadful the Gunners have been this season. The Seagulls dominated most of the proceedings in Freddie Ljungberg’s first home game. The performance against Brighton was poor by Arsenal standards which have fallen way below since Arsene Wenger left the club. Whether Ljungberg or another permanent appointment, it’s going to take time for the Gunners to get back into shape and start performing.
Officiating and VAR was at the centre of things this midweek. Sheffield United stopped playing when the linesman flagged Andy Carroll offside in the build-up to Newcastle United’s second goal at Bramall Lane. The VAR then gave the goal eliciting a furious response from fans and players in what is the most bizarre decision by the assistant this season. At the start of the season, the players were urged to play to the whistle. David Luiz thought he had given Arsenal a 2-1 lead against Brighton but VAR ruled out the goal, though correct, it took ages to come to that. VAR will continue to raise eyebrows in the league this season which will lead to many questions about its functionality
Bournemouth’s Premier League life has been defined by patches of good form and poor runs. At the moment, they are not that good. Eddie Howe’s team have lost four league matches in a row and won one of their last nine. Against Crystal palace on Tuesday, the Cherries played against ten men for 71 minutes and had just six shots. Questions have been raised on Howe’s ability to make his team perform consistently in the league. Can he turn things around?