So we’re halfway through the Premier League season and the shocks keep coming. The last round of Premier League fixtures of 2015 saw a seven-goal thriller and a bizarre goal, with a winger’s face.
At Selhurst Park, Crystal Palace and Swansea played out a goalless draw that both sides have very little to complain about. Both ‘keepers put in good performances and helped earn their sides points that benefit them very little in the short term. It was a similar story between two of the league’s frontrunners, with neither Leicester nor Manchester City carving out enough chances to earn all three points. Based on possession, the Foxes will probably be happier with the point than City.
Newcastle once again showed why they are in a relegation battle after another poor performance against West Brom. The Brummies themselves were pretty average but they deserved to win through a Darren Fletcher header. Another distinctively average team to take a 1-0 win was Liverpool, whose goal came from Christian Benteke. This came against another team who face the prospect of relegation: Sunderland.
The game of the weekend undoubtedly took place at Goodison Park where Everton and Stoke shared seven goals. The pick of which possibly came from Xherdan Shaqiri. I say possibly because it’s still hotly debated as to whether it was a shot or a cross. If it was a shot, it was genius. If it was a cross, it was awful. Romelu Lukaku’s double kept up his fine run of goalscoring form, taking him to 15 Premier League goals this season. And it was another week, another controversial decision from Mark Clattenburg, awarding Stoke a 90th minute penalty for John Stones’ challenge, despite the defender appearing to win the ball. Marko Arnautovic gleefully put it away to seal Stoke’s 4-3 win.
Another refereeing decision that turned the game was the decision to send off Watford’s Nathan Ake for his high challenge on Erik Lamela. This was a key factor in his side losing, beaten by Heung-Min Son’s last minute winner. The other North London side also continued their successful Premier League campaign, another win orchestrated by the brilliant Mesut Ozil. This one a 2-0 victory over Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth.
Aston Villa’s record of never being relegated from the Premier League looks to be coming to an end. A 2-0 defeat against a well organised Norwich side left them 11 points clear of safety. Two sides destined for mid-table are West Ham and Southampton, with the Hammers taking the three points at Upton Park. Michail Antonio scored the equaliser and one of the weirdest goals of the season, with his face. Yes, you read that right. The winner was scored by Andy Carroll, who was sporting a, let’s say interesting, hair cut.
The other game saw Jose Mourinho hailed by both sets of supporters at Old Trafford as Chelsea took on Manchester United. It was a slightly better performance from Louis van Gaal’s side however, and only Thibaut Courtois denied them all three points. Not to be outdone, United ‘keeper David de Gea pulled off a string of saves to keep the score at 0-0.
At the end of 2015, Arsenal sit top of the Premier League, but only just ahead of Leicester and Manchester City. Aston Villa continue to prop up the table, and they look destined for the drop.