Luka Milivojevic

Grading every PL club’s festive season

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And exhale.

The Premier League’s festive season concluded Thursday with a sizzling second half draw between West Ham and Tottenham, 13 days after Arsenal and Liverpool got us started on our 40-match run with a 3-3 thriller at the Emirates Staidum.

[ WATCH: Twin stunners at Wembley ]

Forty matches!

We are not grading on a curve, but we are grading relative to seasonal needs.

Arsenal
Dec. 22 – vs. Liverpool, D 3-3
Dec. 28 – at Crystal Palace, W 3-2
Dec. 31 – at West Brom, D 1-1
Jan. 3 – vs. Chelsea, D 2-2

Unbeaten! But only one win! Arsenal can feel aggrieved at West Brom’s late penalty on New Year’s Eve, and those two points are the reason Arsene Wenger‘s men aren’t level on points with fifth place Spurs. All-in-all, though, these are respectable results. Grade: B.

Bournemouth
Dec. 23 – at Man City, L 0-4
Dec. 26 – vs. West Ham United, D 3-3
Dec. 30 – vs. Everton, W 2-1
Jan. 1 – at Brighton, D 2-2

There’s a reason Eddie Howe‘s name is tossed about as a prime prospect for bigger clubs, and a reason Jeff Mostyn and the Bournemouth administration don’t want him going anywhere. The performances are coming around for the Cherries. Grade B-.

Brighton and Hove Albion
Dec. 23 – vs. Watford, W 1-0
Dec. 26 – at Chelsea, L 0-2
Dec. 30 – at Newcastle United, D 0-0
Jan. 1 – vs. Bournemouth, D 2-2

Chris Hughton‘s doing a very good job at the Amex Stadium, and the fortnight went alright for him. Three points above the drop and a goal scorer from feeling safe. Grade B.

Burnley
Dec. 23 – vs. Spurs, L 0-3
Dec. 26 – at Manchester United, D 2-2
Dec. 30 – at Huddersfield Town, D 0-0
Jan. 1 – vs. Liverpool, L 1-2

A brutal run of opponents is hard, and shows that the Clarets were a bit of a mirage. Still a fantastic season, but only a Top Seven contender if Everton and Leicester City drop the ball. Grade C.

Chelsea
Dec. 22 – at Everton, D 0-0
Dec. 26 – vs. Brighton, W 2-0
Dec. 30 – vs. Stoke City, W 5-0
Jan. 3 – at Arsenal, D 2-2

The Blues will take the draw at Arsenal given that Thibaut Courtois‘ many saves offset Alvaro Morata’s several misses. The Everton one, however, stings and stops the Blues from taking advantage of Manchester United’s draw-heavy December. Grade: B

Crystal Palace
Dec. 22 – at Swansea City, D 1-1
Dec. 28 – vs. Arsenal, L 2-3
Dec. 31 – vs. Man City, D 0-0
Jan. 2 – at Southampton, W 2-1

There’s a lot to like here, especially considering the Eagles probably deserved a point against the Gunners. The draw at Swans is poor considering how well Roy Hodgson‘s had the Eagles playing, but is worth overlooking at this point considering Palace ended City’s 18-match win streak (and were a saved Luka Milivojevic penalty away from ending the prospect of an unbeaten season). Grade A-.

(Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Everton
Dec. 23 – vs. Chelsea, D 0-0
Dec. 26 – at West Brom, D 0-0
Dec. 30 – at Bournemouth, L 1-2
Jan. 1 – vs. Man Utd, L 0-2

The Chelsea draw is great, and Sam Allardyce is right that he’s operating without a good striker, but this was not a good period. The loss at Bournemouth could be a blip, but the Toffees were second best at a very poor West Brom side. Grade D+.

Huddersfield Town
Dec. 23 – at Southampton, D 1-1
Dec. 26 – vs. Stoke City, D 1-1
Dec. 30 – vs. Burnley, D 0-0
Jan. 1 – at Leicester City, L 0-3

Depends on how you view David Wagner‘s men, really. Are they overachievers who still should be fearing the drop, or are they a quality side who should be competing for a top half spot? We think the latter, and that makes the home draw vs. Stoke extra disappointing. Grade C.

Leicester City
Dec. 23 – vs. Manchester United, D 2-2
Dec. 26 – at Watford, L 1-2
Dec. 30 – at Liverpool, L 1-2
Jan. 1 – vs. Huddersfield Town, W 3-0

That Watford loss is just sitting there, looking out of place. Beating the Terriers and starting United’s rough patch is a good combination. Grade B-.

Liverpool
Dec. 22 – at Arsenal, D 3-3
Dec. 26 – vs. Swans, W 5-0
Dec. 30 – vs. Leicester City, W 2-1
Jan. 1 – at Burnley, W 2-1

Still humming, beat two decent teams without hemorrhaging goals, and played one of the thrillers of the season. Help coming in Virgil Van Dijk, but Jurgen Klopp improved his defense before the Dutchman signed at Anfield. Grade: A.

Manchester City
Dec. 22 – vs. Bournemouth, W 4-0
Dec. 27 – at Newcastle United, W 1-0
Dec. 31 – at Crystal Palace, D 0-0
Jan. 2 – vs. Watford, W 3-1

Taking 10 of 12 points is pretty good, though Pep Guardiola will feel stung to have seen his 18-match win streak come one short of the mark he set while at Bayern Munich. Grade: A-

Manchester United
Dec. 23 – at Leicester City, D 2-2
Dec. 26 – vs. Burnley, D 2-2
Dec. 30 – vs. Southampton, D 0-0
Jan. 1 – at Everton, W 2-0

Just not acceptable. Yes the fixtures came fast, but they also continued a run in which United didn’t really seem to have a plan other than possession. Grade: C-

Newcastle United
Dec. 23 – at West Ham United, W 3-2
Dec. 26 – vs. Manchester City, L 0-1
Dec. 30 – vs. Brighton, D 0-0
Jan. 1 – at Stoke City, W 1-0

Seven points, and a Dwight Gayle missed header away from going through the festive season unbeaten? Not bad, though the Brighton draw was less than exceptional. Grade: B-

(Owen Humphreys/PA via AP)

Southampton
Dec. 23 – vs. Huddersfield Town, D 1-1
Dec. 26 – at Spurs, L 2-5
Dec. 30 – at Man Utd, D 0-0
Jan. 2 – vs. Crystal Palace, L 1-2

Giving points to, at best, a pair of mid-table rivals and, at worst, a pair of relegation scrappers, is not good. The Red Devils draw boosts Mauricio Pellegrino‘s grade just a tad. Grade: D

Stoke City
Dec. 23 – vs. West Bromwich Albion, W 3-1
Dec. 26 – at Huddersfield Town, D 1-1
Dec. 30 – at Chelsea, L 0-5
Jan. 1 – vs. Newcastle, L 0-1

Funny how one match can swing the whole tenor of a quartet, as the loss to fellow scrapper Newcastle colors it in a big way. Grade: C.

Swansea City
Dec. 23 – vs. Crystal Palace, D 1-1
Dec. 26 – at Liverpool, L 0-5
Dec. 30 – at Watford, W 2-1
Jan. 2 – vs. Spurs, L 0-2

Still dead last in the Premier League, but three of Swans’ four opponents were very much in form. Throw in a managerial change, and the grade should probably be a bit higher. Grade B-.

Tottenham Hotspur
Dec. 23 – at Burnley, W 3-0
Dec. 26 – vs. Southampton, W 5-2
Jan. 2 – at Swans, W 2-0
Jan. 4 – vs. West Ham, D 1-1

The draw coming how it did — outshooting a rival 31-3 — makes the fact that Spurs are the only club who could’ve bettered Man City’s festive season even more bitter. Still, a great run. Grade: A- 

Watford
Dec. 23 – at Brighton and Hove Albion, L 0-1
Dec. 26 – vs. Leicester City, W 2-1
Dec. 30 – vs. Swans, L 1-2
Jan. 2 – at Man City, L 1-3

Marco Silva‘s star doesn’t seem as shiny as it did when Watford was turning down Everton interest, and two of these losses were pretty bothersome. Five points above the drop zone now. Not great given the parity in the league. Grade C-.

West Bromwich Albion
Dec. 23 – at Stoke City, L 1-3
Dec. 26 – vs. Everton, D 0-0
Dec. 31 – vs. Arsenal, D 1-1
Jan. 2 – at West Ham, L 1-2

Still winless since August. Didn’t deserve to get a point against Arsenal, but deserved three versus Everton. Need attacking help. Grade C-.

West Ham United
Dec. 23 – vs. Newcastle United, L 2-3
Dec. 26  – at Bournemouth, D 3-3
Jan. 2 – vs. West Brom, W 2-1
Jan. 4 – at Spurs, D 1-1

You’d say bang average, but it’s difficult to overlook that the Irons have climbed out of the drop zone. Grade C+.

Southampton 1-2 Crystal Palace: Eagles seal comeback win

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  • Just 1 defeat in 11 for Palace
  • Saints without a win in nine
  • Eagles climb to 14th in PL table

Crystal Palace fought back to beat Southampton 2-1 at a soggy St Mary’s Stadium on Tuesday.

Saints took the lead via Shane Long early in the game but Palace scored twice in 11 minutes in the second half to turn the games on its head. James McArthur grabbed the equalizer and Luka Milivojevic scored a superb winner to bag all three points for Palace.

With the win Palace move on to 22 points for the season, while Saints remain on 20 points and are only out of the bottom three on goal difference with just four wins in 22 PL games this season.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ] 

Saints started well with Long and Dusan Tadic going close with the former blazing over inside the first 30 seconds.

The home side continue to do most of the pressing with Pierre Emile Hojbjerg having a fine long-range effort tipped over by Wayne Hennessey.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Long ended his long drought in front of goal in emphatic fashion as Ryan Bertrand‘s cross missed everyone, then Jeremy Pied picked out Long to hammer home the opener. 1-0 to Saints as Long scored his first goal in 36 games for club and country. Relief.

Palace did threaten on the break with Yohan Cabaye, Wilfried Zaha and Christian Benteke combining well at times but the Eagles failed to create a clear cut chance in the first half in the wind and rain.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ] 

The Eagles made a switch at half time with Cabaye coming off and Patrick Van Aanholt coming on as Palace switched to a 4-4-2.

Former Palace goalkeeper Alex McCarthy saved superbly from Benteke’s deflected shot as the English goalkeeper came up big in his first PL start at St Mary’s.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Palace deservedly equalized with 20 minutes to go as Townsend’s ball into the box was nodded down by Benteke and McArthur arrived to make it 1-1.

Soon after they were ahead as Milivojevic curled home a beauty to make it 2-1 and they held on comfortably with Zaha almost scoring a third with a volley.

Disaster for Southampton. Jubilation for Palace.

Crystal Palace 0-0 Man City: Record winning streak ends

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Manchester City’s record-breaking run of consecutive wins ended at 18 as they drew 0-0 at Crystal Palace on New Year’s Eve.

The Premier League leaders hit the post in the first half at Selhurst Park and huffed and puffed but failed to break down a stubborn Palace side.

City almost lost late on as Ederson saved Luka Milivojevic‘s penalty kick in stoppage time to keep City’s unbeaten run alive.

With the point City stretch their lead atop the PL table to 14 points, while Palace are out of the relegation zone on 19 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ] 

Palace almost took the lead early on after a mix up between Eliaquim Mangala and Ederson following a long ball, but Mangala managed to block Christian Benteke‘s effort with the goal open. A big let off for City.

Two injuries in the first half disrupted the flow of the game with Scott Dann stretchered off after taking out Kevin De Bruyne in a tackle, while Gabriel Jesus limped off in tears after hurting his knee earlier in the game.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Aguero came on for Jesus and made an immediate impact as he ran at Palace’s defense and his shot deflected off Jairo Riedewald and hit the post.

City struggled to get into their stride for the rest of the first half as Palace looked dangerous on the break.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

In the second half City pushed for an opener with Ilkay Gundogan curling an effort just wide and Aguero having a header saved.

Wayne Hennessey then made a great stop to deny Leroy Sane at the back post from Raheem Sterling‘s searching cross.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Late on Andros Townsend sidefooted over the bar after a great move from Palace tore City’s defense open, then Zaha won a penalty kick in stoppage time after going down under a challenge from Sterling.

Ederson saved Milivojevic’s spot kick and from the resulting break Jason Puncheon launched into a horrible tackle on Kevin de Bruyne as both players left the pitch on a stretcher.

Swans 1-1 Crystal Palace: Spoils split at Swansea

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  • Palace converts penalty
  • Swans level through Ayew beauty
  • Swansea remains 20th

Jordan Ayew scored a sensational second half goal to give Swansea City a share of the points in a 1-1 draw with Crystal Palace at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday.

Luka Milivojevic converted a penalty for Palace’s lone goal.

Swans finish the day four points back of 17th place West Ham, while Palace is two points ahead of the drop.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Tammy Abraham thought he’d played Luciano Narsingh in for a penalty kick, but the referee was unmoved when Jeff Schlupp‘s challenge took down the Dutchman.

An uncharacteristic bumble from Wilfried Zaha in the Swans’ box stopped Palace from a 34th minute lead. And the Ivorian just missed with a toe poke redirection in the 41st.

Yohan Cabaye lorded over a stoppage time free kick, but a training ground routine for Zaha did not yield a dangerous cross.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek sold a penalty kick, and Palace had a chance to go ahead in the 59th minute. Milivojevic finished with power.

Swans started to buzz as the half wore on, and Ayew gave Swans a deserved equalizer on a day his brother scored back in London. Ayew worked around a defender and let fly an arrow to level the score.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Premier League roundup: Foxes flying again

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Leicester City’s entertaining win over Newcastle United at St. James’ Park wasn’t just a fun way to end the Premier League day, it was a clarion call that the 2015-16 Premier League champions have their act very much together.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

That win, along with a Tottenham blowout and West Ham’s upset of Chelsea, conspired to make Saturday’s appetizers for a double derby Sunday quite tasty.

Newcastle United 2-3 Leicester CityRECAP

A thriller at St. James’ Park ended with Leicester City now a very real part of the race for the Top Seven. Joselu put Newcastle ahead 1-0 and Dwight Gayle answered a pair of Leicester goals — including another wonderful marker from Riyad Mahrez. But a point was not to be had for Rafa Benitez, as Ayoze Perez scored an own goal to give the Foxes all three points and eighth place in the Premier League.

Claude Puel is now 4W-2D-1L as Leicester City manager, and have won three straight. Next up? A reunion with Southampton at St. Mary’s.

West Ham United 1-0 ChelseaRECAP

David Moyes‘ Hammers have built on their near upset of Manchester City, using a Marko Arnautovic goal to harm Chelsea’s Top Four hopes. The Austrian’s goal was his first for West Ham, and moves the club nearer to safety. Chelsea could finish the weekend as low as fourth if Liverpool wins the Merseyside Derby.

Swansea City 1-0 West Bromwich AlbionRECAP

Wilfried Bony‘s second half goal gave Paul Clement‘s Swans a much-needed win and kept West Bromwich Albion winless since August.

Burnley 1-0 WatfordRECAP

The 10-man Hornets didn’t play like they were down a man, but failed to find the answer for Scott Arfield‘s opener. Burnley’s now six points clear of Watford and still in the Top Four mix.

Crystal Palace 2-2 BournemouthRECAP

Christian Benteke seized a stoppage time penalty against managerial direction, and promptly saw it saved by Asmir Begovic. That left Palace in 20th instead of 18th. Bournemouth dodges a bullet thanks to a pair of solid goals from Jermain Defoe, while Palace’s goals came from a Luka Milivojevic penalty and a Scott Dann in-tight finish.

Huddersfield Town 2-0 Brighton and Hove AlbionRECAP

Steve Mounie refound his early season form to lead the Terriers to all three points in a battle of newly-promoted sides at the John Smith’s Stadium.

Tottenham Hotspur 5-1 Stoke CityRECAP

If Spurs’ slump wasn’t officially ended by a 3-0 win over APOEL Nicosia, it’s dead and buried by a four-goal blowout of Stoke City. Harry Kane scored twice while Heung-Min Son and Christian Eriksen added to a Stoke own goal in the win.