Which teams ‘won’ the busy festive period in the Premier League? Who were the big losers?
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With four games played in the space of 10 days the action came thick and fast and teams up and down the league either improved their standing drastically or slumped to set up contrasting emotions heading into the second half of the season.
The likes of Man City, Chelsea, Man United and Arsenal have had a topsy-turvy festive period with each of them taking one step forward then one step back.
Below we take a look at the big winners and losers from across the Premier League.
Watford: My word, who saw this coming!? Nigel Pearson has had a superb impact as Watford’s new manager, with fine displays against Liverpool, Man United, Sheffield United, Aston Villa and Wolves. Beating Man United, Villa and Wolves was a huge boost and the Hornets look much more solid defensively and Troy Deeney‘s return to fitness has given their attack a huge boost. There is still plenty of work for Watford to do in the coming months but after just one win in their opening 17 games of the season they’ve now won three of their last four. We all knew that Watford’s squad had the quality to be in the top 10 of the Premier League but they now have the structure to get themselves out of trouble in their battle against relegation. A simply amazing festive period for the Hornets.
Southampton: Talking of amazing festive periods, Southampton probably enjoyed the best and it equally came out of nowhere. Saints enjoyed convincing shutout wins against Chelsea and Tottenham, hammered relegation rivals Aston Villa and drew against Crystal Palace when they should have won. Ever since the 9-0 hammering at home against Leicester City they have looked a different team with Ralph Hasenhuttl going back to basics and Saints have improved drastically at the back. Danny Ings is on fire and is the form striker in the Premier League, so that helps too, but Saints have played so well over the last few months and probably should have more points on the board than they have right now. With Jan Bednarek and Jack Stephens forming a great central defensive partnership, Ings scoring goals and the likes of Moussa Djenepo and Nathan Redmond impressing, Saints have found a winning formula and they should be pushing for the top 10 instead of being in a relegation scrap in the final months of the season.
Liverpool: They’ve had a perfect season and as many predicted Liverpool would falter in a busy festive period which saw them travel to Qatar to win the Club World Cup they didn’t miss a beat. Jurgen Klopp‘s side are a ruthless winning machine and they’ve been that way all season long as they’ve not always been at their best but they remain unbeaten. They hammered second-place Leicester to set the tone and outlasted a spirited Wolves at Anfield to underline the fact they can win however they want, whenever they want. The festive period is crucial in deciding the title race and this one has looked lopsided for a while and looks even more so. Trent Alexander-Arnold, Roberto Firmino, Naby Keita and Alisson have been particularly brilliant as new heroes keep stepping up.
Tottenham: Jose Mourinho’s first proper meltdown as Tottenham’s manager took 42 days to arrive. But there’s no wonder it did after this festive period. Spurs lost at home to Chelsea to kick things off, then narrowly beat Brighton after being outplayed, drew at Norwich when they should have lost, then lost at Southampton after a torrid display. Add to that Heung-Min Son being sent off against Chelsea to miss the festive games and Harry Kane then getting injured as he was forced to play each game due to Son’s absence and it was an awful holiday season for Spurs. Even though other top four hopefuls struggled, Spurs sit six points from the Champions League spots. Even though he’s back in a job in the Premier League, there was little festive cheer in the Mourinho household this holiday season.
Bournemouth: The Cherries are in the bottom three and Eddie Howe’s injury-hit side look so short on confidence as their usual attacking flair has disappeared. Add in their defensive injuries and Bournemouth are in serious trouble and in serious danger of relegation. Each season there is always one team which drops from midtable to be embroiled in the battle at the bottom and it looks like Bournemouth are that team. Defeats to West Ham, Brighton and Burnley over the festive period, all without scoring a goal, underlined the huge problems they have with Callum Wilson, Ryan Fraser and Josh King stone cold in front of goal. Bournemouth’s defensive issues were always papered over by the fact that could score three or four each game. That is no longer the case and since they were promoted in 2015 this will be their most serious battled against the drop.
Norwich City: No wins in their last eight games and VAR was not helpful to them in their draws at home against Spurs and Crystal Palace. Daniel Farke‘s side have been playing well but not getting results and that is the most demoralizing thing as they have now been cut adrift at the bottom of the table and are seven points from safety. Teemu Pukki, Todd Cantwell and Emiliano Beundia continue to create chances and scored goals between them but defensive mistakes have cost Norwich all season long and they just aren’t able to see out games they should win.