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Southampton cruise past Palace

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Southampton continued their incredible run of form as they cruised past Crystal Palace and won 2-0 at Selhurst Park.

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The scoreline didn’t reflect the dominance of Ralph Hasenhutt’s side as Nathan Redmond and Stuart Armstrong scored stunners in each half to grab all three points.

With the win Saints move up to ninth on 31 points as they jump ahead of Palace who have 30 points.


3 things we learned

1. Away day specialists do it again: Southampton have now won five Premier League games in a row away from home. They’ve beat Aston Villa, Chelsea, Leicester City and now Palace on the road as Ralph Hasenhuttl‘s side are so lethal on the counter and seem to catch teams out. Their intense pressure pins their opponents back and the pace of Obafemi and Redmond was too much for Palace to handle. Six of their nine PL wins have come away from home and if they could somehow replicate this form at home, they will be battling for a top four finish. Southampton have won 65 percent of their points in away games this season (20/31), the highest such ratio in the PL.

2. Palace’s lackluster attack needs an upgrade: Zaha had an off day out wide but Ayew and Tosun ahead of him missed chances and didn’t look sharp at all. Palace brought in Tosun on loan and he blazed a great chance over at 0-0 and he probably isn’t the answer to their goalscoring woes. Only Watford have scored fewer than Palace’s 22 goals from 24 games and Roy Hodgson was a disgruntled figure at the final whistle. His squad have been stretched to its limits and hit by injuries and their exploits away at Man City on Saturday hit them hard.

3. Saints’ squad stronger than they think: With Cedric going down injured during the game, Jan Bednarek out injured and Danny Ings rested, perhaps Saints don’t need to do business this month. Maybe a new right back would be good, but aside from that Obafemi played well and Vestergaard was solid enough aside from one scary moment.

Man of the Match: Stuart Armstrong – The Scotsman was everywhere and had so many shots and he finally curled home a beauty. He has been a big part of Saints’ resurgence since they switched to a 4-2-2-2 formation. A special mention to James Ward-Prowse, who had to slot over to right back to replace the injured Cedric and shut down Wilfried Zaha.


Southampton started really well and had plenty of possession as Palace sat back and soaked up the pressure.

The first big chance of the game came via a counter attack as Jannik Vestergaard intercepted the ball but was caught in possession as Cenk Tosun went through on goal but blazed over.

Cedric and Shane Long both went down with injuries early on and Southampton’s Portuguese right back came off injured with Oriol Romeu coming on.

Moments after that sub Southampton took the lead as Redmond turned Martin Kelly inside out, then rifled a superb effort into the far top corner to give the visitors a deserved 1-0 lead.

Vicente Guaita then denied Stuart Armstrong’s deflected effort as he tipped it over the bar and the Scotsman dragged another effort wide as Saints dominate the first half.

Saints hit Palace on the break and Redmond set Long clean through but the Irish striker got his first touch all wrong and the ball went out of play, then Long’s flicked header went just wide.

VAR reviewed an incident on the break as Wilfried Zaha clashed with Ward-Prowse and appeared to put his hand in the face of the Southampton man.

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Palace started the second half well as Tosun headed wide after good work down the left with James Ward-Prowse a growing influence in the game.

Saints doubled their lead in spectacular fashion as Redmond worked the ball inside and teed up Armstrong who curled home from distance to send the away fans wild.

Vestergaard almost made it 3-0 as his flick from a set piece almost looped in, then Long shot straight at Guaita from a great position.

Substitute Connor Wickham was played in by fellow sub Max Meyer but he couldn’t control the ball in a good situation and subs Danny Ings smashed over from an offside position as Saints eased to victory.

Late drama galore as Palace hold Man City

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Crystal Palace scored a 90th minute equalizer to draw 2-2 at Man City on Saturday.

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Cenk Tosun had given Palace an early lead and it looked like that would be enough but Sergio Aguero struck twice in the final 10 minutes to put City 2-1 up, then Wilfried Zaha‘s run and cross was bundled into his own net by Fernandinho as the Eagles snatched a point.

With the draw Man City momentarily close the gap on Liverpool at the top of the table to 13 points but Liverpool have two games in hand. Palace sit in ninth place on 30 points.


3 things we learned

1. City’s set piece problem: Palace’s first goal summed up the issues City are having each game due to their lack of fit and in-form defenders. Gary Cahill rose above City;’s defense and Tosun was left unmarked to head home his header. For all of City’s stunning play on the ball, defensively they always look vulnerable from set piece situations. That is why they are so far off Liverpool.

2. Zaha leads Palace: Over the last few months Zaha has been superb and he really is taking games by the scruff of the beck. Palace have lost just one of their last 10 and are tough to beat and Zaha and his teammates never give up. Saturday was the perfect example of that as his probing run and cross set up the equalizer and he was a constant threat.

3. Title race will be over on Sunday: Anybody who had a slight feeling that City could get themselves back in the title race will now be feeling otherwise. Liverpool are 13 points clear of second place City and have two games in hand. Liverpool have been superb but City are dropping so many needless points.

Man of the Match: Wilfried Zaha – His running, passing, crosses and general play was just stunning. Maybe he’s playing for a move away? Maybe he’s finally settled after a unsettled summer.


Man City dominated early on as Aguero’s free kick was saved by Vicente Guaita.

Kevin De Bruyne hit the crossbar from a free kick as Man City battered Palace, but the Eagles felt they should have had a penalty kick as Wilfried Zaha went down in the box. But VAR was used and said no penalty.

Palace took the lead from a set piece situation as a corner was headed across goal by Gary Cahill and Tosun nodded home his first Palace goal on his first start for the Eagles.

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Sterling curled just wide as City worked hard to get back in the game, with Aguero’s shot into the ground finding Bernardo Silva but his shot was saved by Guaita.

On the break Palace almost doubled their lead as Zaha found Tosun but his shot was saved by Ederson.

A huge moment of controversy then arrived as a penalty kick was awarded for a handball against Jairo Riedewald but VAR looked at the decision and overturned it as the ball his his leg first, then deflected onto his hand.

Man City did grab a deserved equalizer as a Gabriel Jesus cross to the back post found Aguero who finished.

Late on City laid siege to the Palace goal and they went ahead. Aguero struck in the 87th minute as Benjamin Mendy whipped in a lovely cross and the Argentine nodded home his second in five minutes to complete the turnaround but more late drama followed.

Zaha raced down the left wing and crossed into the box as Fernandinho could do nothing but put the ball into his own net to make it 2-2.

10-man Arsenal held at Crystal Palace

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10-man Arsenal had to settle on for a point at Crystal Palace on Saturday as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang put them in front but was sent off via VAR as Jordan Ayew‘s second half effort grabbed a 1-1 draw for the hosts at Selhurst Park.

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Aubameyang’s opener capped off a dominant first half from Mikel Arteta‘s Gunners but Palace improved after the break as Roy Hodgson‘s side battled hard and Ayew’s equalizer was deserved.

With the point Palace remain one point and one place ahead of Arsenal in ninth in the Premier League table.


3 things we learned

1. Arteta has front four purring: Pepe, Lacazette, Aubameyang and Ozil were on the same wavelength throughout as three of the four combined to set up Arsenal’s opening goal. From clever flicks to runs which were found by one another, Arteta seems to have found a way to get Arsenal’s top four attacking talents in the team at the same time. Even if their recent defensive improvement doesn’t last, if their front four continue to shine they will pick up plenty of points.

2. Zaha non-existent: Ainsley Maitland-Niles did a job on Zaha as the Palace winger decided to keep passing backwards instead of taking on the Arsenal defense. Maitland-Niles didn’t dive in and matched Zaha yard for yard out wide as he passed a big test in his development as a right back. Zaha, who is being linked heavily with a move to Chelsea this month, looked like his mind was elsewhere on Saturday.

3. VAR gets sending off correct, swings game in Palace’s favor: Aubameyang caught Max Meyer with a nasty tackle above his ankle and Arsenal’s captain was initially booked but VAR was used to upgrade the punishment to a red card. As the incident was shown on the big screen at Selhurst Park after the decision had been confirmed, the boos and winces from the crowd said it all. Aubameyang caught him high and the reason given for issuing a red card was the “intensity and point of contact” of the challenge. Aubameyang, Arsenal’s top goalscorer, will now be out for three games unless the Gunners appeal successfully. Had they not had Aubameyang sent off, Arsenal would probably have found a way to win this game but instead they grabbed a gritty point away from home.

Man of the Match: Either of Arsenal full backs, Maitland-Niles or Kolasinac, deserved this but I’m going with Maitland-Niles. He’s not a natural right back but he kept Palace’s most dangerous, and coveted, player quiet with Zaha hardly having a kick all game long. Superb individual defending.


Arsenal put Palace under pressure from the first whistle and that paid off.

Aubameyang finished after a flowing 18-pass move to give the Gunners the lead inside the first 15 minutes as Arteta celebrated on the sidelines.

The Gunners continued to impress in the first half as Pepe, Ozil, Lacazette and Aubameyang stretched Palace’s defense with their movement and clever interplay. David Luiz was also a key figure in their dominance as his distribution out of the back consistently set up attacks.

Cheikhou Kouyate had a shot straight at Bernd Leno which the Arsenal goalkeeper collected at the second attempt as Palace finally got a foothold in the game.

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At half time Matteo Guendouzi replaced Lucas Torreira in Arsenal’s midfield and in the second half Palace wrestled back some control on the game.

Ayew made the most of their pressure as his shot deflected off Luiz after hesitant defending, and set up a thrilling last 30 minutes.

Pepe’s brilliant corner was flicked just over by Luiz as Arsenal pushed hard for an equalizer late on.

Arsenal were reduced to 10 men for the final 20 minutes as VAR intervened and upgraded Aubameyang’s initial yellow card to a red as the Arsenal skipper caught Max Meyer high above his ankle.

Sokratis somehow cleared off the line as Palace threw everything at the 10 men of Arsenal late on, but the Gunners almost nicked all three points as Pepe’s shot was superbly tipped onto the post by Vicente Guaita then Palace’s goalkeeper bravely saved Lacazette’s follow up.

Palace grab VAR-assisted draw at Norwich

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Norwich City were pegged back late on by Crystal Palace to draw 1-1 as VAR once again denied the Canaries victory in the Premier League.

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Todd Cantwell gave them a deserved lead but they squandered several chances and Connor Wickham then had a goal awarded via VAR after it was initially given offside on the pitch.

With the point Norwich stay bottom of the table on 14 points and are seven points from safety, while Palace are on 28 points and remain in the hunt for Europe.


3 things we learned

1. Zaha wins superb battle with Aarons: This was a great battle between a winger and full back as Aarons got the better of Zaha in the first half but Zaha’s quality shone through late on to create the equalizer. Aarons caught Zaha with a meaty challenge in the second half and that showed that he was getting tired. Zaha got better the longer the game went on and as rumors circulate that Chelsea want to push hard to sign him in January, his recent form proves he is one of the best out-and-out wingers in the PL. If not the best. Aarons, just 19 years, will also be a man in demand at the end of this season as a price tag of $55 million has been slapped on his head. On this viewing it is easy to understand why.

2. VAR hits Norwich again: They had decisions go against them in their 2-2 draw against Tottenham and Norwich were again hit by VAR. Wickham was onside by an outstretched kneecap and the Canaries will be cursing their luck as they had ample chances to put the game to bed when they were 1-0 up. VAR correctly ruled the goal onside and it denied Norwich a big win on a day when plenty of other teams around them at the bottom secured victories.

3. Canaries cut adrift: Norwich are now seven points adrift at the bottom and Daniel Farke‘s side are starting to show that they have the lowest budget in the Premier League. They’ve now gone eight games without a win and they are so close to turning draws into victories but that extra bit of quality just isn’t there. Do they spend big in January to try and stay up? Or do they call it quits and build for another promotion push? Probably the latter as they are becoming the ultimate yo-yo team.

Man of the Match: Emiliano Buendia – Set up the first goal, made Norwich tick and although he faded a little, he has real quality on the ball. He will be in the PL next season, but maybe not with Norwich.


Norwich got off to a perfect start as Emiliano Buendia and Cantwell combined and after the former had a shock blocked, the ball fell to the latter who finished to send Carrow Road wild.

Pukki then had a goal correctly chalked off for being offside as the Canaries were slick in attack and causing Crystal Palace’s banged up defense plenty of problems with their movement.

The Eagles played their way into the game with Wilfried Zaha their main target but he was involved in a tough battle with young Norwich right back Max Aarons.

Palace had a huge chance to equalize just before half time as Jairo Riedewald was played in but decided to pass instead of having a shot and James McArthur‘s shot was superbly blocked with Tim Krul out of his goal.

Zaha was a growing influence in the game but Norwich almost doubled their lead but James Tomkins defended Pukki well and Aarons then pulled a shot wide.

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In the second half Palace dominated the play as Norwich sat back and tried to manage the game.

Vicente Guaita saved superbly from Buendia’s free kick ahead of a tense final 30 minutes in Norfolk. Max Meyer turned well but his low shot lacked the power to concern Tim Krul.

Alex Tettey‘s shot was deflected wide and Mario Vrancic couldn’t convert at the near post as the game turned into an end-to-end encounter, as Jordan Ayew‘s cross somehow evaded everyone as Palace pushed hard for a late equalizer.

Norwich hit the crossbar through Kenny McLean as they poured forward but at the other end Luka Milivojevic‘s free kick was flicked on by a Norwich defender and somehow missed every single Palace player as it went out for a corner.

Zaha flashed a few wild efforts off target and he then got the better of Aarons and whipped in a superb cross which substitute Wickham tapped home but the offside flag went up.

However, VAR was used and after a lengthy delay the goal was awarded as Wickham was kept onside by a Norwich kneecap as the former Ipswich Town striker scored against their fierce rivals to make it 1-1.

Southampton held by Crystal Palace

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Southampton and Crystal Palace drew 1-1 at St Mary’s on Saturday in an even, tight battle on the South Coast.

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James Tomkins gave Palace the lead at the start of the second half but Danny Ings equalized late on as the Eagles held on to grab a point against the surging Saints.

With the point Southampton have 22 for the season, while Palace have 27 points.


3 things we learned

1. Peak away day Palace: This was a vintage away day display from Palace, who scored from a set piece, looked dangerous on the counter and solid in defense. Until Martin Kelly’s poor back pass they didn’t look likely to concede and in the end they held on for a point. Palace’s away form has always ben superb and that was no different at St Mary’s.

2. VAR debate rumbles on: Wilfried Zaha and Palace were livid at a goal being disallowed in the first half as his armpit was offside as he crosses for Max Meyer to slot home. There have been so many marginal offside calls in the PL over the festive period and although the debate over whether the offside rule should be tweaked rumbles on, you can’t argue with the technology proving players are offside.

3. Ings leads Saints’ charge: He now has 11 goals in his last 13 appearances and 12 for the season, as only Jamie Vardy has more Premier League goals than Ings this season. Rested against Chelsea on Boxing Day, he came back into the team and went close on several occasions before slotting home to grab a point for his hometown club. Ings is on fire and he is the difference between Saints staying up or going down this season.

Man of the Match: Vicente Guaita – Palace’s goalkeeper made a string of saves in the second half to deny Saints and grab a point for his side.


VAR chalked off a goal for Palace early on as Zaha dazzled down the left and crossed for Max Meyer to finish but the replays showed that Zaha’s armpit was offside and the goal didn’t stand.

Southampton grew into the game as James Tomkins cleared brilliantly with Che Adams lurking, then Jan Bednarek couldn’t convert at the back post.

Jordan Ayew had a half chance which Alex McCarthy saved easily, as the visitors continued to look dangerous on the break.

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At the start of the second half Palace took the lead as Luka Milivojevic‘s free kick was on the money and Tomkins sent home a header off the bar and in.

Southampton had plenty of the ball in the second half but struggled to break Palace down as Cedric‘s header was close but then Martin Kelly gave Saints a gift. His back pass was latched onto by Ings who slotted home to make it 1-1, as Southampton’s first shot on target was successful.

Substitute Moussa Djenepo then went on a mazy run into the box which ended in him curling a shot on goal but it was too close to Vicente Guaita who tipped it over.

Ings then flicked a header on goal at the near post which Guaita saved and he flicked another over as Saints laid siege to the Palace goal late on.

Guaita then saved James Ward-Prowse‘s free kick and Milivojevic then slid in to deny Ings late on as the points were shared.