It was a New Years’ day of the lower bottom-half sides clearly. For David Moyes who took over reins from the sacked West Ham coach Manuel Pellegrini on 29th December, the beginning couldn’t have been better. The Hammers put in one of their best performances in a long, long time while beating a beleaguered Bournemouth 4-0 at the London Stadium in front of a 60,000-strong rapturous home crowd. Captain Mark Noble scored twice with Sebastien Haller and Felipe Anderson also netting in what was the Hammers’ biggest Premier League win in more than a decade. It was West Ham’s second win only in six matches, while the defeat consigned Bournemouth to the relegation zone in the 18th place. Moyes men moved up a notch to the 16th spot courtesy the win.
Bottom-placed Norwich City were denied a much-needed win at Carrow Road when Crystal Palace substitute Connor Wickham scored late in the 85th minute save the blushes for his side. But Norwich City yet remain at the bottom of the table at the 20th despite the hard-fought 1-1 draw.
Watford’s dramatic recovery under new coach Nigel Pearson continued as they downed a strong Wolverhampton side 2-1 at the Vicarage Road on New Years’ day. Goals from Gerard Deulofeu and Abdoulaye Doucoure in the 30th and 49th minute gave Watford a 2-0 lead before Pedro Neto reduced the margin in the 60th. The Hornets hung on for a third win in five matches under Pearson after being reduced to 10 men when Christian Kabasele was red-carded in the 71st minute. The win over the Wolves takes Watford a clear 5 points away from Norwich City and just a point below a beleaguered Bournemouth’s 20. Watford’s next fixture would be against Bournemouth on the 12th and in their present form the Hornets may be presented with an opportunity to break out of relegation territory.
Aston Villa is another one that broke out of that dreaded zone to replace Bournemouth when they overcame Burnley 1-2 in an away game. Villa as a result are a notch out of relegation territory in the 17th spot and with 22 points accrued they are just one behind West Ham.
For Ralph Hasenhuttl’s Southampton, the relegation territory in which they languished till mid-December has become a distant memory with three wins from their previous four Premier League outings. January 1st’s 1-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur catapulted the Saints to the 12th spot on the table with 25 points – same as 11th placed Everton and only 2 behind Arsenal’s 27. Jose Mourinho’s Spurs are fortuitous to be in the 6th spot with 30 points and have Watford to thank for meting out defeat on the Wolves who are on identical points with the Gunners in the 7th place.
Arsenal registered their maiden win under new coach Mikel Arteta when they humbled Manchester United 2-0 at the Emirates. United were lacklustre as Nicolas Pepe and Sokratis Papastathopoulos found opportunities to beat David de Gea in the 8th and 40th minute to give their side an unassailable lead. The Emirates win helped the Gunners leap two places and break into the Top half while United are lucky to find themselves in the 5th place with Spurs and the Wolves breathing down their necks.
Fortune continuously seems to be smiling down on Chelsea as they cling on to a spot in the Top Four despite not winning in six out of their last 9 EPL outings. This time it was a 1-1 draw with 14th ranked Brighton. Chelsea failed to capitalize on Cesar Azpilicueta’s early goal in the 10th minute and were punished by a “goal of the week” by Iranian-import Alireza Jahanbakhsh whose spectacular overhead kick just 5 minutes before the final whistle earned Brighton an unlikely point at the Amex Stadium.
Leicester City and Manchester City retained their respective positions in the 2nd and 3rd places with 0-3 and 2-1 wins over Newcastle and Everton while Liverpool went through their unbeatable motions in brushing aside Sheffield United 2-0 at Anfield to remain at the top of the table and a clear 13 points of next best Leicester City. Sheffield clung on precariously in the Top 8 with 29 points, just 1 point of ahead of 9th placed Crystal Palace.
Team standings with points on the Premier League table after 21 games