Sun. Oct 25th, 2020

Best of Boxing Day: Alexander-Arnold Masterclass, Ayew-Serious?, Man Utd’s Gifts & More

4 min read

​While the rest of Europe were probably engaging in family activities and various other events, here in England the country was glued to their television screens for full fixture of Boxing Day Premier League football. Can it really get any better?

Only if some memorable moments occurred. And, oh yes, they most certainly did.

There were stories galore, but here are the pick of the bunch.


Trent Alexander-Arnold Is, Like, Pretty Good at Football


Really, stupidly, super-humanly good, that is.

It’s 27 December 2019 and the ​Premier League is already sewn up. Not only that, it was sewn up, gift-wrapped, doused in expensive perfume and placed bang-smack in the centre of Anfield.

Good luck arguing otherwise.

Against Leicester in the late kick-off, ​Liverpool were a class above in every department. None more so than at right-back. Trent Alexander-Arnold ran riot at King Power Stadium, setting up the first and third with a pinpoint cross and threaded ball respectively, before rounding off his stunning performance with a drilled goal of his own.

He was a Claus above, and he’s not even 21 yet. Let that sink in. 


Jordan Ayew Silencing All the Haters


I’ll have to admit, I didn’t much rate Jordan Ayew.

He seemed very much a Championship player at best, who is only at ​Crystal Palace because the club are simply incapable of signing a decent striker. Well, consider my, and most probably your, mouth firmly shut.

The Ghanaian didn’t just score his side’s winner against West Ham. What he did was something else. If you could award extra points for classiness and composure, we’d be seeing Palace in the Champions League next season.

With the game looking like heading to a draw, Ayew cut in from the right before performing the filthiest of ‘Maradona’s’, slaloming his way through defenders and then humiliating Roberto with a delightful chip. Pure, unadulterated, class.


I Guess That’s Why They Call it the Blues

FBL-ENG-PR-CHELSEA-SOUTHAMPTON

Not all is rosy down in west London, it must be said. Except for, well, the Chelsea Flower Show, but that’s not on yet, so forget that.

Other than that it’s been a bumpy ride full of exalting highs, and miserable lows. Following a tactical masterclass in which Frank Lampard showed up his former mentor on his own patch, he went and got stunned by a club whose city is best known for big things sinking.

And at the moment, it is his big ​Chelsea bubble which is coming crashing down, after Southampton left Stamford Bridge with a fully deserved 2-0 win.

Victories over Spurs, reaching the Champions League knockout stages and sitting fourth in the table is all well and good. So why are the Blues then falling to home defeats to Bournemouth, West Ham and the Saints? Much to work on Lamps. Fans will stick with him, but under Maurizio Sarri the club were better off at this stage last season. Is the grass always going to be bluer on the other side?



Possession & a Win???

FBL-ENG-PR-WATFORD-MAN UTD

Yes, you read that right. ​Manchester United had more of the ball than Newcastle United on Thursday and they won the game. Rather convincingly, too.

They were helped, mind you. The Toon started off by far the better side, deservedly going in front through one half of the Longstaff brothers (does it really matter who?).

But then the Magpies were the victims of their own downfall, conceding sloppy goals from mistakes galore, as United ran riot and turned on the style in a 4-1 win. Historically no side has won more top-flight fixtures on Boxing Day than United, and they showed that with some energetic and lovely play up top.

Oh, and ​Paul Pogba came back. He looked pretty good as well.

But nevertheless, how many times have we seen this already this season? United suffer a miserable loss or two, win their next game to relieve pressure off Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, then go straight back to square one? It’s fair to say, the Red Devils’ New Year’s Resolution is a pretty straight forward one.


Mixed Starts for Ancelotti & Arteta

Mikel Arteta

Two new faces took to their respective dugouts on Thursday, as Carlo Ancelotti took charge of his first ​Everton game while Mikel Arteta took charge of, y’know, his first ever game.

There were mixed results for both, as the experienced Italian oversaw a hard-fought 1-0 success over Burnley while the Spaniard had Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to thank for securing a 1-1 draw and a solitary point on his solo head coach outing.

Positives for both clubs moving forward. I mean, Everton won and ​Arsenal didn’t lose. Huge strides forward in their respective slumps, no?

You even know how crucial that point was for the Gabonese striker’s side, because he went totally mental running into the away fans in the 63rd minute against a side who’d won just two of their previous 12 matches. Levels.


Alli to the Rescue

FBL-ENG-PR-TOTTENHAM-BRIGHTON

Losing at home to Brighton 52 minutes into your early Boxing Day kick-off, just four days after getting whipped at home by one of your fiercest rivals? Indeed, things weren’t looking all too good for Jose Mourinho and co.

Which is why ​Harry Kane and Dele Alli exist, right? To score goals for ​Tottenham? I’m pretty sure there are other things they do in their lives but either way, they do this bit pretty well.

It was looking more and more like becoming another one of those days for Spurs but Kane did what Kane does best and Alli did what Alli has (just again started) doing best. They score goals, and put smiles on faces of people to enjoy watching them.

Mourinho certainly falls under that bracket. C’mon did you see his celebration when Alli made it 2-1? Classic knee-bend and fist pump action. The Happy One.


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