Gameweek 19 would give Premier League sides a chance to end the year on a high, while hoping to set the tone for a successful 2017. Chelsea finished the year with a home match against Stoke City, a win in which would result in a 13th consecutive league win. This would leave them just one win from setting a new Premier League record. Manchester United hosted Middlesbrough, while Liverpool would face Manchester City in the late kick-off. New Year’s Day would also mean two more Premier League clashes, which would leave all 20 sides at the halfway stage, with a decent indicator to how their season may be set to play out.
Artur Boruc – Saturday would see manager-less Swansea City face Bournemouth at the Liberty Stadium. One of the less busy players would be Pole in goal, Artur Boruc. Despite his side doing the business in front of him, he was called on in some vital moments, making a superb save from Fernando Llorente and Gylfi Sigurdsson respectively with scores tied up at 0-0. Bournemouth seem set for another comfortable Premier League season, with relegation seeming equally as unlikely as a top eight finish. However, we can begin to see improvements in the side.
Charlie Daniels – Yet another Cherries to feature this week is none other than marauding full-back Charlie Daniels. He put in a superb display at both ends in Bournemouth’s crushing 3-0 win at the Liberty over Swansea. Daniels sent Josh King through on goal late on for the Norway international to slide home past Fabianski in goal. Swansea look set to appoint former Derby County boss Paul Clement as their new boss in the coming days. The Englishman has also held assistant roles at Bayern Munich, PSG, Chelsea and Real Madrid under Carlo Ancelotti.
Kieran Trippier – In the absence of the suspended Kyle Walker, Mauricio Pochettino turned to understudy Kieran Trippier, and the former Burnley man had a game to remember as his side cruised past a Watford side that put up no real fight despite a New Year’s Day sell-out crowd at Vicarage road. Trippier laid on 2 goals for Harry Kane, as he crossed brilliantly. His composure and confidence on the ball along with a superb technical ability may well see him keep his place ahead of the visit of Chelsea to White Hart Lane on Wednesday.
Nathan Aké – Bournemouth sliced through Swansea like a hot knife through butter at the Liberty on Saturday. Benik Afobe opened the scoring for the Cherries when Jordi Amat made a mess of a cross across the penalty area, leaving Afobe to slot in past Fabianski. Ryan Fraser doubled the Swans’ lead before Josh King made the points safe as the game edged towards stoppage time in the second half. Alan Curtis declared the urgency with which the Swans need a managerial appointment, and perhaps Clement’s appointment can’t come quickly enough.
Willian – Chelsea extended their run of league victories to 13 following their 4-2 win over Stoke City at Stamford Bridge. Gary Cahill thumped the Blues in front from a corner, only for Bruno Martins Indi to leave the crowd stunned. Chelsea weren’t level for long, though, as Willian finished. However, Stoke wouldn’t go quietly, and Peter Crouch netted his first league goal since May 2015 to bring the Potteries level. Fans had barely sat back down when Willian netted his second, hammering home at the near post. Before Diego Costa powered his way through before blasting in to make the points safe.
Dele Alli – England International Dele Alli has really hit goal-scoring form in recent weeks, netting yet another brace this week as his side eased past a dejected Watford side. With several players missing through injury, Watford found themselves 3 goals down at the half way stage as Alli capitalised on a Younes Kaboul error to make it 3-0. He would net again when he got onto Harry Kane’s ball to slot home after the break. Watford’s missing players made a massive difference, none more so than Roberto Pereyra, as the Argentine finds himself side-lined for a matter of months.
Matt Phillips – Scotland international Matt Phillips had been a real stand-out at the Baggies recently. He was on fine form as West Brom beat Southampton 2-1 at St. Mary’s, having come from behind. Shane Long headed the Saints in front late in the first half, before Phillips cut inside past his man, before slotting home powerfully into the bottom corner. Hal Robson-Kanu completed the Baggies comeback shortly into the second period, as Phillips played him in with a neat disguised pass. The Welsh international marched onto the pass before lashing home into the top corner from 20 yards to give West Brom a big three points.
Alex Iwobi – Arsenal beat a struggling Crystal Palace 2-0 at the Emirates on New Year’s Day, with Alex Iwobi turning in a standout performance. Olivier Giroud may well steal the headlines, after he finished off a superb flowing move with a scorpion kick that will likely eclipse the feat of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who stunned fans with a similar effort recently. A cross came in behind Giroud, before the Frenchman turned the ball in with style. Iwobi doubled the lead for the Gunners when he nodded in a scrappy goal to complete a confident home performance. It could have been more but Gunners fans will be pleased to get back to winning ways.
Andre Gray – Since his suspension earlier in the season, Andre Gray has had to really fight for his place in the Burnley side, with Sam Vokes and Ashley Barnes providing stiff competition for the Clarets. He netted a brilliant hat-trick as his side hammered Sunderland 4-1 at Turf Moor. Gray opened the scoring when he powered in on goal, before drilling past Vito Mannone. He would then round the Italian to double his own tally, before completing a fine treble when he slammed home into the bottom corner when laid in by Ashley Barnes.
Harry Kane – Last season’s golden boot winner netted a brace at Watford on New Year’s Day in his side’s 4-1 win at Vicarage Road. He twice put home from Kieran Trippier on two separate occasions in the first half, one of which was a delightful volley, having battled to get in front of two Watford defenders in the area. He also set up Dele Alli to complete a rout. They will have been disappointed to allow Younes Kaboul to bundle home a consolation late on in injury time to wipe the clean sheet. However, it doesn’t detract from a superb performance.
Ashley Barnes – Austrian forward, Ashely Barnes, has had to fight, like Andre Gray, for his place in the Burnley side, and he’s certainly making his case. Having battled injuries for much of his time with the club he will be delighted to be picking up goals in the Premier League. He netted a fourth from the spot for Burnley as they dismantled a dismal Sunderland side. He also played in Andre Gray with a brilliant slid pass. The win takes Burnley up to 11th position on 23 points at the half way stage, a tally I’m sure Sean Syche will be very happy with at this stage.
Written by Ryan Nevin (@RNevin7)