Gameweek 15 of the Premier League saw big changes atop the table, as well as a few other results to upset the proverbial apple cart.
If December is in general seen as the season to be jolly, in the Premier League it is also the season of potential upsets. The tight schedule of most teams can sometimes lead to a few results that many would not normally expect.
Indeed, that is exactly what happened in Gameweek 15. That’s not to say that all results were upsets; the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool ended up getting wins.
However, there were a few notable results – not least Chelsea’s 3-2 loss to West Ham – that changed the complexion of the table.
This game – and many others – left fans plenty to ponder coming into Gameweek 16. And the hectic Christmas schedule means there could be plenty of movement on the table.
How things are looking after Matchweek 15 ✨ pic.twitter.com/LytyTJaVGe
— Premier League (@premierleague) December 6, 2021
But that is, at least for the moment, speculative. For now let us delve deep into the talking points of Gameweek 15 in the Premier League.
Given how tight things are at the top of the table, Chelsea knew they could ill afford a loss. Yet that is exactly what they were dealt by a resurgent West Ham United side. David Moyes’ men landed a blow that not only enhanced their chances of a Top 4 finish, but blew the title race wide open.
The result sees Chelsea slip from first to third, and few could argue the loss was unlucky. Chelsea scored twice but were often wasteful, either in possession or in front of goal. West Ham, for their part, bided their time and took their chances when they came. By the end, it was clear that the Hammers deserved the win.
What matters now for Thomas Tuchel’s men is how they rebound. The good thing is, the hectic nature of the Christmas schedule gives them plenty of chances for an uptick in form. And it will be needed if they are to mount a comeback in form and compete for the title.
Chelsea’s title rivals Liverpool and Manchester City took full advantage of the slip-up, recording wins over Wolverhampton Wanderers and Watford, respectively. Yet it was a tale of two types of wins for the two teams, with City now leading the table by a sole point.
Pep Guardiola’s men were at their imperious best – at least in the first half. It helps that in Bernardo Silva, they have one of the most in-form attacking midfielders in the league. Watford did manage to score one – something that no doubt annoyed Guardiola – but by then the game seemed over.
Liverpool, on the other hand, needed a clutch winner from the king of clutch winners Divock Origi to secure all three points. Prior to that, it seemed likely that Wolves had done enough to walk away with a point. But their admittedly solid defence came unglued thanks to Origi.
Newcastle United find themselves in a strange position right now. They are flush with cash after the Saudi Arabia-backed takeover, but are stuck in a battle for relegation. Indeed, prior to Gameweek 15, they had yet to register a single win in the league.
Thankfully for the Magpies that all changed this weekend, when they recorded a hard-fought win over Burnley. It might not seem like a lot – Sean Dyche’s men are also in a battle to avoid the drop – but avoiding defeat is something Newcastle need in more ways than one.
Not only will it help them avoid the drop, it will also make it easier to attract new signings in January. The squad badly needs investment but few will be keen to join a side destined for the drop – no matter what wages the club can throw their way.
The Ole Gunnar Solskjaer era officially ended more than two weeks ago, but given Michael Carrick was in temporary charge it didn’t feel like too much had changed. Now Ralf Rangnick is at the wheel – sorry, too easy to ignore – but while he too is an interim, there’s a different feel at Old Trafford already.
Admittedly, a hard-earned win against Crystal Palace isn’t exactly a shock result for United. But the way they played was a breath of fresh air. Off the ball, they were organised and played as a team. Hints of a press could be seen – hell, even Cristiano Ronaldo joined in on the act.
That it took an interim manager – admittedly one of the greatest football minds ever in Germany, but you get the point – just a few days to get United playing like a team says a lot about how disjointed the club appeared under Solskjaer. And while there is no indication Rangnick will be anything more than an interim manager, by the time he steps into the consultancy role the squad’s identity will be easier to mould for his successor.
Before the Arsenal game, Everton fans were planning walkouts as a form of protest for the club’s disarray. The worries they hold are not without merit; Everton, despite having money at their disposal, are currently rudderless and no closer to becoming a better side than they were a few years ago.
Many expected Arsenal to visit Goodison Park and walk over a side that lost quite convincingly to Liverpool in their last game. Which made it all the more shocking that the Toffees stole an injury time winner thanks to Demarai Gray. The win is all the more amazing given they trailed 1-0 till the 75th minute.
The result will take some heat off Rafael Benitez, although the anger at the board and owner will hardly dissipate. Still, the fact that Everton managed the three points came at least partly down to a desire to get things back on track. It might not happen overnight but, if the game taught us anything, it’s that Benitez probably isn’t one of the issues at the club.
That’s all for this week. Join us again as we delve into the talking points first of the Champions League and then the next PL gameweek. See you then!