- Premier League football returned on Boxing Day.
- Arsenal extended their lead at the top with a comeback win
- we went through the action to compile our Team of the Week
Premier League football returned on Boxing Day, and as usual, we went through the action to compile our Team of the Week from the games’ best performances.
Arsenal extended their lead at the top with a comeback win over West Ham on Boxing Day.
Newcastle moved up to second after a sixth straight victory, while Liverpool, Fulham, Brighton, and Wolves’ Julen Lopetegui all won convincingly on the road.
GK: Alisson Becker (Liverpool)
Alisson was a calm presence in goal for Liverpool in their 3-1 win over Aston Villa. The Brazil international was alert to danger whenever the hosts threatened in a game that was frantic and stretched at times.
He denied Ollie Watkins twice in the first half, one of which was a brilliant one-on-one save, even though the offside flag would have ultimately denied the forward. Alisson was assured in his handling, and his form has been crucial to Liverpool this season, as several others have struggled for much of the season.
RB: Kieran Trippier (Newcastle)
Kieran Trippier’s outstanding season continued as Newcastle continued where they left off before the break with a convincing win over Leicester.
The Magpies led 3-0 inside 32 minutes at the King Power Stadium, moving Eddie Howe’s team to second in the Premier League table.
Trippier was instrumental in the club’s first-half offensive, finishing with five crosses, four key passes, and an assist, his fourth in the Premier League this season. Only Andy Robertson (5) has accomplished more among defenders this season.
CB: Tim Ream (Fulham)
Tim Ream is having a fantastic Indian summer at Fulham. The veteran defender continued his strong season with a commanding performance in the club’s 3-0 victory over Crystal Palace, returning from the World Cup with a composed performance at Selhurst Park.
The 35-year-old won six duels, had a 91% pass accuracy, and completed 8/9 long balls as he celebrated after scoring Fulham’s second goal in the Premier League.
CB: Sven Botman (Fulham)
Sven Botman added to his growing reputation with another faultless defensive performance in Newcastle’s 3-0 victory over Leicester.
Despite the speed of Leicester’s forward line, the Dutchman mountain was never troubled and made a crucial interception after getting back to recover Patson Daka’s effort from the goal line. Botman was a dominant presence, and he has now gone three league games without losing a single ground duel for a Newcastle team that is gaining confidence and momentum.
LB: Andy Robertson (Liverpool)
After taking a break during the World Cup, Robertson put in a solid all-around performance.
During Liverpool’s 3-1 win over Aston Villa, the Scotland international produced his usual cocktail of effort and output, making the most of the space afforded him down the left flank. He created two chances in the first five minutes, the second of which set up Salah for the opening goal.
CM: Bruno Guimaraes (Newcastle)
The best player on the pitch as Newcastle won their sixth consecutive Premier League game to move up to second place in the table.
Guimaraes was outstanding as the Magpies ran riot in the first 45 minutes at Leicester, completing 100% of his take-on (3) and long passes (5). The Brazilian has quickly established himself as a versatile midfielder, leading his teammates in take-one, ball recoveries, and successful ground duels. It passes in the final third at the King Power Stadium.
He also contributed his sixth goal of the season, a weighted pass into the path of the in-form Miguel Almiron to double Newcastle’s lead.
CM: Joelinton (Newcastle)
For Newcastle, Guimaraes’ partner in crime was back to his bulldozing best, marauding forward to make things happen for the Magpies.
After winning an early penalty for Chris Wood to convert, Joelinton powered above Boubakary Soumaré to thump home a header from Kieran Trippier’s corner for Newcastle’s third.
CM: Martin Odegaard (Arsenal)
Arsenal’s captain delivered an exquisite display of creative class, refusing to let the season’s break derail the momentum he had gained before the break.
Odegaard now has five goals and five assists in his last four Premier League appearances, orchestrating Arsenal’s third-half comeback to beat West Ham 3-1 and move seven points clear at the top of the table.
He set up the first goal by inadvertently assisting Bukayo Saka before finding Eddie Nketiah in the box for Arsenal’s third goal. Odegaard finished the game with 93% pass accuracy, two assists, and five key passes, making him unplayable at times at the Emirates.
RW: Solly March (Brighton)
Solly March was at the heart of Brighton’s 3-1 victory over Southampton, as the Seagulls dominated their struggling South Coast rivals.
March was excellent in a lively performance down the right, laying off a floated cross for Adam Lallana to head home. Goals have often been a problem for the Wideman, but against the Saints, he spectacularly broke his goal drought.
Drifting in from the flank, he scored his first Premier League goal since November 2020. It’s been a long wait for the 28-year-old, 766 days and 62 shots on goal.
LW: Gabriel Martinelli (Arsenal)
Martinelli responded to West Ham’s rough treatment in the only way he knows how: with relentless running and a desire to drive at defenders.
As usual, his work rate set the tone for Arsenal’s 3-1 victory at the Emirates, and Martinelli was rewarded for his perseverance with the game-winning second goal. Vladimir Coufal could not get close enough to the Brazilian, who took on the full-back down the outside before sneaking a finish inside the near post of Lukasz Fabianski.
ST: Aleksandar Mitrovic (Fulham)
Fulham ensured that Crystal Palace’s indiscipline was punished with a 3-0 win over the Eagles at Selhurst Park.
Aleksandar Mitrovic was a thorn in the side of a depleted Palace squad that saw Tyrick Mitchell and James Tomkins sent off. The Serbian striker set the first goal with a lovely cross that Bobby Decordova-Reid headed home before nodding down for Tim Ream to lash home the second.