Premier League results & predictions – gameweek 23

Another heavily disrupted Premier League season has reached Gameweek 23 and there’s plenty to get excited about as we cast our eye away from the transfer window.

Chelsea’s London derby with Tottenham at Stamford Bridge is the standout fixture of the weekend, but don’t take your eyes off Crystal Palace’s clash with Liverpool – the latter has proven in the past that could be a real barnstormer.

Norwich started things off on Friday night with a statement win in their relegation six-pointer, while Lucas Digne had the last laugh against former club Everton. Manchester United and Newcastle also secured vital wins with late goals on Saturday, while Southampton frustrated Manchester City.

WATFORD 0-3 NORWICH

Norwich picked up a huge 3-0 win against relegation rivals Watford on Friday night, with goal-shy striker Josh Sargent netting twice.

Sargent got the party started with a stunning scorpion kick just before the break and he rose high at the back post to make it 2-0 with 16 minutes of normal time remaining.

Things soon got worse for Watford as Emmanuel Dennis saw red for a second booking, and the Canaries impressive win was capped off with a Juraj Kucka own goal in second-half stoppage time.

EVERTON 0-1 ASTON VILLA

Emiliano Buendia scored the only goal of the game as Aston Villa picked up all three points against manager-less Everton, who parted company with Rafa Benitez last week.

Ex-Toffess star Lucas Digne got the assist for the decisive goal, which came in first half stoppage time. But both he and teammate Matty Cash were struck by a projectile thrown from the Goodison Park crowd during the celebrations – an arrest was made by police.

BRENTFORD 1-2 WOLVES

Wolves secured an away victory against Brentford thanks to a second half winner from Ruben Neves, which restored his team’s advantage after Ivan Toney had cancelled out Joao Moutinho’s opener.

The first half was paused twice, once so that could treatment could be given to Brentford pair Mathias Jensen and Rico Henry following a sickening clash of heads, and later because there was a drone flying over the pitch.

Adama Traore thought he had made it 3-1 in the closing stages but VAR intervened.

LEEDS 0-1 NEWCASTLE

Newcastle managed only a second Premier League win of the season, beating Leeds at Elland Road and rising to within one point of safety – with a game in hand on Norwich above them.

Jonjo Shelvey’s free-kick from the edge of the penalty area made the crucial difference with around 15 minutes left to play.

It was a blow for Leeds, although Marcelo Bielsa’s team at least have the benefit of a seven-point cushion between themselves and the drop zone.

MAN UTD 1-0 WEST HAM

Manchester United had to wait until the 93rd minute to made the breakthrough against West Ham at Old Trafford, with Marcus Rasford turning home Edinson Cavani’s low cross a few yards from goal.

The hosts had the majority of the possession and peppered the West Ham goal with shots, most of which missed the target. The Hammers were always in the game and did have chances of their own through Jarrod Bowen and Tomas Soucek.

But the decisive blow came right at the end. Anthony Martial, who got a mixed reception off the bench, played in Cavani, who in turn found Rashford.

SOUTHAMPTON 1-1 MAN CITY

Southampton stopped Manchester City from making it 13 consecutive Premier League wins with a 1-1 draw at St Mary’s.

Kyle Walker-Peters gave the Saints an early lead with his first ever Premier League goal. Armando Broja also had the ball in the net but was denied by an offside flag and later hit the post.

City weren’t at their best but improved as the game progressed and eventually got back on level terms when Aymeric Laporte headed in from a set-piece.

ARSENAL VS BURNLEY

Arsenal’s disappointment at losing to Liverpool in the Carabao Cup semi-finals must be quickly cast to one side when Burnley rock up in north London.

Sean Dyche’s side haven’t played in *checks notes* approximately 834 months so you’d imagine they’re going to be a little rusty. They also don’t have Chris Wood anymore, which is a bit of a blow despite his indifferent goal return this season.

Prediction: 3-1

CRYSTAL PALACE VS LIVERPOOL

Crystal Palace are playing some good stuff under Patrick Vieira, with consistency the only real thing that’s missing from their Premier League repertoire.

History tells us their games against Liverpool at Selhurst Park are pretty special, and despite the Reds’ dominant win over Arsenal in the cup, Jurgen Klopp’s side have got to the job done here without Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.

It won’t be straight forward…

Prediction: 2-2

LEICESTER VS BRIGHTON

Brendan Rodgers’ shock at seeing Leicester capitulate against Tottenham on Wednesday doesn’t have long to subside, with difficult to beat Brighton the next visitors to King Power.

The Seagulls have lost just four times in 21 Premier League outings, drawing an astonishing 11 of those games. You’ll never guess what we’ve gone for here…

Prediction: 2-2

CHELSEA VS TOTTENHAM

The final game of the weekend sees Chelsea renew their rivalry with Tottenham at Stamford Bridge.

The Blues have been in a bit of a rut of late, winning just one of their last five Premier League games en route to collecting six points from a possible 15. Spurs are on the up under Antonio Conte and should be brimming with confidence against their arch enemy.

Roll on the inevitable home win, then…

Prediction: 2-0

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Southampton 1-1 Man City: Player ratings as resilient Saints frustrate champions

Southampton denied Manchester City a 13th consecutive Premier League win by frustrating the reigning champions with a resilient performance at St Mary’s.

Kyle Walker-Peters’ first ever Premier League goal was eventually cancelled out by Aymeric Laporte, with Southampton taking points off City for the second time this season.

The Saints started in spectacular fashion and there were only seven minutes on the clock when Walker-Peters fired the hosts into the lead, making his first ever Premier League goal a special one with a well taken finish.

Playing well on the counter, Southampton had the ball in the net again midway through the first half when Armando Broja expertly finished beyond Ederson. But the rising star was fractionally offside.

City, on the other hand, were slow out of the blocks and not at their usual high standard of performance. They took time to grow into the game, although began turning the screw as the first half progressed to create some chances.

Raheem Sterling almost found an equaliser with a curling effort towards the far corner. The same player was then denied from close range by Fraser Forster, who poked the loose ball away with his foot to prevent the City star from gobbling up the rebound.

After the interval, the threat of Broja on the break remained. The youngster sped through again but Ederson and Aymeric Laporte did just enough between them to stop him. From the resultant corner, Broja then turned the ball onto the post from close-range.

Phil Foden and Rodri both went close to an equaliser just before the hour mark, the former seeing a volley beaten away by Forster and the latter grazing the top of the net.

Southampton were made to rue not extending their lead when Laporte equalised from a Kevin De Bruyne free-kick, ghosting between defenders to meet the inch-perfect cross with his head.

The goal gave City renewed belief and urgency, with De Bruyne curling an effort onto the post and impressive substitute Gabriel Jesus also testing Forster. There was also a lengthy VAR check for a potential trip on De Bruyne, eventually adjudged to be just outside the area. But Southampton held on until the end to claim a deserved point.

Kyle Walker-Peters had a day to remember

Kyle Walker-Peters had a day to remember / GLYN KIRK/GettyImages

Fraser Forster (GK) – 7/10 – Impressed in goal, making several good saves.

Kyle Walker-Peters (RB) – 7/10 – A fine finish for his first ever Premier League goal just minutes into the game. Partially at fault for the equaliser.

Jan Bednarek (CB) – 6/10 – Defended aggressively on the front foot. His yellow card may have contributed to his withdrawal.

Mohammed Salisu (CB) – 9/10 – Was getting his head or a foot to virtually everything and was vital to his team securing this result.

Romain Perraud (LB) – 7/10 – Did well to handle the threat of Sterling.

Nathan Redmond had a good first half

Nathan Redmond had a good first half / GLYN KIRK/GettyImages

Nathan Redmond (RM) – 7/10 – Got his fifth assist of the season and worked very hard defensively, but could only last until half-time.

James Ward-Prowse (CM) – 6/10 – His ability on the ball always made Southampton dangerous at any given moment.

Oriol Romeu (CM) – 7/10 – Spread the play excellently for the early breakthrough. Protected the back four.

Stuart Armstrong (LM) – 7/10 – Full of running. Switched flanks at half-time.

Armando Broja seriously tested City

Armando Broja seriously tested City / Bryn Lennon/GettyImages

Armando Broja (ST) – 8/10 – Denied a goal by the offside flag and looked sharp as he tried to test and stretch the City defence. Hit the post.

Che Adams (ST) – 5/10 – His contribution was mainly off the ball because City dominated and he didn’t carry the same counter threat as Broja.

Mohamed Elyounoussi (LM) – 6/10 – Had to work hard defensively and couldn’t really impact the game in an attacking sense.

Lyanco (CB) – 6/10 – Slotted in at the back in challenging circumstances.

Ibrahima Diallo (RM) – 6/10 – Fresh legs in the final 10 minutes were important.

Aymeric Laporte got Man City back into it

Aymeric Laporte got Man City back into it / Matthew Ashton – AMA/GettyImages

Ederson (GK) – 6/10 – Didn’t have loads to do because City were dominating so much of the ball and Southampton had few chances.

Kyle Walker (RB) – 6/10 – Got forward plenty and handled his defensive duties with relative comfort.

Ruben Dias (CB) – 6/10 – Didn’t face a direct threat because Southampton’s game plan was largely focused on counter attacking.

Aymeric Laporte (CB) – 7/10 – Could he have done more to close down Walker-Peters? Made up for that with the equaliser and made a key tackle to stop Broja from doubling Southampton’s lead.

Joao Cancelo (LB) – 5/10 – The attacking quality that has defined his game this season wasn’t really there.

Kevin De Bruyne grew into the game

Kevin De Bruyne grew into the game / Matthew Ashton – AMA/GettyImages

Bernardo Silva (CM) – 5/10 – Didn’t get to the same world class standard he has set himself this season.

Rodri (CM) – 5/10 – Passed the ball well as you would expect him to.

Kevin De Bruyne (CM) – 7/10 – Perfect set-piece delivery got City back into it after he had been too quiet for the first hour. Hit the post himself soon after and again went close later on.

It wasn't Raheem Sterling's day

It wasn’t Raheem Sterling’s day / Matthew Ashton – AMA/GettyImages

Raheem Sterling (RW) – 5/10 – Saw several chances go begging and was withdrawn with only an hour gone.

Jack Grealish (ST) – 4/10 – Lacked the guile to make his mark as a ‘false nine’. But being asked to play in this role really doesn’t help him.

Phil Foden (LW) – 5/10 – Guilty of poor pressing and not tracking Walker-Peters. Stung Forster’s hands with a volley.

Gabriel Jesus (RW) – 7/10 – Made a positive impact that lifted his team.

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Ralf Rangnick’s changes decide another game for Manchester United

“Can Manchester United score? They always score.”

Ralf Rangnick has repeatedly echoed Clive Tyldesley’s immortal commentary during the 1999 Champions League final with the assertion: “I’m convinced that we will win games because with this group of players we are always capable of creating chances and scoring goals,” becoming the latest Manchester United manager to lean on nostalgia.

West Ham, just like Bayern Munich two decades ago, found this to be very much the case as Marcus Rashford tapped in a 93rd-minute winner on Saturday that propelled his side into the Premier League’s top four, at the expense of their opponents no less.

Rashford entered the fray after an hour of sterile and thrill-free football as West Ham seemed content to blunt their hosts without straining for a goal themselves.

However, intent on taking advantage of the chance to leapfrog the Hammers, Rangnick threw the proverbial kitchen sink at a game that desperately needed unbalancing. With eight minutes left to play, the German coach tossed on Edinson Cavani and the controversial figure of Anthony Martial, joining a frontline already boasting Cristiano Ronaldo and Rashford himself.

This was at the other end of the adventurous scale to the alteration which Rangnick opted for in United’s previous outing. The introduction of Harry Maguire for Ronaldo may have sparked a strop from the latter, but the addition of another centre back helped solidify a 2-0 lead against Brentford – which eventually ended in a 3-1 win – just days after United let a similar advantage slip.

Following a commanding opening 70 minutes – and in particular the first half – against Aston Villa, Rangnick mulled over the option of altering his lineup to preserve their lead: “I mean, obviously after we scored the second goal I was thinking of a back three,” he explained post-game.

“But my worry was that if we did that we would be pinned back too much, in the end it still happened. If I could do it again I would probably change to a different formation, to a back three.”

There was no suggestion of any such prevention on Saturday as United cranked up the (admittedly faint) pressure.

Throughout the contest United fell into the trap of attempting, and repeatedly failing, to pick out the defence splitting, direct pass needed to break open a team as reluctant to concede as West Ham. A side that may have been playing with added caution a week after being pulled apart at the seams by Leeds United’s transitionary style.

Yet, following 92 frustrating minutes, Alex Telles’ quick pass forward finally found its mark – via a poor half-header from Ryan Frederick’s (West Ham’s only substitute). Ronaldo had both Cavani and Martial to his left as the pair rapidly outnumbered a frantically back-pedalling Craig Dawson.

Martial shook off his public spats with the club to just about time the release of his pass to Cavani to perfection, as he rolled the ball across the area for Rashford to snaffle up a fourth goal off the bench this season, with United’s first shot in the six yard box all game.

Most of a manager’s work towards a match goes unseen on the training ground, but Rangnick understandably enjoyed the sight of his three alterations dovetailing for the winner: “I am very pleased the three subs prepared the goal and scored the goal. All were involved. That makes it even more important.”

Declan Rice admits he loves playing at Old Trafford

Declan Rice admitted he enjoyed starring at Old Trafford on Saturday during West Ham’s loss to Manchester United, describing the stadium as ‘one of my favourite places to play’.

The England international was excellent throughout an encounter which was ultimately decided by Marcus Rashford’s 92nd minute strike. That goal helped United leapfrog the Hammers into fourth and the Champions League qualification spots.

Rice has previously been linked with a move to United and continues to improve under the tutelage of West Ham boss David Moyes. With the Red Devils in need of fresh blood in central midfield, Rice’s words after full time will have come as music to the ears of United fans.

He said after the game: “I was loving it. Every time I come to Old Trafford, I’ve always said it’s one of my favourite places to play. It’s an amazing stadium.”

On his side’s performance, Rice said the Irons side fought excellently before their late undoing, having matched United stride for stride up until Rashford’s late winner.

He added: “We’re gutted. It was a real kick in the teeth. We fought so well. There was very little in the game, so I think a draw would have probably been a fair result. 

“We’re such a good counter-attacking side, and even when it was going to the latter stages of the game, we still had the energy to get forward. To end like that and get counter-attacked on in the last 30 seconds, and to concede a goal, was a real kick in the teeth.”

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Newcastle must learn from Leeds model and back Eddie Howe now

Newcastle United and Eddie Howe gave themselves a real boost on Saturday with victory at Leeds, but the job of staying in the Premier League is far from realised.

And now that the players and Howe are stepping up, the club’s new owners need to match them.

The richest club in the world were tipped to make a big impact in their first transfer window and it was clear they had ideas of being Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain, and that still may come to pass.

However, right now they should probably be looking at the Leeds United model instead.

With just over a week left in the transfer window, Newcastle have managed to broker just one deal for manager Howe, himself appointed in November with the promise of investment.

They landed Kieran Trippier from Atletico Madrid, a deal many – quite rightly – have applauded for getting over the line.

A deal for Chris Wood was also finalised but that was a release clause being triggered, so no negotiating was required.

Howe has been and remains desperate for more players and it is clear he believed he would have more options available to him by this point in January.

When taking charge of the club, Newcastle’s new owners – the Public Investment Fund, PCP Capital Partners and the Reuben Brothers – admitted they need to correct things after the Mike Ashley years.

The new regime used former chief Lee Charnley to interview Howe and appoint him as Steve Bruce’s successor, but then they let him go.

Amanda Staveley

Staveley in the crowd / Stu Forster/GettyImages

However, they have yet to replace him, instead using Amanda Staveley and her husband Mehrdad Ghodoussi – who is a partner at PCP.

They are managing the club on a day-to-day basis, and it is showing with their lack of football knowledge and management harming their ambitions.

A new director of football was high on their wanted list but thus far they have not managed to move forward with one – instead bringing in a temporary advisor in Nick Hammond, and other footballing figures.

But it is not working and it is clear to see why. It need not be this way – just look at Saturday’s opponents Leeds. Yes, Newcastle got the better of them on the pitch – but off it they need to take a close look.

After a dismal spell under Massimo Cellino – a hugely unpopular figure who you could liken to Ashley – the club was bought by Andrea Radrizzani.

Radrizzani is as powerful a figurehead, probably more so than anyone at Newcastle – but did he try and do it himself? Did he attempt to broker transfer deals? Did he pick targets for the club? No.

Instead, the Italian went out and made quick and appropriate appointments with Victor Orta arriving as director of football, Ivan Bravo coming in as director of strategy and Angus Kinnear appointed chief executive.

Radrizzani knew he had the knowledge to run a club of that size – a one city club, almost unparalleled in terms of potential, perhaps bar one…Newcastle United.

Eddie Howe said this week: “It’s been frustrating in the transfer market. We know we are against a deadline and we’re desperately trying to improve the squad.

“We’re working very hard behind the scenes.”

Meanwhile, Marcelo Bielsa was saying this about Orta and those above him: “He’s found the players that adapt to the way of playing of Leeds. The majority of them are young and the players that have arrived here, they are usually worth more after they have been here.

“That means he picked players with a margin of growth for the potential to be better. He’s a person who knows the market very well with regards to young players in different countries.”

Marcelo Bielsa

Marcela Bielsa has backing from his board / Alex Pantling/GettyImages

Now, Newcastle have to act while there is still time left in the window, because while they took the three points at Leeds with this squad, they will need more to stay up.

The players are clearly behind Howe, as they showed at Elland Road, and now the others at the club have to stand up and back their boss too.