We are officially in one of the most hectic months of the year in terms of ladder movement in the English Premier League. December is a make or break month for a lot of teams, as we saw a few years back with Crystal Palace. That memorable fall from grace is only one of the cases in which teams have gone from hero to zero in the five months that follow December. It seems like this year will be no different, so before we start that fall, here are the takeaways from matchday 15 of the English Premier League.
New manager, new Everton
Sam Allardyce began his reign as the top man in Everton with a bang, getting the Toffees up into the top half of the season for the first time this season. The 2-0 win over Huddersfield Town was Everton’s best game of the season, with Dominic Calvert-Lewin running wild all over the pitch. Calvert-Lewin scored one and set up the other as Huddersfield Town were condemned to sixteenth, and contain the second-worst goal differential in the league behind West Ham. The Terriers will need to start pulling their weight here and getting some points on the board before their fantastic start to the season ends up just going to waste.
New manager… Same old West Brom
Alan Pardew started his reign at West Bromwich Albion this past weekend as well, but he could not replicate the same result as Sam Allardyce. While a draw is not the be all and end all for his first game in charge for West Brom, it was not the result that most pundits predicted. Both teams have fixtures next weekend that could go either way, with West Brom at Swansea and Crystal Palace at Bournemouth. With that, both will desire a win and for someone like Huddersfield or Newcastle to lose. Speaking of….
Newcastle have lost the plot. Fact.
When I did the pre-season report for Newcastle United, my prediction was that they would end up in the top half of the table. It would not be wrong to change that prediction, based on the fact that Newcastle has only managed one point in their last five games. Granted, they have been away to Manchester United and Chelsea for two of their last four games, however, that still begs the question about how they do not get a result at home to Bournemouth and Watford. Rafa Benitez needs to make sure that he gets his line-up right, because it’s starting to get pretty dire for two of the newly promoted teams in the league now.
Liverpool destroys Brighton
Coutinho and Firmino showed what can really happen when they team up together, with three goals and two assists between the pair, as Liverpool decided to play like a team and wipe away Brighton 5-1. If one of those two weren’t in the thick of the action, it would be Mo Salah and Emre Can breaking the hearts of Brighton fans. Glenn Murray gave a little hope for the home team with a goal from the spot in the 51st minute, but an own goal from Lewis Dunk in the 89th minute sealed what was a poor day for Brighton, as they drop to eleventh, while Liverpool rose up to fourth.
Burnley needs a good month
Burnley sunk to a 1-0 loss after a goal from Leicester’s Demarai Gray, which left the Clarets in seventh place. It is not a bad spot by any means, but those European spots are slowing drifting away from their grasp. They had a chance to leapfrog both Arsenal and Tottenham, but the loss, combined with the Spurs 1-1 draw, ensured that did not happen. Their next three games see Burnley take on Watford (H), Stoke (H) and Brighton (A).
They need to take at least seven points away from the next nine, because they go back-to-back against Tottenham and Manchester United. If they get points and then scrape a draw against the Spurs, they will be in a good spot come the new year.