Boxing Day saw the return of Sam Allardyce, the departure of Bob Bradley, and wins for each of the top six. Big Sam did provide perhaps the most entertaining moment of the round after accusing Watford’s mascot of being “out of order” for making fun of Wilfried Zaha’s dive.
Old Trafford welcomed back a former manager as David Moyes, with Sunderland, travelled to town. The welcoming behaviour did not extend onto the pitch however as Mourinho’s suddenly in-form Manchester United were simply too strong for the struggling Black Cats. Mkhitaryan returned from injury and scored the pick of the goals (psst: offside!) in the straightforward 3-1 success. The Red Devils’ good form has not lifted them up the table however:
Man United convincingly wins 4 Premier League games in a row, gets 12 pts and it legally moves up from the 6th position to the 6th position.— Mohamed ELNneny (@ElNnenyM) December 26, 2016
If you have 10 apples and someone steals an " Arsenal" of it, how many is left ?— PaaKoW (@Auqust_Garcia) December 28, 2016
Answer: Manchester United
The Gunners were having a slightly less straightforward time against Tony Pulis and West Brom. After back-to-back losses, they could ill-afford more dropped points, but as the match headed into the final 10 minutes, Wenger’s charges looked to be heading towards that dark future. Olivier Giroud’s meaty French forehead, on his first Premier League start of the season, saved them in the 86th minute.
33,009 - Number of Arsenal fans who have saved their 'Wenger Out' tweet in their drafts to use for the next game instead. Scripted.— OptaJoke (@OptaJoke) December 26, 2016
Hull City managed to hold out for a short while as well, as they hosted Manchester City, but Guardiola tweaked a couple things for the second half and eventually City made their quality count with a 3-0 away win. Yaya Touré was awarded the Man of the Match for his display, and fans are clearly pleased to have the decisive and powerful midfielder back to fitness. The blue half of Manchester remains in the top four and seven points adrift of the summit.
Just like Manchester City, Liverpool notched a third successive win, also winning by a three-goal margin. The Premier League’s most prolific team overcame an early goal from Chelsea legend Jonathan Walters with four goals in the space of 35 minutes. They will next face Manchester City on Saturday, with neither side able to afford dropped points.
Saints versus Spurs concluded Matchday 18. Virgil van Dijk strengthened his transfer value further with a headed goal to give Southampton the lead, but the rest of the day belonged to the visitors. Helped by a controversial red card for Nathan Redmond, Spurs scored three times in the second half and even missed a penalty kick, to run out comfortable 4-1 winners. They, too, have now won three in a row.
Round 19 begins on Friday, with most of the round being played on the final day of the calendar year, including the aforementioned massive showdown between second and third place.