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Biggest EPL Winners and Losers from Matchday 15, 2020

| December 28, 2020 6:07 am PDT
The Biggest EPL Winners and Losers from Matchday 15, 2020

The Premier League’s post-Christmas fixtures have always dished up plenty of drama – and this year is no exception.

Leicester and Manchester United kicked off the Boxing Day fixtures with a thrilling 2-2 draw, before Arsenal secured a shock 3-1 victory over Chelsea.

There were also wins for Aston Villa, Manchester City, Everton, and Leeds, while West Brom managed to hold Liverpool to a 1-1 draw at Anfield.

Here are the biggest EPL winners and losers from Matchday 15.

Winner: West Brom

When West Brom lost 3-0 to Aston Villa in Sam Allardyce’s first game in charge, it looked as though even the veteran miracle worker wouldn’t be able to save the Baggies.

But following a spirited 1-1 draw against the defending champions at Anfield, West Brom supporters will surely be confident that their side can escape relegation this term.

The Baggies went behind early on to an excellent Sadio Mane strike, but after managing to fend off countless Liverpool attacks, Semi Ajayi equalized on 82 minutes.

It is no exaggeration to say that Jurgen Klopp’s men completely dominated West Brom. I mean, Allardyce’s side finished the game with just 21% possession, while the Reds racked up 17 shots on Sam Johnstone’s goal.

But the Baggies showed enough fight and determination to suggest that they can steer clear of the bottom three in the coming weeks.

Loser: Liverpool

Don’t get me wrong – West Brom must be given huge credit for their efforts on Matchday 15. Still, there is no hiding from the fact that Liverpool was nowhere near their best.

I just mentioned that Klopp’s men registered 17 shots, but it is also worth pointing out that they only managed to get two attempts on target. Sure, they ended up with 79% possession. But the Reds were wasteful throughout the match.

To make matters worse, Joel Matip limped off with an injury 20 minutes before West Brom’s equalizer.

We already know that first-choice center-back pairing Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez are likely to miss the remainder of the campaign, so Matip’s injury is a big blow for Liverpool, especially when you consider the congested fixture schedule.

Granted, the Baggies were brilliant. But the Reds endured a game to forget.

Winner: Anwar El Ghazi

Anwar El Ghazi was struggling to get into Aston Villa’s starting XI at the beginning of the season. With new signings Ollie Watkins and Bertrand Traore keeping him out of the side, the Dutchman found himself of the bench during the early stages of the campaign.

Fast-forward to today – El Ghazi is one of the Premier League’s in-form players.

After scoring as a substitute on Matchday 12, the winger has been handed three consecutive starts by Dean Smith – and he certainly hasn’t let his manager down.

El Ghazi gave Villa fans an early Christmas present by netting a brace against West Brom on Matchday 14. Six days later, he fired in a spectacular strike against Crystal Palace on Boxing Day.

The 25-year-old has now scored four goals in his last four appearances, helping Villa to pick up ten points from a possible 12.

After starting the season on the bench, El Ghazi has suddenly become one of the first names on Smith’s team sheet.

Loser: Crystal Palace

Unfortunately for the Eagles, they were on the receiving end of El Ghazi’s stunner.

Crystal Palace went behind after just five minutes against Villa, and despite Tyrone Mings being shown a red card just before half-time, Roy Hodgson’s side eventually lost 3-0.

With a one-man advantage for the entirety of the second half, Palace was expected to turn the game around in the second 45. Instead, Villa scored twice to humiliate the visiting team.

Villa finished the match having registered 20 shots (nine on target), while the Eagles could only manage 13 shots (six on target).

Hodgson’s men have slipped to fourteenth in the table after failing to win any of their previous four outings. Two draws have been followed by back-to-back defeats, leaving Palace seven points clear of the relegation zone.

Winner: Kalvin Phillips

It is no secret that Marcelo Bielsa’s men have struggled to keep the ball out of their net this season. In fact, Leeds currently has the joint-worst defensive record in the EPL.

But with midfielder Kalvin Phillips filling in to form part of a back three on Matchday 15, the Whites were able to keep a clean sheet against Burnley.

Of course, Sean Dyche’s men are among the lowest scorers in the league. But given the rate at which Leeds has been conceding goals recently, Bielsa will be extremely pleased with his side’s defensive display.

It was a team performance, although Phillips was deservedly named Man of the Match. The versatile enforcer extinguished numerous Burnley attacks, as well as instigating counter-attacks for his own side.

We are likely to see Phillips move back into Leeds’ midfield against West Brom, yet on Sunday, he proved that he is more than capable of doing a job in defense.

Loser: Tottenham

Just a few weeks ago, Tottenham was being talked about as a genuine title contender. But having failed to win any of their last four outings, the title talk seems to have died down somewhat.

Following a draw with Crystal Palace and back-to-back defeats against Liverpool and Leicester, Spurs drew 1-1 with Wolves on Matchday 15.

Tanguy Ndombele’s long-range effort put Jose Mourinho’s side ahead inside the first minute at Molineux. However, Tottenham “parked the bus” and offered very little in attack for the rest of the game.

Having taken the lead so early in the match, it was always going to be difficult for Spurs to defend their advantage. In fairness, they managed to weather the storm until the 86th minute, yet Romain Saiss equalized for Wolves.

Mourinho’s negative tactics were immediately called into question after the game, with many believing that Tottenham should have attempted to score more goals.

Spurs are now fifth in the table – six points behind frontrunners Liverpool.

Winner: Ben Johnson

After making three substitute appearances earlier in the campaign, Ben Johnson was handed his first Premier League start by David Moyes on Matchday 15.

It’s safe to say that the 20-year-old announced himself on the EPL scene in style.

The West Ham youngster was deployed at left wing-back for the visit of Brighton. Not only did he carry out his defensive duties admirably, but he also got on the scoresheet.

Johnson equalized for his side on 60 minutes, guiding the ball past a crowd of Seagulls defenders and into the side of the net. The game eventually finished 2-2, but having come from behind on two occasions, the Hammers will feel like the winners.

As the season progresses, don’t be surprised if Johnson starts featuring more regularly for West Ham.

Loser: Brighton

Following the draw at the London Stadium, only two teams – West Brom and Sheff Utd – have won fewer EPL games than Brighton this season.

Graham Potter’s side twice threw away the lead against the Hammers, despite enjoying the lion’s share of possession and recording 13 shots.

With just two victories from their opening 15 league games in 2020/21, the Seagulls find themselves two points clear of the relegation zone. A league-high seven draws have prevented the club from dropping into the bottom three.

It goes without saying that if Potter’s men are to steer clear of trouble, they must start turning draws into wins.

Matchday 15 Wrap-Up

There isn’t much time to catch your breath.

With Matchday 16 taking place between Monday 28 and Wednesday 30, there will be plenty more EPL talking points in the coming days.

I’ll be back later in the week to assess all the hits and misses from Matchday 16.

Until then, you can check out more content like this over in our soccer blog.

Ben Morris
Ben Morris

Ben is a sportswriter and tipster who specializes in soccer. Currently based in the UK, he has traveled all around the world watching – and betting on – his beloved sport.

Alongside his regular soccer content, Ben publishes blogs and picks for cricket, Formula 1, Aussie rules, darts, and various other sports.

Ben is a diehard fan of Nottingham Forest and England, so he hasn’t had much to cheer about in recent years!

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