The Roar
The Roar


EPL Wrap: Man Utd fine without Ronaldo, Areta furious after denied penalties, 'Sack the Board' chants from Everton fans

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4th January, 2023

On the day Cristiano Ronaldo was presented at his new Saudi Arabian club, his former team Manchester United again showed they are not missing the Portugal superstar.

United have won four straight matches since agreeing to terminate Ronaldo’s contract during the World Cup, the latest coming on Tuesday night in a 3-0 victory over Bournemouth in the Premier League.

And without Ronaldo, who hours earlier was presented to thousands of fans at Al Nassr against a backdrop of fireworks and smoke machines, United are firmly ensconced in the top four and looking good to qualify for the Champions League on current form.

Winning the title might be a stretch, though.

Arsenal are still in the driver’s seat after a 0-0 draw at home to third-place Newcastle that pushed Mikel Arteta’s team eight points clear of Manchester City, whose game in hand is against Chelsea on Thursday.

Newcastle are tied on points with Man United – one behind City – but are ahead courtesy of a superior goal difference. Newcastle and United are five points clear of fifth-place Tottenham.

In other games on Tuesday, Brighton routed Everton 4-1 away as Argentina’s World Cup winner Alexis Mac Allister made a successful return to league play and Fulham won 1-0 at Leicester to consolidate seventh place.


Marcus Rashford scored for a fourth consecutive game as Man United eased to the win at Old Trafford.
Goals from Casemiro and Luke Shaw had already put United in command.

The result had a routine feel to it, something that has been missing at United in recent times but which is returning as manager Erik ten Hag shifts the mentality of the club.

Erik ten Hag claps United fans

(Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Since the World Cup, United have beaten Nottingham Forest, Wolverhampton and now Bournemouth in the league and Burnley in the English League Cup.

Tough tests are coming, though, with United playing City and Arsenal in their next two league games.

That’s a big step,” Ten Hag said of the title race. “We have to go game to game, get the progress.

“Belief is growing and that’s a good sign.


“I’m happy with the result, today it was not our best game. We have to be honest, we didn’t play that smart as a team.

“We made great goals, but at times we were quite lucky, and some great saves from David. We could have been smarter as a team. To win 3-0 is always good.”

Arsenal failed to score in a league game for the first time this season, though they had a late chance when Newcastle goalkeeper Nick Pope made a save to deny Eddie Nketiah a stoppage-time winner. The draw at Emirates Stadium allowed both teams to extend unbeaten runs in league play. Newcastle’s streak rose to 13; Arsenal’s to 11.

Arsenal started strong but faded and rarely threatened to penetrate the defence of Newcastle, who have the best defensive record in the league, conceding only 11 times.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta later fumed about two denied penalty decisions, dubbing them “scandalous”.

“There were two penalties. It’s very simple,” said Arteta after the match. “I’m talking about what I’ve seen. It was two scandalous penalties. Newcastle wanted to set-up like this. It is not the way they play. They have not set-up like this against anyone else.

Mikel Arteta  appeals for an added time penalty(Photo by James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images)


“When you cannot win you cannot lose and we kept a clean sheet and had a really good performance. Now we go again. We should have done some things better in the final third and we should have had two penalties to win the game.”

In a game of few clear-cut opportunities, the Gunners made an electric start to the game but could not take advantage, while Joelinton missed the best chance for Newcastle in the final moments of the first half at Emirates Stadium on Tuesday night.

Third-placed Newcastle’s resilient display continued into the second period, leaving Arsenal unable to score in a Premier League game for the first time this season and ending their 100 per cent home record in the top flight.

Manchester City can cut the advantage held by Arteta’s side at the summit to five points if they beat Chelsea on Thursday.

Arsenal came flying out of the blocks, Martin Odegaard smashing a volley over the crossbar and Bukayo Saka weaving his way into the box from the right to before having an effort saved by Nick Pope in a flurry of early opportunities for the hosts.

Newcastle made the necessary tactical changes though, providing Dan Burn with more support in his defensive duties against Saka, which changed the tempo of the game – and it was Eddie Howe’s side who had the best chance of the first half, Joelinton heading wide at the far post following a corner.

A slow start to the second half saw both sides struggle to create openings, Arsenal limited to speculative shots at goal while Aaron Ramsdale remained untested at the other end.


Howe sacrificed Callum Wilson and Miguel Almiron, bringing on Chris Wood and Jacob Murphy for the final 22 minutes, though it was Arsenal who continued to look the more likely to find a breakthrough.

Eddie Nketiah had a golden opportunity to win, forcing a save from the feet of Pope late on.

Arsenal wanted a penalty for handball against Murphy in stoppage time, but VAR did not intervene and Arsenal dropped points for only the third time this season.

Demarai Gray of Everton . (Photo by Richard Sellers/Getty Images)

A new year brought no change in fortune for beleaguered Everton manager Frank Lampard.

Goodison Park turned toxic after Brighton recorded their biggest away win – 4-1 – in the Premier League to leave Everton a point above the relegation zone. All four teams below Everton have a game in hand.

Any confidence gained from a 1-1 draw at Manchester City last weekend was shattered by a performance that was greeted with loud boos at the final whistle.


It was typified by a seven-minute spell at the start of the second half in which Everton conceded three soft goals – to 18-year-old Evan Ferguson, Solly March and Pascal Gross – to add to Kaoru Mitoma’s early strike.

Demarai Gray’s stoppage-time penalty consolation merely prompted yet more chants of “Sack the board” from Everton fans.

Aleksandar Mitrovic boosted Fulham’s European charge with the winner against Leicester.

The Serbia striker’s 17th-minute goal fired Marco Silva’s team to a third straight win and put Fulham on 28 points – the same amount the club was relegated within 2021.

Aleksandar Mitrovic of Fulham (Photo by Malcolm Couzens/Getty Images)

Their third successive win sees Fulham move top seventh on the Premier League table.

“It’s amazing,” said Mitrovic. “When you get promoted, the first target is to stay up.


“We don’t think ahead, we stay with both feet on the ground. We’ll see what happens at the end.

“This is a dream for us – we want to keep the dream going.”

Fulham’s manager Marco Silva echoed Mitrovic’s sentiments.

“[This was] the best way to finish 2022 and the best way to start 2023,” said Silva.

“We have to be realistic and to keep our feet on the ground. No-one expected us to be in this position before the season started. You are here to enjoy and embrace the challenge.

“We have 28 points, it’s a big achievement for us now but we have to keep on working hard.”