In the midweek, Premier League teams finished the first half of the season with matches in Round 19. Most of the games were played on Wednesday, Boxing day, while one took place on Thursday. A few Nigerian born players were in action for their respective teams.
The King Power Stadium was the venue for the match between Leicester City and the title contenders Manchester City. The Super Eagles midfielder, Wilfred Ndidi was in the starting line-up for the Foxes, while Kelechi Iheanacho didn’t make the 18-man squad for the first time this year. The citizens were the first to score in the 15th minute through Bernardo Silva. But the Foxes countered quickly and managed to level the score in the 19th minute going into the break all square.
In the second half, both teams attacked but Manchester City, even though they were favourites, couldn’t find the winner. And then, in the 81st minute a great goal by Ricardo Pereira gave Leicester the lead and the surprising win. For Manchester City, this was now their third defeat in four games.
Huddersfield Town travelled to Old Trafford to play Manchester United, who sacked manager Jose Mourinho and brought in, for now, a temporary manager and United legend, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Philip Billing was in the starting eleven for the Terriers. Both teams were nervous in the start but Nemanja Matic calmed the Manchester faithful by scoring in the 28th minute.
The second half saw more action with Paul Pogba doubling United’s lead in the 64th minute and then adding another one in the 78th minute. Huddersfield managed to get a consolation goal in the 88th minute, through Mathias Jorgensen. It finished 3:1 for the home team.
Bournemouth travelled to the Capital to take on the free-scoring Tottenham team and in the end, there weren’t any surprises. The Spurs were 3:0 at the end of the first half with goals from Christian Eriksen, Heung-Min Son and Lucas Moura.
The second half was more of the same. Harry Kane scored in the 61st minute before Son netted his second goal of the game in the 70th minute to make the final score 5:0 to Tottenham who are now in second place in the table, above Manchester City. Jordon Ibe watched the game from the Bournemouth bench.
Brighton fancied their chances against visitors from London, Arsenal. But it was the Gunners who scored first in the 7th minute by way of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Leon Balogun, the Nigerian centre-back, was in the starting eleven for the Seagulls. After Arsenal had a great chance to double their lead, Brighton managed to equalize through Jurgen Locadia. Alex Iwobi replaced Mesut Özil at half-time but couldn’t help the Gunners score again. It finished 1:1 at the Amex Stadium.
In the evening kick-off Chelsea beat London neighbours Watford 2:1. Both teams scored in the stoppage time of the first half, Eden Hazard for the Blues in the first minute and Roberto Pereyra for the Hornets in the third minute of time added on. Hazard scored his second goal from the penalty spot to give Chelsea the whole three points. Isaac Success Ajayi came off the bench late in the game.