Hello and welcome to my latest EPL blog post.
Today, there is a double bill of EPL football, with Swansea hosting Manchester United at 1.30pm, while Chelsea play their first match at Stamford Bridge after the Club World Cup final loss against an in-form Aston Villa side who have Christian Benteke and Andreas Weimann fit to play.
0: The referee has blown the whistle to start the match at The Liberty Stadium in Wales, as 11th placed Swansea host the EPL leaders Manchester United in the first of two matches being played in the EPL today.
Swansea: Vorm, Tiendalli, Chico, Williams, Davies, Dyer, Britton, Agustien, de Guzman, Routledge, Michu.
Subs: Tremmel, Graham, Monk, Shechter, Moore, Ki, Richards.
Man Utd: De Gea, Jones, Evans, Vidic, Evra, Valencia, Carrick, Cleverley, Young, Rooney, van Persie.
Subs: Lindegaard, Giggs, Hernandez, Welbeck, Scholes, Fletcher, Buttner.
|Bargain: Swansea forward Michu has scored 12 goals in his first season after a £2million move in the summer.|
|Well spent: £24million striker Robin van Persie has also scored 12 goals this season for new club Manchester United.|
6: Manchester United trying to pass the ball around comfortably at the back.
7: Swansea corner, and the home supporters are getting hyped up for the first corner of the match...
8: Comfortable catch for United goalkeeper David De Gea, and he throws the ball out to his defenders.
9: Lofted ball by Kemy Augustien into the box for forward Michu. He beats Manchester United defender Vidic with pace, and takes a shot while off balance..... WIDE!
He snatched at the shot, and should have taken a touch to control the ball.
10: Swansea winger Wayne Routledge has a shot from just outside the box.... COMFORTABLE SAVE!! by De Gea.
12: Michu has another shot on target, but defender Jonny Evans blocks it, and De Gea comfortably holds the ball.
13: Rooney has a shot from 20 yards out which swerves towards goal.... PARRIED by Michel Vorm.
15: Manchester United corner whipped into the box, and left-back Patrice Evra jumps over a Swansea defender's head to head the ball towards goal..... GOALLL!!!! United break the deadlock after 15 minutes!
|Deadlock broken: Manchester United left-back Patrice Evra heads the away side in-front after 15 minutes.|
|3 for me: Patrice Evra celebrates his 3rd goal of the season against Swansea after 15 minutes.|
Swansea - 41%, Manchester United - 59%
24: Augustien is furious after a challenge on Evra sees a United free-kick given.
26: Manchester United's young defender Phil Jones is given a yellow card after a 50-50 collision with Swansea defender Davies.
30: GOAL FOR SWANSEA!!! And guess who scored?!?! The one, the only Michu!
Swansea midfielder Jonathan De Guzman took a shot from inside the 16-yard box after a counter attack found him with a nice through ball. His shot was on target, but goalkeeper David De Gea parried the ball away to safety.
Unfortunately for hm, Michu was lurking next to the ball, and he cooly tapped the ball past De Gea into the net to score his 13th goal of the season.
45: The fourth official has signalled for 1 minute of stoppage time to be added on at The Liberty Stadium.
45+1: The referee has blown the whistle to end the first half of end-to-end action at The Libefrty Stadium tbetween Swansea and Manchester United.
Both sides have played attractive football, with United dominating the first 20 minutes. Swansea have been dangerous on the counter attack, with Michu showing exactly why he is the "bargain of the season".
Manchester United will be desperate to win today, because they will go 6 points clear of rivals Manchester City on Christmas day next Tuesday. If they draw or lose, the momentum will switch in their title rivlas' favour.
45: The referee has blown the whistle to start the second half in Wales.
53: End-to-end start to the second half, with Swansea and Manchester United both going on counter attacks, but neither side able to trouble the other's goalkeeper.
58: Swansea defender Chico Flores is shown a yellow card after a late tackle on Wayne Rooney.
60: Manchester United SUB:
Antonio Valencia OFF
Javier Hernandez ON
Leon Britton OFF
Ki Sung-Yeung ON
64: United piling on the pressure, looking for the 2nd goal now.
66: United dominating possession and passing aswell, as the stats show:
Possession: United 75% - Swansea 25%
66: Rooney crosses a ball into the box for van Persie.. who hits the ball sideways on in the air towards goal.... OFF THE BAR!!
The referee has given United a corner, even though van Persie was the last player to touch the ball, but what a goal it would have been in RVP scored. The Dutchman shows his intelligence once again by creating a good chance out of nothing really.
68: Rooney is given a yellow card after he clipped Swansea midfielder Tendalli. Swansea free-kick, and that is Rooney's 4th yellow card of the season so far. 1 more and he gets a suspension....
70: Swansea SUB:
Jonathan De Guzman OFF
Luke Moore ON
Good decision by Michael Laudrup. De Guzman has had a goo match today, but he needs to have his players fit and energized, hence the substitution with 20 minutes to go, plus a player to link up well with Michu as they look to hold on against the EPL leaders.
71: Hernandez has a shot inside the box deflected off a defender before stopped by goalkeeper Michel Vorm. Good chance created by van Persie on the counter attack for United. Still 1-1 though.
73: Cameras show that winger Ryan Giggs is about to come on for Manchester United, back in his home country of Wales.
74: van Persie is brought down just outside the box by Nathan Dyer, and Swansea captain Ashley Williams kicks the ball away, but the ball hits van Persie on the head.
The Dutchman reacts angrily to this, and a scuffle breaks out between him and Williams before many team-mates break the fight up.
75: The referee decides to end the drama by giving both Robin van Persie and Ashley Williams yellow cards.
76: Rooney's free-kick just outside the area is blocked by the Swansea wall, and the ball goes out of play before a United substitution is made:
Manchester United SUB:
Wayne Rooney OFF
Ryan Giggs ON
Rooney is ironically jeered off the pitch after having a bad day at the office today, not making much impact for the away side, and maybe Giggs can make an instant impact and help United win all 3 points going into Christmas.
81: Giggs is making an instant impact, after a good through ball onto the win is delivered into the box for van Persie and Young to both take chances.
van Persie's shot is blocked by a Swansea defender, while Young's strike hits the arm of a Swansea defender off the line, but the hosts play on.
85: Manchester United SUB:
Tom Cleverley OFF
Paul Scholes ON
87: Swansea SUB:
Kemy Agustien OFF
Itay Shechter ON
90: The fourth official has signalled for 4 minutes of stoppage time to be added on.
90+1: Scholes is given a yellow card after a silly studs-up tackle on Wayne Routledge.
90+3: 1 minute left of the match, and it looks as though it will stay 1-1.
90+4: The referee has blown the whistle to end the match at The Liberty Stadium, as Swansea held on to draw with Manchester United, 1-1 thanks to a goal by Michu mid-way through the first half.
Manchester United fail to move 6 points clear of title rivals Manchester City, but are 4 points clear at the top of the table at Christmas.
They will play Newcastle on Boxing Day, and that will be covered by me on Wednesday in my Boxing Day 9 Match SPECIAL.
Meanwhile, Swansea will be happy that they played well against the EPL leaders and deservedly won a point today. They stay in 11th place with 24 points, and have a match away against Reading on Boxing Day.
Chelsea: Cech, Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, Cahill, Cole, Luiz, Lampard, Moses, Mata, Hazard, Torres.
Subs: Turnbull, Ramires, Oscar, Ferreira, Marin, Piazon, Ake.
Aston Villa: Guzan, Herd, Clark, Baker, Lowton, Bannan, Westwood, Lichaj, Weimann, Holman, Benteke.
Subs: Given, Ireland, El Ahmadi, Albrighton, Delph, Bowery, Bennett.
16:00: The referee Phil Dowd has blown his whistle to start the first half of the match at Stamford Bridge, between 2 of the 4 Capital One semi-finalists.
2: Right-back Cesar Azpilicueta whips a ball into the box for striker Fernando Torres who jumps before heading the ball towards goal...GOAL!!!
Torres breaks the deadlock for Chelsea after only 2 minutes of playing time to score his 7th goal in the EPL this season.
HALF-TIME: Chelsea 3 Aston Villa 0
The Blues are casually cruising throguh this match with 45 minutes still to play. Torres broke the deadlock after 2 minutes, before defender David Luiz scored a powerfully dipping free-kick from 20 yards out in the 28th minute.
Branislav Ivanovic made it 3-0 in the 33rd minute after Mata's delivery from a corner found Cahill. Cahill took a shot while off balance, and Guzan parried the ball away, but Ivanovic was there to head the ball into the net.
|Early opener: Striker Fernando Torres heads Chelsea into a 2 minute lead against Aston Villa.|
|7th goal of the season: Torres celebrates his early strike with team-mate Victor Moses.|
|Clinical: Chelsea DEFENDER David Luiz scores a free-kick from 20 yards out to double the lead.|
|Watch out: Luiz has scored more free-kicks this season than "the great, consistent" Ronaldo.|
|Domination: Branislav Ivanovic cleans up a parried save by Guzan to make it 3-0 to Chelsea before half-time.|
FULL-TIME: Chelsea 8 Aston Villa 0
Yes, you saw correctly. Chelsea won by 8 goals to nil. Aston Villa's 5 match unbeaten run grounds to a holt.
Chelsea's "living legend" midifielder Frank Lampard made it 4-0 in the 60th minute with a bullet strike from 30 yards out which creeped past Brad Guzan into the net.
|Landmark: Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard scores to make it 4-0 on his 500th appearance for Chelsea.|
|Sign me up! Lampard is on his last year of contract at Chelsea, and rumours are ciruclating that he will leave in the summer.|
Then, substitute Lucas Piazon played a lovely through ball to midfielder Ramires, who took a low, powerful shot from 14 yards out towards goal, and the ball went through Brad Guzan's legs into the net.
Aston Villa defender Chris Herd conceded a penalty in the 78th minute after clipping Oscar inside the box with his arm. There was hardly any contact, and it looked as though it was a dive, but Oscar stepped up and blasted the ball into the top corner of the net.
|1st goal of the season: Chelsea midfielder Oscar celebrates his goal from the penalty spot against Aston Villa.|
Nice 1-2 play by Piazon and Hazard found the latter with the ball inside the box. Hazard weaved in and out past two defenders before blasting the ball powerfully past Guzan into the net.
|Hazardous: Chelsea winger Eden Hazard makes it 7-0 to the hosts in the 83rd minute.|
And the last goal of the day for Chelsea fell to midfielder Ramires, when a quick counter attack was finished by the Brazillian from just inside the box.
Chelsea have moved back up into 3rd place, with 1 game in hand over every side having played in the Club World Cup instead of playing the match against Southampton.
Aston Villa's solid run of form has come to an end, after an 8-0 thrashing by The Blues. They fail to move up in the table and are stuck in 16th place, just ahead of the relegation zone.
Arsenal target Klaas Jan-Huntelaar has ended speculation of a move to The Gunners, by signing a new contract with FC Schalke 04.
|Here to stay: Schalke striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar has signed a contract extension which will keep him at the club until June 2015.|
|Where's Walcott: Jenkinson, Ramsey, Wilshere, Gibbs and Oxlade-Chamberlain all signed new contracts for Arsenal.|
|Making way? Balotelli's EPL career has been plagued with controversy, and AC Milan are ready to make a move for him.|
|Will he or won't he? Santos forward Neymar is wanted by Manchester CIty, along with Barcelona and Real Madrid.|
Chelsea are ready to make a surprising £5million move for Tottenham full-back Benoit Assou-Ekotto as a replacement for Ashley Cole who is rumoured to be leaving The Blues soon.
That would be a surprise if the deal is done. Even though Assou-Ekotto has admitted that he likes the money, I doubt that Tottenham would sell a defender to their London rivals.
Tottenham are lining up a £8million bid for Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha. They are in a battle with Arsenal and Manchester United, who are both also interested in the under-21's services.
|At the top level: Crystal Palace startlet Wilfried Zaha is wanted by Manchester United, Tottenham and Arsenal.|
He is one of England's top prospects, and despite what manager Ian Hollaway has said, it does not look as though he will stay at Palace for long.
Chelsea striker Daniel Sturridge is undergoing a medical at Melwood, ahead of a £12million transfer move to Liverpool in the January transfer window.
|Undergoing a medical: Chelsea striker Daniel Sturridge is on his way to Liverpool in January for £12million.|
Good transfer on Liverpool's part. They only have one recognised striker in Luis Suarez, so if he gets injured, then they are in serious trouble. Another midfielder and a defender would not go amiss for Brendan Rodgers aswell.
Chelsea are not using Sturridge to his full potential, they obviously did not see him play on loan at Bolton but then again, they are too focused on Torres and the "midfield three" of Mata, Oscar and Hazard to think about the future talented players on their bench.
Manchester United are targeting moves for Denmark defender Jores Okore, and Celtic goalkeeper Fraser Forster as Sir Alex Ferguson looks to bolster his squad ahead of a busy term of football next year..
|Heroics: Goalkeeper Fraser Forster has pushed Celtcic into the Last 16 of the CL. United now want him.|
SAF needs to bolster his defence. It is too leaky, and Forster is a great goalkeeper. He may be the one to put De Gea and Lindegaard under pressure after his great performances in the Champions League this season for Celtic.
Fulham are favourites to sign unsettled Aston Villa striker Darren Bent in January, who is upset and disappointed at the lack of matches that he is playing, despite being the club's record signing at £24million pounds.
A good strike partner for Dimitar Berbatov perhaps? All Bent needs is game time, and he will get that at Fulham.
Everton are interested in taking Manchester City winger Scott Sinclair on loan in the January transfer window, after the lack of matches from the Welshman after a £7million move from Swansea in the summer.
|Ineffective so far: Scott Sinclair was bought by Mancini in the summer, but Everton want him on-loan.|
Everton are short in attack, and would love to have more attacking options as they look to secure a place in next season's Europa League. A good signing if it goes through, for both parties.
Thank you for reading my EPL Blog today. I will speak to you all next week on Wednesday 26th of December.
Have a Merry Christmas, and I will be back on Boxing Day for 9 EPL matches.