RJ DEMELLO - Tuesday, December 23, 2014
The start of the breakneck spate of holiday games saw a rather uneventful weekend for Jozy Altidore and his England-based compatriots
Aston Villa 1 - 1 Manchester United
The Villans held on for a valuable point against third-place Manchester United at Villa Park on Saturday to snap the Red Devils' six-game winning run.
Brad Guzan started, played 90 minutes, and made eight saves in the hard fought draw.
The Red Devils trotted out a strong lineup with Rooney, Mata, Falcao, and Van Persie all in the game but it was Aston Villa that struck first.
Eighteen minutes in Christian Benteke controlled a Fabian Delph free kick, created space, and curled a beautiful left footed shot into the top left corner.
Villa couldn't keep out United forever and in the 53rd minute Falcao equalized via a header from close range.
Things became even more difficult for the club from Birmingham as Gabriel Agbonlahor got sent off for a clumsy tackle in the 65th.
Guzan and his teammates hunkered down and fended off the continued Manchester United attacks, ending the match level.
The draw brings Villa to 20 points from 17 games, good enough for 12th place.
The Villans head to the Liberty Stadium on Boxing Day to take on Swansea City.
Stoke City 0 - 2 Chelsea
Chelsea took advantage of an early John Terry goal to grab another three points and keep its place atop the table heading into Boxing Day.
Geoff Cameron got the start in the center of midfield and played 68 minutes before coming off.
It didn't take long at all for Chelsea to have the advantage. John Terry rose over Geoff Cameron to meet a Cesc Fabregas corner kick in the second minute to head home and give the Blues the lead.
Stoke's Phil Bardsley saw yellow in the 20th minute for a challenge many, especially the Chelsea bench, thought was red card worthy.
Fabregas put the game beyond doubt in the 78th minute with a weak but well placed finish inside the left post.
The loss leaves Stoke City in 13th place with 19 points from 17 games in 2014.
The Potters travel to Liverpool on Boxing Day to take on Everton.
Tim Howard started and played 90 minutes in goal for Everton in the team's 3-0 loss to Southampton.
Eric Lichaj started and went the full 90 for Nottingham Forest in the clubs 1-1 draw with Leeds United.
Jozy Altidore made the game-day squad but didn't get off the bench in Sunderland's 1-0 win over rivals Newcastle.
Emerson Hyndman was in the 18 but didn't appear in Fulham's 4-0 beat down of Sheffield Wednesday.
Danny Williams got the start for Reading and was subbed off in second half stoppage time as the club fell 1-0 to Watford.
Oguchi Onyewu made the bench but didn't see the field in Charlton Athletic's 2-0 loss to Blackburn Rovers.