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First Team

The (Christmas) Week in Football

Catch up with a hectic week of action on and off the pitch

3 January 2018

Brentford news

It was most definitely a season of goodwill in TW8 as back-to-back home wins moved The Bees into the top half of the Sky Bet Championship table over Christmas. First-up, Aston Villa were put to the sword on Boxing Day in front of the Sky Sports cameras, Romaine Sawyers drilling home the first with Lasse Vibe scoring the winner seven minutes into the second-half. The Dane was in the goals again four days later as he scored the opener against Sheffield Wednesday in the 2-0 win, Florian Jozefzoon getting the other.

It wasn’t to be a perfect Christmas however, as Sky Bet Championship leaders Wolverhampton Wanderers proved too strong at Molineux last night, running out 3-0 winners to leave The Bees 11th in the table ahead of Saturday’s Emirates FA Cup tie with Notts County.

Last night’s bench at Molineux included new-signing Emiliano Marcondes after he completed his switch to Griffin Park from FC Nordsjaelland at the end of his contract in Denmark. In other player moves to begin the January transfer window both Tom Field and Reece Cole returned from their loan spells with Bradford City and Newport County respectively.

Sky Bet Championship news

This year’s Championship silverware looks almost certain to have a gold tinge to it after Wolves unbeaten Christmas run saw Nuno Espirito Santo’s side open up a 12-point lead at the head of affairs. Four straight defeats over the festive period means Cardiff City slip to third behind Derby County, 14 points off the runaway leaders. Bristol City, Aston Villa, and Leeds United round off the top six going into the New Year with Sheffield United, Middlesbrough, Preston North End, Fulham, and Brentford hot on their heels.

Defeat to Sunderland on Saturday saw former Bees boss Mark Warburton become the sixth second tier manager to lose his job this season as Nottingham Forest parted with his services. Forest have taken just two points from their last five games to slip to 14th in the table, eight points above the drop zone.

It was an excellent Christmas for the three sides that went into the festive period in the relegation places as they all picked up multiple wins to drag others firmly into danger. Sunderland now prop up the table with 22 points from 26 games after Steve Cotterill’s Birmingham City picked up back-to-back wins over the New Year. Just eight points now cover the teams all the way up to Millwall in 15th with The Black Cats, Blues, and Burton Albion the three currently the wrong side of the dotted line.

World Football news

The January transfer window started with a bang as the protracted Virgil Van Dijk transfer saga was finally put to bed. The Dutch defender’s £75 million move to Liverpool from Southampton made him the most expensive defender in history and the eighth most expensive player of all time. Huddersfield Town have also acted quickly to bring in a defender with Terence Kongolo arriving on loan from Monaco.

On the pitch, Manchester City’s 0-0 draw with Crystal Palace on Sunday meant that Pep Guardiola’s side fell just one short of equalling the European record for consecutive wins in the top five leagues, which currently stands at 19. It could have been much worse but for Ederson saving an injury-time penalty at Selhurst Park. As it is, however, City remain 15 points clear after getting back to winning ways last night against Watford.

In behind them, Chelsea could move up to second, above Manchester United, if they beat Arsenal at The Emirates this evening with Liverpool currently occupying fourth-place ahead of Spurs and The Gunners in fifth and sixth. At the other end, Swansea City and West Bromwich Albion look to be getting cut adrift after their defeats last night which have left the pair four points from safety.

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