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Premier League grades: Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester City stand out on goal-filled Boxing Day

The Premier League’s 2021-22 season has averaged under three goals per match, so with three of Sunday’s nine Boxing Day games postponed due to COVID, fans would have been happy with 18 total goals to enjoy in the six games. They got half of that in just one game and a total of 28 goals on what was a wild day (read more on the Boxing Day results here).

The slate was highlighted by the Manchester City vs. Leicester City game that finished with nine total goals as City won a crazy one, 6-3. There were four goals by the hour mark, all of which were from City. But the Foxes nearly came roaring back, pulling within a goal at 4-3 before being dismantled. 

In total, there were 31 total shots and a combined xG of 5.98. Leicester’s xG was their highest of the season, while City’s was their second highest after recording a 4.03 in the 5-0 win against Arsenal in August.  Eight different players scored a goal in the game, while City achieved a season-high passing percentage of 94.2 percent and deservedly won, despite the defense being a bit lackadaisical when up big. Leicester have now conceded multiple goals in seven of their last nine games — a concerning trend with a team hoping to play in Europe next season.

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Here are our Premier League grades from Sunday, with Newcastle vs. Manchester United set for Monday.

Manchester City 6, Leicester City 3 (xG: 3.44-2.54)

City

A dominant attacking display, but Pep Guardiola will be furious with the goals conceded. The team showed that killer instinct late on, but they looked a tad too comfortable in the second half. The league favorites but room for improvement.

Grade: B

Leicester

Overall, their attack did what would normally be enough, but those three goals still saw them lose by an additional three. The injuries in defense have doomed their chances of the top four, and they may be forced to invest greatly in January in order to push European places. Fourth-worst defense in the league in terms of goals conceded.

Grade: D

Arsenal 5, Norwich City 0 (xG: 2.67-0.18)

Arsenal

Absolutely dominant from start to finish and on a run of fantastic form. Who needs Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang? Well, they likely will with a brutal stretch coming up that includes Manchester City, two games against Liverpool and the North London Derby.

Grade: A

Norwich

I feel for Josh Sargent, because it feels like the American left a relegated team in Werder Bremen for one that looks headed to a similar fate. They’ve scored just one goal in the last four games. 

Grade: C

Tottenham 3, Crystal Palace 0 (xG: 2.29-0.21)

Tottenham

A completely dominant performance where they outshot Palace 17-4. The match was essentially over when Wilfried Zaha was shown red in the first half, and Spurs went on to control the ball and cruise to victory. They are finding some form.

Grade: B

Crystal Palace

Was always going to be tough to get a point, and they lost any hope with the red card. Time to regroup now and aim to bounce back against lowly Norwich.

Grade: D

Southampton 3, West Ham 2 (xG: 1.25-1.45)

Southampton

That was some result. They blew the lead twice but were efficient with their chances, capped off by Jan Bednarek’s super header goal. The victory allows them to climb into 14th and ease the relegation concerns just a bit. 

Grade: A

West Ham

Not good. Sloppy in defense, slow to react and just seemed to get too comfortable after scoring. Lacked that killer instinct and are blowing any chance they have of finishing in the top four. 

Grade: D

Chelsea 3, Aston Villa 1 (xG: 2.71-0.40)

Chelsea 

They once again needed two penalty calls to go their way, and they once again conceded, but in the end it wasn’t all that bad. Romelu Lukaku returned and scored, and the team looked a bit more united on the pitch after an inconsistent patch. For the first time in a bit, the defense also looked up for the task. This was their first PL win by multiple goals in over a month.

Grade: B

Aston Villa

They simply are not generating enough in attack. Villa scored on an own goal in this one, but they have only surpassed a 1.0 xG in just two out of their last nine games. Part of that could be because they’ve played Chelsea, Liverpool and City in three of their last five games, but coach Steven Gerrard will be expecting more soon.

Grade: D

Brighton 2, Brentford 0 (xG: 0.99-0.78)

Brighton

Began the match stronger and ended with two goals late in the first half to take full command. The passing was sharp, but they were a little lucky to not concede. Ended a four-match winless streak and are now not far from European places.

Grade: A

Brentford

A harsh defeat. They had more shots than Brighton and at times were more dangerous, but they were not clinical enough. They’ve got just one win in their last five games and have conceded multiple goals in three of their last four. Not quick enough in defense when they needed to be.

Grade: C

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