Offside’s mid-week games in pictures: Liverpool, United, Arsenal & Chelsea

As you may have gathered from early sunsets and festive promotions down every aisle, we are now in December, which means that not only is Rudolph in the midst of his pre-match warm-up, but football is set to soon become an almost daily occurrence. Rejoice!

Mid-week Premier League action made a triumphant return to the fixture schedule this week as Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea faced up to the likes of Leicester City, Stoke City, Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur, respectively.

Marc Atkins - Steven Gerrard clears his nose.
Marc Atkins – Steven Gerrard clears his nose.

Marc Atkins was at the King Power Stadium to shoot the visit of Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool on Tuesday night, with the Reds looking for a boost ahead of the busy festive period against the division’s bottom-placed club.

Marc Atkins - Raheem Sterling of Liverpool tangles with Ritchie De Laet of Leicester City.
Marc Atkins – Raheem Sterling of Liverpool tangles with Ritchie De Laet of Leicester City.

Things didn’t get off the best of starts for the away side however, with Simon Mignolet putting the ball in his own net after 21 minutes.

Marc Atkins - Adam Lallana of Liverpool celebrates scoring the equalising goal.
Marc Atkins – Adam Lallana of Liverpool celebrates scoring the equalising goal.

However, Liverpool soon made amends through Adam Lallana, with the former Southampton man roaring in celebration at having found the equaliser after just five minutes.

In the second half, Steven Gerrard handed the Reds the lead on his return to the starting line-up. The captain also had a penalty appeal turned down after he appeared to be brought down in the box.

Marc Atkins - Kasper Schmeichel of Leicester City appears to bring down Steven Gerrard of Liverpool but no penalty awarded.
Marc Atkins – Kasper Schmeichel of Leicester City appears to bring down Steven Gerrard of Liverpool but no penalty awarded.
Marc Atkins - Referee, Lee Mason shows a red card to Wes Morgan of Leicester City.
Marc Atkins – Referee, Lee Mason shows a red card to Wes Morgan of Leicester City.

Jordan Henderson then sealed the victory on the 83rd minute to grant Rodgers all three points and a positive start to December.

Marc Atkins - Jordan Henderson of Liverpool celebrates scoring his goal.
Marc Atkins – Jordan Henderson of Liverpool celebrates scoring his goal.

More pictures from the match can be found at welloffside.com.

Tuesday night’s other game took place at Old Trafford where Simon Stacpoole was on hand to photograph the match for Offside.

Simon Stacpoole - Phillip Bardsley of Stoke clears from Marouane Fellaini of Man Utd.
Simon Stacpoole – Phillip Bardsley of Stoke clears from Marouane Fellaini of Man Utd.

Louis van Gaal put out another attacking line-up, with Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young retaining their places as full-backs with Juan Mata playing in the absence of the injured Wayne Rooney.

Simon Stacpoole - Chris Smalling of Man Utd holds off Bojan Krkic of Stoke.
Simon Stacpoole – Chris Smalling of Man Utd holds off Bojan Krkic of Stoke.

The hosts took the lead after 21 minutes through the head of Marouane Fellaini who burst forward into the box to knock the ball into the net.

Stoke didn’t crumble however, and come the 39th minute, Mark Hughes’ men were level through Steven N’Zonzi’s driving shot from outside the box.

Old Trafford became nervy as chances went unfinished yet Mata found the lead again with a delivery into the box that evaded everyone and bounced past Asmir Begovic just before the hour mark.

Simon Stacpoole - Juan Mata's ball floats over the head of Marco Rojo and into the net.
Simon Stacpoole – Juan Mata’s ball floats over the head of Marco Rojo and into the net.
Simon Stacpoole - The ball hits the net as Juan Mata of Man Utd scores their 2nd goal.
Simon Stacpoole – The ball hits the net as Juan Mata of Man Utd scores their 2nd goal.
Simon Stacpoole - Marco Rojo raises his hand to celebrate and claim Juan Mata's goal.
Simon Stacpoole – Marco Rojo raises his hand to celebrate and claim Juan Mata’s goal.

The visitors again rallied however, and it took some exceptional goalkeeping by David De Gea to keep them out.

Simon Stacpoole - Groundsmen with their lawnmowers after the match.
Simon Stacpoole – Groundsmen with their lawnmowers after the match.

More pictures from the match can be found at welloffside.com.

Wednesday night saw Southampton travel to the Emirates, where Marc Atkins was on duty after making his own journey down from Leicester.

Marc Atkins - Alexis Sanchez of Arsenal shows his skill, looking one way and playing a long pass in the other direction.
Marc Atkins – Alexis Sanchez of Arsenal shows his skill, looking one way and playing a long pass in the other direction.

The game was pitched as a thorough assessment of both teams, with Arsenal looking unconvincing and the Saints struggling to make their claims to the top four hold firm.

Arsene Wenger’s team should have been able to run up a decent score against the visitors, with Alexis Sanchez and Danny Welbeck running through their defence.

Marc Atkins - Maya Yoshida of Southampton in action with Danny Welbeck of Arsenal.
Marc Atkins – Maya Yoshida of Southampton in action with Danny Welbeck of Arsenal.

Yet the Englishman struggled to put chances away and the scoreline remained at 0-0, much to the derision of the booing home crowds.

Olivier Giroud arrived on the field in the second half to give the attack some structure, in place of Alex Oxlade-Chamblerlain: a move that left those in the stands even more perplexed.

Arsenal finally got their goal though on the 89th minute through Sanchez, to secure the three points and ensure that the Gunners didn’t start December flattering to deceive.

More pictures from the match can be found at welloffside.com.

Mark Leech - A Chelsea flag flies in the darkened stadium.
Mark Leech – A Chelsea flag flies in the darkened stadium.

Offside’s final mid-week match up was Chelsea versus Tottenham Hotspur at Stamford Bridge. Mark Leech and Ryan Smyth were on hand to snap the resulting showdown.

Mark Leech - The lights go out before kick off.
Mark Leech – The lights go out before kick off.

Before kick off, the Bridge fell dark as a suspected power failure cut out the lights. However, some pundits suggested that it was in fact a move designed for drama and intimidation against their foes.

Ryan Smyth - Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris saves from Oscar.
Ryan Smyth – Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris saves from Oscar.

Chelsea hardly needed such tricks to get ahead though. Even with the suspended Diego Costa, the Blues looked rampant in attack.

Mark Leech - Branislav Ivanovic of Chelsea heads the ball.,
Mark Leech – Branislav Ivanovic of Chelsea heads the ball.,

It took Eden Hazard just 19 minutes to open the scoring to make it 1-0 to the hosts, and begin the dismantling of Mauricio Pochettino’s side.

Mark Leech - Tottenham defender Jan Vertonghen grabs the shirt of Willian.
Mark Leech – Tottenham defender Jan Vertonghen grabs the shirt of Willian.

Didier Drogba added a second after 22 minutes to leave Spurs stunned by the quick and ruthless reactions of the Chelsea attackers.

Mark Leech - Didier Drogba scores the second goal for Chelsea, beating Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris..
Mark Leech – Didier Drogba scores the second goal for Chelsea, beating Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris..

Loic Remy then added a third on the 73 minute mark to complete Jose Mourinho’s victory.

More pictures from the match can be found at welloffside.com.

Offside is the UK’s leading independent sports photography agency, home to an extensive collection of classic First Division and Premier League pictures as well as other images from across the world of sport. Explore Offside’s unique library at www.welloffside.com.

Follow Offside on Twitter at @welloffside.

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Author: gregianjohnson

Football writer for The Blizzard, FourFourTwo, The Mirror, Squawka and VICE amongst others. Follow me on Twitter at @gregianjohnson.

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