It’s not quite Christmas, but it does feel like we’ve been handed a present in the shape of a full midweek Premier League programme.
The action got underway on Tuesday evening, with a London derby between Crystal Palace and West Ham United.
On Wednesday, there were a further nine games—the highlight being David Moyes’ clash with his former club as Manchester United hosted Everton.
Elsewhere, league leaders Arsenal were in action—while Luis Suarez was hoping to continue an electrifying recent goalscoring run against Norwich at Anfield.
Over the following slides, we will dig into each match.
A late goal from Bryan Oviedo ensured Manchester United manager David Moyes endured a painful first meeting with his former club on Wednesday evening, as Everton claimed a hard-fought 1-0 win at Old Trafford.
Oviedo—left-back in the team only because of an injury to rumoured United target Leighton Baines—found himself unmarked in the box four minutes from time and he turned home Romelu Lukaku’s low delivery at the near post to seal a memorable win for Roberto Martinez and his side.
Wayne Rooney hit the post in the first half and Danny Welbeck hit the post in the second, but Moyes can have few real complaints that his side were edged in what was an even contest throughout.
"I'm very disappointed," Moyes told the BBC. "We needed a bit of good fortune and we didn't get it. Everton kept at it and showed us what a good team they are.
"We didn't defend the goal well enough so it was our own doing. We had some chances as well, as did Everton. They have been playing well and that's why they are up near the top of the league."
Four goals of the highest order from Luis Suarez helped propel Liverpool to a comfortable 5-1 victory against their perennial whipping boys Norwich City on Wednesday evening.
Two goal-of-the-season contenders from Suarez—one a 40-yard half-volley, the other a brilliant solo run and shot—either side of a close range tap-in helped the Uruguayan also claim a Premier League record inside the first 35 minutes, as he became the first player in the competition's history to score three hat-tricks against the same opposition.
It took until midway through the second half for Suarez to grab his fourth, as he curled a fine free-kick over the wall to comprehensively round off the scoring, before he also provided the assist for Raheem Sterling’s clincher moments from time.
Prior to that, Bradley Johnson had headed home from close range to ensure that Norwich, who were perhaps not quite as bad as the final scoreline suggested, did not leave home completely empty-handed.
Nicklas Bendtner’s second-minute goal—on his first Premier League start for Arsenal since March 2011—helped propel the Gunners to a comfortable 2-0 win over Hull City, as Mesut Ozil notched the other.
Bendtner, playing to allow first-choice striker Olivier Giroud to rest during what is a busy period of fixtures, headed home after just two minutes to give the home side the advantage—as he perfectly met Carl Jenkinson’s cross.
Arsene Wenger saw his side dominate large swathes of the match, but they needed until the second half to get the clincher as Ozil arrived right on time to turn home Aaron Ramsey’s cutback from close range.
"He had a good performance, he has the quality," Wenger told the BBC, when asked about Bendtner. "I believe in his quality and when he has that commitment and attitude his quality shows."
Manchester City picked up a hard-fought away victory thanks to two goals from Yaya Toure and an opener from Sergio Aguero, as they beat West Brom 3-2.
In truth City were always more comfortable than the final scoreline suggests, with Costel Pantilimon's late own goal and Victor Anichebe's injury time finish not coming soon enough for the Baggies to have even a sniff at a dramatic equaliser.
It was Aguero and Toure who masterminded the three points, with the former getting on the scoresheet after just nine minutes following a smart cross from Pablo Zabaleta.
Toure then found the net shortly after half-time in similar circumstances, this time Aleksander Kolarov the provider, before the same combination delivered the third—Kolarov being fouled by Claudio Yacob inside the box as Toure made no mistake from the penalty spot.
"I think we played really well in the first half and had three or four more clear chances," Pellegrini said, per the BBC. "The second half we controlled the game and made it 3-0.
"In the last few minutes, maybe all of us, including me, were thinking of the next match on Saturday. That is when they scored their two goals."
A virtuoso individual performance from Eden Hazard, one that included two goals and an assist, helped Chelsea to a hard-fought 4-3 victory against Sunderland on Wednesday.
The Black Cats remain bottom of the table as a result of the loss, which hardly seems a fair outcome after they played such a part in an entertaining counter. But Blues manager Jose Mourinho indicated his belief that the home side would stay up after the game, an indication of his respect for their display.
It was Hazard who decided the encounter, scoring either side of half-time after providing the assist for Frank Lampard's 17th minute equaliser to give the Blues a 3-2 advantage. Phil Bardsley then scored an 84th minute own goal to double Sunderland's deficit, before making amends two minutes later to set up a tense finish.
Jozy Altidore had earlier opened the scoring for Gus Poyet's men, with John O'Shea finding a 50th minute equaliser to briefly make the scoreline 2-2.
Poyet noted to the BBC:
When you score three goals at home to a team like Chelsea then you expect to get something from it. I'm sad and I will go home a little bit disappointed.
Eden Hazard was outstanding. I can tell you after playing Chelsea that they are going to be champions.
Tottenham produced a dramatic fightback to ease the pressure on Andre Villas-Boas and condemn Fulham to a seventh straight defeat, as Lewis Holtby scored a late winner in a 2-1 success.
Fulham, under caretaker boss Rene Meulensteen for the first time, took the lead early in the second half as Ashkan Dejagah thumped home Dimitar Berbatov’s pinpoint through ball—but Spurs fought back, eventually getting the equaliser as central defender Vlad Chiriches produced a remarkable equaliser from outside the box from a corner.
Then came Holtby’s moment, the substitute rewarding Villas-Boas’s faith as he found the top corner with a beautiful drive.
Holtby told the BBC:
All week I said I have to shoot more and I did into the top corner. You can't imagine how happy I am. It is a dream come true.
We had so much bad things going on, so much negativity into the team. It was a great response from the team to come back. That is what the team needed.
I hope we are back on track and get back to a winning streak.
Crystal Palace hauled themselves off of the foot of the Premier League table with a 1-0 win over West Ham United.
Tony Pulis took charge of the Eagles last month, but his reign began with a loss to Norwich.
His side bounced back one game later, with Marouane Chamakh coming up with the winner.
Chamakh came into the game in mixed form, as this tweet from OptaJoe highlighted.
886 - Marouane Chamakh has played 886 minutes of PL football for Palace this season, but mustered only 3 shots at goal (2 on target). Shy.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 3, 2013
But he connected with a Barry Bannan cross on 42 minutes to glance a header beyond Jussi Jaaskelainen.
West Ham have found scoring goals tough this season and they could not fashion a response, although they did have a Stewart Downing effort chalked off for an infringement.
It was a nervy finish for Palace and Jimmy Kebe missed a gilt-edged chance to provide a cushion when shooting over late on, but the home side held on for the win.
Eagles boss Pulis was delighted to see his side weather an early storm before getting themselves ahead.
Setanta Sports’ Jason Farrell has the quotes:
In the first 20 minutes we were on the back foot, we didn’t start well and looked pretty nervous but then we got into the game and I’m very pleased for Marouane Chamakh.
He has really worked hard. He and Cameron Jerome were a handful.
Possession Percentage: 38.3 - 61.7
Southampton 2-3 Aston Villa
Fabian Delph's 80th minute strike gave Paul Lambert's side a dramatic away win, after Southampton had twice pegged back their visitors. Gabby Agbonlahor and Libor Kozak had twice put Villa infront, but goals from Jay Rodriguez and Dani Osvaldo had given Southampton—who surely deserved more from the game—a share of the points before Delph's intervention
Stoke 0-0 Cardiff
The two sides played out a scoreless draw at the Britannia Stadium.
Swansea 2-0 Newcastle
The loss of their only recognised fit striker, Alvaro Vazquez, did not hamper Swansea—as they beat in-form Newcastle thanks to goals from Nathan Dyer (who replaced the injured Vazquez) and Jonjo Shelvey.