Premier League hits and misses: Man City raise the bar, toothless Chelsea and Anthony Elanga stars for Man Utd

Man City have raised the bar

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Manchester City’s win over Chelsea

It was first versus second but it surely did not actually appear like that. Chelsea defended properly and restricted Manchester City to solely a handful of probabilities however City have been dominant all through, barely gave their guests a look-in at the different finish, and received by way of some particular person brilliance from Kevin De Bruyne.

It was nearly a repeat of their victory at Stamford Bridge in September and, after finishing the double over Chelsea, the 13-point hole between City and their nearest challengers is big. It’s solely January, in any case.

Liverpool may shut that chasm in the event that they win their video games in hand, and they nonetheless should go to the Etihad themselves, however a turnaround now appears to be like extremely unlikely.

City are setting unbelievable requirements proper now – and it is no shock others are struggling to maintain up. They have the greatest attacking numbers and the greatest defensive document, too.

  • Man City 1-0 Chelsea – Match report and highlights
  • How the groups lined up | Match stats

The 15-game profitable streak they put collectively over the winter interval final season took them to the title and appeared unrepeatable however they’re as much as 12 wins on the spin now and motoring away from their rivals once more.

When different groups have faltered throughout this busy festive interval, City have simply stored on profitable. Pep Guardiola mentioned his aspect have been going through an “emergency” of accidents, sickness and suspensions at the begin of December. Fast ahead a month and a half and they’re on track to complete the season with over 95 factors.

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No striker? No downside. A disrupted pre-season – City have been the final Premier League membership to return to the coaching floor – might have affected some performances earlier in the marketing campaign, however they’re of their groove now.

Of course, the assets and depth of high quality Guardiola can name on is substantial. But the relentless nature of this City workforce, and the means they’ve tailored to challenges they’ve confronted, is all the way down to mentality and teaching.

A fourth Premier League title in 5 seasons appears a near-certainty now for a workforce and supervisor who’ve raised the bar.
Peter Smith

Toothless Chelsea give up title probabilities

Romelu Lukaku's effort is saved by Ederson

It was solely ever the faintest of probabilities, however Chelsea kissed goodbye to it at the Etihad Stadium.

Nothing apart from a victory would suffice if the prospect of the European champions reeling the runaway leaders, and champions of England, Manchester City again right into a title race was to materialise.

The basis was there for Chelsea to resurrect their title problem. A steely and resilient defensive show, marshalled by the evergreen Thiago Silva, weathered the fixed Manchester City bombardment, however Thomas Tuchel’s aspect have been discovered woefully wanting at the enterprise finish of the pitch.

For the first time in the German’s reign at the membership, Chelsea didn’t register an try on aim in the first half of a Premier League sport, as a entrance three of Romelu Lukaku, Hakim Ziyech and Christian Pulisic didn’t gel. By the finish of the 90 minutes, Ederson would solely be referred to as into motion as soon as in the City aim.

  • Man City 1-0 Chelsea – Match report and highlights
  • How the groups lined up | Match stats

Tuchel believed his aspect’s defensive efforts merited a degree however the similar couldn’t be mentioned of his attackers.

“We had zero touches in the box [in the first half]. That was a big problem, the performance of the front players,” he conceded. “That was down to a lack of precision, timing, and composure. We can do much, much better and we need to do better.”

Tuchel’s brutal evaluation was adopted by a equally blunt response as to if Chelsea may nonetheless win the Premier League. “We will never give up, but if City keeps on winning every game, nobody can catch them.”

On Saturday’s displaying, Chelsea haven’t got the firepower to capitalise on a slip-up from City, nonetheless unlikely that is perhaps.
Jack Wilkinson

Where does the blame lie at Everton?

Abdoulaye Doucoure and Jordan Pickford at full time

It is a query that continues to be arduous to pinpoint, however for a lot of those that headed again to Merseyside having made their longest away journey of the season, it’s clear the place the buck stops.

Everton are in freefall and this sad marriage with under-fire former Liverpool supervisor Rafael Benitez reached its nadir at Carrow Road.

This was the membership’s first away defeat towards a workforce beginning the day backside of the Premier League desk since May 2004, having been unbeaten in 17 such events coming into the sport.

Benitez is working out of time and excuses. Dominic Calvert-Lewin was again in the aspect following his most up-to-date relapse whereas Richarlison did have an effect off the bench, however the harm had already been completed.

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After a defeat away at Norwich, Rafa Benitez is assured he can flip Everton’s season round now he’s getting his injured gamers again regardless of protests from followers

  • Norwich 2-1 Everton – Match report and highlights

As has so usually been the case throughout this depressing run of 1 win in 13 league video games.

The 2-1 loss to Norwich continued an abysmal document for Everton of conceding the first aim in 16 of their 22 video games in all competitions this season, together with every of their final 9 video games.

Against the league’s backside aspect, who had conceded the first aim in 16 video games themselves this time period, Benitez watched his gamers ship twice earlier than they staged any type of response. For Evertonians, and for Benitez, it appears like Groundhog Day.

He might by no means be fairly as irate as the membership’s supporters at the present scenario, however the gamers should additionally take accountability.

Everton followers specific their emotions in direction of Benitez

After all, each of Norwich’s objectives have been of Everton’s personal making, with Michael Keane’s personal aim coming 92 seconds earlier than Ben Godfrey’s poor go contributed to Adam Idah making it two.

Benitez mentioned: “We didn’t start the game badly in terms of control, but afterwards we made the same mistakes. We made a couple of mistakes in a few minutes, we conceded two goals and gave ourselves a mountain to climb again.”

Everton have received simply 19 factors from their 19 league video games this season – solely twice beforehand have that they had fewer at this stage of a Premier League marketing campaign. Senior members of the squad should come ahead and lead by instance, however calls for Benitez to be relieved of his duties will now intensify.
Ben Grounds

Elanga reveals what Man Utd have been lacking

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Aston Villa’s draw with Manchester United in the Premier League

“Manchester United have always had wingers that can sprint in behind defenders,” famous Jamie Redknapp in the aftermath of United’s 2-2 draw with Aston Villa. He was talking concerning the efficiency of 19-year-old Antony Elanga, who was given a shock begin by Ralf Rangnick at Villa Park.

Elanga was most popular to £73m signing Jadon Sancho and put in a efficiency stuffed with tempo, direct working and unwavering enthusiasm – all attributes now we have but to see from Sancho in a Manchester United. His first begin of the season in the Premier League coincided with United’s greatest efficiency beneath Rangnick – for 80 minutes anyway.

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  • Aston Villa 2-2 Man Utd – Report and highlights
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United got a lift by the affect of Anthony Elanga

Of course, Sancho is a totally completely different sort of participant who likes the ball to toes and when at his greatest could cause havoc along with his inventive play. But along with his confidence at all-time low, giving a begin to somebody like Elanga who likes to run, run and run some extra was a wise transfer by the new United supervisor. His potential to stretch the sport gave United a unbelievable platform to construct from and Bruno Fernandes’ opening aim stemmed from an assault down Elanga’s aspect.

“He did well and had two great opportunities to score but he showed what I expected of him and why I decided to play him from the start,” mentioned Rangnick.

He might have price the membership £73m however Sancho has an enormous problem in entrance of him now to persuade the supervisor to offer him the beginning shirt. It’s Elanga’s for the time being.
Lewis Jones

Why cannot Newcastle see out a victory?

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Newcastle’s draw with Watford

Ahead of Saturday’s essential relegation battle with Watford, there was a buzz of anticipation round St James’ Park. Chris Wood was making his debut – a £25m substitute for the injured Callum Wilson – and this was a must-win sport. Banners and flags have been flown in a powerful pre-match displaying.

And for an hour, Newcastle responded in sort. They dominated the first half, and 4 minutes after the break, an excellent strike from Allan Saint-Maximin noticed Newcastle forward.

Perhaps it was nerves, anxiousness or the want to guard a lead, however the hosts started to take a seat again and invite the stress. Watford’s greatest probabilities all got here after the sixtieth minute – together with the important equaliser with mere minutes to play that made a draw really feel like a defeat for Newcastle.

  • Newcastle 1-1 Watford – Match report and highlights
  • How the groups lined up | Match stats

Eddie Howe’s aspect have now dropped an enormous 21 factors from profitable positions this season and conceded 11 objectives in the remaining quarter-hour of Premier League video games. Newcastle proceed to seek out themselves on this cycle, and it promoted loud booing from the dwelling followers at full-time.

It all begs the query – simply why cannot Newcastle see out a victory?

Eddie Howe gave his ideas: “I feel it is psychological. There was a thought to guard what we had. It was early in the sport, we misplaced our attacking menace in the match and that ought to by no means be the case with so lengthy to go.

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Eddie Howe was clearly dissatisfied Newcastle conceded a late equaliser in the 1-1 draw towards Watford and he feels they’ve missed an enormous alternative to realize factors towards a relegation rival

“I think that’s linked to confidence and now having won as many games as we would have liked in a long period of time. The only way to build that is to get over the line and win. We did that against Burnley recently and I hoped that would have been an improvement in that phase of our play.

“But at the moment, we did not recover from the line and I hope it would not result in psychological scars for the gamers. I’m positive it will not as a result of we’ll go into the sport and analyse it and assessment and do some work to strive and change it.”

Whatever the case could also be, it is a worryingly frequent development. Alongside this, Newcastle solely had one shot on the right track over the whole 90 minutes – Saint-Maximin’s aim – and solely two in the second half total.

Newcastle stay with only one Premier League victory this season, and joint-second league excessive of 9 attracts. Each sport will get greater as the season continues, however when there may very well be only some factors and even aim distinction in it, they should begin bettering each tallies to face an opportunity.

Otherwise, a return to the Championship more and more beckons.
Charlotte Marsh

Idah offers Norwich further dimension

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Norwich City’s win over Everton

Norwich supervisor Dean Smith mentioned he hoped his aspect have “turned a corner” following this hard-fought third Premier League victory over the season. Everton at all times had the look of a aspect that have been there for the taking, however the Canaries had solely scored eight objectives of their opening 20 league video games.

To put that into context, it was the joint fewest objectives by any aspect after 20 video games of a top-flight season, alongside the Leicester workforce of the 1977/78 marketing campaign. Just as of their earlier time period in the Premier League two years in the past, there was an over-reliance on Teemu Pukki to offer the ammunition, however Smith was rewarded for his daring method on Saturday.

Josh Sargent was recalled and compelled Keane’s mistake for the opener whereas Adam Idah confirmed nice composure to notch his first Premier League on his twenty seventh look in the competitors to double Norwich’s lead in what proved to be the match-winner.

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Smith mentioned: “I wanted him to follow up his positive performance on Wednesday [in the 2-0 defeat to West Ham] with another positive one today and he did that. We’ve got a few players who have potential like Adam, and it’s our job to help them fulfil that potential.”

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Dean Smith says the togetherness was there inside the workforce as Norwich beat Everton to document their first Premier League victory since November

Overall, it was Idah’s first league aim since May 2021, when he scored in Norwich’s remaining sport of their promotion season in the Championship towards Barnsley.

“Ourselves and Adam are still finding out what type of player he is. He’s a lad who has got an awful lot of potential, he’s physically strong and he’s just starting to learn how to use his body but I thought he did really well using it. He’s got a great touch, he can finish. His first Premier League goal was certainly deserved.”

Norwich are but to strengthen their squad this window however in Idah, they might simply have the crucial firepower to assist stage an unlikely escape when many critics had already written them off.
Ben Grounds

Ward-Prowse closing in on Beckham free-kick document

Southampton might have seen their five-match unbeaten run come to an finish at Molineux on Saturday afternoon after a 3-1 loss to Wolves, nonetheless, the guests did rating the greatest aim of the sport after one more in the now lengthy checklist of sensational James Ward-Prowse direct free kicks.

With the scoreline 2-0 to the hosts and Southampton seemingly crushed, up stepped Ward-Prowse to curve a luxurious free-kick up and over the wall and into the prime righthand nook of the web from totally 35 yards out, with Wolves’ beforehand unbeatable goalkeeper Jose Sa rooted to his line.

  • Wolves 3-1 Southampton – Match report and highlights
  • How the groups lined up | Match stats

No ‘keeper in the world would have gotten close to Ward-Prowse’s effort, given the shot’s accuracy and velocity, though we must always not be stunned at the Saints skipper’s prowess from dead-ball conditions.

In reality, Saturday was the England worldwide’s twelfth direct free-kick aim in the Premier League, a haul bettered solely by David Beckham (18), along with his supervisor Ralph Hasenhuttl even claiming it was the greatest he had ever seen from the participant, which is kind of some assertion given his physique of labor.
Richard Morgan

Time for Brighton to maneuver on a striker?

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Free to look at: Highlights from Brighton’s 1-1 draw towards Crystal Palace

If solely it was a sport of xG. Yet once more, Brighton have dominated a sport with out profitable it. They have began displaying indicators they will discover the again of the web this season, and their new-found Midas contact launched them into the European locations earlier in the season.

But they nonetheless haven’t grasped methods to routinely flip territorial dominance into objectives. Neal Maupay, usually criticised for his wasteful ending, barely had an opportunity to show that incorrect and as a substitute it was Jakub Moder, Leandro Trossard and Danny Welbeck who shared the burden of making one other night of close to misses.

It was nearly in the script that Palace ought to rating from their first shot on the right track, displaying Brighton precisely how it’s completed as groups have been doing to Graham Potter’s aspect ever since he walked into the door.

  • Brighton 1-1 Crystal Palace – Match report
  • How the groups lined up | Match stats

They have such nice management over 80 per cent of the pitch, however the remaining 20 per cent, the clincher, continues to be past them. The January window is nearly halfway by way of, and if the Seagulls are severe about turning their good play into factors for the remainder of the season, it’s time to act.

This was the sixth time this season they’ve had an xG of greater than double their opponents’ – however on the scoreline, six can also be the quantity of video games they’ve managed to win all season.

Despite a tricky evening for Crystal Palace, the teamsheet could also be the actual winner for them. At a median age of 25 years and 31 days, their 11 starters represented the Eagles’ youngest Premier League line-up since Iain Dowie managed them to a 2-2 draw towards West Brom in February 2005.

Andy Johnson was one among the scorers that day – and he turns 41 subsequent month. Steve Parish’s imaginative and prescient to rejuvenate one among the Premier League’s eldest squads goes swimmingly.
Ron Walker

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