Premier League hits and misses: Manchester City motor away from Liverpool and Chelsea in title race

City now over the hill in title race?

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Manchester City’s win towards Brentford in the Premier League.

The hole now could be eight.

The Manchester City followers who danced their means in the direction of the exits on the Brentford Community Stadium and into the evening may properly have made the brief strip onto the King’s Road to boost a glass to Brighton.

Their level at Stamford Bridge means a as soon as three-horse race is trying like ensuing in an all-too-familiar ending with gentle blue ribbons on the Premier League trophy.

This felt a big week, with Liverpool slipping at Leicester and Chelsea’s refusal to return to their bristling greatest even with Romelu Lukaku again among the many targets.

The title contenders are superb groups however are made to appear to be they’ve too many flaws, when up towards this runaway City practice. Here, they had been at their ruthlessly environment friendly greatest, scoring by Phil Foden 56 seconds after Joao Cancelo had cleared the ball off his personal aim line.

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

Guardiola is aware of his aspect had come by one more stiff away take a look at.

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“I’m very proud of my players, as all the managers are making arguments about the schedule which we made one or two weeks ago, but we’re in a good run. We’re only at the end of December so there are many more games,” he stated.

“We are eight points in front but there are 54 points still to play for. We needed this type of rhythm in order to win today.

“They’re an distinctive workforce and we have seen what they’ve completed to others. If we attacked faster, they may’ve brought about us issues so it was the rhythm we wanted in the present day.”

‘Boring, boring City’ sang the Brentford followers as their opponents stroked the ball round in the closing phases. Boring, possibly. But given the Liverpool and Chelsea outcomes over the previous 24 hours or so, a win right here was extraordinarily worthwhile to City in the larger scheme of issues.

They roll on, maybe over the hill now in the title race.
Ben Grounds

Chelsea’s creativity drawback seems to be set to price them the title

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A pissed off Thomas Tuchel says Chelsea can be ‘silly’ to imagine they’ll compete for the Premier League title attributable to Covid-enforced absences and accidents after a 1-1 draw towards Brighton.

Chelsea had been three factors away from Liverpool and 4 factors forward of Manchester City after 12 Premier League video games on the finish of November.

They now path leaders City by eight factors and are only one forward of Liverpool having performed a sport extra.

The west Londoners have gone from 15/8 pictures with Sky Bet for the title all the way in which out to 16/1. And there will not be many takers at that value contemplating City’s kind, and Chelsea’s for that matter. Despite solely dropping their lead in stoppage time towards Brighton, they had been second greatest for giant components to a workforce who pressed effectively, handed intelligently and seemed extra assured than their supposed title-challenging rivals.

Such is the relentless tempo on the high of the Premier League, you merely cannot afford to undergo a spell of successful simply 4 out of 10 video games as Chelsea have. In the blink of an eye fixed, the title has slipped out of their grasp.

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

Sustaining assaults and creating high quality possibilities is changing into an actual drawback for Thomas Tuchel, who minimize a pissed off determine in his media duties after dropping but extra factors. Their lack of sustained, high quality assaults may be showcased by an anticipated targets determine of simply 0.67 in the 1-1 draw.

Romelu Lukaku’s aim got here from a set-piece, as did most of Chelsea’s possibilities. Remember it is a workforce that towards Arsenal on the second week of the season created 18 possibilities from open play in one fixture. Such is their present malaise, they’ve created a complete of 18 possibilities from open play in their final three fixtures mixed towards Brighton, Aston Villa and Wolves.

It was the identical story in the 3-2 win over Leeds the place two Jorginho penalties acquired them out of jail and papered over the cracks of their lack of leading edge in the ultimate third. This is now greater than only a blip for Tuchel and Chelsea. They have inquiries to reply.
Lewis Jones

Brighton flourishing towards the elite

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Chelsea’s draw with Brighton in the Premier League.

“I have not seen one team play a nice match against Brighton, so it was clear we would struggle,” Thomas Tuchel stated, praising Brighton’s model after the 1-1 draw. Much like Jurgen Klopp did earlier this season and very similar to Pep Guardiola has completed in the previous.

When individuals like which might be speaking you up, it is no marvel Graham Potter is not going to vary his philosophy regardless of his workforce’s tendency to not get the outcomes their performances merited.

That occurred once more in this match. Brighton deserved to win however Danny Welbeck’s equaliser was celebrated like a winner and you could not maintain the smile off Potter’s face at full-time.

As Tuchel, Klopp and Guardiola have famous, he deserves large respect and reward for the job he’s doing at Brighton and nights just like the one at Stamford Bridge show it.

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

Potter fills his gamers with such confidence in probably the most daunting of environments. Many gamers disguise when confronted with the problem of taking part in at Anfield or Stamford Bridge. But Brighton’s passing is constructive and their teamwork and unity with and with out the ball is among the many better of any workforce in the Premier League.

They are the one workforce, bar Chelsea and Manchester City, to come back away with a end result at Liverpool this season and their efficiency towards Tuchel’s aspect was equally, if no more, spectacular. They dominated all the important thing efficiency metrics, posting extra possession, extra pictures (18), pictures heading in the right direction (6) and Potter’s aspect received the anticipated targets battle (0.67 vs 0.88).

It appears the larger the event, the larger the Brighton efficiency.
Lewis Jones

Salah has uncommon off-day as Liverpool surprised

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Leicester’s win towards Liverpool

Leicester had conceded 26 targets in their final 9 video games whereas Liverpool had scored a minimum of as soon as in their final 34.

So when Mohamed Salah stepped as much as take an early penalty he himself had received, it appeared the script for a sport which pitted the Premier League’s most prolific assault towards one in every of its extra porous – and injury-hit – defences was already written.

But Salah, the Premier League’s high scorer and a person who had transformed his final 15 consecutive spot-kicks in the competitors, as an alternative noticed his uncharacteristically tame effort repelled by Kasper Schmeichel earlier than heading the rebound towards the crossbar.

  • Leicester 1-0 Liverpool – Match report and highlights
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Leicester harnessed the facility of that second, holding agency towards sustained Liverpool strain earlier than substitute Ademola Lookman’s second-half winner, whereas on the opposite aspect Salah wilted.

The Egyptian has been irrepressible all season however his penalty miss knocked him off his stride on the King Power Stadium. In the primary half, sloppy touches crept into his sport. In the second, there have been over-hit passes and misdirected efforts on aim.

Salah, who will quickly be part of up along with his nation for the African Cup of Nations, was not the one one to spurn alternatives. Sadio Mane missed a gilt-edged one-on-one probability. Diogo Jota headed broad when he ought to have hit the goal. But it was Salah’s struggles that greatest summed up Liverpool’s evening.

The defeat opens a big hole between Jurgen Klopp’s aspect and Premier League leaders Manchester City, who had put six targets previous the identical opponent solely 48 hours earlier on the Etihad Stadium.

It appeared Liverpool may rack up an analogous whole towards Leicester’s makeshift defence when Salah began his run-up. At that second, nevertheless, the script was torn up and a brand new one was written.
Nick Wright

Vlasic reveals he may help West Ham

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from West Ham’s win at Watford

West Ham had been already properly on their method to victory when Nikola Vlasic added their fourth aim towards Watford at Vicarage Road however the Hammers will hope it’s a important second for him.

The Croatian worldwide has made solely a modest affect since his arrival at West Ham from CSKA Moscow in a deal value £33.5m final summer time however maybe his first aim for the membership is a sign of larger issues to come back in the second half of the marketing campaign.

  • Watford 1-4 West Ham – Match report and highlights
  • How the groups lined up | Match stats

Vlasic has needed to be affected person. The ahead, who had a spell at Everton in 2017/18, has solely made two Premier League begins for the Hammers to this point however followers have been inspired by what they’ve seen not too long ago and he actually made his mark at Vicarage Road, turning residence Jarrod Bowen’s cut-back in stoppage time following his Eighty fifth-minute introduction.

Bowen’s glowing kind is likely one of the the reason why Vlasic has struggled to carry down a spot in David Moyes’s beginning line-up. But West Ham face a gruelling schedule as they juggle home and European commitments in the months forward. Their squad depth can be examined.

Vlasic seems able to step up. With a bedding-in interval behind him and lastly off the mark along with his first aim, the 24-year-old may show a difference-maker as West Ham intention to complete the season as strongly as they’ve began it.
Nick Wright

Spurs’ European exit could possibly be blessing in disguise

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Southampton’s draw with Tottenham

The normal consensus was that Antonio Conte had wasted little time in remodeling Tottenham, and at St Mary’s he prolonged his unbeaten begin to his newest function to seven league video games, changing into the primary Spurs supervisor ever to attain that feat.

But it was additionally questioned how Spurs would look in the Premier League away from residence underneath the Italian given {that a} quirk of their latest spate of three postponed matches attributable to Covid instances had worn out their final three highway journeys.

A complete of 51 days separated this go to to the south coast with their final home jaunt on November 7 at Everton, and there was a sluggishness to their play as they deservedly fell behind to James Ward-Prowse’s third aim in as many video games.

  • Southampton 1-1 Tottenham – Match report and highlights
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Tottenham solely sparked into life after Southampton had been decreased to 10 males. Harry Kane scored his eleventh aim in as many video games towards Saints and he thought he had accomplished the turnaround solely to be fractionally denied by VAR.

In all, Spurs had 22 makes an attempt with three targets accurately chalked off however they lacked conviction as two factors slipped away.

The vocal celebrations for Southampton followers on the remaining whistle advised the story as they may mirror on 4 factors from two video games towards Champions League contenders in the area of 48 hours.

When requested about his aspect’s failure to benefit from their numerical benefit for the very best a part of an hour, Conte stated: “For sure, it’s a missed opportunity and you have to try to exploit this situation to try to get three points.

“We knew very properly to play Southampton at this stadium is just not straightforward. At one level in the sport, a draw would’ve been a constructive for us however we felt the fatigue and our thoughts wasn’t very clear to do the very best of the conditions.”

Spurs could possibly be beginning to really feel the pinch, and their elimination from the Europa Conference League after Uefa dominated they forfeited their remaining match towards Rennes may but show a blessing in disguise.

Steven Bergwijn sustained a calf damage in the sport towards Crystal Palace, to go along with Giovani Lo Celso lacking out having completed the identical warming down having not featured on Boxing Day. It is an illustration of the excessive depth Conte needs from his gamers at a time when video games are unrelenting and muscular accidents are rife.

Conte knew he needed to handle his gamers’ minutes, however with six extra video games arising in January – three towards Chelsea – he’ll want his whole squad obtainable and firing to maintain the momentum behind his transformative affect.
Ben Grounds

Crystal Palace turning Selhurst Park right into a fortress

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Crystal Palace’s win over Norwich

There would have been a couple of nervous seems to be between Crystal Palace followers when Tuesday’s workforce information got here out. They had been already with out talisman Wilfried Zaha to suspension, whereas supervisor Patrick Vieira was isolating attributable to Covid.

Then, Conor Gallagher was additionally neglected of the matchday squad, though the rationale stays unknown. Three of the keys to their success this season wouldn’t be in attendance with a 3-0 defeat at Tottenham contemporary in the reminiscence.

But maybe their greatest device this season has been Selhurst Park itself. It has all the time been a floor famend for its ambiance, with the Holmesdale End the epicentre.

  • Crystal Palace 3-0 Norwich – Match report and highlights
  • How the groups lined up | Match stats

And underneath Vieira, Crystal Palace have misplaced simply as soon as and scored 18 targets in their 10 Premier League residence video games this season (17 factors), after dropping 5 and scoring simply 9 instances in the ten earlier than that (11 factors).

But maybe probably the most pleasing issues in regards to the victory towards Norwich would have been finishing it with out their star gamers, significantly Zaha. Crystal Palace had received simply 3 times in their earlier 24 video games with out the ahead. Now, they’ll notch that as much as 4.

Admittedly, Crystal Palace didn’t play their greatest sport of the season, however did punish a sloppy Norwich with their three first-half pictures heading in the right direction. It was a sport they might have anticipated to win and they noticed out the sport with self-discipline in the second half.

It sees Crystal Palace in the highest half of the desk going into 2022. They are simply 5 factors off Manchester United in seventh and, say it quietly, may they push for a Europa Conference League spot subsequent season?

It can be some achievement in the event that they did, however for now, there are many positives to take heading into 2022.
Charlotte Marsh

Norwich’s squad decimated on the worst doable time

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Dean Smith says Norwich City’s 3-0 defeat to Crystal Palace ‘hurts’ however confused his squad has been ‘decimated’ throughout latest weeks, by damage and Covid

When he arrived at Norwich, Dean Smith stated he was happy with the form of his squad as they confronted an uphill battle to keep away from Premier League relegation.

However, in the previous few weeks, he has seen his aspect taken right down to the naked bones with accidents and sickness. On Monday alone, Todd Cantwell, Teemu Pukki and Max Aarons grew to become unavailable. Dimitris Giannoulis got here off at half-time with a knock, whereas captain Grant Hanley and No 1 goalkeeper Tim Krul additionally sidelined.

The record retains on going and Smith was compelled into six adjustments for the journey to Selhurst Park. No one in his matchday 18 had scored a Premier League aim this season and in December, they’ve misplaced 5 successive video games with out scoring a aim.

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And but, Norwich did take a look at their opponents, significantly in the second half. But a string of errors in the primary half sealed their destiny and fairly merely, they didn’t have the standard to discover a means again into the sport.

“What we had when I first came in, I was quietly optimistic, but it’s been decimated at the moment and that’s where we were today… We’re lacking a lot of leaders in our group who unfortunately at the moment are injured or ill,” Smith stated after the sport.

“I said to the players at half-time, you need to go out and show some character and pride in the second half. I didn’t think the first half was a 3-0 first half, it was just the manner of goals that were disappointing and unfortunately, the result is the only thing people will talk about.”

Their in depth record of absentees couldn’t come at a worse time. Christmas is all the time the busiest time of the season – together with two video games in 48 hours, a schedule about which Smith has been a public critic of – and they discover themselves three factors adrift of security on the backside of the desk, having performed probably the most video games of the groups round them.

With every passing sport, it’s trying a much bigger and larger job for Norwich to remain in the Premier League.
Charlotte Marsh

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