Premier League Notebook: Advantage Arsenal in the race for the top four

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February 14th, 2022

A wild weekend of Premier League action resulted in Arsenal being the biggest winners — even though Mikel Arteta’s team didn’t have a game! Manchester City flexed their muscle at the top, while Liverpool desperately hung onto their coattails, and everyone behind them attempted to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Here are the five top takeaways from all the league’s action.

We’re Gunner get you

Arsenal’s match with Chelsea was postponed with the latter in World Club Cup action, so the Gunners got to sit back and watch as all the teams around them in the race for fourth faltered.

Manchester United drew 1-1 with Southampton and were arguably fortunate to take a point, while Tottenham were completely outclassed in a 2-0 defeat at home to Wolves. Craig Dawson found the net for West Ham in the 91st minute, but that was only enough for a 2-2 draw with Leicester.

Premier League Top Four Betting

Manchester United
West Ham

That has put Arsenal in pole position in the race for the top four, with the Gunners just two points off a Champions League spot but with three games in hand over West Ham and two over Manchester United.

Arteta’s side haven’t had a great start to 2022, winning just one of six games in all competitions since the turn of the year, but with everyone else failing around them they are still well in the hunt.

Conte’s Catastrophe

Antonio Conte admitted after the 2-0 defeat at home to Wolves that there is plenty of work to be done to bring Tottenham up to a level to compete for the Premier League, and he isn’t wrong. A mixture of awful goalkeeping from Hugo Lloris and some laughable defending gifted Wolves a victory here and meant Conte has now lost three league games in a row for the first time since 2009.

It doesn’t get any easier either, as now they are faced with an away trip to league leaders Manchester City next week.

Spurs’ 2-0 loss comes hot on the heels of the mid-week defeat to Southampton, in which they threw away a 2-1 lead with 10 minutes to go to lose 3-2, and a London derby defeat to Chelsea, in which they were completely outclassed.

Red Devils rue missed chances

Manchester United drew 1-1 for the third time in seven days, as they let a lead slip at home against Southampton on Saturday. The draw comes after United missed several chances and dropped points in a 1-1 draw away to Burnley. Before that, they should have been out of sight against Middlesbrough in the FA Cup but drew 1-1 and went out on penalties.

The need for a striker is glaringly obvious now, and it’s being made worse that Cristiano Ronaldo is now on a run of six games without a goal — his worse run for 11 years.

When even CR7 looks short of confidence in front of goal, you know something is seriously wrong. At the back, Harry Maguire’s mistakes were again covered up by some David de Gea heroics between the sticks, but more concerning for United fans is the lack of punch up front.

Newcastle are the league’s form team

Incredibly, there are only two teams in the league who have won all of their last three games — Liverpool are one of them, and unbelievably Newcastle are the other. The Magpies went 1-10-9 in their opening 20 games this year, but have bounced back in style, winning three huge games on the spin.

The 1-0 win at home against Aston Villa on Sunday came courtesy of a pinpoint free kick from captain Kieran Trippier, who joined the club in January.

Before Christmas, Newcastle were three points away from safety, but now they find themselves four points clear of the drop zone, and they have a game in hand over Norwich.

It’s a brilliant turnaround from, admittedly, the world’s richest club, and Eddie Howe is doing a great job of guiding them to safety.

City strength and depth

Finally, a word on Manchester City and their incredible strength and depth in the squad. Jack Grealish and Kevin De Bruyne were among the players who didn’t play against Norwich, as Pep Guardiola made five changes, and during the game Bernardo Silva, Riyad Mahrez and Phil Foden were all substituted for academy players.

Even without some of their top stars, City comfortably saw off Norwich 4-0 on the road and Guardiola’s ability to mix up his starting XI bodes well for the Citizens as they attempt to compete for major honors both domestically and in Europe.

They remain nine points clear at the top of the table and in complete control.