Premier League Notebook: Manchester City gains advantage as rivals drop points

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December 20th, 2021

Christmas came early for Pep Guardiola and Manchester City on Sunday as they guaranteed they'd wake up on Dec. 25 top of the table. While the City team will be tucking into turkey safe in the knowledge they're favorites for the title, Chelsea suddenly finds themselves on the slide, while Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp will be taking all the referees off his Christmas card list.

Let's wrap up everything that happened in the Premier League over the weekend.

Christmas comes early in Manchester

Over the past 12 years, teams that are top of the table on Christmas Day have gone on to win the title nine times. That’s a great omen for Manchester City who, in the space of a few hours on Sunday, saw their lead grow from one point to three over their nearest rivals.

As Chelsea and Liverpool both dropped points, Manchester City calmly swept aside Newcastle United at St James’ Park, winning 4-0 without ever really having to get out of second gear. Four different players found the net for City, while Pep Guardiola was able to rest Phil Foden, Jack Grealish, and Ilkay Gundogan for the full 90 minutes, thereby giving his rivals a true example of just how much strength and depth is in this squad.

That’s now 10 wins in the last 11 games in all competitions for Manchester City, who have won the last eight league games in a row – scoring 24 goals (3.0 per game) and conceding just three (0.38 per game). They are worthy favorites in the betting. 

Premier League Odds

Manchester City

Three becomes two?

It could be that our three-horse title race is now down to two. Chelsea, who were top of the league for a long time this season, have suddenly dropped off the pace and are in danger of losing touch after a horrible little run of form.

In the last eight games they’ve picked up just 13 points from a possible 24, and won just one of their last four. Even that win wasn’t entirely convincing as they needed a stoppage time penalty from Jorginho to beat Leeds 3-2 at Stamford Bridge. A 1-1 draw with Everton followed that, and on Sunday they were held to a 0-0 draw with Wolves and had just two shots all game.

Chelsea are now six points off Manchester City and three points away from Liverpool with a tricky January coming up.

Chelsea's January Premier League Fixtures

Jan. 2
Jan. 15
Manchester City
Jan. 23

Klopp sees Red in London

Jurgen Klopp was furious after Liverpool drew 2-2 with Tottenham and lost pace in the race for the title. Harry Kane escaped a very possible red card in the first half for a wild studs-up sliding challenge on Andy Robertson. The referee gave a yellow card and declined to review the decision on VAR which made Klopp furious.

Things only got worse for the Liverpool coach when Diogo Jota was brought down under a clumsy tackle in the penalty area, only for the referee to wave away any protests, and then with 15 minutes to go Andy Robertson’s foul on Emerson Royal was upgraded from a yellow card to a red, and he saw an early bath.

Klopp felt hard done by as Liverpool were denied their ninth win on the spin in all competitions, but that’s now five unbeaten for Spurs in the league under Antonio Conte.

Spurs in the hunt for top four

Conte’s impact at Tottenham should not be understated. A team that was in disarray after losing five out of seven league games, is now unbeaten in five and back in the hunt for a top four spot. Conte has steered the ship back towards Champions League football and Spurs are now just six points behind Arsenal in fourth, but they have three games in hand.

Harry Kane found the net again and looked lively against Liverpool, while Son Heung-min has three goals in four league games. That’s also three clean sheets in five league games since Conte arrived.

They now have three games against bottom half sides coming up, which Conte will believe are all winnable, before they face Arsenal in a huge North London Derby at home on Jan. 16. That game could have huge ramifications in the race for the top four.

A worrying Christmas for Leeds

Leeds fans hoped Santa might bring them three points this festive season, but that hasn’t happened, and now they are in all sorts of trouble. While they sit on 16 points in 16th place, they’ve played more games than Watford and Burnley below them, and are in a real spot of bother.

The Premier League Relegation Battle

PositionTeamGames PlayedPoints

It doesn’t get any easier, as on Dec. 26 they face Liverpool at Anfield. Marcelo Bielsa’s side have won just one of their least eight games and have now lost three in a row, conceding 14 goals along the way (4.7 per game).