Premier League Notebook: Manchester City surge to top with 12th straight win
COVID-19 may have robbed us of a North London Derby at the weekend, but we were still treated to a fascinating slate of Premier League action. There were some huge moves at both ends of the table, with Manchester City effectively putting the title race beyond Chelsea’s reach.
Here are all the key takeaways from another top weekend of action.
City become Champions in-waiting
Manchester City’s 1-0 win over Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium gave them their 12th league win in a row, as Pep Guardiola’s men continue their seemingly unstoppable march to Premier League glory. Kevin De Bruyne scored the decisive goal – and a beauty it was as well – with 70 minutes on the clock. De Bruyne now has five goals against his former team and came good for bettors who were on the revenge narrative on the weekend.
Kev coming up clutch! 🥶#ManCity | @Sure pic.twitter.com/yD9gegDWIU— Manchester City (@ManCity) January 16, 2022
It means City now have an 11-point lead at the top of the table, and that could be insurmountable. They’ve moved to -1250 now to retain the title, an incredible shift given two months ago we were in a proper three-way title race. Chelsea and Liverpool have failed to keep pace though, and City have moved up a gear as they go on the trophy hunt domestically and in Europe.
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Chelsea’s challenge ends with a month of disasters
Defeat away to Manchester City is the final nail in Chelsea’s title challenge. Tipped up preseason as one of the main threats to City’s crown following their Champions League win and signing of Romelu Lukaku, it’s all gone wrong for Thomas Tuchel’s side.
They led the league for the opening third of the season, but they’ve had a nightmare month of football – winning just one league game out of six since Dec. 16. In that spell, City picked up 18 points, while Chelsea managed to claim just seven.
It leaves the Blues 13 points adrift of City, and in danger of becoming embroiled in a top four battle with Arsenal only eight points behind (two games in hand), and Tottenham 10 points behind (four games in hand).
We'll be back stronger. 👊 pic.twitter.com/BNuOl7P1Z1— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) January 15, 2022
Rafa Benitez’s Everton exit
It felt like it was inevitable, but Rafa Benitez and Everton have finally split ways. The latest humiliation came as bottom-of-the-table Norwich beat the Toffees 2-1, meaning Benitez had won just one game in the league since the end of September.
His record in that run read 1-9-3 and included notable disappointments, including a 5-2 defeat at home to Watford (a game in which Everton led 2-1 with 12 minutes to go), a 4-1 home defeat against fierce rivals Liverpool, and losses to newly-promoted Brentford and struggling Crystal Palace.
Rafa was never a popular appointment given his ties to cross-city rivals Liverpool, and now Everton must search for a manager with the club sitting just six points above the relegation zone. It’s going to be a challenging second-half of the year for whoever takes the reigns.
Everton have fired Rafa Benitez 🔵 pic.twitter.com/1tXpL3hIn1— GOAL (@goal) January 16, 2022
Canaries flying towards safety?
That 2-1 win was a massive lift for the Canaries though, who came into the match on a six-game losing streak, having failed to score, and conceding 16 in their league matches since the start of December. Despite going nearly nine-and-a-half hours in the league without scoring, Norwich found the net twice in the opening 18 minutes against Everton to ease supporters’ nerves and lift them off the foot of the table.
The win puts Norwich up to 18th, and just a point behind Watford. Those two teams face each other on Friday night, in what has the potential to be the decisive game in the battle against relegation. Watford are winless in seven, and have lost six of their last seven home games in the league.
Dean Smith will be hoping Norwich’s win over Everton can give them the confidence boost they need to go on and beat Watford and drag themselves out of the drop zone.
Fri, January 21 2022, 8:00 PM
Harrison hat trick hurts Hammers
Jack Harrison bagged a huge Premier League hat trick in front of a passionate traveling crowd in the London Stadium, as Leeds beat West Ham 3-2 in an absolute thriller. David Moyes’ men twice drew level but couldn’t keep Leeds down as Marcelo Bielsa’s side refused to quit.
It was huge for Leeds, who have now won back-to-back games and have given themselves a nine-point cushion above the relegation zone. It's also a massive lift for fans who had a tough Christmas watching Leeds lose a string of games 3-2 to Chelsea, 7-0 to Man City, and 4-1 to Arsenal.
🔥 "Harrison! The man!" pic.twitter.com/0Ec11hFJyg— Leeds United (@LUFC) January 16, 2022
But for West Ham it’s yet another blow in the race for the top four. The Hammers overcame a sticky patch in November and December to win three league games in a row, but defeat at home to Leeds now leaves West Ham at the mercy of the chasing pack. The Hammers sit in fourth with 37 points, but Arsenal, Tottenham, and Manchester United are all within touching distance and have multiple games in hand.
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