Premier League Notebook: Penalties galore as Manchester City stay on top

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December 13th, 2021

What an unbelievable weekend in the Premier League. It’s hard to think of a gameweek that has had so much drama. The top three sides all won courtesy of a penalty kick – with some coming far later and far more controversially than others! By hook or by crook, Manchester City, Chelsea, and Liverpool all won to keep up the three-way battle at the top of the league as we edge closer to Christmas.

Sterling’s Century Controversy

Manchester City maintained their lead on top of the table thanks to a 1-0 win over Wolves. The game was decided by Raheem Sterling, who scored his 100th Premier League goal from the penalty spot in the 66th minute. While that’s a fantastic personal landmark for the Englishman, the penalty is heaped in controversy.

Joao Moutinho was judged to have handled the ball by referee Jonathan Moss. In real time it looked arguably the right decision. Moutinho’s arm was raised and instantly it looked like he was in trouble. But now we have VAR, and Andre Marriner and his VAR team had plenty of time and replays to look over the incident.

Certainly, from what viewers saw on TV it appeared to strike Moutinho on his side, but incredibly the decision was upheld, and Sterling buried his penalty. Wolves boss Bruno Lage summed up his frustration after the game, but the result is in the book – City have won seven on the spin and are favorites for the title.  

Premier League Winner Odds

Manchester City

Stupidity Costs Wolves

You must feel sorry for Wolves, who have now lost back-to-back games 1-0 to Liverpool and Manchester City. In the Liverpool game, Wolves held on until the 94th minute, while this game was decided by a dodgy penalty.

There are some great players in that Wolves team that put their body on their line and graft every week to try to get a result. Conor Coady once again cleared the ball off the line for a second week in a row and gave his body to the cause.

In complete contrast, step forward Raul Jimenez, who picked up two yellow cards in 31 seconds. The first for a silly, needless tackle from behind, and then he didn’t move back for the free-kick and blocked it from about two yards away. Utter stupidity, and it left Wolves trying to battle Man City on the road with 10 men for the whole second half.

Triple Penalty Drama

That wasn’t the only penalty drama of the weekend, as Chelsea needed two spot kicks to beat Leeds United at Stamford Bridge. Raphinha put the visitors ahead with the first penalty of the match, only for Mason Mount to level the game before half time. Chelsea went ahead shortly after the break thanks to a Jorginho penalty after Antonio Rudiger was fouled, but with just seven minutes to go substitute Joe Gelhardt equalised for Leeds, 81 seconds after coming onto the pitch.

The final dramatic moment came in the fourth minute of added time as Rudiger was fouled again in the box, and Jorginho stepped up to bury his second penalty of the game and keep Chelsea in touch at the top of the league.

Credit must go to Jorginho, who sent the keeper the wrong way with both of his penalties – taking his career success rate from the spot to 85%.

Salah Spot kick Spoils Stevie G’s Return

Steven Gerrard returned to Anfield to a huge ovation, but Aston Villa were dominated by Liverpool from the start. Of all the top three teams this weekend, Liverpool were arguably the most deserving winners. Jurgen Klopp’s men had 62% of the ball and dominated the shot count 25-4 as they toyed with Villa.

Gerrard’s men defended well, but it always felt like when, rather than if, the goal was coming. Tyrone Mings fouled Mo Salah, and the Egyptian stepped up to bury the penalty and decide the game.

Salah sits atop the premier League scoring charts with 13 this year, and is four clear of his nearest rival, Jamie Vardy. However, Salah could miss four league games in the new year as he travels to Cameroon to play in the African Cup of Nations, which could give the chasing pack a chance and set up an intriguing battle for the Golden Boot.

CR7 Maintains Ralf’s Winning Start

Finally, Cristiano Ronaldo does what he does best, as he scored from 12 yards to give Manchester United a 1-0 win away to Norwich. It was his 143rd goal from the penalty spot, and gives him a career success rate of 83.6%

It gives Ralf Rangnick a second successive league win since he became Manchester United coach, but he has to thank keeper David De Gea who pulled off some remarkable stops to give United three points. Incredibly, despite United’s obvious issues, they’ve now moved into fifth and are only a point off West Ham in the Champions League places.

The Spanish keeper’s flying saves also keep Norwich stuck to the bottom of the league and three points off safety.