Premier League Notebook: The perfect start to 2022 for Manchester City
New year, same Manchester City! 2022 got off to a thrilling start in the Premier League – unless you’re an Arsenal fan, of course. As we roll towards May and we get into the business end of the season, Man City have made an emphatic move at the top of the table, while Tottenham are hot on the heels of Arsenal in the race for the top four.
After another huge weekend of late drama, here are the key takeaways from the Premier League.
It was late, but inevitable for Arsenal
Arsenal had a 0-10-2 record against Manchester City in the Premier League since 2015, and even after Bukayo Saka had given the Gunners a first half lead, you knew the City comeback was inevitable. Of course, it was helped by the Arsenal meltdown. First Granit Xhaka fouled Bernardo Silva and gave away a penalty which Riyad Mahrez scored to make it 1-1, and then Gabriel picked up two yellow cards in two minutes to leave Arsenal with 10 men for half an hour.
Mikel Arteta’s side battled hard but Rodri poked home the winner from close range in the 93rd minute to give City their 11th league win in a row. It was the perfect start to 2022 for Pep Guardiola’s men and a reoccurring nightmare for Arsenal fans. The mentality of the Arsenal team has been questioned for years and will be under sharp focus again after costly errors let them down in a huge home game.
Chelsea and Liverpool shoot each other in the foot
By the end of the weekend Manchester City’s lead at the top of the table had grown to 10 points. While Chelsea and Liverpool put on a thrilling fast-paced epic at Stamford Bridge, the 2-2 draw helped neither team and only stretched City’s advantage.
Liverpool raced into a two-goal lead courtesy of Sadio Mane and Mo Salah, but Mateo Kovacic and Christian Pulisic both scored in the final four minutes of the first half to ensure the teams were still level at the break. Both keepers ensured the game remained level in the second half much to the delight of Pep Guardiola, whose side now have a clear advantage.
Chelsea are struggling for form and Liverpool are about to lose Salah and Mane for a month as they head to the African Cup of nations. Is the title race over?
Premier League Winner Odds
The end of the Rafa-lution?
After a positive start to the season in which Everton won four of their first six games, it’s all going wrong for Rafa Benitez. Since the start of October, they have won just one of 12 games, and on Sunday lost 3-2 at home to Brighton. In their last eight games they’ve picked up five points from a possible 24 and have dropped to 15th place.
The Toffees are still eight points clear of the relegation zone so that shouldn’t be too much of a concern, but the fans were expecting a top half finish at least, and Benitez’s job is hanging by a thread. He was a controversial choice to begin with, having achieved legendary status at cross-city rivals Liverpool, and this run of form may be the final nail in his coffin.
Spurs march towards the top four
Tottenham left it late against Watford on the road, but Davison Sanchez’s last-minute winner was enough to secure another three points for Spurs. That puts them in sixth, but they are just two points behind Arsenal in fourth and have two games in hand over their North London rivals in the race for a top four finish.
Since taking charge at Tottenham, Antonio Conte has guided them to a run of five wins and three draws in eight league games – an eight-game stretch in which Manchester City are the only team to have picked up more points. Conte has Tottenham firing at exactly the right time as they face Arsenal at home in a huge game on Jan. 16.
Premier League Top Four Odds
Leeds breathe a sigh of relief
Leeds picked up their first league win in five games on Sunday, but boy, was it an important one. Marcelo Bielsa’s side were being held 1-1 at home by Burnley before Stuart Dallas found the back of the net in the 77th minute. Dan James’ header to make it 3-1 in added time put some gloss on the result, but nothing is more important for the Whites than the three points as it now gives them an eight-point cushion over the drop zone.
The result means that the three relegation spots will likely be fought out between Watford, Burnley, Newcastle, and Norwich, who are all separated by just three points. Only one can survive in the battle to stay in the Premier League!