Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Premier League Results Match Week 18: Manchester City Increases Lead as Liverpool and Chelsea Drop Points; Arsenal’s Young Guns Strike Again; Holiday Matches To Play On

truncated weekend schedule saw only four matches played but each of those matches included one of the top four teams in the table. Table leader Manchester City increased its advantage over Liverpool and Chelsea by taking care of business in a 4-0 defeat of Newcastle while the Citizens’ nearest pursuers both dropped points in their matches. Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka prevented matters from getting completely out of control but City’s four goal production on Sunday made it 17 goals in the last five matches for Manager Pep Guardiola’s men. Newcastle, meanwhile, has conceded 11 goals in losing its last three matches.

Liverpool Manager Jurgen Klopp was understandably displeased with the officiating in a 2-2 draw with Tottenham Hotspur. Harry Kane was given the benefit of the doubt on a severe tackle on Liverpool’s Harry Robertson in the first half which drew only a yellow card whereas a comparable foul committed by Robertson in the second half drew a red card and ejection for the Liverpool defender. More egregious, however, was Referee Paul Tierney failing to award a penalty kick when Liverpool’s Diogo Jota was clearly taken down in the box during first half action. Apart from the questionable officiating, the match was entertaining and saw both clubs come back from deficits to salvage the point. Kane made a rare appearance on the scoresheet for Spurs with his second league goal of the season.

Liverpool falls four points back of Manchester City with the result. Spurs are 7th in the table, one point behind sixth place Manchester United with a match in hand on the Red Devils.

Like Liverpool, Chelsea also faltered in its title chase by dropping points in a goalless standoff with Wolves. Chelsea has now dropped seven points in its last four matches as Manager Thomas Tuchel’s side had looked disjointed even before having to field a patchwork side on Sunday due to Covid absences. Chelsea asked for the match to be rescheduled due its depleted roster and growing virus concerns but was denied by the league. Christian Pulisic started at center forward for a second consecutive match and was again unproductive in an unaccustomed position for the American. Wolves, meanwhile, continue to be both tenacious and toothless. Neither side in the last seven Wolverhampton league matches has managed more than one goal. Wolves has scored a total of two goals in those seven matches while somehow managing two wins and three draws.

Arsenal had no trouble scoring in defeating Leeds 4-1 in the only Premier League match to be played as scheduled on Saturday. The streaking Gunners have scored nine goals in winning three consecutive matches to build a four-point cushion on West Ham for the final Champions League place. All four Arsenal goals were scored by players aged 21 or under as Gabriel Martinelli stuck for his first Premier League brace and Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka added onto Martinelli’s opening tallies. Smith-Rowe scored in substitute role for a second consecutive match and leads the Gunners in league scoring with his seven goals. Leeds lost for a third consecutive time and have won just once in their past eight league matches. Manager Marco Bielsa’s club is only five points clear of the relegation zone and a Burnley side which has three matches in hand over the Whites due to weather and Covid cancellations.

The Premier league decided Monday to proceed with the holiday period schedule without a formal league wide Covid induced break. Individual match cancellations will occur if a club is unable to roster thirteen healthy field players plus a goalkeeper. Six matches were cancelled last weekend. Beginning on Boxing Day, 30 matches are currently scheduled to be played through January 3rd.

Carabao Cup

The Carabao Cup plays its quarterfinal matches this week. Arsenal hosts Sunderland Tuesday in the only quarterfinal match to include a club from outside the Premier League. The Black Cats, currently third in League One, will be without Manager Lee Johnson for the match due to a positive Covid test. London derbies comprise two of the three Wednesday quarterfinal matches when West Ham visits Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea makes the short trip to Brentford. Leicester goes to Liverpool in the final quarterfinal pairing.


Premier League In Europe

Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur was booted from the Europa Conference League after UEFA ruled the club to have forfeited its final group stage match which was to have been played against Rennes. A Covid outbreak had rendered Spurs unable to play the match and UEFA indicated it could not be rescheduled. The London club may yet appeal the ruling. 

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