The Premier League table is finally taking shape, with teams producing excellent results in both halves of the table. In the most recent set of games, Manchester City completely outclassed struggling Spurs in a 3-0 home victory as Liverpool struggled to keep Leicester City at bay conceding 3 goals in seven minutes. Elsewhere, Aston Villa somehow managed to get a draw against a reinvigorated Brighton, who seem to have discovered a new lease of life in recent games. Manchester United also failed to reflect their dominance as they were held to a 1-1 draw against West Brom. Wolves meanwhile managed to get revenge fot their FA cup loss against Southampton defeating them 2-1 in the early Sunday kickoff.
Manchester City vs Tottenham Hotspur
In recent history, Manchester City have often found Spurs to be a challenging fixture and had fallen prey to Spurs when they met last time out in the league. But things have changed drastically in recent months, with City returning to the top of the table and Spurs struggling in mid-table.
Unable to find the right motivation in recent matches Spurs, slipped yet again, as Guardiola’s side managed to put 3 goals past Spurs fragile defence. A 23rd-minute penalty from Rodri followed by two goals from in-form Ilkay Gundogan means, City are now 7 points clear of Leicester City at the top of the table.
Gundogan has now managed to score 4 goals in 2 matches as Manchester City powered to a record-extending 16th successive win in all competitions. While Spurs are now disappearing from a top 4 race with just 1 win in their last 5 matches.
Spurs kicked off the game, in an unusual style, intended to play with a more attacking press, with Mourinho’s team selection raising more eyebrows prematch. City, on the other hand, were without Debruyne, with Gabriel Jesus playing further up the pitch early on.
City started the game with Jesus having two shots blocked in quick succession. But Spurs went surprisingly close to taking the lead when Harry Kane hit the post from a free kick in the 14th minute. Spurs had a promising start; as they restricted City’s high press in the final third and managed to set the attack in counters. But Manchester City weren’t ready to make the same mistake they made in their last encounter, as Laporte kept Kane to the narrow line all the time.
The game was pretty tight until Hojbjerg’s silly challenge lead to the first goal of the game in the 23rd minute. A penalty was successfully converted by Rodri for the men in blue. Elsewhere, Foden continued to cause problems at the back for Spurs and Ben Davies struggled to deal with the England International. City dominated the rest of the first half, with Spurs struggling to maintain any possession.
Second-half started with Mourinho opting to bring in Sissoko in place of Moura. City, on the other hand, continue to threaten Spurs fragile defence early on. Raheem Sterling’s intelligent ball to Foden was swiftly passed onto Gundogan who found the back of the net in the 50th minute. Spurs defence continued to struggle, to keep the ball, as Ederson’s long ball was turned into a goal in the 66th minute, by Gundogen after a series of excellent dribbles through the defence. Gundogan was substituted three minutes later for Ferran Torres, with a possible injury crisis looming hard for Manchester City. Mourinho turned to Dele Alli and Gareth Bale in the later stages of the game, in what seemed to be a desperate throw of the dice from the Spurs bench. Bale did display a flash of his brilliance, however, Ederson got the better of his goal attempt.
Leicester City vs Liverpool FC
Liverpool’s poor run of form has continued as they threw away their one-goal advantage to lose 3-1 against Leicester City on Saturday. The Foxes scored three times in seven minutes, as the current Champions slip down to 4th in the league.
Both sides managed to find themselves close to a goal on many occasions throughout the game. Vardy and Firmino both went close in the first half but failed to convert it to a goal at either end. Trent Alexander-Arnold was denied by the crossbar, and Vardy made successive runs through the Liverpool defence.
Both teams started the game in their usual pattern, as both exerted quick interplays through the middle. Liverpool came with a defensive reshuffle due to Fabinho being injured, with January loan signing Ozan Kabak handed his debut. Pretty much from the start, Kabak struggled to cope with Vardy’s pace and to link up with Liverpool high backline. The injuries continued to pile up for Liverpool as James Milner had to be withdrawn halfway through the game.
Firmino was brilliant throughout and he provided the assist for Salah in the 67th minute for the opening goal. Liverpool pressed high throughout the second half, with dangerous long balls into the box. But their high line continued to allow the Foxes to find Vardy in threatening positions. Shortly after, Harvey Barnes was brought down by Thiago on the edge of the box and the referee awarded a penalty. But, VAR overturned the penalty and a freekick on the edge of the box was awarded. James Maddison continued his goal-scoring form as he curled the ball into the corner of Alisson’s goal.
3 minutes later Vardy scored Leicester’s second after an Alisson miscommunication with Kabak. The Brazilian came racing out to meet a long ball outside the box but collided with Kabak which allowed Vardy to score in the 81st minute. Harvey Barnes made sure they earned all three points as he slotted the ball past Alisson 4 minutes later. Further sloppy play in the middle opened up the Liverpool defence, and Barnes led a creative run down the left to finish the game off.
Liverpool have now conceded 7 goals in their last 2 league games and have so far conceded 32 goals in 24 league games this season. Not to mention Liverpool have taken 30 fewer points than they had at the same stage last season. Leicester, on the other hand, continue their fine run, as they are only 7 points behind Manchester City at the top.
Elsewhere, Burnley managed a comfortable 3-0 win against struggling Crystal Palace moving them up to 15th place in the table. Johann Berg Gudmundsson and Jay Rodriguez scored within 10 minutes of the game followed by Matt Lowton in the 47th minute to finish the game off in style. Palace stay 14th while Burnley go above Brighton and Newcastle into 15th, now 11 points clear of the bottom three.
Manchester United, on the other hand, had a disappointing match against West Brom, later on in Sunday, being held to a 1-1 draw at The Hawthorns. West Brom, struggling to deal with a relegation battle, stunned United with an 83-second goal from striker Mbaye Diagne who beat defender Victor Lindelof to head home. Thanks to Bruno Fernandez, United equalised in the 44th minute with a spectacular volley from near the penalty spot.
United were much improved after the break and had a penalty overturned by VAR, and had two shots cleared off the line. Goalkeeper Sam Johnstone made a crucial save in the dying minutes of the game as he denied Harry Maguire, whose header was tipped over the bar. For West Brom, Diagne went twice closer to a goal but failed to convert. Dea Gea was also forced to make a good save from a Robert Snodgrass powerful header later on in the game. The result left West Brom second bottom of the table, 12 points away from safety and Manchester United stay 2nd in the table, 7th points off the top.