Gameweek 13 of the Premier League saw Manchester City and Liverpool catch up to leaders Chelsea. Here's the major talking points from this week's action.
We are now officially a third of the way through the 2021-22 Premier League season. And amazingly, it is all still far too close to call. As things stand, the teams in second and third trail the side ahead of them by just a point.
That is quite the stat, given how in recent years the league leaders pull away by the time the hectic winter schedule arrives. As of now, the crazy winter of English football is officially underway and there is little seperating the top sides.
This is good for fans as a whole, since a close title fight has been sorely lacking for the last several seasons. Often times it is evident by December who is winning the league. That cannot be said this year, and fans are better off for it.
This sense of closeness is there in the mid-table as well, with many sides leading or trailing either by a solitary point and, in some cases, goal difference.
🔵 Chelsea continue to lead the pack after Matchweek 13 🔝 pic.twitter.com/aFgAJuojLm
— Premier League (@premierleague) November 28, 2021
It speaks volumes of the quality across the league as things stand. And of course, the latest gameweek served up plenty of entertaining fare for the fans.
So, without further ado, let’s get into the talking points from this week’s Premier League action.
Chelsea midfielder Jorginho might be up for the Ballon d’Or this year, but the Italian made a schoolboy error that gave Manchester United the lead in the match on Sunday. The midfielder was the last man back as most of Chelsea’s players were forward for a corner. He made a hash of controlling a clearance that saw Jadon Sancho steal the ball and put United ahead.
Luckily for him, he was on hand to convert a penalty to level the game and salvage a point for Thomas Tuchel’s men. Nevertheless, it will feel like two points dropped for a Chelsea side that had all the momentum in the world coming into this game.
What arguably makes things worse is that United came with a damage limitation approach. Cristiano Ronaldo started on the bench and United started with four midfielders in a bid to not get overrun. Of course, given they came away with a point from Stamford Bridge, you can say that interim manager Michael Carrick’s approach succeeded.
Liverpool are a very good all-round football side, whereas Southampton, while well-coached, are prone to defensive collapses. Both of these traits were on full display when the two sides met at Anfield this weekend. A Diogo Jota brace, as well as goals from Thiago Alcantara and Virgil van Dijk gave the Reds a 4-0 win.
The scoreline shows a one-sided match but it could have been so much worse. Jurgen Klopp’s men were constantly hunting for chances and could have scored more. Their finishing was slightly wayward, but it helped that they converted a number of good chances they created.
Last season, the Reds were often playing on the back foot due to consistent injuries to key personnel. This year, they are more or less at full strength and firing on all cylinders. Thus, despite not investing massively in the squad, they are legitimate Premier League title contenders. And the relentless streak they’re showing is bad news to the other teams in the competition.
That the game between Manchester City and West Ham United got completed at all was a minor miracle. The snow in the north of England was relentless, and as the first half progressed, the field began to turn whiter by the minute. Viewers tuning in via TV or livestream could be forgiven for thinking their signal was dodgy.
In such circumstances, any points for either side would have been a positive. And City, while not fully able to play their passing game properly due to the conditions, did enough to grind out what could well be an important win come the latter parts of the season.
Ilkay Gundogan gave them the lead, while Fernandinho sealed the win in the 90th minute. Manuel Lanzini pulled one back for the Hammers in stoppage time but it was too late for anything more. City are now second whereas West Ham, amazingly, remain in fourth. But only just.
Arsenal, who are outside of the Top 4 only on goal difference at this point, themselves did all they could this weekend to narrow that gap. Their win over Newcastle United left them level on points with the Hammers. And, as has been noted before, this is quite the remarkable turnaround for Mikel Arteta’s men.
Their early season slump seems well behind them, even if their 4-0 loss to Liverpool suggested they are still very much a work-in-progress as a side. Still, to be in contention for the Top 4 is commendable given the kind of start to the season they endured.
What’s more, Arsenal showed plenty of signs of playing good attacking football while their goals were scored by youngsters Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli. It is worth noting that Newcastle are currently rooted to the bottom of the table, so they might not be the best barometer of a team’s progress. But the Gunners still have every right to be pleased at this display.
Leicester City hosted fellow London side Watford while in desperate need of a win. Brendan Rodgers’ side had endured a recent run of three winless games; to make things worse, they are no longer in the European spots in the league table. Thankfully for them, they got the win they needed against the Hornets.
It didn’t seem that way at first, however. After James Maddison gave the Foxes the lead, Watford equalised from a Joshua King penalty. But two goals from talisman Jamie Vardy ensured Leicester went into the break with a solid lead. And even when Emmanuel Dennis pulled one back for the away side, Ademola Lookman scored quickly to kill off the encounter.
Leicester’s position of tenth is somewhat deceiving; they are only 5 points off the Top 4 at this point, meaning things haven’t been as bad as many believe. But they need a consistent run of wins in the festive period fixtures to get back up there. Rodgers will hope this win was not a one-off and the start of several good results.
That’s all for this week. Do join us again in a few days time for the next round of talking points, as the crazy December schedule means much more to talk about – and write about. See you then!