Arsenal consolidates in top four, Chelsea and Liverpool drop points while Man City cements top spot
There was a lot of confusion over this weekend’s premiership matches: some were cancelled just 1 hour before kick-off, some were still played despite missing half the squad. We will tell you why this has happened and also give you a brief overview of the clashes that have taken place.
The coronavirus situation escalated again, with the 18th round only seeing 4 matches played.
It seems the Premier League management were not prepared for such an unexpected outbreak due to the spread of the new Omicron strain, so decisions were made in an emergency about which games could be played and which should be cancelled.
Leeds United and Arsenal‘s game was the only one on Saturday’s EPL programme. That said, Leeds have some of the deepest squad problems in the entire league – however, it’s just not related to COVID-19. That’s why the match wasn’t was not called off, injuries to the team are a regular occurrence that doesn’t give the team any indulgence.
Due to injuries, Marcelo Bielsa could not count on nearly 10 first-team players. Eight of the nine players included in Bielsa’s squad had not played a single minute in the PL or any other senior league.
Arsenal, on the other hand, are fine, with injuries not bothering the Londoners at the moment, and only Sambi Lokonga diagnosed with COVID-19. Moreover, Mikel Arteta have started the same squad for the fourth game in a row – seems like he finally managed to find that optimal stance, even despite the situation with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Overall, the Gunners easily gutted the Yorkshire side, seizing the initiative from the opening minutes, which was to be expected (even despite Leeds’ constant attacking-pressuring style).
Young talent Gabriel Martinelli unleashed a double in the first 30 minutes of the match and the rest of the club’s youngsters then turned the score into a blow-out, notwithstanding Ben White‘s unfortunate sliding tackle that led to a conceded penalty.
Thus Arsenal will be in the top 4 for the first time in a long time on Boxing Day with 32 points. Leeds United, on the other hand, are in big trouble sitting in 16th place, with Marcelo Bielsa having weight on his shoulders to be sacked soon if the team continues to lose.
The remaining three matches were played on Sunday.
Pep Guardiola‘s side were at their best as always: on 14 December they demolished the very same Leeds 7-0, and a few days later Manchester City easily dealt with Newcastle United from the relegation zone, a confident 0-4 and a three-point lead over Liverpool by the end of the 18th tour.
In the morning, Chelsea asked the league governing body to cancel the match due to covid cases spike among the main squad players. Werner, Lukaku, Hudson-Odoi and Chillwell, Havertz have all picked up the virus.
However, the answer from Premier Ligue was that the match will be postponed only if Chelsea fail to recruit base players to bid for the game. Apparently, the club’s request did not contain sufficient grounds for cancellation.
Chelsea, despite injuries and illnesses, still managed to field a good squad. Wolverhampton, on the other hand, had their best possible line-up for the game. As it was reported, the Wolverhampton squad was 100% vaccinated, so as a result, the club avoided a covid outbreak.
The match was very dull: 2 shots on target and a final score of 0-0. There was also a controversial episode at the end when Connor Coady stepped on N’Golo Kante‘s foot in the Wolverhampton penalty area, but the referees simply ignored the clash.
Thomas Tuchel simply lamented after the match:
“It is very difficult to understand this decision to postpone the match because we all care about the players’ health. We were put in a huge risk of health and safety to the players, not just because of Covid but also physically. If we have more positive tests tomorrow, I’d like to have a chat with the executives about what the league expects. If we are obliged to play Brentford, perhaps we shouldn’t come to the match or shouldn’t train? What are we supposed to do? Everyone can have an opinion. We have ours, the EPL have theirs and they don’t match up”
Spurs last stepped onto the pitch on 5 December in a game against Norwich (3-0). Meetings with Rennes, Burnley and Leicester failed to take place.
It seemed that the outcome of the match was clear before it started – but Antonio Conte surprised everyone. His main trick was a switch to 5-3-2 from the more familiar 3-4-3 this season. With the new scheme, Tottenham almost destroyed Liverpool in the first half. The plan was really good.
The football was entertaining and quite dynamic, but we want to talk about the refereeing, once again. It was the officials` decisions that seemed to have the maximum impact on the game, not the performances of teams.
Here’s what everyone is discussing at the moment: Paul Tierney, the match referee in charge, made some very strange decisions. For example, he ignored the foul on Diogo Jota in the Tottenham box in the first half when the score was 1-1.
Also, he sent off Andy Robertson for a rude foul on Royal Emerson, although there was a similar episode in the first half when Harry Kane slid straight into Robertson’s ankle with his foot and got away with just a booking.
After the final whistle, Klopp approached Tierney and said the following:
“‘Honestly, I have no problem with any referees, only you. You don’t give us this penalty – you have never played football'”those words went live on air.
The table, therefore, appears as follows: