Challengers losing ground at crucial time in title race – The Royal Gazette | Bermuda News, Business, Sports, Events, & Community

Log In

Reset Password
BERMUDA | RSS PODCAST

Challengers losing ground at crucial time in title race

Leading the way: Champions Manchester City have opened up an eight-point advantage over their title rivals

The Premier League has hit its halfway stage with the intriguing top-four battle still intact, but the title race is starting to ebb away from the challengers.

The battle for survival is also heating up nicely, as we head into the business end of the season.

The Fantasy landscape has also ebbed and flowed in every week, with Spurs winger Son Heung-min providing a strong premium midfield option outside of the current title challengers, making six goal contributions in his last six games for the North London side.

Meanwhile, striker Emmanuel Dennis continues to shine for Watford, registering eight goal contributions in his last six league outings, consisting of five goals and three assists.

Tomorrow

Arsenal v Manchester City

8.30am

Arsenal had their midweek home encounter with Wolves postponed due to a Covid-19 outbreak within the visitors’ squad. Prior to that, they had won their last four games, scoring at least twice in all those victories.

Manchester City held off Brentford in a 1-0 away win, their tenth straight league success. The champions have now opened up an eight-point lead on their title rivals.

The Sky Blues, who have won four of the last six league titles, cruised to a 1-0 victory on their last visit to the Emirates. The Champions League runners-up have won the last five league meetings without conceding. This has huge implications on both the top-four and title races for either club.

Prediction: 1-2

Watford v Tottenham Hotspur

11am

Watford are one of two teams to have lost five league matches in a row, yet they did score in all five of those defeats.

Nigerian striker Dennis, the club’s top scorer with eight goals, will also be a huge miss in the coming month due to his involvement in the Africa Cup of Nations. They fell 4-1 at home to West Ham United on Tuesday.

Spurs are unbeaten since new boss Antonio Conte arrived in early November. They did drop points, however, away to Southampton in a 1-1 draw. With two games in hand, they remain in contention to challenge for a Champions League qualifying spot.

The Hornets kept Spurs out on their previous visit to Vicarage Road as the sides played out a 0-0 draw in January 2020. The Lillywhites have won nine of the 15 overall battles.

Prediction: 1-3

Crystal Palace v West Ham United

1.30pm

Crystal Palace have hit a stumbling period in their first season under Patrick Vieira, dropping points in three of their recent five games (two losses and one draw). They did, however, cruise to a convincing 3-0 home win over Norwich in midweek.

West Ham are feeling the symptoms of a thin squad and involvement in multiple competitions. Their latest win came 4-1 at Watford, with four different scorers on the day.

This London rivalry, between south and east, is quite equal over previous meetings. The Hammers edge the series with eight wins to six, through 21 overall matches. They came away with a thrilling 3-2 win on their last trip to Selhurst Park.

Prediction: 2-2

Sunday

Brentford v Aston Villa

10am

Brentford gave Manchester City everything they had, but the promoted side fell just short in a 1-0 home defeat on Wednesday evening.

Aston Villa have started confidently under Steven Gerrard, winning four of their first seven under the former Glasgow Rangers boss. Their losses have come against the three title contenders.

These sides, who were promoted as winners in two of the last three EFL Championship play offs, played to a 1-1 draw in the reverse fixture at Villa Park back in August.

Prediction: 2-2

Everton v Brighton & Hove Albion

10am

Everton have not played since their impressive 1-1 away draw with Chelsea on December 16, and have won just twice in their last 11 games.

Brighton gained a vital 1-1 away draw with Chelsea on Wednesday to boost their hopes of finishing higher than their mid-table expectation. Danny Welbeck, former Manchester United striker, scored in the first minute of second-half stoppage time to cancel out a Romelu Lukaku strike midway through the first half.

In October 2020, the Merseyside outfit edged the Seagulls 4-2 a six-goal thriller, and have the upper hand overall in this match-up.

Prediction: 0-1

Leeds United v Burnley

10am

Leeds United have been decimated with injuries and absentees through illness throughout the season, thus have conceded the most goals of any side outside the bottom two, and winning just two of their previous nine games.

Burnley are becoming the ‘draw kings’ of the division, taking eight stalemates, the second-most in the league. The Clarets earned an improbable 1-1 draw away to Chelsea in November, their best result so far this term.

The Yorkshire side kept a clean sheet against Burnley in a 1-0 home win last December.

Prediction: 2-2

Southampton v Newcastle United

10am

Southampton kept solid defensively, despite going down to ten-men before half-time, to secure a 1-1 home draw with Tottenham. Had they turned half of their nine draws into wins, they would be within five points of European contention.

Newcastle were resolute and controlled in their approach to earn a 1-1 home draw with Manchester United, though the Magpies remain two points from safety. They would need at least 29 points from the second-half of the term to reach the magic number of 40 to guarantee survival.

These sides have met on 41 occasions in the top-flight, with both teams winning 16 times. Saints won 2-0 in November 2020.

Prediction: 2-1

Chelsea v Liverpool

12.30pm

Chelsea dropped points for the third time in five games on Wednesday, a 1-1 home draw with Brighton. They slip to eight points behind leaders Manchester City, and have to face the top-two in consecutive games to start the new year.

Liverpool, like their fellow title chasers, failed to win in midweek. They lost 1-0 away to Leicester City, and Mohamed Salah had a penalty saved by Foxes shot stopper Kasper Schmeichel, despite having more than triple the total shots than their opponents.

The Reds came away with a 2-0 win on their last foray to Stamford Bridge in September 2020, and must win this to remain in the title hunt.

Prediction: 2-2

Monday

Manchester United v Wolverhampton Wanderers

1.30pm

Manchester United were made to pay for a lack of effort as they slumped to a 1-1 away draw with relegation-threatened Newcastle. Nevertheless, manager Ralf Rangnick remains unbeaten in his first five games in all competitions.

Wolves continue to struggle for goals, yet their solid backline kept Chelsea out for a 0-0 home draw. They have the second-best defensive record in the division, conceding just 14 goals.

United were extremely lucky to hang on to a 1-0 away win in their last meeting, yet the Red Devils have won nine of the 15 battles in the Premier League.

Prediction: 2-0

You must be Registered or to post comment or to vote.

Published December 31, 2021 at 10:53 am (Updated December 31, 2021 at 10:53 am)

Challengers losing ground at crucial time in title race

What you
Need to
Know
1. For a smooth experience with our commenting system we recommend that you use Internet Explorer 10 or higher, Firefox or Chrome Browsers. Additionally please clear both your browser's cache and cookies - How do I clear my cache and cookies?
2. Please respect the use of this community forum and its users.
3. Any poster that insults, threatens or verbally abuses another member, uses defamatory language, or deliberately disrupts discussions will be banned.
4. Users who violate the Terms of Service or any commenting rules will be banned.
5. Please stay on topic. "Trolling" to incite emotional responses and disrupt conversations will be deleted.
6. To understand further what is and isn't allowed and the actions we may take, please read our Terms of Service
7. To report breaches of the Terms of Service use the flag icon