English Premiership

3 things learned as the Premier League heads for winter break

2020-02-03 08:08
Virgil van Dijk
Virgil van Dijk (Getty Images)

London - Liverpool's lead at the top of the table extended to 22 points as their procession towards the title continued thanks to a 4-0 win over Southampton and Manchester City's latest defeat at Tottenham.

Victory for Spurs edged them ahead as the closest challengers to Chelsea for a place in the top four, on another weekend when the rest of the chasing pack stumbled.

Here are three things we learned from the Premier League weekend:

Guardiola must prove greatness with wasteful City

Manchester City had 18 shots to Tottenham's three, 67 percent possession, were awarded a penalty by VAR and still contrived to lose 2-0.

In isolation, Pep Guardiola could write off this defeat as a freak, but it has been a consistent tale of City's season.

Guardiola now must prove his status as one of the greatest coaches in the game by finding solutions before another Champions League campaign is ended by the same failings.

City travel to a revitalised Real Madrid in 24 days' time for the first leg of their last-16 tie.

Guardiola admitted this weekend that despite two Premier League titles, his time at City will be judged a failure without winning the Champions League.

On current form it is hard to imagine City being crowned European champions for the first time in Istanbul on May 30.

Top-four contenders consistently inconsistent

As Frank Lampard bemoaned Chelsea's lack of transfer window activity and defended his decision to drop the world's most expensive goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, it was easy to imagine the Blues were adrift in mid-table rather than holding onto a prized place in the top four.

Chelsea's 2-2 draw at third-placed Leicester ensured they retained a small cushion over their rivals, but Lampard's angst was born from the knowledge that his team's erratic form makes it far from certain they will hold onto fourth.

It has been that kind of season for the teams hoping to join Liverpool and City in next season's Champions League.

Manchester United, held to a 0-0 draw by Wolves, have spent most of the campaign lurching from one crisis to another, while Arsenal remain 10 points behind Chelsea after a 13th draw in 25 league games at Burnley.

Into the void stepped Tottenham as their victory over City moved them within four points of Chelsea.

Twenty's plenty for Liverpool

Liverpool equalled a Premier League record with a 20th straight home win at Anfield as they overcame some stiff resistence from Southampton with four second-half goals.

That is one of just many records that seem set to tumble as Jurgen Klopp's men charge towards a first top-flight title in 30 years.

Liverpool's 22-point lead is the biggest any side has ever enjoyed at the top of the Premier League and they have now taken a remarkable 100 points from the last possible 102.

Win their next six games and the title will be won even before they visit City on April 4 and given the defending champions' struggles, it is likely the crowning of the new champions will come in mid-March. 

Read more on:    english premiership  |  soccer

 

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Fixtures
Friday, 28 February 2020
Norwich City v Leicester City, Carrow Road 22:00
Saturday, 29 February 2020
Aston Villa v Sheffield United, Villa Park 02:00
Brighton & Hove Albion v Crystal Palace, The American Express Community Stadium 14:30
West Ham United v Southampton, London Stadium 17:00
Newcastle United v Burnley, St. James' Park 17:00
AFC Bournemouth v Chelsea, Vitality Stadium 17:00
Watford v Liverpool, Vicarage Road 19:30
Sunday, 01 March 2020
Manchester City v Arsenal, Etihad Stadium 02:00
Everton v Manchester United, Goodison Park 16:00
Tottenham Hotspur v Wolverhampton Wanderers, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium 16:00
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