How the title race stands now…
It’s advantage Man City at the end of 2021 – but where do Chelsea and Liverpool stand after the recent round of Premier League games?
In a pivotal midweek, which saw Liverpool lose at Leicester and Chelsea pegged back by a last-minute equaliser by Brighton, Manchester City pulled eight points clear at the top of the table with a 1-0 win at Brentford.
Chelsea are second, with Liverpool nine points behind Pep Guardiola’s side, with a game in hand – although that gap could stretch further before Chelsea and Liverpool meet on Super Sunday.
Here, we run through the contenders, their festive schedules, injury lists, stats and more…
Analysis of the midweek results: Man City take control as Chelsea, Liverpool falter
Sky Sports’ Adam Bate on Liverpool
Jurgen Klopp’s finely-tuned machine was not functioning as it should have done in Leicester. The space was out wide for Liverpool but the midfielders were too slow to find it. When they did, the delivery from the flanks was not quite what it should have been.
Chances were still created but when they were, they were wasted. Most notably by Mohamed Salah in squandering the chance to score from the spot but there was also a huge miss by Sadio Mane and a series of half-chances spurned by the wasteful Diogo Jota.
Fatigue should not have been a factor and Klopp appreciated the irony of losing to a team that had played on Boxing Day given his fixture complaints. But the feeling persists that the sheer relentlessness required to keep pace with Manchester City has caught up with them.
Sky Sports’ Lewis Jones on Chelsea
Chelsea were three points clear of Liverpool and four points ahead of Manchester City after 12 Premier League games at the end of November.
They now trail leaders City by eight points and are just one ahead of Liverpool having played a game more.
The west Londoners have gone from 15/8 shots with Sky Bet for the title all the way out to 16/1. And there won’t be many takers at that price considering Manchester City’s form, and Chelsea’s for that matter. Despite only losing their lead in stoppage time vs Brighton, they were second best for large parts to a team who pressed efficiently, passed intelligently and looked more confident than their supposed title challenging rivals.
Such is the relentless pace at the top of the Premier League, you simply can’t afford to go through a spell of winning just four out of 10 games like Chelsea have. In the blink of an eye, the title has slipped out of their grasp.
Sustaining attacks and creating quality chances is becoming a real problem for Thomas Tuchel, who cut a frustrated figure in his media duties after dropping yet more points. Their lack of sustained, quality attacks can be showcased through an expected goals figure of just 0.67 in the 1-1 draw.
Romelu Lukaku’s goal came from a set-piece, as did most of Chelsea’s chances. Remember this is a team that against Arsenal on the second week of the season created 18 chances from open play in one fixture. Such is their current malaise, they have created a total of 18 chances from open play in their last three fixtures combined against Brighton, Aston Villa and Wolves.
It was the same story in the 3-2 win over Leeds where two Jorginho penalties got them out of jail and papered over the cracks of their lack of cutting edge in the final third. This is now more than just a blip for Tuchel and Chelsea. They have questions to answer.
Sky Sports’ Ben Grounds on Man City
The title contenders are fine teams but are made to look like they have too many flaws, when up against this runaway City train. Here, they were at their ruthlessly efficient best, scoring through Phil Foden 56 seconds after Joao Cancelo had cleared the ball off his own goal line.
‘Boring, boring City’ sang the Brentford fans as their opponents stroked the ball around in the closing stages. Boring, maybe. But given the Liverpool and Chelsea results over the past 24 hours or so, a win here was extremely valuable to City in the bigger scheme of things.
They roll on, perhaps over the hill now in the title race.
How the table stands
Man City are pulling away, with an eight-point gap between them and second-placed Chelsea. Third-placed Liverpool have a game in hand so could close that difference to six points – but Guardiola’s side are in control now.
The title chase
Current form: City pulling away?
Ten in a row for City and they’re in ominous form.
As for Liverpool, they followed up their draw at Tottenham with defeat and failed to score for the first time in 29 Premier League games.
Chelsea have drawn three of their last four.
Festive fixtures: Crunch Super Sunday clash
Live Renault Super Sunday
It’s all eyes on Stamford Bridge for the Super Sunday match-up between Chelsea and Liverpool, live on Sky Sports.
Guardiola and his City players will be watching that one with interest. Incredibly they could be 11 points ahead of Chelsea by that point, with their next match against Arsenal coming on Saturday lunchtime.
With the way this fixture has fallen, we could see Chelsea or Liverpool knock their opposition out of the title race altogether, while a draw would only really suit City at this stage.
Top scorers and creators
Liverpool dominate the top of the goals, shots assists and chances created standings…
Who could be off to AFCON?
The Africa Cup of Nations will run from January 9 to February 6, with 40 Premier League players potentially being called up for duty for the tournament in Cameroon.
Those called up to AFCON could miss at least one Premier League round (weekend of January 15/16), the FA Cup third round (weekend of January 8) and the Carabao Cup semi-finals (w/c January 3 and January 10) in the best-case scenario.
However, depending on when clubs release their players, and how fit they are on return, in the worst case, players could miss more Premier League rounds, both Carabao Cup semi-finals and both the FA Cup third and fourth rounds.
Watch title race unfold on Sky Sports
Sunday January 2: Chelsea vs Liverpool, kick-off 4.30pm
Saturday January 22: Southampton vs Manchester City, kick-off 5.30pm
Sunday January 23: Crystal Palace vs Liverpool, kick-off 2pm
Sunday January 23: Chelsea vs Tottenham, kick-off 4.30pm