By Niall Clarke

  • Five lessons learned from Premier League match-weeks 21 and 22
  • Full results
It is a New Year and that means plenty of Premier League football to break down with a bumper two match-weeks in the space of seven days. So here are five things from the New Years fixtures and a round-up of our prediction contest.

 

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The Winning Streak Is Over

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18 straight wins saw Manchester City set a new Premier League record for the most consecutive victories, but after a 0-0 draw against Crystal Palace, the run finally came to an end.

It could have easily been a defeat too. The Eagles had a last minute penalty controversially given after Raheem Sterling appeared to have trip Wilfried Zaha inside the area. Ederson stepped up to save the spot kick and rescue a point for the visitors.

Palace are the first side to keep a clean sheet against Pep Guardiola’s side in the Premier League this season and are the first since Everton to take points off them. City are still unbeaten this campaign and could still go on to be the second ‘Invincibles’ in Premier League history, but Guardiola will not match his record of 19 straight wins which he achieved with Bayern Munich.

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All The Bottom 11 Are In The Relegation Scrap

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After the New Year’s fixtures, the points separating 18th in the table from 11th in the table is just a mere five points. That is not a big gap at all, meaning that any one of those 11 teams could end up being relegated at the end of the season.

Watford suffered two straight defeats to Swansea and Manchester City which has dragged the Hornets, who currently sit 10th, into this scrap. Marco Silva’s side started the season really well and looked like they would contend for European places, but now they must watch their back as they are dangerously close to the relegation zone for a top half team.

Southampton’s poor run has seen them drop to 17th in the table and suddenly the Saints have gone from a top ten chasing team to a side starring at a relegation battle. It just goes to show how easily you can get sucked into this position.

For a lot of sides, the issues are that they can not put together a good run of results. Everton managed to do it and now sit ninth and look clear of the relegation zone for now. It may take another team to put together a few wins to escape this position, but right now no bottom half side can do this it seems.

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Manchester United Hitting a Rocky Patch

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Manchester United may have won their last match against Everton, but it is clear that there is something not quite right at Old Trafford at the moment.

Until their 2-0 win at Goodison Park, The Red Devils drew three league games on the bounce and exited to league cup thanks to a last minute Bristol City goal. Over the weekend, Jose Mourinho’s side were held to a 0-0 draw at home to Southampton which is a less than satisfactory result against a side struggling for form.

United returned to winning ways against Everton thanks to goals from Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard. They finish the match-week in second, but there are signs that things might not be 100%.

Mourinho’s attitude in recent weeks projects a downbeat figure, and his response to Manchester City’s dominance was quite alarming. The Portuguese manager said the main reason Guardiola’s side is so successful is because of the money they can spend, but at the end of the day their record signing is £55m for Kevin De Bruyne. United paid £75m for Romelu Lukaku and £90m on Paul Pogba.

Was it just a mini blip in form or is there something bigger going on? For now their poor run looks over, but we shall see where the Red Devils go from here.

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The Top Four Battle Is Getting Tighter

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Eight points may separate Arsenal and Manchester United, but it is becoming a five team battle for the last three places in the top four.

Man City are way ahead and Burnley’s challenge seems to be over after back to back defeats against top six opposition. However Man United’s recent three game drawing run has seen them slip into this battle after being a clear second throughout most of the season.

Chelsea and Arsenal played out a 2-2 draw at the Emirates on Wednesday with all four goals coming in the second half. Alexis Sanchez gave the home side the lead with a deflected effort, but Chelsea found themselves level through Eden Hazard’s penalty. Marcos Alonso appeared to have won it for the Blues, but Hector Bellerin’s stoppage time equaliser rescued a point for the Gunners.

Tottenham had the chance to take advantage o this and move clear of their North London rivals, but they were held to a 1-1 draw at home to West Ham. Pedro Obiang and Heung-Min Son both scored stunning long range strikes in this London derby to share the spoils.

 

The Festive Fixture List Needs To Be Reduced

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It has long been debated, especially with the decline of the Premier League in terms of their Champions League performances in recent years, that English football should take a break over winter like their European counterparts. Whilst the festive fixtures is a tradition, it is a little too much football over a short space of time.

Having matches on the weekend, then over Boxing Day and throughout the week. Then we return for more over that weekend before moving into the New Years fixtures starting Monday, it does not give the players much respite between matches, and it also prevents them from spending the festive period with their families.

A complete break is not really necessary. However, I do believe that they could stick to the usual frame of fixtures. Playing matches over both weekends would more than suffice.

 

Predictions round-up

Neil’s match-week 22 performance has seen him take a big lead in the prediction contest. With four correct scores he reached 16 points that match-week. Niall struggled on the other hand and will need a big week to catch his fellow writer.

Niall (129)
Actual Score
Neil (154)
Bournemouth 1-1 Everton Bournemouth 2-1 Everton Bournemouth 1-1 Everton
Chelsea 3-0 Stoke (1) Chelsea 5-0 Stoke Chelsea 3-1 Stoke (1)
Huddersfield 0-1 Burnley Huddersfield 0-0 Burnley Huddersfield 2-2 Burnley (1)
Liverpool 4-2 Leicester (1) Liverpool 2-1 Leicester Liverpool 3-2 Leicester (1)
Newcastle 2-1 Brighton Newcastle 0-0 Brighton Newcastle 2-1 Brighton
Watford 3-0 Swansea Watford 1-2 Swansea Watford 2-0 Swansea
Man United 2-0 Southampton Man United 0-0 Southampton Man United 3-0 Southampton
Crystal Palace 1-3 Man City Crystal Palace 0-0 Man City Crystal Palace 2-3 Man City
West Brom 0-2 Arsenal West Brom 1-1 Arsenal West Brom 1-3 Arsenal
Swansea 0-4 Tottenham Swansea 0-2 Tottenham Swansea 0-4 Tottenham
Match-Week 22
Match-Week 22
Match-Week 22
Brighton 2-1 Bournemouth Brighton 2-2 Bournemouth Brighton 2-2 Bournemouth (3)
Burnley 1-1 Liverpool Burnley 1-2 Liverpool Burnley 1-3 Liverpool (1)
Leicester 2-0 Huddersfield (1) Leicester 3-0 Huddersfield Leicester 2-1 Huddersfield (1)
Stoke 2-1 Newcastle Stoke 0-1 Newcastle Stoke 1-2 Newcastle (1)
Everton 0-1 Man United (1) Everton 0-2 Man United Everton 2-1 Man United
Southampton 1-1 Crystal Palace Crystal Palace 1-2 Southampton Crystal Palace 1-2 Southampton (3)
West Ham 0-0 West Brom West Ham 2-1 West Brom West Ham 2-0 West Brom
Man City 4-1 Watford (1) Man City 3-1 Watford Man City 3-1 Watford (3)
Arsenal 2-2 Chelsea (3) Arsenal 2-2 Chelsea Arsenal 2-2 Chelsea (3)
Tottenham 3-1 West Ham Tottenham 1-1 West Ham Tottenham 2-2 West Ham (1)
The Premier League returns on January 13th

 

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