The great debate is probably over. Manchester City defeated Manchester United on Sunday to leave their neighbours with an almost impossible mountain to climb to wrestle the title from their grasp.
The adage that the Premier League leader at Christmas is rarely the same team that eventually lifts the title in May seems unlikely to hold true this campaign. Guardiola’s Manchester City were as dominant against United as they have been against everyone else this season.
Mourinho seemed to want United to take the game to City playing Lukaku, Rashford, Martial and Lingard from the start. Unfortunately for the Portugese manager this did not translate into many serious opportunities as United could manage only 35% possession during the entire game.
Liverpool suffered with their own possession problems in their match against Everton. They simply had too much of it. Liverpool with an incredible 79% possession were every bit as dominant in their game as Manchester City. Unlike city however, they could only come away with a draw.
Jurgen Klopp was left furious as referee Craig Pawson gave what he adjudged to be a ‘soft’ penalty late on in the game to give Everton a less than deserved point. Sam Alardyce, unsurprisingly took an alternate position in his post-match interview, saying “you can moan all you want, it’s a penalty!”
Another slow start from Arsenal gave Southampton the initiative and an early goal. Southampton’s Charlie Austin scored after only 3 minutes and it wasn’t until Oliver Giroud came on as substitute late in the game that Arsenal salvaged a point.
Arsene Wenger looks under pressure and his team really need a good run of games to relieve it. The gunners seem to need teams around them to fail to keep them in contention right now. This is not a situation that will inspire confidence in their fans.
This was a great weekend for Manchester City. All their main rivals for the Premier League title dropped points except Tottenham who produced a more convincing performance than in recent weeks. However, Tottenham have already been far less consistent than is required to become serious challengers.
Second placed Manchester United lost (to City) as did Chelsea, and with Liverpool and Arsenal both drawing and another seriously emphatic display from City the title seems destined to be heading north. Teams who at the start of the season had realistic expectations of being a challenger this season have now had their hopes all but dashed by Christmas.
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