Three talking points from the Premier League weekend

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Manchester City beat Chelsea 1-0 to tighten their grip on the Premier League title race on a weekend again plagued by controversial postponements.

Arsenal’s trip to Tottenham on Sunday has been called off as the Gunners have reportedly missed just one player due to coronavirus, bringing the total number of games postponed in the past two months to 21.

Bottom of the table, Norwich’s win over Everton leaves the bottom four separated by just three points and broke the camel’s back for Rafael Benitez’s unfortunate time at Goodison Park as the Spaniard was sacked on Sunday.

Tough time for Tuchel

Defeat at the Etihad realistically ended Chelsea’s title aspirations with the European champions now 13 points behind the leaders and looking over their shoulder just to make sure they finish the season in the lead. first four.

Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea have won just one of their last six Premier League games Oli SCARFF AFP

For the first time since taking over the reins of the Blues almost a year ago, Thomas Tuchel must find solutions to a poor run of just one victory in six league games which has allowed City to s eclipse.

The German’s caution was punished with a moment of brilliance from Kevin De Bruyne to win the game 20 minutes from time, but Tuchel responded angrily to suggestions that a more attacking mindset would have made a better service to his forwards.

Romelu Lukaku has borne the brunt of his manager’s criticism, suggesting the rift between the two after the Belgian expressed his unhappiness at Stamford Bridge to Italian media last month has not been forgotten.

Tuchel has guided Chelsea to three consecutive cup finals but Lukaku is not the first striker to struggle in his system with Timo Werner, Kai Havertz, Christian Pulisic and Hakim Ziyech all inconsistent.

Roulette adjourned

West Ham’s loss to Leeds and Manchester United squandering a 2-0 lead to draw 2-2 at Aston Villa meant it was a good week for Arsenal and Tottenham’s hopes of a top four finish despite not having kicked the ball.

Spurs were furious after the North London derby was canceled with just over 24 hours notice due to the number of injuries in the Gunners squad in addition to the four players missing from the Africa Cup of Nations.

Tottenham were the first Premier League club to be affected when the omicron variant of Covid-19 swept through England in December.

But by extending the merits of being able to field a squad with at least 13 senior players and a goalkeeper to injury and international duty, Premier League bosses have created a system open to abuse.

Fans and broadcasters, who make England’s top flight the wealthiest in the world, have been inconvenienced and the sporting integrity of the competition called into question.

Burnley have five games to make up in their battle to beat the drop, while Spurs and Leicester have played four games less than some of those they are challenging for a place in Europe.

Benitez’s Last Stand

Everton owner Farhad Moshiri’s unpopular decision to appoint a former Liverpool manager to Benitez seemed doomed from the start.

Rafael Benitez was sacked by Everton on Sunday
Rafael Benitez was sacked by Everton on Sunday Paul ELLIS AFP/File

The Spaniard lasted just seven months on a three-year contract and becomes the sixth manager to leave the club in the past six years.

The loss to a Norwich side who hadn’t even scored in six league games was the latest humiliation to cap a 13-match winning streak dating back to September.

Only the miserable form of the Canaries, Newcastle, Burnley and Watford means Everton still enjoy a six-point cushion in the relegation zone.

There is no greater acknowledgment of the mistakes of Moshiri’s reign than Belgium boss Roberto Martinez, the first coach he fired in 2016, who is said to have led the race to replace Benitez.

Wayne Rooney has also been linked with a return to Goodison thanks to the excellent job he is doing in defying Derby’s chances in the Championship despite being deducted 21 points.

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