Liverpool and City relentless: Premier League talking points with just four games remaining
Norwich City were the first side to be relegated from the Premier League as both Manchester City and Liverpool won away over the weekend.
With just four games remaining in the 2021-22 Premier League, the matchday 34 fixtures saw both Manchester City and Liverpool continue their relentless form with key away wins as Norwich City became the first team to be relegated from the Premier League this season.
City defence deserve more praise
Manchester City are usually heralded for their free flowing, sublime football, but the supreme defensive unit coach Pep Guardiola has created is often overlooked.
Leeds United threw everything at the champions in a hostile atmosphere on Saturday, but time again they were denied by last-ditch blocks and tackles, celebrated by City players as if they had scored.
City have the best defensive record in the league this season, just as they did last term. Their shutout in Saturday’s 4-0 win was their fifth successive away clean sheet in the league – their longest ever stretch in the league.
The Premier League title looks set to go to the wire once more this season, with City’s rigid rearguard key to their chances of success.
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Everton profiting from mentality shift
Everton can make any number of excuses for their dip into the relegation zone this season, but a lack of ability is not one of them as they showed again in the 1-0 home victory over Chelsea on Sunday.
The controversial appointment of former Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez ahead of the season always looked a poor fit, while injuries have decimated their squad and they have been on the wrong side of some dubious officiating.
But the players have also had to have a hard look at themselves and the mentality they have displayed for much of the campaign, which has seemed at times lackadaisical. Perhaps they have now been scared into action.
As they have shown in their recent wins over Manchester United and now Chelsea, and even for large parts of the Merseyside Derby loss to Liverpool, when they are switched on, focussed and determined, they are a match for anybody in the Premier League.
Klopp’s gamble pays off
Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp made a raft of changes from the side that faced Villarreal in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final earlier in the week but they still managed to eke out a vital 1-0 win at in-form Newcastle United.
Among the players brought in was Naby Keita, who controlled the game from midfield and scored the winner with a superb solo effort. Veteran James Milner also made an impact, offering much-needed energy and experience in another high-pressure game.
With Liverpool still challenging on all fronts, the strength of Klopp’s squad could prove hugely significant in their quest to achieve an unprecedented quadruple of trophies this season.
Arsenal show bottle
A so-called soft underbelly has been blamed for Arsenal’s failure to finish in the top four since the 2015-16 season but Mikel Arteta appears to have finally galvanised the Gunners.
When Arsenal suffered three successive defeats in April it appeared their old failings had returned.
But Sunday’s gritty 2-1 win at West Ham United, described as “ugly” by Arteta, made it three wins in a row to keep themselves in fourth place with four games left.