Many issues to resolve amid disrupted Premier League season before winter break

City’s run of 12 straight wins ended with Saturday’s 1-1 draw against Southampton but they remain nine points clear.

By Press Association Published: 24 January 2022 - 5.02pm

The Premier League enters a winter break with Manchester City clear at the top but plenty of issues to resolve amid a schedule disrupted by Covid-19.

Here, the PA news agency looks at some of the interesting statistical points so far.

City close to record pace

Most points in a Premier League season
Manchester City are not far from their record-breaking pace of recent years (PA graphic)

City’s run of 12 straight wins ended with Saturday’s 1-1 draw against Southampton but they remain nine points clear with 57 points from 23 games.

Second-placed Liverpool have a game in hand but it is hard to see City sacrificing such an advantage, while their average of 2.48 points per game has them on track for a total of 94.

That would be down on their record 100 points in 2017-18 and 98 the following year but – while it is easy to become used to the dominance of Pep Guardiola’s side – it is worth noting that only five teams have ever finished a Premier League season with 95 points or more.

Liverpool, having finished a point behind City in 2018-19, then won the following season’s title with 99, while 2005 champions Chelsea racked up 95.

Reds stars out on their own

Mohamed Salah, left, celebrates a goal with Trent Alexander-Arnold
Mohamed Salah (left) is the league top scorer and trails only team-mate Trent Alexander-Arnold in assists (Joe Giddens/PA)

Liverpool may trail City in the table but their players dominate the goal and assist charts, with Mohamed Salah a clear favourite for his third Premier League Golden Boot barring injury.

The Egypt star is six goals clear of the field with 16 from 20 appearances and the only other player in double figures is his Liverpool team-mate Diogo Jota.

The Portuguese is one ahead of Leicester’s 2019-20 Golden Boot winner Jamie Vardy with seven players tied on eight – including a third Liverpool forward in Sadio Mane.

Jurgen Klopp’s side are even more dominant in the assists chart, with full-backs Trent Alexander-Arnold (10) and Andy Robertson (eight) sandwiching Salah (nine) in the top three places.

Should Salah finish top of both categories, he would join only Tottenham’s Harry Kane last season and Andy Cole – for Newcastle in 1993-94 – in doing so outright. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink tied for both the goal and assist lead in 1998-99 while at Leeds.

Race for the top four

Premier League: as it stands

  • 4th: Manchester United, 38 points from 22 games
  • 5th: West Ham, 37 from 23
  • 6th: Arsenal, 36 from 21
  • 7th: Tottenham, 36 from 20
  • 8th: Wolves, 34 from 21

While City are clear and Liverpool and Chelsea look secure in the next two positions, the race for the final Champions League place could be thrilling.

Manchester United currently lie fourth, a point ahead of West Ham who have played a game more – but Arsenal and Tottenham are only a further point back and Wolves another two behind them, and all three have games in hand.

That could point towards a repeat of last season, when Liverpool won on the final day to finish third ahead of Chelsea and Leicester, with the Foxes beaten 4-2 by Tottenham and missing out at the last for the second year in succession.

Scheduling chaos

The league still has 19 games to reschedule – almost entirely due to the Covid-19 pandemic, plus Burnley’s snowed-off clash with Tottenham.

The Clarets are the worst-affected team, with at least two games in hand on every other team having played only 18 – six fewer than Chelsea.

Arsenal and Leicester also have four games each to be rearranged, with the Gunners’ fixtures in question including games against rivals Tottenham, Chelsea and Liverpool. The only clubs unaffected are City, West Ham and Brentford.

Relegation dogfight

Burnley manager Sean Dyche
Sean Dyche’s side have ground to make up in both the table and the fixture list (David Davies/PA)

Burnley’s backlog also pitches the relegation battle into confusion as they prop up the table on 12 points.

Winning just one of their games in hand would take them above Watford and Newcastle, while Norwich are four points better off just above the safety line but have played 22 games to Burnley’s 18.

Everton’s 19 points – and just five in the last 13 games – makes them vulnerable though the Toffees have played only 20 games, and while Leeds and Brentford have a points cushion, they will be looking over their shoulders, particularly the Bees with 23 games on the books.

Factor in Newcastle’s spending power in the remainder of the transfer window and nothing is close to certain at the bottom end.

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