With the Premier League calendar decimated by a wave of positive Covid-19 cases, just four games out of a scheduled ten have made the cut ahead of what’s likely to be a manic festive period.
Arsenal hammered Leeds 4-1 in Saturday’s only game, inspired by a brace from Gabriel Martinelli and goals from Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe, but the bulk of action comes on Sunday, headlined by a trip to Tottenham for Jurgen Klopp’s in-form Liverpool.
Premier League leaders Manchester City are also in action against struggling Newcastle, while Chelsea, who have also been hit hard by positive Covid-19 cases, are at Molineux to take on Wolves, having seen a request rejected by the Premier League to postpone the fixture.
Here’s 90min‘s coverage of the action as it unfolds.
Manchester City cruised to a 34th win of the calendar year at St James’ Park, winning 4-0 at a beleaguered Newcastle side who appear to be in desperate, desperate trouble.
Comically bad defending allowed Pep Guardiola’s side to open the scoring after just five minutes, as a complete breakdown in communication allowed Ruben Dias to head home Joao Cancelo’s limp cross home after a corner wasn’t properly cleared.
To make matters worse, Cancelo then reminded us all why he’s in millions and millions of FPL teams around the world by a sauntering through a non-existent Newcastle midfield, before hammering past a helpless Martin Dubravka in the home goal. A wonderful finish but more awful defending.
Allan Saint-Maximin came on for Newcastle in a bid to turn the game around, but instead it was a third goal that arrived for the visitors as Riyad Mahrez scored his 50th goal for City in all competitions.
The gloss was added to the scoreline late on as Raheem Sterling got on the end of Gabriel Jesus’ low cross, after the Brazilian had left Jacob Murphy for dead with a powerful driving run.
Read 90min’s Newcastle vs Man City player ratings here.
Chelsea’s stumbling run continued as they limped to a 0-0 draw at Wolves, having seen a request to the Premier League to postpone the game rejected before kick-off.
Covid-19 cases and injuries have ravaged the Blues’ squad, but their ability to name a 17-player squad meant the game went ahead as planned despite Thomas Tuchel’s pleas that the environment the players had been mixing in meant it wasn’t safe to proceed.
The game itself started off as a cagey affair, with neither side able to create many clear cut opportunities. That said, Wolves did have the ball in the back of Chelsea’s net just past the quarter of an hour mark, but replays showed an offside in the build-up to Daniel Podence slotting home.
Leander Dendoncker wasted the best opportunity of the half, heading tamely at Edouard Mendy, while Chelsea’s best effort fell to Christian Pulisic as the game approached the final ten minutes. Howeber, instead of finding the back of the net, the American was unable to beat Jose Sa as he turned his shot around the post.
Read 90min’s Wolves vs Chelsea player ratings here.
TV channel/live stream? Sky Sports (UK), Peacock (US), DAZN (Canada)
Highlights? Sky Sports Football YouTube, Match of the Day 2 (BBC One 10.30pm – UK)
Tottenham end their wait for Premier League football with the unenviable task of hosting in-form Liverpool in Sunday’s main game.
COVID-enforced postponements have sidelined Spurs since easing past Norwich at the start of December. In that time Liverpool have played – and won – three matches, and currently reside one point behind league leaders Manchester City.
Antonio Conte still has a raft of COVID-affected absences to juggle, stressing that it isn’t as simple as throwing players straight back into the starting XI after they return from isolation given the lack of match fitness time away from training will have caused.
Liverpool have their own players missing through COVID, including Curtis Jones, Fabinho, Virgil van Dijk and Thiago – who returned a suspected positive test early on Sunday.