Highlights and talking points from game week 12 in the English Premier League

Steven Gerrard Aston Villa vs Brighton

We have just witnessed game week 12 of the 2021/22 Premier League campaign. It would be fair to say that the results, performances, and goings-on off the pitch meant that it is arguably one of the most significant weekends in the Premier League for some years, not just this season.

Steven Gerrard Aston Villa vs Brighton

Mixed fortunes for the new managers

To begin with, there were the first games in charge for 3 new managers. Steven Gerrard, the former Liverpool legend and Rangers manager, took charge at Villa Park, and oversaw his new side Aston Villa perform very well, eventually breaking down a stubborn Brighton side to win 2-0, lifting them to 15th place.

The man he replaced, Dean Smith, moved to Norwich City, taking over from Daniel Farke. Smith’s job on paper looks much tougher than his previous assignment, as the Canaries were in the relegation zone, with only one win all season. Most bookmakers would have had Norwich to go down at the beginning of the season, and would have had much shorter odds for this to happen before Smith took over, as their form was so poor. He managed to get a tune out of them, however, as Norwich beat Southampton 2-1. Is the hunt for survival back on? The odds still say no, as they are still in 19th position in the standings, but they have at least got more of a chance than they previously did under Farke.

The other new manager taking charge of his new club for the first time was Eddie Howe, who was appointed as Newcastle manager during the international break. Unfortunately for him, he tested positive for COVID-19 days before the game, so he had to watch on from his hotel room. They faced off against Brentford, who had started the season well, but struggled in their recent fixtures. It was a tough one to call, with the EPL odds fairly split on which side would win. In the end, it turned out to be an entertaining draw, ending 3-3. Howe would have seen positives and negatives in this game, but Newcastle remain in 20th place, and the only side without a win so far.

Bye bye Ole!

The biggest news of the weekend was that Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was finally relieved of his duties, following a shocking 4-1 defeat to Watford. United had been very poor before the international break, but Solskjaer would have been hoping for a response to the dismal recent displays against Liverpool and Manchester City. Instead, he got more of the same, with Harry Maguire’s sending off summing up what was a terrible day. Already Manchester United are 12 points off the top of the table, and as low down as 8th place. The United fans will be hoping whoever comes in as interim manager until the end of the season can somehow salvage this campaign.

Title contenders continue to be a cut above the rest

The top 3 in the Premier League look to be far and above the rest of the teams so far, and we imagine will be all hoping to lift the trophy next May. Chelsea find themselves top currently, with 29 points. This weekend saw them take on Leicester, who have been really struggling of late. It would have been especially tough for the Foxes fans to see 2 of their old players, Ben Chilwell and N’golo Kante, get on the score sheet here, as Thomas Tuchel’s men eased to a 3-0 victory, cementing their 1st position.

Manchester City also won 3-0, as they faced Everton. The Toffees were no match for Pep Guardiola’s side, who scored some special goals in this one. The pass from Joao Cancelo to Raheem Sterling for the first was sublime, as was the 30 yard rocket from Rodri for the second. City stay in 2nd place for now, but will look to capitalise on any Chelsea slip ups.

Last, but certainly not least, is Liverpool, who looked the best of all 3 sides going forward in their match against Arsenal. The Gunners had been on a long unbeaten streak going into this game, so were expected to push Liverpool. However, Jurgen Klopp’s men were back to their very best, with goals from Sadio Mane, Diogo Jota, Mo Salah and substitute Taki Minamino enough to condemn Arsenal to another hammering at Anfield. Liverpool stay in 3rd, 1 point behind City, and 4 behind Chelsea.

Best of the rest

There were goals galore elsewhere, as Crystal Palace and Burnley also drew 3-3. Palace took the lead 3 times, but it wasn’t enough as Burnley kept fighting back, to grab a precious draw. Palace remain in 10th, with Burnley stuck in 18th.

Tottenham have begun to improve under new manager Antonio Conte, and they came from behind to beat Leeds 2-1. That results put them up to 7th, but they’ll be aiming for higher.

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