The Premier League saw its fixture list decimated by coronavirus over the weekend.
Here, the PA news agency looks at some things we have learned from the top-flight action – or lack of it – this weekend.
Clarity is needed over coronavirus
Aston Villa can confirm that today’s Premier League fixture with Burnley has been postponed due to an increased amount of positive Covid-19 test results within our playing squad.— Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) December 18, 2021
Chelsea were unhappy their request to call off Sunday’s 0-0 draw at Wolves was rejected by the Premier League. It came after five games were called off on Saturday because of Covid-19 outbreaks. There is a meeting between clubs and the Premier League on Monday and managers certainly want more information on the current situation and where the line in the sand is for postponements.
Martinelli can fill the Aubameyang gap
Mikel Arteta stripped striker Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang of the Arsenal captaincy last week following another disciplinary breach, but Gabriel Martinelli may be the man to solve his attacking problems. The young Brazilian already has the same amount of Premier League goals – four – as Aubameyang this season and proved the Gabon forward was not missed with a brace in Saturday’s 4-1 win at Leeds. In the current market, buyers for Aubameyang might be in short supply but at least Arsenal have a ready-made replacement in Martinelli.
Manchester City are just warming up
105 – Manchester City have scored 105 goals in the Premier League in 2021; their most in a single calendar year while playing in the top-flight (previously 104 in 1929). Insatiable. pic.twitter.com/uPKNtTn3Wl— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 19, 2021
They had a helping hand from Newcastle’s awful defending but ruthless Manchester City continue to send out title warnings with a 4-0 win at the Magpies. With just Gabriel Jesus as a recognised striker, Pep Guardiola’s side are cruising and looking ominous. Kevin De Bruyne has barely been fit for the majority of the first half of the season and, with the Belgian now slipping into gear, it sends a message to the rest of their title rivals.
VAR still leaves unanswered questions
Ederson’s challenge on Ryan Fraser, Harry Kane’s tackle on Andrew Robertson and Emerson Royal’s shove on Diogo Jota left some scratching their heads. Manchester City and Tottenham escaped while Kane only received a yellow card, to the surprise of many. Robertson was sent off after referee Paul Tierney overturned his initial yellow card having checked the monitor following the defender’s challenge on Emerson. The use of VAR has undoubtedly improved this season but it still leaves questions to be answered.
Goal-shy Wolves teeter between positives and negatives
Wolves are evolving under Bruno Lage and it remains positive at Molineux, but they need to find goals. They have scored just 13 times in 18 games – only rock-bottom Norwich have less – but sit eighth. Imagine what they could do if they can find the net. Only Manchester City and Chelsea have a better defence than Wolves, who have conceded just 14, but in order to win games they need to score.
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