2021/22 delivering the goods

The engrossing 2021/22 season continues to deliver thrills and spills aplenty with no signs of slowing down any time soon, and the final international break of the calendar year signifies jam-packed schedules at club level for the remaining 6 weeks of 2021.


The Premier League narrative has begun to take shape and after 11 rounds Chelsea lead the charge for the crown as the Blues have picked up 26 points from a possible 33.


Defending champions Man City trail pace-setters Chelsea by 3 points, as do West Ham who are in sparkling form. The Hammers rose into the top 3 places with a hard-fought win against high-flying Liverpool, leapfrogging the Reds in the table and bringing an end to Jürgen Klopp’s impressive 25-match unbeaten run.


Liverpool previously battered Man United at Old Trafford, by 5 goals to nil, as Klopp’s men conducted a clinic on the patch of their sworn enemy.

Mohamed Salah completed a hat-trick at Old Trafford and the Egyptian talisman leads the way in the Golden Boot race with 10 goals in 11 PL matches.

Salah has also given 7 assists – the joint-most in the league – and is averaging a direct goal contribution every 58 minutes.


Arsenal have surged up the standings after collecting 20 points from their last 8 league ties, leaving the Gunners 2 points behind Liverpool as the two teams prepare to lock horns following the final international break of 2021.


Newcastle are the last remaining team to earn three points after Burnley and Norwich City each scored victories over Brentford.

The Magpies have earned 5 draws and incurred 6 losses, letting in a hefty 24 goals, with only Norwich (26) conceding more in 11 games.


There have been managers galore already axed from their positions, with a total 5 dismissals after 11 rounds this season. In comparison to last term, Slaven Bilić lost his job before Christmas and was the first managerial casualty of the 2020/21 campaign, as West Brom let go of the Croatian after a 0-3 defeat to West Midlands rivals Aston Villa in MW14.


This year the PL sack race was won by Xisco Munoz, who parted company with Watford 7 games into the season. Claudio Ranieri was named new Watford manager and the Italian statesman has suffered 3 losses in his opening 4 games as Hornets boss.


Newcastle dismissed Steve Bruce on 20 October and – 3 weeks later – appointed Eddie Howe as the club’s first manager post-takeover by the consortium headed by the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF).


Tottenham were in the market for a new manager just 4 months after hiring Nuno Espírito Santo, as the ex-Wolves boss cleared his desk in North London and Antonio Conte took over the Spurs hot seat.


Aston Villa and Norwich both sacked their managers over the past weekend, with Daniel Farke leaving his post after 4 years in charge at Carrow Road, whilst Dean Smith ended a 3-year spell managing the Villains.


Ex-England skipper John Terry is a favourite to succeed Smith at Villa Park, having worked as assistant manager under Smith from 2018 until Terry, 40, left the club ahead of the current season to pursue his own career in management.


Selected results, Premier League:

Chelsea 1-1 Burnley

Everton 2-5 Watford

Everton 0-0 Tottenham

Leicester 0-2 Arsenal

Man Utd 0-5 Liverpool

Man Utd 0-2 Man City

Tottenham 0-2 Man Utd

Watford 0-5 Liverpool

West Ham 3-2 Liverpool


Selected fixtures:

20 Nov - Leicester vs Chelsea

20 Nov - Liverpool vs Arsenal

21 Nov - Man City vs Everton

28 Nov - Man City vs West Ham

28 Nov - Chelsea vs Man Utd

4 Dec - West Ham vs Chelsea

6 Dec - Everton vs Arsenal


Premier League standings:

P W L PTS

1. Chelsea 11 8 1 26

2. Man City 11 7 2 23

3. West Ham 11 7 2 23

4. Liverpool 11 6 1 22

5. Arsenal 11 6 3 20

____________________________

18. Burnley 11 1 5 8

19. Newcastle 11 0 6 5

20. Norwich 11 1 8 5


On a continental scale Liverpool are proving a true force to be reckoned with and are one of four teams to have booked a spot in the last 16 with two group matches to spare. Klopp’s Reds earned 6 points home and away to Atlético Madrid (5-2 agg.) as Diego Simeone’s side were reduced to 10 men on each occasion. Liverpool earlier beat AC Milan, 3-2, and thumped Porto away, 1-5.


With the group stage two-thirds complete, the trio of Ajax, Bayern Munich and Juventus have also secured paths to the first knockout round in February 2022, having all collected a maximum 12 points from 4 group clashes.


Bayern centre-forward Robert Lewandowski has netted 8 goals in 349 minutes of Champions League action – averaging a goal every 43 minutes – and is in heavy contention for the prestigious Ballon d’Or, to be awarded at the end of November.


Ajax striker Sebastien Haller is in blistering form and the Ivorian has 7 goals to his name this UCL campaign.


Selected results, UCL:

Atalanta 2-2 Man Utd

Bayern 5-2 Benfica

Dortmund 1-3 Ajax

Juventus 4-2 Zenit

Liverpool 2-0 Atlético Madrid

Malmo 0-1 Chelsea

Man City 4-1 Brugge

RB Leipzig 2-2 PSG


Selected fixtures:

23 Nov - Chelsea vs Juventus

23 Nov - Villarreal vs Man Utd

24 Nov - Atlético Madrid vs AC Milan

24 Nov - Man City vs PSG

7 Dec - AC Milan vs Liverpool

7 Dec - Real Madrid vs Inter Milan

8 Dec - Bayern Munich vs Barcelona

In the Europa League, French outfit Lyon are the only side with 4 wins from 4 and have thus qualified for the knockout phase of the competition.

Karl Toko Ekambi has scored in each of Lyon’s 4 matches thus far and the Cameroonian forward‘s 6 goals is the most of any player in the Europa League.


West Ham are top of Group H with 3 wins and a draw, and a further 3 points from the Hammers‘ remaining 2 group games would see the club progress from the group stage – for the first time – as group winners and advance to the Round of 16 next year.


Leicester have endured a topsy-turvy European tour with 5 points from 4 outings, albeit the Foxes are only 2 points shy of Group C leaders Napoli.

There is little separating Napoli and AC Milan atop the Serie A standings, both teams equal on 32 points after 12 matches and either side yet to lose in the league.

The spoils were shared in the latest Derby d‘Milano as AC and Inter had to settle for a 1-1 stalemate. Inter and Juventus also drew 1-1 in the Derby d’Italia one week prior.


Lazio striker Ciro Immobile tops the goal charts with 10 goals to his name.


Selected results, Serie A:

AC Milan 1-1 Inter Milan

Atalanta 2-2 Lazio

Hellas Verona 4-1 Lazio

Hellas Verona 2-1 Juventus

Inter Milan 1-1 Juventus

Napoli 1-1 Hellas Verona

Roma 0-0 Napoli

Roma 1-2 AC Milan


Selected fixtures:

20 Nov - Lazio vs Juventus

21 Nov - Inter vs Napoli

27 Nov - Juventus vs Atalanta

28 Nov - Napoli vs Lazio

4 Dec - Roma vs Inter

4 Dec - Napoli vs Atalanta


Serie A standings:

P W L PTS

1. Napoli 12 10 0 32

2. AC Milan 12 10 0 32

3. Inter Milan 12 7 1 25

4. Atalanta 12 6 2 22

5. Lazio 12 6 3 21

Over in Spain, a poor start to the season for Barcelona saw manager Ronald Koeman relieved of his duties and succeeded by La Masia graduate and former club captain, Xavi Hernandez.

Xavi, 41, returns to his boyhood club after 6 years at Al-Sadd during which time the World Cup winner played for and managed the Qatari side.


Barcelona currently lie in 9th place and are 10 points adrift of foes Real Madrid, having played the same number of games.

In El Clásico on 24 October, Los Blancos prevailed at the Nou Camp, 1-2,


Real Madrid ace Karim Benzema has so far recorded 10 goals and 7 assists in 12 appearances – setting the tempo and the standard amongst both charts.


Selected results, LaLiga:

Atlético 2-2 Real Sociedad

Celta Vigo 3-3 Barcelona

Barcelona 1-2 Real Madrid

Rayo Vallecano 1-0 Barcelona

Real Sociedad 1-1 Athletic Bilbao

Valencia 2-0 Villarreal

Valencia 3-3 Atlético


Selected fixtures:

21 Nov - Real Sociedad vs Valencia

27 Nov - Villarreal vs Barcelona

28 Nov - Real Madrid vs Sevilla

5 Dec - Real Sociedad vs Real Madrid


LaLiga standings:

P W L PTS

1. Real Sociedad 13 8 1 28

2. Real Madrid 12 8 1 27

3. Sevilla 12 8 1 27

4. Atlético Madrid 12 6 1 23

____________________________

9. Barcelona 12 4 3 17



Bayern Munich are 2 points clear at the summit of the Bundesliga log, after Borussia Dortmund lost out to RB Leipzig at the weekend. Bayern are shining bright under Julian Nagelsmann and have bagged 40 goals in 11 matches – an average of 3,6 goals per game.

Robert Lewandowski is in impeccable form and the Polish striker has netted 13 goals in 11 league outings for the Bavarians.


Selected results, Bundesliga:

Bayern 4-0 Hoffenheim

Bayern 2-1 Freiburg

Leipzig 2-1 Dortmund

Leverkusen 0-2 Wolfsburg

Union Berlin 2-5 Bayern

Wolfsburg 0-2 Freiburg


Selected fixtures:

27 Nov - Wolfsburg vs Dortmund

28 Nov - Leipzig vs Leverkusen

4 Dec - Dortmund vs Bayern


Bundesliga standings:

P W L PTS

1. Bayern 11 9 1 28

2. Dortmund 11 8 3 24

3. Freiburg 11 6 1 22

4. Wolfsburg 11 6 4 19

5. Leipzig 11 5 3 18

6. Leverkusen 11 5 3 18


Ajax Amsterdam and Paris Saint-Germain both currently top their respective domestic leagues, with the Parisians playing runaway leaders in the French Ligue 1 whilst Ajax sit atop of the Dutch Eredivisie by virtue of a superior goal difference over PSV Eindhoven.

Under Erik ten Hag, Ajax have kept 10 clean sheets and conceded only 2 goals across 12 league meetings this season.


Eredivisie standings:

P W L PTS

1. Ajax 12 8 1 27

2. PSV 12 9 3 27

3. Feyenoord 11 8 2 25


Ligue 1 standings:

P W L PTS

1. PSG 13 11 1 34

2. Lens 13 7 3 24

3. Nice 13 7 3 23

4. Marseille 13 6 2 23

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