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PL Man City’s Title to lose

Manchester City continue to cruise the English top-flight and it is more a matter of when than if the Citizens wrap up a sixth Premier League crown, and Pep Guardiola's fourth.

The defending Premier League champions have built comfortable breathing room at the summit of the standings, opening a nine-point lead over their nearest challengers Liverpool.

Guardiola's men have been a league apart from the rest, collecting 20 wins from 25 league meetings this term. The Citizens have also conceded a league-low 14 goals with goalkeeper Ederson on 14 clean sheets thus far, more than any other Premier League goalie.

The race for Champions League qualification has been blown wide open with several contenders dropping points in recent weeks. Just six points currently separate five teams in positions 4-8.

Tottenham have lost each of their last three league games albeit Antonio Conte's men have three games in hand over fourth-placed West Ham, who themselves have picked up one win in their last four. Man United dropped points in both their last two games, and the Red Devils have taken only two wins from six league matches in 2022.

Wolves have placed themselves in the equation for European football and they sit three points below West Ham with two games in hand over the Hammers. Wolves have let in 17 goals this season, second least only to league leaders Man City.

Everton sacked Rafael Benitez mid-January following a run of one win and nine losses in 12 games, leaving the Spaniard to become the seventh managerial casualty of the Premier League season with Everton in 16th place and four points above the drop zone.

Some familiar faces were linked with taking over at Goodison Park, including Wayne Rooney and Roberto Martinez, but Duncan Ferguson was named Toffees' interim manager for a second time before Frank Lampard was appointed as Everton's permanent boss.

Watford parted company with Claudio Ranieri after just three months, with the Hornets two points off the foot of the table and in grave danger of relegation, having taken one win from 11 league games prior to the Italian’s dismissal. Ranieri has been succeeded by Roy Hodgson who was out of work since leaving Crystal Palace at the end of last season.

Newcastle Utd have started to put daylight between themselves and the bottom three, with three league victories on the bounce. The Magpies are now four points above the relegation places and six points shy of Aston Villa in 12th.

Norwich, Watford and Burnley occupy the drop zone.

Premier League, selected results:

Aston Villa 2-2 Man Utd

Brighton 1-1 Chelsea

Chelsea 2-0 Tottenham

Leicester 2-3 Tottenham

Leicester 1-1 Brighton

Leicester 2-2 West Ham

Liverpool 2-0 Leicester

Man City 1-0 Chelsea

Man Utd 1-0 West Ham

Tottenham p-p Arsenal

West Ham 2-3 Leeds Utd

Wolves 1-1 Arsenal

Premier League, selected fixtures:

15 Feb - Man Utd vs Brighton

19 Feb - Man City vs Tottenham

20 Feb - Leeds Utd vs Man Utd

20 Feb - Wolves vs Leicester

24 Feb - Arsenal vs Wolves

27 Feb - West Ham vs Wolves

5 March - Liverpool vs West Ham

6 March - Man City vs Man Utd

Premier League standings:


1. Man City 25 20 2 63

2. Liverpool 24 16 2 54

3. Chelsea 24 13 3 47

4. West Ham 25 12 8 41

5. Man Utd 24 11 6 40

6. Arsenal 22 12 7 39

7. Wolves 23 11 8 37

8. Tottenham 22 11 8 36

Despite missing a month of Premier League action, Mohamed Salah remains in control of the Golden Boot race with 16 goals – four more than Liverpool strike partner Diogo Jota. However, Salah has lost ground in the assists charts as teammate Trent Alexander-Arnold became the first player to hit double digits this season with the full-back sitting on 10, one more than Salah.

Salah is still reeling from heartbreak in the recent Africa Cup of Nations where he and Egypt lost in the Final, on penalties, to Senegal.

Egypt met Ivory Coast in the Round of 16, where the Pharaohs advanced on penalties. Egypt later came up against hosts Cameroon in the semifinals, and again were victorious on penalties. It was third time unlucky for Egypt as they fell short to Senegal in a penalty shootout in the Final, for the Lions of Teranga to be crowned champions of Africa for the very first time.

Algeria failed to progress from the group stage, whilst Nigeria were dumped out by Tunisia in the first knockout round.

After continental success with his nation, Senegal 'keeper Édouard Mendy linked up with parent club Chelsea in the UAE to take part in the FIFA Club World Cup. The UEFA Champions League holders edged Brazilian side Palmeiras in the Final, 2-1, to lift the Club World Cup for the first time.

The magic of the FA Cup has been in full stead thus far as 11 Premier League teams have already been dumped out of the world's oldest cup competition. Arsenal, Aston Villa, Burnley, Leeds, Newcastle, and Watford all exited in the Third Round.

Man United and holders Leicester were the two most prolific casualties in the Fourth Round, with both teams losing to Championship opposition in Middlesbrough and Nottingham Forest, respectively. Brentford, Brighton and Wolves also bowed out in the Fourth Round.

FA Cup 5th Round, selected fixtures:

(1-3 March)

Everton vs Boreham Wood

Liverpool vs Norwich

Luton Town vs Chelsea

Middlesbrough vs Tottenham

Peterborough Utd vs Man City

Southampton vs West Ham

The EFL Cup semifinals saw Chelsea beat Tottenham in both legs to advance to the final with a 3-0 aggregate score, while Liverpool overcame Arsenal, 2-0, on aggregate.

The Blues and the Reds will meet in the Carabao Cup Final at Wembley Stadium on 27 February with the victors set to become the first winners of the competition, other than Man City, since 2017.

EFL Cup, semifinal results:

Chelsea 2-0 Tottenham

Tottenham 0-1 Chelsea

Liverpool 0-0 Arsenal

Arsenal 0-2 Liverpool

Across Europe, AC Milan leapfrogged city rivals Inter at the top of the Serie A standings, with partial thanks to Olivier Giroud's brace in the latest Derbi di Milano. Inter took the lead at the San Siro before Giroud's second-half double handed the Rossoneri bragging rights over their fierce foes.

Serie A, selected results & fixtures:

AC Milan 3-1 Roma

AC Milan 0-0 Juventus

Atalanta 0-0 Inter Milan

Atalanta 1-1 Juventus

Inter Milan 2-1 Lazio

Inter Milan 1-2 AC Milan

Juventus 1-1 Napoli

Lazio 0-0 Atalanta

Napoli 1-1 Inter Milan

Roma 3-4 Juventus

27 Feb - Lazio vs Napoli

5 March - Roma vs Atalanta

6 March - Napoli vs AC Milan

Serie A standings:


1. AC Milan 25 17 4 55

2. Inter Milan 24 16 2 54

3. Napoli 25 16 4 53

4. Juventus 25 13 5 46

5. Atalanta 24 12 4 44

In the Coppa Italia, Inter beat Roma to advance to the semifinals while AC Milan breezed past Lazio. Defending champions Juventus beat Sassuolo, and Fiorentina edged Atalanta.

Coppa Italia fixtures:

1 March - AC Milan vs Inter Milan

2 March - Fiorentina vs Juventus

20 April - Inter Milan vs AC Milan

21 April - Juventus vs Fiorentina

In Spain, Real Madrid are four points clear at the top of La Liga having suffered two defeats in 24 games. Barcelona have climbed back into contention for a place in the top four, following a splendid 4-2 win over Atlético Madrid earlier this month.

La Liga, selected results & fixtures:

Atlético Madrid 3-2 Valencia

Barcelona 4-2 Atlético Madrid

Granada 1-1 Barcelona

Real Betis 0-2 Villarreal

Real Madrid 4-1 Valencia

Valencia 1-1 Sevilla

Villarreal 2-2 Atlético Madrid

Villarreal 0-0 Real Madrid

20 Feb - Valencia vs Barcelona

27 Feb - Sevilla vs Real Betis

5 March - Real Madrid vs Real Sociedad

6 March - Real Betis vs Atlético Madrid

La Liga standings:


1. Real Madrid 24 16 2 54

2. Sevilla 24 14 2 50

3. Real Betis 24 13 7 43

4. Barcelona 23 10 4 39

5. Atlético Madrid 23 11 6 39

6. Real Sociedad 23 10 5 38

Real Madrid were knocked out of the Copa del Rey quarter-finals at the hands of Athletic Bilbao. This two weeks after Los Blancos beat Athletic, 2-0, in the Final of the Supercopa de Espana.

Bayern Munich have lost ground at the summit of the Bundesliga log after going down to VfL Bochum this past weekend. Borussia Dortmund capitalised on Bayern's slip-up to narrow the gap behind the Bavarians to six points.

Bundesliga, selected results & fixtures:

Bayern 1-2 M’Gladbach

Bayern 3-2 Leipzig

Bochum 4-2 Bayern

Dortmund 4-1 Freiburg

Dortmund 2-5 Leverkusen

Frankfurt 2-3 Dortmund

Hoffenheim 2-3 Dortmund

Leipzig 2-0 Wolfsburg

M’Gladbach 1-2 Leverkusen

20 Feb - Dortmund vs M’Gladbach

5 March - Bayern vs Leverkusen

Bundesliga standings:


1. Bayern 22 17 4 52

2. Dortmund 22 15 6 46

3. Leverkusen 22 12 5 41

4. Leipzig 22 10 8 34

5. Hoffenheim 22 10 8 34

Dortmund lost out to second-tier side St. Pauli in the DfB Pokal round of 16, with Bayern crashing out one round prior.

Last month Bayern's Robert Lewandowski was named The Best FIFA Men’s Player of the Year for 2021, the Polish forward scooping the accolade in back-to-back years. Lewandowski has been in red-hot form this season, scoring 37 goals in 30 appearances across all competitions.

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel was voted the Best FIFA Men's Coach, while Blues' goalkeeper Édouard Mendy won the Best FIFA Men's Goalkeeper.

Erik Lamela was presented with the FIFA Puskas Award for the Argentine's sublime rabona goal for Tottenham versus arch rivals Arsenal.

Cristiano Ronaldo was presented with the FIFA Special Award in recognition of the Portugal skipper's record of 115 (and counting) international goals.

The FIFA FIFPro Men's World XI donned an unorthodox 3-3-4 formation, with Italian 'keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma in between the sticks. David Alaba, Ruben Dias and Leonardo Bonucci formed the back three with N'Golo Kanté, Jorginho and Kevin De Bruyne in midfield. The four-man front line consisted of Ronaldo, Lewandowski, Lionel Messi and Erling Haaland.

European football resumes this week with the Champions League Round of 16 on Tuesday and Wednesday, and the Europa League Round of 16 play-offs on Thursday.

Stay tuned for more...

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