10 things we learned in the Premier League – Matchweek 22

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What did we learn during matchweek 22 of the 2021-22 Premier League season?

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]

Here’s a look at 10 things which stood out, as our writers Joe Prince-Wright (JPW), Nicholas Mendola (NM) and Andy Edwards (AE) share their observations from across the most recent Premier League games.

VIDEO: PL highlights ]

Let’s get to it.


1. City are the champions-elect (Manchester City 1-0 Chelsea): Liverpool are the only team that can catch City now and even if they win their games in-hand, they need City to lose three of their final 16 games to have a chance of winning the title. That doesn’t seem likely. City have won 12 in a row and have been consistently excellent throughout the last three months. Guardiola has rotated his team perfectly and different players are stepping up all the time. City are the champions elect, even if they don’t want to admit it (JPW).

2. Rangnick’s men run out of steam (Aston Villa 2-2 Manchester United): Those who criticized Cristiano Ronaldo’s pressing work rate would’ve been yelling, “See?!? See?!?” at their TV screens as Manchester United buzzed all over Villa in the opening 30 minutes, as it was the hosts were trying to hold firm under siege. But the Red Devils had no gas left in the tank during a second half of struggle, and Rangnick didn’t sub until the 78th minute (Jadon Sancho). Only two more followed as Jesse Lingard and Donny van de Beek said hello for 89th-minute cameos. It took all of one half to go from buzzing to buzz-sawed. (NM)

3. No Salah, no Mane, no problem (so far) (Liverpool 3-0 Brentford): Liverpool are perhaps feeling rather fortunate that Salah and Mane will likely miss just two Premier League games while on international duty at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations. Fortunate, because the Reds’ attack predictably lacked the cutting edge and final-third expertise typically on display at Anfield. Oxlade-Chamberlain started on the wing in their absences, and though Oxlade-Chamberlain is serviceable in a number of positions due to him being a well-rounded footballer, he possesses very few of the things which make Salah and Mane truly exceptional. (AE)

4. Lukaku has a point about Chelsea’s playing style (Manchester City 1-0 Chelsea): When he revealed he wasn’t a fan of Tuchel’s tactics, many questioned what the heck Lukaku was talking about. Maybe he’s got a point? Lukaku made so many good runs, especially in the first half, but Chelsea were slow on the ball and not direct enough to find him. He needs a partner up top, someone like Werner? In the second half Lukaku was denied by Ederson with his only chance of the game and Chelsea have to find a way to get the best out of him if they want to win other trophies and defend their Champions League trophy. Their Premier League dreams are done after this defeat. (JPW)

5. Raphinha at peak of his powers (West Ham 2-3 Leeds): Harrison will get all of the headlines, and rightly so, but Raphinha was superb for Leeds. He put the ball on a plate for Harrison to score the winner, set up another that was disallowed and smacked the woodwork with a fine free kick. The Brazilian is getting better by the week and you can understand why top teams across Europe are chasing his signature. What a wonderful talent who makes everything look so easy when he’s on the ball, but he also works so hard to win it back. (JPW)

6. Don’t sleep on Philippe (Aston Villa 2-2 Manchester United): He had less than a quarter of an hour to make the difference, and Barcelona loanee Philippe Coutinho danced on Manchester United like he was still playing for Liverpool. His 32 minutes only saw about 16 touches of the ball, but one was an assist, another was a goal, and a third was a shot on target. He hasn’t been a featured player in some time, but Coutinho is not terribly far removed from a double-digit goal and assist season on loan to Bayern Munich. Steven Gerrard is tapping his temple like the famous meme right now, members only. (NM)

7. Home form hampering Hammers (West Ham 2-3 Leeds): West Ham have picked up more points on the road than at home this season, and that is unbelievable. The Hammers have lost at home to Southampton, Brentford and now Leeds, as they struggle to stop teams hitting them on the counter when they are expected to take the initiative in games. David Moyes’ side missed a great chance to boost their top four hopes and sorting out their home form against teams in the bottom half of the table is something they need to do if they’re going to qualify for Europe. (JPW)

8. Howe gets it wrong (Newcastle 1-1 Watford): Eddie Howe has a lot of explaining to do after his team had no idea what to do with its second-half lead. Fair play to the attack, as the Magpies should’ve been ahead by plenty after 45 minutes but totally took their foot off the gas pedal following Saint-Maximin’s 49th-minute tally. Watford had nearly 60 percent of the ball in the second half and Howe didn’t make any subs until the 74th minute as his team was out-attempted 9-2 in the final 45 minutes as Joe Willock was an unused sub and Miguel Almiron only got four minutes on the pitch. They needed three points and got one, and there should be real questions about a manager who was relegated in his last period of a long, successful period at Bournemouth. (NM)

9. VAR causes controversy (Wolves 3-1 Southampton): Wolves got a penalty and Southampton didn’t for two very similar situations. Bednarek caught Ait-Nouri and a spot kick was given, while Romeu was clipped by Dendoncker and nothing was given. It was a clear case of a lack of consistency and Southampton will feel aggrieved that referee Michael Salisbury wasn’t called to the pitch-side monitor like he had been for Wolves’ penalty. (JPW)

10. No relief for Rafa, still (Norwich 2-1 Everton): Everton, a club which has spent nearly $700 million on transfers since Farhad Moshiri purchased the club in February 2016, are just six points clear of the relegation zone after playing half of their games for the season. Injured players are returning to the team, but the team is not improving. The Toffees have now won just one of their last 13 Premier League games (1W-2D-10L). A banner reading “Benitez, get out of our club” was unfurled in the away end immediately after the full-time whistle. UPDATE: Benitez has since been fired.

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South Korea vs Portugal: How to watch live, stream link, team news

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South Korea have a must-win Group H finale against Portugal, who have already made it through to the last 16 of the World Cup.

STREAM LIVE SOUTH KOREA v PORTUGAL

Heung-min Son has struggled and South Korea have just one point on the board so far from their games against Uruguay and Ghana. Last time out they lost 3-2 to Ghana in excrutiating fashion after fighting back from 2-0 down to make it 2-2. Now more than ever, Son’s country needs him to deliver as he has failed to score or assist in the opening two games and looks extremely frustrated. South Korea must win to have a chance of reaching the last 16 ahead of Uruguay and Ghana.

[ MORE: Group H standings, schedule, rankings ]

The opposite emotions are true for Portugal who beat Ghana 3-2 and then Uruguay 2-0 to breeze into the last 16 and they only need a point to secure top spot in Group H. Bruno Fernandes and Bernardo Silva have been pulling the strings and this Portugal side is stacked in attack with Rafael Leao and Joao Felix rotated in and out of the team to support Cristiano Ronaldo.

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub

Here is everything you need for South Korea vs Portugal. 


How to watch South Korea vs Portugal live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 10am ET – Friday, December 2
Stadium: Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)


Key storylines, players to watch closely

Obviously the stage is set for Heung-min Son. He is a hero in his homeland and he’s worked so hard to be fit for this tournament after the nasty facial injury but looks out of sorts on the left. Perhaps he can moved inside or slightly deeper to get on the ball more? Cho Gue-sung scored two beauties against Ghana and if South Korea can put more quality deliveries into the box, they will cause problems. They simply have to go all-out for the win and that approach saw them deliver their best play of the tournament in the second half against Ghana. However, South Korea’s Portuguese coach Paulo Bento was sent off at the end of that disappointing defeat to Ghana as he was unhappy with a late corner not being allowed as the final whistle was blown. He will miss this game through suspension. 

For Portugal it’s about resting key players and warming up for their last 16 clash. Winning the group is essential as that means they would face one of Serbia, Switzerland or Cameroon in the last 16 rather than Brazil. It is very unlikely Portugal won’t finish top, but it could happen. Basically, Ghana would have to win big to overturn a three-goal difference by beating Uruguay and Portugal would also have to lose against South Korea. It could happen but Fernando Santos can rotate his team and still have so much quality on the pitch as Goncalo Ramos, Diogo Dalot, Matheus Nunes and Rafael Leao could all start.


South Korea quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 28
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 10
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from AFC
Coach: Paulo Bento
Key players: Heung-min Son, Young-gwon Kim, In-beom Hwang, Woo-yeong Jeong

Portugal quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 9
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 8
How they qualified: Qualified from UEFA via playoffs
Coach: Fernando Santos
Key players: Cristiano Ronaldo, Ruben Neves, Bruno Fernandes, Joao Cancelo


Ghana vs Uruguay: How to watch live, stream link, team news

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This is going to be an epic Group H finale as there is so much history between Ghana and Uruguay and both teams still have a chance of reaching the last 16.

STREAM LIVE GHANA V URUGUAY

When you say Luis Suarez, Ghana and World Cup together, most people think of his incredible handball to deny the Black Stars victory in the quarterfinals of the 2010 World Cup. We all know what happened next as Ghana’s Asamoah Gyan missed the spot kick after Suarez had been sent off, then Uruguay won on penalty kicks to deny Ghana an historic semifinal berth.

The whole of Ghana has never forgot that and the Black Stars get their chance for revenge in this clash.

[ MORE: Group H standings, schedule, rankings ]

Focusing on this game, Ghana provided superb entertainment in their 3-2 win against South Korea and know a point against Uruguay will be enough to reach the last 16 if South Korea fail to beat Portugal in the other final Group H game. Thomas Partey has been superb in midfield, Mohammed Kudus scored twice up top in their big win and the additions of Tariq Lamptey and Mohammed Salisu just before this tournament has made a big difference.

As for Uruguay, they’ve huffed and puffed in their opening two games but have failed to score as Darwin Nunez, Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani have all looked off the pace. Rodrigo Bentancur and Federico Valverde have been great in midfield but is this one tournament too far for Uruguay’s incredible, but ageing, core? They need to win to have a chance of reaching the last 16.

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub

Here is everything you need for Ghana vs Uruguay. 


How to watch Ghana vs Uruguay live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 10am ET – Friday, December 2
Stadium: Al Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)


Key storylines, players to watch closely

Ghana will likely start the same team which started against South Korea as they looked dangerous in attack but they will have to improve defensively and keep the ball a bit better. The Ayew brothers (Jordan and Andre) provide so much experience, while Inaki Williams and Kudus knit everything together well in the final third.

Uruguay have to go for it, so does that mean starting Suarez, Cavani and Nunez up top together? If they do that they could cause Ghana, who have looked shaky at the back, plenty of problems. They may go back to a back four and the trio of Bentancur, Vecino and Valverde to hold down midfield.


Ghana quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 61
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 4
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from CAF via playoffs
Coach: Otto Addo
Key players: Jordan Ayew, Andre Ayew, Thomas Partey, Jeff Schlupp

Uruguay quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 14
World Cup titles: 2 (1930, 1950)
World Cup appearances: 14
How they qualified: Qualified from CONMEBOL
Coach: Diego Alonso
Key players: Luis Suarez, Federico Valverde, Darwin Nunez, Rodrigo Bentancur


Cameroon vs Brazil: How to watch live, stream link, team news

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Cameroon needs to upset qualified Brazil and get help from the other Group G game when the World Cup group stage hits Lusail on Friday.

The Indomitable Lions lost 1-0 to Switzerland before drawing Serbia 3-3 In a thrilling second encounter.

STREAM LIVE CAMEROON vs BRAZIL

Beating tournament favorites Brazil is a big ask but it will be a heavily-rotated and Neymar-less Selecao who faces Cameroon. Brazil blanked Serbia 2-0 in Lusail before beating Switzerland 1-0 in Doha.

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub ]

Here is everything you need for Cameroon vs Brazil.


How to watch Cameroon vs Brazil live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 2pm ET, Friday Dec. 2
Stadium: Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)


Key storylines, players to watch closely

Cameroon defender Jean-Charles Castelletto has joined forwards Vincent Aboubakar and underappreciated Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting in becoming one of the stories of Group G.

Brazil still needs to find its answer if Neymar cannot return to the fold this tournament. Richarlison and Raphinha have impressed but still need to show they can really carry the attack without Neymar. Could Gabriel Jesus shine in his absence?


Cameroon quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 43
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 8
How they qualified: Qualified from CAF playoffs
Coach: Rigobert Song
Key players: Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa, Vincent Aboubakar, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting

Brazil quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 1
World Cup titles: 5 (1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, 2002)
World Cup appearances: 22
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from CONMEBOL (1st place)
Coach: Tite
Key players: Neymar, Thiago Silva, Casemiro, Alisson Becker

Serbia vs Switzerland: How to watch live, stream link, team news

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Serbia and Switzerland seek a win that could seal a place in the World Cup Round of 16 when they meet Friday in Doha.

The Swiss can qualify with a win, or a draw if Cameroon beats Brazil and tiebreakers stay in Switzerland’s favor. The Swiss beat Cameroon 1-0 in Al Wakrah but lost to Brazil by the same score in Doha.

STREAM LIVE SERBIA vs SWITZERLAND

Serbia started its tournament with a 2-0 loss to Brazil In Lusail before drawing a wild six-goal thriller with Cameroon In Al Wakrah.

Serbia qualifies with a win if Cameroon doesn’t beat Brazil. If Serbia and Cameroon both win, Serbia would need to take the lead in goal differential.

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub ]

Here is everything you need for Serbia vs Switzerland.


How to watch Serbia vs Switzerland live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 2pm ET, Friday Dec. 2
Stadium: Stadium 974, Doha
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)


Key storylines, players to watch closely

Three different goal scorers hit the sheet in the draw with Cameroon, and Fulham star Aleksandar Mitrovic remains a threat to score every game. Sergej Milinkovic-Savic continues to show huge value in the center of the pitch.

Breel Embolo has Switzerland’s only goal and will be continue to be a focal point, while Man City defender Manuel Akanji, Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka, and Nottingham Forest’s Remo Freuler make the Swiss a tough team to break down.


Serbia quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 21
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 12
How they qualified: Qualified from UEFA via playoffs
Coach: Dragan Stojkovic
Key players: Aleksandar Mitrovic, Luka Jovic, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Dusan Tadic

Switzerland quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 15
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 12
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from UEFA (1st place)
Coach: Murat Yakin
Key players: Granit Xhaka, Xherdan Shaqiri, Yann Sommer, Remo Freuler