It is like England has gone back in time to 2020 when the country, like the rest of the world, was getting the initial taste of the dreadful Covid-19 virus, which eventually brought not only sports but every sector to a standstill.
Time has played its part and the world has toiled hard to recover. Like other sectors, football has resumed and opened its doors to the public but recent developments in the Premier League have cast a shadow of uncertainty over the continuation of the league, as several matches were postponed after a surge in Covid cases inside various team camps and around the country.
The top-flight of English football saw as many as 10 matches being postponed due to Covid-19 crisis in recent weeks. Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea, Leicester City, Watford and Norwich City have been among the clubs hit with positive cases.
Among the matches that did take place, Arsenal’s 4-1 thumping of Leeds United takes the cake because of the dominance exuded by Mikel Arteta’s men on the pitch, which included a brace by Gabriel Martinelli along with goals by Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe.
It was business as usual for Manchester City, which put four past the struggling Newcastle United.
Chelsea’s request to the Premier League body to postpone its match against Wolverhampton Wanderers was rejected, which invited the ire of not only the fans but also manager Thomas Tuchel. Limited resources saw a weakened-Chelsea scrape a goalless draw against Wolves.
It was a thrilling battle between Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur, which ended in a 2-2 draw. Andrew Robertson was heavily involved in the game, assisting the first goal for the Reds and scoring the second but ended the match on a bitter note after being shown the red card in the 77th-minute for his challenge on Spurs full-back Emerson Royal.
After matchday 18, Manchester City tops the table with 44 points followed by Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal on 41, 38 and 32 points, respectively.
It was a good matchday for Xavi’s Barcelona as the Blaugranas clinched a 3-2 win against Elche, where Nico Gonzalez scored an 85th-minute winner to gift his team with the much-needed three points.
Real Madrid’s run of 10 successive wins in all competitions came to an end after a frustrating 0-0 draw against Cadiz despite finishing the match with an astonishing 82% possession.
Defending champion Atletico Madrid’s disappointing title defence continued with a 2-1 loss against Sevilla, which leaves the club in fifth with 29 points.
After matchday 18, Real Madrid maintains its position at the top with 43 points followed by Sevilla, Real Betis and Rayo Vallecano with 37, 33 and 30 points, respectively. Barcelona is in seventh with 27 points.
Prolific scorer: Robert Lewandowski scores his team’s fourth goal and his 42nd goal of 2021 during the Bundesliga match between FC Bayern Munich and VfL Wolfsburg at Allianz Arena. – Getty Images
Robert Lewandowski cannot seem to stop breaking records. His team Bayern Munich thrashed VfL Wolfsburg 4-0 and his goal in the 87th-minute was a personal landmark for him as he scored his 43rd Bayern Munich goal of 2021 and broke Gerd Muller’s long-standing record of most Bundesliga goals in a calendar year, which stood at 42 since 1972.
It was a disappointing week for Borussia Dortmund, which lost 3-2 against Hertha Berlin. RB Leipzig’s woes continue even after appointing Domenico Tedesco as Jesse Marsch’s replacement. Last season’s runner-up lost 2-0 to 10-men Arminia.
After matchday 17, Bayern Munich tops the table with 43 points followed by Dortmund on 34. SC Freiburg continues to impress as its win against Bayer Leverkusen keeps the former in third with 29 points and the latter in fourth with 28 points. RB Leipzig is in 10th with 22 points.
Italian top-flight football saw some big scorelines on matchday 18.
Defending champion Inter thrashed lowly Salernitana 5-0 while Jose Mourinho’s AS Roma secured a 4-1 win against Gian Piero Gasperini’s Atalanta. New-signing Tammy Abraham grabbed headlines with his brace.
Juventus won 2-0 against Bologna, while high-flying Napoli edged a 1-0 win against Milan.
Inter continues its successful title-defence by staying at the top with 43 points followed by Napoli and Milan in second and third, both on 39 points. Atalanta is in fourth with 37 points. Roma is fifth with 31 points followed by Fiorentina and Juventus in sixth and seventh with the same number of points. The teams are separated by goal difference.
Top gun: Paris St Germain’s Kylian Mbappe celebrates scoring his team’s first goal against SC Feignies during a French Cup football match in Valenciennes. – REUTERS
Kylian Mbappe continues flourishing for Paris Saint-Germain. He scored a brace in his team’s 2-0 win against Monaco, his former club.
Defending champion LOSC Lille played out a goalless draw with Lyon, and Marseille secured a comfortable 2-0 victory against Strasbourg.
After matchday 18, PSG is top with 45 points followed by Marseille, Rennes and Nice on 32, 31 and 30 points, respectively. Current French champion Lille is 11th with 25 points.