It was a weekend when the champions of England failed to win and suddenly, because of their dominance, not all feels correct with the Premier League. How dare Manchester City draw against Southampton and end their 12 game winning run! Last season it was 15 games in a row that effectively gave the club the title and 12 in a row will still probably be enough. Credit needs to go to the Saints though who played a good solid game and were not afraid to take on Pep Guardiola's side. It may be all in the back ground but Ralph Hasenhuttl is working incredibly hard at Southampton and they have been in very good form lately.
For some though City's draw would have felt like an opening. Liverpool beat Crystal Palace 3-1 with some luck from a disputed penalty notwithstanding but the gap to City is 9 points and the Reds have a game in hand and they have to play City. If Liverpool can finish the season consistently then it could be game on. Chelsea are 10 points behind Guardiola's side but have played a game more and their hopes despite beating Tottenham at the weekend look slim. Can one really see Thomas Tuchel's side passing the two best sides in England to win the league?
Ever heard of the ripple effect? It is a saying that if one makes a certain choice in life it ends up affecting something else or someone else down the line- for the ripple effect just look up Everton. The Toffees have lost one of their most effective defenders in Lucas Digne because he fell out with Rafa Benitez. Digne was sold to Aston Villa as a consequence but a few days later Benitez was sacked, no Benitez no problem, but Digne was in Aston Villa colours by then. As irony would have it Digne's first game with Aston Villa was at Goodison Park. Digne is still wearing a Cazoo emblazoned shirt (Villa have the same sponsors as Everton) but Digne experienced what Everton have only done once in four months and that was victory.
Villa perhaps against all expectations beat a rejuvenated Everton side 1-0. This Everton team now led by Duncan Ferguson a man who loves the club so much he has an Everton tattoo. He is dedicated to the Toffees so who doesn't want to give him the full time managerial job? and before the game even gave local pubs a tab to give supporters a free drink. The Everton faithful love him, the players do also but he lacks experience at the highest level and perhaps, at times, it showed in this game. Yes Everton were physical and battled for everything but they looked lacklustre in a first half where they were supposed to be on the front foot and only got going once behind. And then another ripple effect because it was one however controversial. When Villa scored Digne celebrated and it infuriated the home fans and some idiot threw a bottle which struck Digne's head. Here's the thing, had Benitez and Digne not fallen out this incident wouldn't have happened. At the same time the idiot that threw the bottle would have thrown it in another game at some other unfortunate player, too much anger management issues. Hopefully fans will keep their anger in check because the Premier League may end up bringing in netting to protect the players, how awful would that be? Don't think it won't happen it has been seen in other leagues and at the top teams throughout the years including the two Milan teams and Barcelona.
Africa Cup of Nations
Some of the best Premier League players have been missing due to international duty at the Africa Cup of Nations and it is a competition which has thrived this year. The holders Algeria were knocked out at the group stage and finished bottom of their group after securing zero wins. Some of the smaller nations have made it through to the knock out stages with the highlight being Comoros. Burkina Faso have made it to the quarter finals and one of the ties of the knock outs will see Ivory Coast take on Mohamed Salah's Egypt. Currently the top goalscorer is 30 year old Vincent Aboubakar with 5 goals which sums up some of the surprises we have witnessed in this years tournament. It makes you wonder if we will have a surprise winner this year.
Africa Cup of Nations winner: Cameroon 3.75, Senegal 3.75, Morocco 6.00, Ivory Coast 6.00, Tunisia 9.00