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Mancity opens up 13-point lead in EPL, Coutinho scores on debut

2022 Jan 16, 8:07,
Manchester City players celebrate at full time after defeating Chelsea during an English Premier League soccer match at the Etihad stadium in Manchester, England, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022. Photo: AP

For Pep Guardiola, the biggest challenge now will be convincing his Manchester City players the English Premier League title race is not over.

“My job is to take it out from the brain and heads of my players,” Guardiola said after City beat nearest rival Chelsea 1-0 on Saturday. “To try not to believe what other people are going to say.”

With City holding a 13-point lead, it’s hardly surprising that people have already basically handed Guardiola’s relentless team a sixth title in 11 seasons.

After all, the defending champions are on a 12-match winning run in the league after Kevin De Bruyne’s brilliant curling strike in the 70th minute sealed victory at Etihad Stadium. City has lost two games all season — it would have to lose at least three of its remaining 16 matches to drop out of first place — and already has played all of the top teams away from home.

Liverpool, in third place 14 points behind having played two games fewer, looks to be the only team realistically capable of stopping City. Even that is improbable, given City’s form and pedigree.

Chelsea was well beaten even if Thomas Tuchel’s team didn’t give up many chances against City, which dominated possession and kept the visitors penned in their own half for much of the match.

“We won’t give up,” Tuchel said, “but if City keep on winning every game, nobody can catch them.”

Liverpool will look to trim the gap to City by beating Brentford at home on Sunday.


Philippe Coutinho marked his debut for Aston Villa with a late equalizer to complete a dramatic comeback in a 2-2 draw against Manchester United, for whom Bruno Fernandes scored twice to put the visitors 2-0 ahead.

Coutinho, on loan from Barcelona, was involved in Jacob Ramsey’s goal in the 77th before tapping home from inside the six-yard box five minutes later at a raucous Villa Park.

With Cristiano Ronaldo still missing because of a hip injury, Fernandes took center stage for seventh-placed United like last season before his Portugal teammates arrived. The playmaker opened the scoring with a sixth-minute long-range strike that squirmed through the arms of goalkeeper Emi Martinez, and added a stunning second by crashing a shot in off the crossbar in the 67th.

It was the teams’ second meeting in a week, after an FA Cup match on Monday won by United.


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