Monday, December 26, 2022

Pennant Fever

Here are the last five winners of the English Premier League:

2017-18:  Manchester City
2018-19:  Manchester City
2019-20:  Liverpool
2020-21:  Manchester City
2021-22:  Manchester City

I can remember when Man City hadn't won the title in 45 years, but that has changed.  They have become the Red Sox to Man Utd's Yankees.  But this year, City is facing some real competition.  As of today, the top of the table looks like this:

1.  Arsenal:  13-1-1 (40 points)
2.  Newcastle Utd:  9-1-6 (33)
3.  Manchester City:  10-2-2 (32)
4.  Tottenham Hotspur:  9-4-3 (30)
5.  Manchester Utd:  8-4-2 (26)

I think City still has to be favored, given the strength of their team, but Arsenal is playing very well so far.  Furthermore, Arsenal doesn't have to play in the Champions' League, because the Gunners didn't qualify last year.

Meanwhile, here are the last five winners of the UEFA Champions' League.  Notice that City's success in England has not translated into success in Europe:

2017-18:  Real Madrid (ESP)
2018-19:  Liverpool (ENG)
2019-20:  Bayern Munich (GER)
2020-21:  Chelsea (ENG)
2021-22:  Real Madrid (ESP)

Here are the matchups for this year's round of 16, which will start on Valentine's Day.  These will be two-leg matches between the eight group winners and the eight group runners up.  The group winners are listed first:

Manchester City (ENG) v. RB Leipzig (GER)
Benfica (POR) v. Club Brugge (BEL)
Real Madrid (ESP) v. Liverpool (ENG)
Tottenham Hotspur (ENG) v. AC Milan (ITA)
Napoli (ITA) v. Eintracht Frankfurt (GER)
Chelsea (ENG) v. Borussia Dortmund (GER)
Porto (POR) v. Inter Milan (ITA)
Bayern Munich (GER) v. Paris Saint-Germain (FRA)

Liverpool was in the same group with Napoli.  Both teams went 5-1 in the group.  Liverpool beat Napoli 2-0 in Liverpool.  Napoli beat Liverpool 4-1 in Naples.  That means that in the head-to-head matchups, Napoli had a one-goal advantage.  As a result, Liverpool -- which reached the final in 2018, 2019, and 2022 -- is almost certainly going out in the round of 16.

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