Monday’s Big Stories
The winter break is here
Break time! Although this one is less tig, duck duck goose, and hopscotch... more jetpacks in Dubai, holidays with bae, and probably some 3.3* reviewed £600+ steaks sliced up by Salt Bae.
Chelsea to spend £200m to compete with Man City and Liverpool – Paper Round
Yes, never mind the backlog of fixtures – with 22 postponed games needing to be played – the Premier League players are having a break, and we can expect to hear of their exciting escapades across the tabloids in the coming days, though perhaps some of their culinary decisions will be kept secret given the ever-growing ban on condiments.
Anyway, for those wishing to focus on football, there are of course other distractions, but Premier League die-hards can spend almost a fortnight trying to make sense of the table before we start previewing what will be a frantic four months come the start of February.
It's an absolute mess.
Rule No 1 of a table where there are games in hand: you always optimistically give your own team maximum points. And all of a sudden Liverpool fans will be hoping the title race is back on, Burnley supporters will be believing they can climb out of relegation trouble, and then the top-four tussle, well, that is just about anyone’s guess.
From seemingly nowhere, Manchester United could go three points behind Chelsea if they win their games in hand, Arsenal within two, while Spurs are a staggering four games behind Chelsea and could yet overtake them. A result yesterday would have really helped…
Size of the task at Spurs: Ever-increasing
Indeed, over at the Bridge Chelsea made it three January wins from three over Tottenham to strengthen their chances of a top-three finish.
The Blues have given Antonio Conte's Spurs a lesson the past fortnight or so, winning their three ties 5-0 on aggregate and stretching their run to five straight victories over their London rivals.
It was another reminder of how crowded it's getting at the top in terms of top managers and what is being expected of them. Conte is out chasing Tuchel who is out chasing Klopp who is out chasing Guardiola. Success will be defined by silverware, so will three be deemed failures year in, year out?
There is always the Champions League, and the prospect of other names coming and going – potentially a big-hitter at Manchester United - but as the size of the task continues to dawn on Conte, you can't help but wonder already how it could all end. Not soon, you'd think, but the bigger prizes could easily elude them for ages.
“You need many years,” Conte admitted himself afterwards. “But for sure you have to start and there is a point to start.
"In 14 days we lost three times against Chelsea - maybe there is a different level between us and them. It means they are much stronger than us as a team and a squad, we have to accept this, but only after a performance like tonight.
"We tried everything, but sometimes it is not enough against this type of team. Chelsea are very good and, in this moment, they are in another level compared to us."
WSL continues to thrill
Over in the world of Women's Super League, it's a far cry from the pre-season predictions the land over which basically all said it was going to be the big three dominating again.
Arsenal, Manchester City and Chelsea were expected to fight it out for the WSL title and leave the remaining clubs in their wake, but now Manchester United are on a hot streak - winning six in a row - while Tottenham remain in the hunt, and mathematically Reading and West Ham could overtake Manchester City.
Arsenal needed an injury time equaliser against City while Chelsea also dropped points yesterday at Brighton. Never mind the hope of a title race, here it's well and truly playing out, and could go down to the wire.
In the channels
Non-league corker alert.
Happy birthday to former Liverpool and Barcelona, current Atletico Madrid, and future Aston Villa striker Luis Suarez. He's 35 today, a big boy now having not bitten any other footballers for more than seven years, and to celebrate here's a corker from the past. This will forever be one of the Warm-Up’s favourite Suarez goals.
It's a knockout in the Africa Cup of Nations, with Guinea taking on Gambia in the last 16 this afternoon before hosts Cameroon take on Comoros in their bid to reach the quarter-finals. There's also Blackburn vs Middlesbrough in the Championship but all quiet on the Premier League as it sticks to its winter-break plans despite the serious catch-up some clubs need to do.
Andi Thomas is here on Tuesday to bring you all of that and more!
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