Premier League: Here's why you should still be excited about the second half of the season

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Manchester City’s one-goal victory over title rivals Chelsea on Saturday could be the final blow, in a title race which now sees the champions having an 11-point lead to Liverpool at the top.

Even with just over four months to go until the final day on May 22, and even though the Reds have a game in hand, it would take an unfathomable collapse from Pep Guardiola’s juggernaut to see the title slip away now. 

Yet despite the title race being all but over, there are still plenty of stories to be written in the remainder of this Premier League campaign – and Sportsmail takes you through all the reasons to remain excited in 2022. 

Man City’s victory over title rivals Chelsea on Saturday could be the final blow in the title race

Despite the title slipping away for Liverpool and Chelsea, there are still reasons to get excited

Despite the title slipping away for Liverpool and Chelsea, there are still reasons to get excited

A TOP-FOUR BATTLE IN LONDON

While the top three are very much in a league of their own, the battle for the fourth and final Champions League spot is looking set to go down to the wire. 

The current occupants of fourth place are David Moyes’ high-flying West Ham, whose aspirations were dealt a blow after a home defeat to Leeds on Sunday. 

The Hammers are two points clear of Arsenal in fifth, who have two games in hand after their north London derby clash with Tottenham was postponed at the weekend. 

Spurs themselves are two points further back but have two games in hand on the Gunners – and four on West Ham. 

So often a talking point come the final day of the campaign, the race to be in Europe’s flagship competition come next season will go back and forth in the weeks and months to come. 

Rivals Arsenal and Tottenham are among three London teams fighting for a top-four spot

Rivals Arsenal and Tottenham are among three London teams fighting for a top-four spot

WILL RONALDO MISS OUT ON CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FOOTBALL? 

Since moving to Manchester United – for the first time – in 2003, Cristiano Ronaldo has not missed a single Champions League season and has never played in the Europa League. 

Yet, as things stand, the five-time Ballon d’Or winner won’t even be playing in Europe’s secondary competition. 

Instead, amid a first half of the season which saw a sacking and players out of form, United’s current position of seventh would see them qualify for the new third-tier European competition, the UEFA Conference League. 

For Ronaldo, that would constitute quite the embarrassment upon his comeback to Old Trafford. 

The Portuguese legend and his team-mates now being led by Ralf Rangnick, has time to turn things around. They are just a point behind Tottenham, but it is very much an uphill task after just one win in their last four league games. 

Cristiano Ronaldo hasn't missed out on Champions League football since the 2002-03 season

Cristiano Ronaldo hasn’t missed out on Champions League football since the 2002-03 season

COULD WOLVES NICK A EUROPEAN SPOT AGAIN? 

Flying somewhat under the radar, Wolves have recovered from losing Nuno Espirito Santo to Spurs in the summer quite superbly. 

Out goes one Portuguese coach, in comes another. 

Bruno Lage has overseen a steady rise in performance levels, not least in recent weeks with wins over Brighton, Man United and Southampton.   

They are now just one point behind United, in a rare case of rivals in the standings having played the same number of games too. 

Wolves reached the quarter-finals of the Europa League two years ago – who’s to say they can’t have another crack next season?  

Bruno Lage has overseen a steady rise in performance level at European contenders Wolves

Bruno Lage has overseen a steady rise in performance level at European contenders Wolves 

WILL EVERTON BE DRAGGED INTO A RELEGATION BATTLE? 

In reality, it was always a long shot. On Sunday, Rafa Benitez’s time as Everton manager was up. 

Following a hollow loss at Norwich, the ex-Liverpool boss was sent on his way. His replacement at Goodison Park is not yet confirmed.

Following just one league win in 13, the Toffees have slipped down the table at an alarming rate.

Currently 16th, Everton are for now relatively safe, six points ahead of 18th-placed Norwich with two games in hand. 

Yet until this current decline in form stops, who knows how disastrous this season could really prove to be for the blue half of Merseyside.  

Everton have one just once in their last 13 league games amid a disastrous run of form

Everton have one just once in their last 13 league games amid a disastrous run of form 

CAN THE BIG BUCKS OF NEWCASTLE BEAT THE DROP? 

This is potentially the story of the season. 

Bought in a mega £305m takeover from a Saudi-led consortium in October – with all the fanfare and controversy to go with it – the next four months will be excruciatingly nervy for everyone at Newcastle United. 

They have since sacked the unpopular Steve Bruce and replaced him with Eddie Howe, who has seen encouraging displays frustratingly not converted into three points in recent weeks against Man Utd and on Saturday versus Watford. 

There’s still time, though. With Kieran Trippier and Chris Wood brought in too, the Magpies can still survive. They’re 19th at the moment, two points short of Watford who have a game in hand. 

Burnley are one point behind them though, with three games in hand. This one will be nip and tuck until the end.  

Newcastle United were bought in a £305m takeover and now have Eddie Howe in charge

Newcastle United were bought in a £305m takeover and now have Eddie Howe in charge 

GAMES, GAMES, GAMES… 

While the regular postponement of games – predominantly due to Covid-19 cases – at the moment may seem irritating, there is a plus side for football fanatics. 

As highlighted this week, it will be rare to have a seven-day period without Premier League action. Originally a midweek for FA Cup replays, there were four league games to look forward to this week. 

Particularly after teams have their winter breaks at the beginning of February, the action will come thick and fast. 

There’ll be plenty of twists and turns yet to come.  

Brighton face Chelsea on Tuesday in one of four rearranged games to be played this week

Brighton face Chelsea on Tuesday in one of four rearranged games to be played this week 

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