What did we learn in the Premier League over the weekend?
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Here’s a look at 10 things which stood out, as our writers Joe Prince-Wright (JPW), Nick Mendola (NM) and Andy Edwards (AE) share their observations from across the most recent Premier League games.
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Let’s get to it.
1. Man City too much, as Alisson melts down (Liverpool 1-4 Man City): There will be talked about whether new signing Ozan Kabak should’ve slotted next to Fabinho or Jordan Henderson at the back, and we’re not sure whether it’s undeserved. Yes, Kabak is 20 and has just arrived from another league, but he was playing for an often under-siege Schalke side and is facing Bayern that different than Man City? He’s also a natural center back who is good with the ball and in the air. That said, Alisson’s day turned into a nightmare pretty much from the moment he made a fine save on Foden that Gundogan put in the goal for 1-0. The Liverpool star keeper passed the ball directly to City twice in plays that wound up in his goal within 10 touches (each, or maybe even total). (NM)
2. Alexander-Arnold was the first hour (Liverpool 1-4 Man City): Yes, of course, there were meaningful incidents that did not involve the Liverpool right back, but how Alexander-Arnold responded to a Pep Guardiola game plan aimed at him was the game. Time and time again Ruben Dias or Rodri got the ball in the center of the park and looked to find Raheem Sterling on the left flank, not unlike City’s work during Leroy Sane’s best days. With Trent Alexander-Arnold’s attacking an amazing threat going forward but his defending somewhat-limited, this was a thrill to watch play out. Alexander-Arnold nearly won the first half of the battle before he was dusted by Sterling for what became Gundogan’s missed penalty. He could’ve easily had an assist to Sadio Mane, who will be furious at his finishing but not his threat. The Senegalese star provided a lot of danger to keep City off-kilter and carried it into the early second half. (NM)
3. Both sides undone by goalkeeper errors (Man United 3-3 Everton): Maybe there’s something in the water on Merseyside, where backup goalkeeper Robin Olsen made a number of good saves but slipped while trying to corral McTominay’s winner. He would’ve certainly had it, but instead will join incumbent Jordan Pickford as Toffees goalkeepers to cost their team at least one point this season. Earlier in the half, United keeper De Gea failed to clear a Calvert-Lewin cross and Doucoure poked home as part of Everton’s first comeback. (NM)
4. Kane back (Tottenham 2-0 West Brom): Kane’s 13th goal in 20 league outings was classic Harry, zipping into the box with perfect timing and coolly slotting past the keeper (a good one at that). He’s added 11 assists this season and it’s telling that Lucas Moura and Heung-min Son all looked much more dangerous with defenders worried about the center forward and captain. Kane wasn’t super sharp with his shooting but his knowledge of space and timing was on point; He managed five of Spurs’ 13 shot attempts and had two key passes in going 90 minutes, also joining Bobby Smith for the second-most goals in Tottenham history. Jose Mourinho has no doubt Kane will break Jimmy Greaves all-time record. (NM)
5. Tough to score goals without creating chances (Sheffield United 1-2 Chelsea): For all the money Chelsea spent on young attacking talent in the summer, the Blues appear completely devoid of a single attacking idea that’s not “get the ball wide and cross it.” Mason Mount and Mateo Kovacic progress the ball quite well, but they’re hardly visionaries in the final third. Ben Chilwell and Reece James offer fantastic width on either side, but their only contribution to the attack is the aforementioned (and loathed) cross and hope. When teams sit deep and defend, like Sheffield United did on Sunday, Chelsea will always struggle. (AE)
6. Defensive improvement key for Villa (Aston Villa 1-0 Arsenal): Emiliano Martinez, Tyrone Mings, Ezri Konsa, Matty Cash and Matt Targett have been pretty much ever-present as a back five and Villa’s massively improved defense has been key to their incredible turnaround. Villa have now equalled their points tally of 35 from last season in just 21 games this season, and that’s because they don’t concede sloppy goals. That trend started during ‘Project Restart’ in the summer. They have 11 shutouts in their 21 games so far and that is a remarkable record. Only Man City have more shutouts than Villa this season and they look so confident of holding onto a lead. (JPW)
7. Almiron’s finest hour (Newcastle 3-2 Southampton): Ex-Atlanta United star Miguel Almiron had arguably the best game of his Newcastle career in his 78th appearance for the club, producing two goals and showing not just his threat and industry — which is usually apparent — but control of his talent and cool in the final moment. He upped his NUFC goals from 11 to 13, and added three tackles while winning 6-of-9 duels when forced to deploy his best defensive stance. (NM)
8. Irons get a point from a dud performance (Fulham 0-0 West Ham): The Irons were solid enough at the back, too, but their front four of Said Benrahma, Jesse Lingard, Jarrod Bowen, and Michail Antonio had trouble getting going in West London. Antonio worked hard and Benrahma was the brightest of the quartet but it never looked like much was coming for the Irons in the rain-soaked venue. (NM)
9. Both teams have enough to stay out of bottom three (Burnley 1-1 Brighton): Burnley are too robust to get sucked into the relegation battle, while Brighton have too much quality in midfield and attack to not pick up plenty of points between now and the end of the season. Simply put: even though these teams are just above the relegation zone, it seems very unlikely they will get dragged into the bottom three. (JPW)
10. Leicester turn attention to top four, UEL (Wolves 0-0 Leicester): Brendan Rodgers men have gone winless in three of four matches for the second time since Dec. 16-28. While there are reasons for that, with Wilfred Ndidi and Wesley Fofana missing out and Jamie Vardy just returning, it doesn’t change the lost chances to stay in the Premier League title fight by this draw as well as a loss to Leeds, draw at Palace, and taking just one of six points from Everton. The Foxes are now four points back of Man City before the leaders play one of two matches-in-hand, and are just four points clear of fifth-place West Ham. (NM)