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. Arsenal shuts down Spurs (Arsenal 2-1 Tottenham): Mikel Arteta risked all sorts of mayhem when he benched Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for (reportedly) being late to a team activity before the game, the coach admitting he took the captain out of the lineup. So the manager, captain, and really all of Gooner world will be thanking the players who were on the pitch, with special love to Arteta’s defensive midfield duo. Yes, Thomas Partey was nutmegged by Erik Lamela’s glorious rabona (WATCH HERE), but the Ghanaian and his partner Granit Xhaka were essentially a no-fly zone that let precious few attackers anywhere near the Arsenal center backs, let alone the goal. Odegaard was very good, Lacazette did what he always seems to do, and Xhaka, Emile Smith-Rowe, Thomas, and Tierney all shone bright. Banner day for the Gunners. (NM)
2. First gem of quadruple nearly in the books (Fulham 0-3 Manchester City): City’s 17-point lead over Manchester United and 18-point advantage of Leicester City will shrink given their two further matches played than the nearest chasers, but the title is City’s barring a catastrophic and historic implosion. United maxes out with 84 points and Leicester City 83, and they meet each other May 11. Leicester plays Man City on April 3. As for the other competitions, City has a 2-0 lead on Borussia Monchengladbach heading into the second leg of their Champions League Round of 16 tie on Tuesday, and visits Everton in the FA Cup quarterfinal on March 20. The final jewel is April’s League Cup Final versus Tottenham. (NM)
3. Pulisic does okay in hybrid role (Leeds 0-0 Chelsea): This was a 6 out of 10 display. Nothing more. Nothing less. Pulisic, 22, started in the Premier League for the first time under Tuchel and played in a hybrid right wing-back role, not on the left, as Chelsea switched things up in and out of possession. He whipped in some good crosses early on but spent a lot of time defending. Tuchel was said to be shouting at Pulisic a lot during the game and he was clearly told to stay way out on the flank rather than drift inside. That doesn’t suit him and this 69 minute display showcased why he may not slot into Tuchel’s plans on a regular basis. (JPW)
4. Hammers hardly turned up (Manchester United 1-0 West Ham): For the entirety of Sunday’s game, there were only two likely outcomes: 1) Manchester United eventually score and win going away, or 2) Manchester United, somehow, fail to score and the game ends 0-0. West Ham didn’t register their first shot of the game until the 56th minute, at which point Manchester United had already scored and the game was over. By contrast, Manchester United had taken 11 (mostly poor) shots by that time. (AE)
5. Aguero back amongst the goals (Fulham 0-3 Manchester City): Sergio Aguero had been limited to 220 minutes in the Premier League this season, so his 60th-minute penalty was more important that its cosmetic nature. Aguero was making just his third PL start this season, which may be his last at the Etihad given his contract expiration this summer. Aguero starting next to Gabriel Jesus also gave opponents something else to think about as City chases the quadruple. (NM)
6. Iheanacho’s deluxe (Leicester 5-0 Sheffield United): Oh boy, was the Nigerian a nightmare for the Blades. Kelechi Iheanacho doubled his Premier League season goal total to six, all coming in his last six appearances. His 10 goals across all competitions now match last season and move him within sight of his career-best 14, set in 2015-16 with Manchester City. (NM)
7. Burnley bright (Everton 1-2 Burnley): There are jokes to be made about Burnley’s two goals representing 9 percent of the Premier League haul this season, but Sean Dyche’s men very much deserved them and could’ve had five or six on another day. Most important, though, is that those wayward misses didn’t stop their resolved minds at the defensive end. Huge win for the Royal Dyche. (NM)
8. Seagulls meet their performances (Southampton 1-2 Brighton): So many times this season (and last) we’ve seen Brighton play plenty well enough for three points, or at least one, but settle for one or none. That wasn’t the case today and the Seagulls put six of eight shots on target to seize three key points, overcoming a Dunk error to reclaim the lead (after the center back opened the scoring to boot). (NM)
9. Maybe spirit can save Newcastle (Newcastle 1-1 Aston Villa): Admittedly, you’re grasping for straws when you say something like “Who knows, maybe Newcastle have a self-belief that will, somehow, carry them over the line,” but it’s more than we’ve seen from Brighton or Burnley — a pair of fellow relegation candidates — over the last month. It’s not been great fun to watch — actually, it’s been atrocious — but they’re finding a way to pick up points, and doing it without Allan Saint-Maximin, Callum Wilson or Miguel Almiron. (AE)
10. Palace will be safe (Crystal Palace 1-0 West Brom): Wilfried Zaha’s return to the lineup is a big deal and the three points are enough even with some challenging fixtures ahead. The Eagles have Everton, Chelsea, Leicester City, Man City, Aston Villa, Arsenal, and Liverpool left on the docket. These three points really mattered. (NM)