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), Nicholas 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. Rashford leads the charge (Manchester United 3-1 Burnley): Man, was Marcus Rashford on his game. Shame few of his teammates found theirs earlier or their might’ve been a big tIme number on the Red Devils’ side of the scoreboard. Rashford had three key passes to go with his assist, which came with a terrific nutmeg and dribble down the left. Speaking of dribbles, he completed four-of-six while also passing at around 80 percent. That’s a pretty wonderful figure for someone who operates in congested parts of the pitch. (NM)
2. Magic Saint-Maximin the security blanket (Newcastle 3-2 West Ham): Hatem Ben Arfa. Lionel Messi. Zinedine Zidane. There are very few dribblers as electric as Allan Saint-Maximin, the French wizard who dominated the first 45 minutes after coming off the bench to prod the Magpies’ win over Burnley last week. Saint-Maximin, unfortunately, limped off in the 64th minute for fellow injury-hampered star Callum Wilson. West Ham then grabbed both of their goals, no surprise, before Willock put Newcastle back in front. (NM)
3. Kane is Tottenham, ankle is worrying (Everton 2-2 Tottenham): Should Harry Kane leave Tottenham Hotspur this summer because the club fails to make the Champions League, the absence from Europe’s top tournament will not have anything to do with the forward. Kane scored two and could’ve had a third, the first a classy settle and side volley and the second a clinical reaction to unlucky defending from Everton.
62 – Harry Kane has been directly involved in 62 goals in 62 appearances in all competitions for Spurs under Jose Mourinho (45 goals, 17 assists) – no Premier League player has more goal involvements in this period (since 23/11/2019). Phenomenal. pic.twitter.com/RyqzAHn0Yi
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 16, 2021
All of that makes his stoppage-time injury all the more concerning. Kane’s ankles have been the only thing holding him back in his career, and any absence will hit Spurs’ season goals hard. (NM)
4. And so it goes for Sheffield United (Wolves 1-0 Sheffield United): The goal that officially doomed the Blades to the bottom three was sadly the perfect one, as Sheffield United went from would-be scorers to sad conceders within 30 seconds (or less) of the opening goal. Rhian Brewster played a perfect would-be first PL assist to the top of the box for Enda Stevens but the back saw his shot blocked by Wolves. The hosts raced the other way, Nelson Semedo playing a nice outlet pass and Adama Traore putting himself in the best position to receive a pass and tear down the right side past Kean Bryan to feed Jose. It just hasn’t come off for the Blades, and Stevens would have a 70th-minute bid to tie the game saved by Rui Patricio, who remains an under-appreciated goalkeeper both here and in national team circles. (NM)
5. V-A-R you serious? (Arsenal 1-1 Fulham): Look, rules are rules but so we can both understand the correct implementation of the rules while also debating what they need to change about them. Arsenal had a terrific team goal ruled out for offside just before halftime, but the quality of the goal doesn’t matter here as much as the toe offside that pulled it back upon video review. But wait, there’s more: VAR tuned into a penalty shout in Arsenal’s box just after halftime, a call given on the field to Mario Lemina as Gabriel Magalhaes tried to pull out of a challenge. The foul was confirmed but was Gabriel’s knee keeping Josh Maja onside? Yes, but perhaps if the Arsenal defender shaved his knee cap…
Yes, the freeze frames showed offside and onside, but when are we freezing the frame? Does a split-second change it the other way. Is there a computer chip in every player’s boot to meet the one in every ball? The margins must be made wider, at the very least. (NM)
6. Terrible mistakes, Lingard injury loom over loss (Newcastle 3-2 West Ham): West Ham’s top four hopes took two potentially big hits: the loss itself and Lingard limping off with a few minutes left. The English playmaker has nine goals and four assists in 10 Premier League games for West Ham, who has dropped six-of-six points from the Magpies and will finish the weekend as low as sixth if Chelsea and Liverpool win. Two poor plays involving stalwart goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski, two yellow cards from steady center back Craig Dawson, and a lapse after coming back for a point. Bad, bad stuff. (NM)
7. Sigurdsson makes some history (Everton 2-2 Tottenham): He feels like a player who’s both been around longer than his 31 years and scored more goals than the 67 he’s bagged in the Premier League, and Sigurdsson’s stone-cold penalty conversion was raised by his exceptional second goal. The Icelandic star, raced into the heart of the box and opened up his hips to spin a first-touch shot inside the post in a manner that belied the difficulty of the task at hand. His 24th and 25th PL goals for Everton put him in solid company amongst midfielders, as he’s bagged 25 or more goals and 15 or more assists for both Everton and Swansea (25+16 for the Toffees and 34+30 for Swans). (NM)
8. Lacazette injury could be massive blow to UEL hopes (Arsenal 1-1 Fulham): Whatever you want to say about Alexandre Lacazette as a top strike option — we rate him much higher than most, including apparently Mikel Arteta — he’s leading the Gunners with 17 goals in all competitions. His pulling up and limping off in the second half with a possible hamstring injury is a big deal for a team that needs to outlast Villarreal and either Manchester United or AS Roma to make the Champions League. And with the dropped points Sunday keeping the Gunners well off seventh on the PL table? Yikes. (NM)
9. Bruno. Swagger. (Manchester United 3-1 Burnley): We hear a bit about the loud personality of Bruno Fernandes as a competitor, wanting goals, penalties, etc, over his teammates, but most of his celebration seem to be gleeful. He’s a man with a smile on his face during success. But his reaction to letting the dummy go to Mason Greenwood for United’s opener was a bit of the former with the addition of a “Yeah, I just did that” for Burnley and the TV cameras. Either that or he really doesn’t like Greenwood or something. Hilarious. (NM)
10. Willian Jose gets rewarded (Wolves 1-0 Sheffield United): The man who scored 12, 15, 11, and 11 goals in four La Liga campaigns with Real Sociedad, earning whispers of a Barcelona transfer, had scored just three this year before his loan to the Molineux. He finally got his first Premier League goal on Saturday despite many chances and good industry for Nuno Espirito Santo. At 29, he may not get another PL season even with a hot finish but he looks more and more comfortable each game as Wolves wait for Raul Jimenez’s return. (NM)