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. Volume-shooter Werner arrives at the right time (West Ham 0-1 Chelsea): He just missed with some chances, saw others blocked, and did — in fact — score, but Timo Werner really does look as comfortable as he has in ages. He’ll need to up his game against Real Madrid during the week as Chelsea aims for the Champions League, but his timing on the game’s lone goal was perfect and he’s perhaps quietly accumulated 11 goals and 12 assists across all competitions. A big goal in Europe or the FA Cup Final and we may see Werner’s first season in a new land viewed as perfectly acceptable (although certainly not the 34 goals and 13 assists of last season at RB Leipzig). (NM)
2. Title race almost official won (Leeds 0-0 Manchester United): Man City now needs a combination of five points lost by Man United or gained by the PL leaders to seal a third title in four years. The silver lining is United will finish second time for the first time since Jose Mourinho led the Red Devils to a runner-up finish to Man City in 2017-18. (NM)
3. Newcastle show how far they’ve come (Liverpool 1-1 Newcastle): It’s only been a couple of months since we would’ve been asking whether Newcastle’s beleaguered attack could take advantage of a Liverpool team which had few answers in its own third. The Magpies now look like an actual Premier League attack — a healthy Allan Saint-Maximin sure helps — while Liverpool has figured out its defense despite Virgil van Dijk, Joel Matip, and Joe Gomez being joined by Jordan Henderson on the sidelines (though, it must be said, Fabinho’s absence is proving it was nearly as glaring as that of Van Dijk). On a day with Callum Wilson able to join Saint-Maximin in the Starting XI, maybe this is settled before stoppage time in favor of the visitors? Yet maybe it doesn’t, as Alisson was alert and his backs quite decent. (NM)
4. Who wants to trouble the ‘keeper? (Arsenal 0-1 Everton): Carlo Ancelotti’s Toffees had Arsenal a bit off balance in the first half but both clubs struggled just to get their attempts anywhere near Jordan Pickford and Bernd Leno. Their one save each through 45 minutes carried past the hour mark, even as Arsenal started to have more of the play. The Gunners smashed into the outside of the goal and Chambers chopped a corner off the ground and over the bar in the 64th minute. So it was fitting that just managing to find the keeper’s general vicinity provided Richarlison’s goal (or Leno’s own goal), the German’s big error met at the other end by a strong stoppage-time Jordan Pickford save. Odd comments on Leno’s future and a start last week from Mathew Ryan will only complicate the keeper’s evening. (NM)
5. Chelsea comfortable in moving clear of rivals (West Ham 0-1 Chelsea): The Blues should’ve found their second and maybe third goals against a scrappy West Ham, but don’t let the hullaballoo around the late red card detract from the fact that Chelsea’s cozy-enough win wasn’t far away in control from Man City’s one-goal comeback win versus Aston Villa. West Ham only wins because Liverpool failed to beat Newcastle. (NM)
6. Iheanacho dominates again (re-post) (Leicester 2-1 Crystal Palace): At some point in the not-so-distant future, Leicester are going to have to move on from, and replace, the 34-year-old Vardy. It’s easy to forget he’s in his mid-30s because he got a late “start” to his career at this level, but he’s been on a fairly steady decline of output for a couple years now, which was a terrifying prospect for Leicester because they hadn’t landed his long-term (or short-, for that matter) successor. Turns out, they had, but he was still working out some considerable kinks. Iheanacho scored again on Thursday to make it 12 goals in his last nine games. The best part for Leicester? He’s getting goals and making contributions in every way imaginable. (AE)
Non-penalty goals per 90 in the Premier League this season
0.84 – 🔥 Kelechi Iheanacho 🔥
0.75 – Diogo Jota
0.74 – Jesse Lingard
0.63 – Edinson Cavani
0.58 – Harry Kane
— Tom Worville (@Worville) April 26, 2021
7. Burnley’s complete effort seals safety (Wolves 0-4 Burnley): Burnley had scored three goals just twice this season, beating Villa 3-2 and Palace 3-0, and just thrice last season. But you have to go back to Septeber 22, 2018 to find four goals, a 4-0 defeat of Bournemouth at Turf Moor. The Clarets shut down Wolves and showed why Sean Dyche teams are unlikely to ever be relegated… and this time, it was very attractive stuff. (NM)
8. Life without Grealish not getting any better (Aston Villa 2-2 West Brom): Jack Grealish has been simply outstanding (6 goals, 10 assists in the Premier League) for Villa this season, and they miss him dearly (missed the last 10 games with a calf injury). In his absence, Dean Smith’s side has become a painfully predictable side which does all of its damage on the counter. Now, that’s not the worst thing in the world, because they’re an exceptional counter-attacking with Grealish on the field, and still a good one without him, but it leaves them one-dimensional and short on ideas when they hold 69 percent of possession, as they did on Sunday. (AE)
9. Wolves concerns are the future (Wolves 0-4 Burnley): Will they get Raul Jimenez back? Does club hero Nuno Espirito Santo still have the hearts and minds of the team? Will Ruben Neves stay? How about Adama Traore? Wolves will be doing a lot of soul-searching as their mid-table season will almost certainly end well off their twin 7th-place seasons after promotion in 2017-18. (NM)
10. Could Brighton really blow this? (Sheffield United 1-0 Brighton): There are few people outside of Crystal Palace (and perhaps now Sheffield United) who believe that the Seagulls are a relegation-quality side but Brighton has not been able to get any bounces this year and refuses to build on big results. Brighton smashed Newcastle a few weeks back to essentially ensure safety and instead has scored one goal in four outings: losses to Man United and Blades plus draws with Everton and Chelsea. That’s not exactly the world’s easiest run of opponents but here they are: one of three teams still fearing the drop. (NM)