What did we learn in the Premier League this 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, plugging in a bonus thought from West Ham – Everton as the PL waits to see if the relegation picture is sealed when Burnley meets Fulham on Monday (start time 3pm ET Monday online via NBCSports.com).
Oh man, the stretch run is delivering entertainment, consternation, and question marks when there was a penciled-in period.
1. Silly mistakes, disciplined Chelsea postpone City celebrations (Man City 1-2 Chelsea): This match was about exactly four moments, two that turned it from a City win into a likely draw, and two more that decided Chelsea would win rather than City. The champions-elect will lament all four mistakes ahead of the rematch later this month in the UEFA Champions League Final. First there was Sergio Aguero’s poor panenka a minute after Sterling had put City in front. A routine penalty might’ve put the match to bed, but Aguero went for a title-sealing flourish that went horribly awry. Then came the Chelsea goal by Ziyech, as Rodri thought he was fouled when he gave the ball away in his own half. And Anthony Taylor waved away a penalty shout from Sterling in the 88th minute to no avail, no lengthy review helping City’s cause despite apparent reason to put City at the spot again. The league leaders were left fuming and it reached extreme temperatures in the City technical area when Alonso delivered the stoppage-time winner (NM).
2. Shambolic defending costs Spurs (Leeds 3-1 Tottenham): As good as Leeds were, this was woeful from Spurs. Their defense made clangers galore throughout and on the first two goals basic defensive errors were costly. Failing to stop crosses plagued Spurs as Aurier had a torrid time and both Eric Dier and Toby Alderweireld were dragged out of position on numerous occasions. Maybe Mourinho had a point when he kept blaming defensive mistakes on individuals rather than his tactics… (JPW).
3. Mane, Salah keep Liverpool knocking at the top-four door (Liverpool 2-0 Saints): Credit to the misfiring pair of Liverpool wingers — and yes, you can misfire while contending for a Golden Boot — for continuing their work while failing to find the target for much of the day at Anfield. Whether it was Fraser Forster making saves or one of the duo not hitting the target, Mane’s header of a Salah cross was a fitting first goal and it carried the day long enough for Thiago Alcantara to put it away and keep Liverpool dreaming of a Champions League return (NM).
4. Greenwood, Shaw put on a show for Southgate (Aston Villa 1-3 Manchester United): With Gareth Southgate watching on, the England boss will be impressed with Shaw and Greenwood, both of whom are pushing for a starting spot in his team at the Euros this summer. Shaw looks nailed on to be the starting left back, ahead of Ben Chilwell, while Greenwood has an almighty scrap with Rashford, Sterling, Foden, Mount, Grealish, Sak,a and others for one of the wide forward roles. Greenwood has now scored the most Premier League goals by a teenager for United, beating Wayne Rooney’s record, and is destined for great things. On this showing, both players are in great form and Southgate will be a happy man (JPW).
5. Emotional, relegated Big Sam a startling site (Arsenal 3-1 West Brom): Sam Allardyce has a well-maintained reputation as a no-nonsense coach who will get your club out of relegation trouble by hook or crook, but his record of never having failed to deliver safety is over and this particular journey could well be the last time he’s trusted with such a call. The Baggies had some impressive moments under the 66-year-old Big Sam but consider that they were 1W-4D-7L when they fired Slaven Bilic after a draw with Man City. They are 4W-7D-12L since that, an improvement but not one that has given them a realistic look at safety in some time. Seeing Allardyce emotionally react to the relegation was startling, a massive and bluster-driven personality humanized by failure. Is this it for him in the PL? (NM).
6. West Ham suddenly in European danger (West Ham 0-1 Everton):: David Moyes has rightly engineered Premier League Manager of the Year talk but it could all feel so flat as three losses-in-four (including a completed season sweep by Newcastle) has the Irons virtually out of the top four discussion despite a simple run-in. And with Brighton underappreciated and still in the mix to go down (at least at the time of posting), there are still chances for lost points before West Brom and Southampton finish the fixture list (NM).
7. Toffees pick up the pieces as defense leads the way (West Ham 0-1 Everton): Yes, there was plenty of good fortune in this win, but Carlo Ancelotti has his men well-positioned to seal European competition before a tough final day at UCL Final-preparing Man City. Ben Godfrey was very good and Allan is joined by the veteran calm of Gylfi Sigurdsson in a midfield that is complicated to unbalance. Seamus Coleman’s presence doesn’t hurt much, either, and Lucas Digne is marvelous. Everton is away to Villa on Thursday before Sheffield United visits Sunday and Wolves come around four days later. Nine points there could be enough for the Europa League without anything from Man City on Championship Sunday (NM).
8. Bournemouth Pt. 2? Foxes fail to seal top four deal… again (Leicester City 2-4 Newcastle): Last season saw Leicester City in second-place after 21 matches and third after 33 but the Foxes managed just four of 15 points down the stretch to bow out of Champions League qualification on the season’s final day. That run included a 4-1 loss at Bournemouth, and this loss is going to feel similar if Brendan Rodgers’ men stumble down the stretch. It hasn’t been quite as dramatic this season, but the Foxes have opened the third-place door as Friday’s result makes them 4W-2D-4L in their last 10 matches. Even worse? The Foxes drew at Southampton and gave up four to Newcastle, the two matches of promise on their PL run-in. A trip to Manchester United is next on Tuesday, then two with Chelsea — the FA Cup Final on Saturday before a league visit to Stamford Bridge — before finishing with Tottenham at the King Power. Could they possibly be back in the Europa League? (NM)
9. Wolves, Seagulls need finishers (Wolves 2-1 Brighton): It really is as simple as this: if Brighton and Wolves had a strike who could finish off chances consistently, they’d be in the top 10. Wolves lost Jimenez and although Fabio Silva is lively, he’s still too young, while Willian Jose hasn’t settled. As for Brighton, Neal Maupay, Danny Welbeck and Aaron Connolly work hard but they need more goals from that trio, or to buy a new man up top this summer (JPW).
10. Benteke burnishes form for EURO (Sheffield United 0-2 Crystal Palace): Four-time double-digit Premier League goal scorer Christian Benteke had become a bit of a punchline after scoring three, one, and two goals across his last three seasons, but he’s on seven through 27 matches for a double-digit pace this season for Palace. Benteke remains a part of the Belgium set-up and what might we see if the big striker joins up with Roberto Martinez’s men to produce a very decent EURO run this summer? (NM)