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. Curtain call for legendary Aguero (Manchester City 5-0 Everton): The final season and a half of Sergio Aguero’s Manchester City career saw the Argentine battle a series of injuries which ultimately ended his stay at the club, but he’s set to leave this summer as the club’s all-time leading goalscorer and a genuinely legendary figure in the club’s history. On Sunday, for the final time, he took the field at the Etihad and was given the hero’s recognition he so richly deserves. The fact he capped the occasion with a pair of goals in his 20 minutes of action was simply iconic. (AE)
2. Late surge based on back four (Liverpool 2-0 Crystal Palace): With five straight wins to finish the season and a 10-game unbeaten run, Liverpool surged into the top three. Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams stood tall when they needed it most and Klopp was rewarded for playing two inexperienced center backs in their natural positions, instead of playing midfielders at center back. The shape of Liverpool’s team has been so much better since. (JPW)
3. When it rains, it pours (Aston Villa 2-1 Chelsea): Not only did the Blues lose, they lost their goalkeeper as Edouard Mendy flew into the goal post trying to get a hold of Trarore’s opener. Then Timo Werner had Chelsea back within one just before the hour mark but hold on — the freeze-frame of VAR saw Cesar Azpilicueta offside by a couple of toes. And as Champions League opponents Man City ruthlessly ran past Everton. (NM)
4. Groundhog Day for Leicester (Leicester 2-4 Tottenham): A year ago, Leicester sat 3rd in the Premier League table with five games left to play; the Foxes finished 5th and missed out on Champions League qualification. This season, Leicester sat 3rd in the Premier League table with two games left to play; the Foxes again 5th and missed out on Champions League qualification. (AE)
5. Amazing season ends in European adventure (West Ham 3-0 Southampton): Get your passports out, West Ham fans. This was a truly superb season, as Moyes’ boys finished sixth and comfortably so. With so many attacking players standing tall at different times, this was a total team effort. The Hammers could go far in the Europa League next season.
6. Gunners finish with flourish, set up well for next season (Arsenal 2-0 Brighton): Mikel Arteta will point to their consistent second half of the season as reason for optimism, as the Gunners are right up there just behind City and Chelsea in points won. Crashing out of the Europa League semifinals will be the lasting memory of the season, but Arsenal could be heading in the right direction and not having Europa League action will actually help them develop as a team and Arteta can spend more time on the training ground. (JPW)
7. Bielsa’s boys held up wonderfully over 38 games (Leeds 3-1 West Brom): That was the biggest question ahead of the season — would the high-intensity, high-pressing nature of Marcelo Bielsa’s tactical system take too much of a toll on the players over a 38-game season played in four fewer weeks than is typically done? It was a fair ask at the time, but the Whites finished with their finest form of the season — just one defeat in their final 11 games (7W-3D-1L). (AE)
8. Nuno says goodbye (Wolves 1-2 Manchester United): This is not how many expected Nuno Espirito Santo to wave goodbye to Wolves, but the Molineux hero at least got to do it at home in front of fans. Nelson Semedo’s goal off a young Fabio Silva assist says a lot about where he’s taken the club, with a former Barcelona fullback scoring from the feed of an ultra-expensive top-tier striker prospect. Whether Nuno goes to Tottenham or somewhere else, many will have great memories of the Portuguese manager’s achievements. (NM)
9. Hi, Mikel (Fulham 0-2 Newcastle):Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta says he expects Joe Willock to play a role with the parent club next season but Newcastle will really want him to come back up north. Fresh off becoming the youngest player to score in six-straight PL games, Willock became the youngest to do it in seven. With Willock, Allan Saint-Maximin, Miguel Almiron, and Callum Wilson all shining, how many will be at St. James’ Park next season? (NM)
10. Positive vibes before Championship return (Sheffield United 1-0 Burnley): Paul Heckingbottom and Jason Tindall could get the Sheffield United job on a permanent basis. Three wins in their last six games of the season will have Sheffield United hoping they can come straight back up next season. If they can keep most of this squad together, which seems likely, then why not? (JPW)