What did we learn during Matchweek 33 of the 2021-22 Premier League season?
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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.
10 things we learned in the Premier League – Matchweek 36
1. Manchester United finally hits rock bottom (Brighton 4-0 Man Utd): This will be their lowest-ever points tally in the Premier League era. They will not finish in the top four. They have conceded more goals this season than any other campaign in the PL. The list of unwanted records goes on and on. Man United have been heading this way for a while this season but they’ve finally hit rock bottom. The only way is up from here but this is a real mess for Erik ten Hag to sort out in the summer and beyond. Many of these players know they won’t be around next season and they’re all over the place. Interim boss Ralf Rangnick probably won’t be around either given the shambolic nature of the second half of the season. United need a ruthless and rapid rebuild. These last few months will probably allow that to happen quicker. That is the only positive. ‘Shambles’ doesn’t explain how bad this was. (JPW)
2. Klopp’s unstoppable force = Conte’s immovable object (Liverpool 1-1 Spurs): As good as Liverpool is, the Reds learned a lesson in how hard it is to break down a team playing a near-peak version of Antonio Conte ball. Ben Davies had a tremendous block on Mohamed Salah in the second half, which showed that Spurs are not just disciplined but bought-in to what Conte demands from them. Liverpool fans can join Jurgen Klopp in complaining about Tottenham playing not to concede, but Tottenham’s the team that scored a goal without a freaky deflection involved. (NM)
3. Man City makes UCL exit a blip, gets back to business (Man City 5-0 Newcastle): Before the game, Pep Guardiola said that City’s players’ moods had largely improved since their late capitulation to Real Madrid at the Bernabeu. That was pretty clear over 90 minutes at the Etihad, as few Newcastle players other than Allan Saint-Maximin seemed to put City off balance. Liverpool’s draw with Tottenham opens the door wider for City’s possible fourth Premier League title in five years, something that’s only been done by one team in the last 40 years (Manchester United, thrice). (NM)
4. Lukaku, Pulisic make their cases (Chelsea 2-2 Wolves): USMNT star Christian Pulisic’s contributions to Premier League action had lasted 12, 45, 14, 19, and 22 minutes in his last five appearances, and his return to the starting lineup saw him collect an assist when his quick reaction off a Wolves gaffe played Romelu Lukaku toward the box. Pulisic last start, March 5 versus Burnley, saw him back a goal and an assist but he soon got sick and lost his place. Let’s see if this bright start elevates the end of his season. As for his big Belgian teammate, Lukaku looked like the answer to Chelsea’s striker concerns when he scored against Arsenal on his “re-debut” and then bagged two more in his third Premier League outing with the club, but fell out of favor due to injury and coronavirus, not scoring his fourth and fifth of the season until the last two games of December. Saturday’s goals were his first Premier League goals since the calendar turned to 2022. Are both men gone this summer? (NM)
5. Arsenal’s Nketiah increases his stock (Arsenal 2-1 Leeds): He turns 23 at the end of the month and will be out of contract one month later. Eddie Nketiah scored goals against Wimbledon, Leeds, and Sunderland in three-straight League Cup games but that didn’t inspire Mikel Arteta to use his young forward in more than a substitute’s role until mid-April. Now he’s got two braces in five starts and has nine goals across all competitions. Surely, he’s going to get a big raise and a bigger chance somewhere come July 1. With 22 goals in 88 senior appearances and still 22 for the moment, it seems unlikely he’d want to stick around Arsenal. The former Leeds loanee now has three goals against them between cup and league play. (NM)
6. Everton have momentum in relegation scrap (Leicester 1-2 Everton): This is so important in the relegation battle and Lampard’s boys have it. The Everton fans have almost willed them over the line in the last two games and Pickford is playing superbly, while every single player is doing their individual jobs and the simple things well. That, coupled with holding on for big wins, is why Everton have momentum and right now they look very likely to stay in the Premier League ahead of Burnley and Leeds. Everton’s final four games are against Watford, Brentford, Crystal Palace, and Arsenal and you can see them winning at least two of those to get over the magic 40-point marker. (JPW)
7. Hammers hungry for sixth place (Norwich 0-4 West Ham): Yes, they were devastated to lose to Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League semifinal on Thursday as they just came up short in their quest for European silverware, but they responded so well to that heartbreak. Yes, this was bottom of the table Norwich, but the hunger was there from the first minute to the last from David Moyes’ side. If they win their game in-hand they will leapfrog Manchester United into sixth and they look determined to seal another Europa League campaign. They face Man City and Brighton in their final two games and this hunger could be bad news for City. (JPW)
8. Shambolic Saints could get sucked into relegation zone (Brentford 3-0 Southampton): They have won once in their last 10 Premier League games and they’ve conceded 24 goals in that run and they badly need to recruit a better goalkeeper and center backs. Saints were all over the place defensively and they could be sucked into this relegation scrap. Everton have played three games less than them, Burnley has played one game less and Leeds has two games in-hand. Southampton have a habit of spiraling out of control and right now it looks like they’ll have to get something from one of their final two games of the season at home against Liverpool and away at Leicester. (JPW)
9. Putting Burnley’s plight in focus (Burnley 1-3 Aston Villa): Burnley would’ve loved anything from this home match with Aston Villa considering they’ll now trek to Tottenham and Aston Villa — yes, you read that right — before welcoming Newcastle on the final day of the season, and they definitely traded blows with the visitors. The Clarets’ 3-2 midweek win over Everton early last month may well be the result that keeps them in the Premier League, but they do not control their own destiny with Everton holding a match-in-hand. (NM)
10. A familiar story as Watford go down (Crystal Palace 1-0 Watford): This could have been the Watford team we watched get relegated in the 2019-20 campaign. This relegation has been eerily similar and the Pozzo family has once again felt the impact of chopping and changing managers. From Xisco to Claudio Ranieri to Roy Hodgson, there was no clear plan or identity about this team. Yes, they have some talented players in attack but they never looked comfortable back in the Premier League. Maybe they will when they seemingly inevitably come back (JPW)