There have been plenty of weeks when the Premier League goes to script, big teams cruising past supposedly inferior competition and the table yawning at inactivity, but very few of those have come in the 2022-23 season.
There are a few consistent threads to this season’s stories that were also on display this weekend. Arsenal looked like the title favorite because it finished its chances while Manchester City dominated an opponent just as thoroughly but didn’t quite find fluidity in the final third (The two-time defending champs, however, still won).
[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]
But Liverpool proved that it only climbs over humps in order to find new humps, barely showing up to play a Bournemouth side who was always going to fight.
And Chelsea showed signs that it really has passed a plateau, driven by a Kai Havertz who looked so poor a few weeks ago but has ridden the confidence of his boss back into the goals (Someone credit Graham Potter, please).
And Spurs are good again. Maybe Newcastle, too.
The bottom three? There are seven teams who could find their way there by Week 38.
So maybe a better question is what did we learn from the Premier League this weekend that will stick? Here’s where our writers are living, as Joe Prince-Wright (JPW), Andy Edwards (AE), and Nicholas Mendola (NM) share their observations from across the most recent PL games.
10 things we learned in the Premier League: Week 27
1. Martinelli, Trossard deliver Arsenal a timely extra level (Fulham 0-3 Arsenal): It was a joy to watch Leandro Trossard and Gabriel Martinelli rip Fulham apart in the first half. The duo ghosted between the left flank and central areas seamlessly and Fulham just couldn’t track them. Martin Odegaard pushed further forward to play as a second striker and was always free to combine when they won it back. Arsenal have had to be creative with their attacking options without Gabriel Jesus and Eddie Nketiah — the former is back fit and came on late in the game — and that has inadvertently given them an extra tactical layer at a pivotal point of the season. Jesus will, of course, start a large chunk of the final 11 games of the campaign but Arsenal now have a very different option to roll out whenever they want. That is going to be crucial in the final months of the season as they aim to win the title. (JPW)
2. Entitled Liverpool prove they aren’t truly back (AFC Bournemouth 1-0 Liverpool): The worst thing about this defeat was that there was a sense of entitlement about this Liverpool display. That will frighten Jurgen Klopp. The German coach said before the game his side always respect the opponent, but it sure didn’t look like that was the case at Bournemouth. The players expected to score, expected to win late on, and weren’t really up for the early kick off in the drizzle on England’s South Coast. They didn’t do much to turn things around and there were a lot of hands on hips. Whether they finish in the top four or not this season, a huge rebuild has to take place this summer with at least five or six key new signings. All season long it has been one step forward and one step back and that has left them hoping for a top four finish rather than grabbing it with both hands. It is there for the taking. (JPW)
3. Havertz gives Chelsea another teasing glimpse of maybe (Leicester 1-3 Chelsea): In truth, 1-1 would have been a fair halftime score, but the Leicester backline fell asleep in the final few seconds and Kai Havertz timed his run to perfection just as Enzo Fernandez chipped the ball into the penalty area. Havertz took the chance so casually that he appeared to think he was well offside, offering little to no celebration, but the Blues were 2-1 ahead after surviving a dominant period of play by Leicester. That’s a goal against old rivals Dortmund and another versus Leicester City; Havertz may now buck his early season production and get his first 10-plus goal domestic season in a Chelsea shirt. He scored 17 and 12 in his two seasons as Bater Leverkusen. (AE, NM)
4. Consistent Kane continues to carry Spurs on his shoulders (Spurs 3-1 Nottingham Forest): Saturday marked the sixth time in Harry Kane’s career that he has scored 20 Premier League goals in a season. In the three seasons he failed to reach 20 goals, he “only” hit 17, 18 and 17 (Injuries played a part in two of those, too). That makes exactly 200 PL goals across the last nine seasons, for an average of 22.2 per season. That’s just incredible consistency and production from a player who, sadly, might go his whole career without winning a trophy, no matter how long he plays. (AE)
5. Casemiro’s red card changes game as Saints take Man Utd to limit (Man Utd 0-0 Southampton): The Brazilian’s reckless challenge saw him skid his foot off the top of the ball and directly into the leg of Carlos Alcaraz. It’s a move that’s been used to inflict damage on a player without drawing judgment from the referee in the past, but there’s VAR now and once it went to a review it was hard to imagine Casemiro wouldn’t see his second red card of the season. The immediate aftermath saw Manchester United in control and it seems fair to infer Saints didn’t do much work this week on what they’d do if they had the ball. But halftime discussions changed that for Ruben Selles’ Saints; They regrouped and the second half was a mad house of chances for the hosts and visitors. How this ended 0-0, we don’t know, but the keepers were both good and the goal posts did their job as well. Now four games without Casemiro really threatens Erik ten Hag’s season goals, but the manager isn’t blaming the player for what he believes was an unfair red card. (NM)
6. Palace’s nearly men now, fittingly, nearly in relegation scrap (Crystal Palace 0-1 Man City): Patrick Vieira may have finished his playing days with Manchester City and he may be closer to a Pep Guardiola acolyte when it comes to the celebration of football, but he’s an Arsenal man through and through and set up his men to try and take two points off the Gunners’ title rivals. He nearly did it, thanks to performances like the star show from Arsenal loanee Albert Sambi Lokonga; But all it takes is one lapse and Palace, make no mistake about it, l-a-p-s-e-d to send Erling Haaland to the penalty spot. Palace fans may have nearly beaten Liverpool two weeks ago at home and they may’ve come close to a point here to Man City, but their manager and his players are not giving the home fans anything fun at Selhurst Park. Palace has one goal in its last four Premier League home matches and that came from James Tompkins in an M23 derby. The Eagles are now away to the Seagulls at midweek before next Sunday’s trip to Arsenal, where Lokonga won’t be allowed to play. Fail to score in either of those, and Vieira’s future will be very much in question as will the Eagles’ Premier League status for the 2022-23 season. (NM)
7. Sean Dyche’s Toffees have found their formula for survival (Everton 1-0 Brentford): Three 1-0 home wins against Arsenal, Leeds, and now Brentford since Sean Dyche arrived as boss have shown that Everton has a formula to make sure they stay out of the relegation zone for the rest of the season. Playing without a recognized striker, Dyche has set them up to have midfield runners causing havoc and that is exactly what they did for Dwight McNeil’s goal. Amadou Onana, Abdoulaye Doucoure and Alex Iwobi were relentless in the first half and worked so hard in the second half to close down space in front of a solid back four. Everton have shown they can dig in, be organized and withstand pressure. They’ll need to do that plenty of times in their final 11 games of the season but it now looks like they have finally found some stability and, most importantly, belief. (JPW)
8. Super sub Miguel Almiron cleans up waste for sloppy Magpies (Newcastle 2-1 Wolves): It’s not really up for debate as to whether the Magpies weren’t the better team, but Wolves did enough to earn a point in the face of Newcastle’s wastefulness. That’s to say this wouldn’t have been a smash-and-grab for Julen Lopetegui’s men had Miguel Almiron not arrived on the scene. Nick Pope was not sanctioned by VAR for a coming-together with Raul Jimenez in the box shortly before the Magpies took their first lead, and Wolves will have felt the turnabout was fair play when Hwang put them level. Enter Newcastle’s leading scorer, left out of the XI after some substandard performances. Miguel Almiron may not be a double-digit scorer every year, but he’s the reason the Magpies are still in the top four discussion. The Paraguayan winger came off the bench and didn’t just score the winner, he enlivened the entire game. On another day, his slippery eel move off a late short corner has this one 3-1 in stoppage time. If the Magpies make it to the top four or settle into the Europa League or Europa Conference League, there will be a number of “Miggy Moments” that got them there: The lone goal in an October 1-0 over Everton, the match-winning tally in a 20-1 over Tottenham four days later, the lone assist in a Nov. 12 win over Chelsea, and now the match-winner vs Wolves. (NM)
9. Roberto De Zerbi furious with Seagulls end product (Leeds 2-2 Brighton): Brighton was the team that kept the ball and manufactured the real dangerous chances, but all that and two outlier concessions will leave you leading the muddled 7-10 pack rather than in the thick of the fight for fifth… or even fourth! It’s probably difficult for Brighton supporters who’ve watched their team rise into a true top-half team while navigating the exit of the manager who got there — What a hire De Zerbi’s been! — but the truth is probably that Evan Ferguson’s still just a kid and Danny Welbeck is past his very best days as a finisher. If you could somehow fast-forward Ferguson four years while spinning back Welbeck’s odometer the same distance, this Brighton’s probably good enough to compete for the top four in a very real way. Will that opportunity still be here next season? Better put: Will Moises Caicedo and Alexis Mac Allister still be there next season? (NM)
10. What should we really think of West Ham? (West Ham 1-1 Aston Villa): West Ham has no business being near the bottom three, but there David Moyes’ men stand after another performance on the upside of their up-and-down campaign. How did they not beat Villa given this performance? Yes, Michail Antonio was out and the Irons needed a penalty to get their point, but the xG battle was very much in their favor. Danny Ings was not at his best up top and Jarrod Bowen seemed to be focused on taking one touch too many nearly every time the ball came his way, but West Ham’s season failings really feel more about luck and bounces more than performances on the whole. That will mean very little if the Irons manage to go down, but it still doesn’t feel like that’s a real danger, does it? Bueller? (NM)