With just eight matchweeks to go in the 2022-23 Premier League season we still don’t know who will win the title, who will finish in the top four, the top six or be relegated.
This is wonderful, beautiful, mesmerizing chaos. Can this season go on forever?
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Trying to make sense of what is going on up and down the Premier League right now is mind-boggling. Fun. But mind-boggling.
Here’s what our writers made of it all, as Joe Prince-Wright (JPW), Andy Edwards (AE), and Nicholas Mendola (NM) share their observations from across the most recent PL games.
1. Liverpool comes back for point but spares Arsenal embarrassment
Mohamed Salah hit an early chance wide of the near post, then missed the net three times in the second half including a penalty. Jordan Henderson airmailed a rebound through traffic in the first half, and Cody Gakpo rolled a breakaway into Aaron Ramsdale in the second. After denying Salah brilliantly, Ramsdale also had one sensational stop on Ibrahima Konate’s chested effort, keeping it 2-2. This 2-2 draw at Anfield could’ve been so much worse for an Arsenal team that held a 2-0 lead and looked set for a coronation as recently as a few hours ago, then rode its luck all the way over the line. Liverpool held 59 percent of the ball, out-attempted Arsenal 21-9, and won the xG fight by a 3.96-1.41 margin. To be clear, Arsenal opened the door to the throne room. And it could be open much wider if Liverpool had its finishing boots. The Gunners’ second half performance will give a lot of hope to opposing attacks, as the first test without William Saliba against a good attack was a failed one. (NM)
2. Late drama finally favors Tottenham
Spurs managed to drop a combined four points against Southampton and Everton in their last two games, despite holding leads going into the 92nd and 90th minutes, respectively. Harry Kane’s winner against Brighton came a bit earlier than the late goals Tottenham have shipped in recent weeks, but it was met with a giant exhale and sense of relief nonetheless, as another game they looked like giving away, finally took a sharp, late turn in their favor. Add in Brighton being correctly upset with numerous VAR calls which went against them and it seems like Spurs’ luck has finally turned. Now, will that last for the rest of the season as they hunt down a top four finish? (AE)
3. Newcastle effectively ends Brentford’s surprising top-four campaign
There were a lot of talking points over the course of 90 minutes on Saturday, as Newcastle edged past Brentford 2-1 to boost their top four hopes further. Ivan Toney’s wild first half was a sight to behold. The former much-hyped Newcastle man had an early rebound goal taken off the board for offside, then saw a penalty saved by Nick Pope following a Sven Botman foul in the box. Toney got another chance — well, he’d have several more — when Alexander Isak was judged to have committed a foul on a corner kick, and he just beat a correctly-judging Pope going the same way as the first attempt. But the Magpies were unbowed, and Eddie Howe’s halftime subs were spot-on as Callum Wilson joined Alexander Isak up top and Anthony Gordon provided a more interior presence to the wing previously occupied by Jacob Murphy. Howe got the goals he needed to put his team in front and would later need to revert to a more defensive team for the final 10 minutes after Brentford pushed hard for an equalizer. It was a huge test passed for the Magpies, and Brentford will need another summer of recruitment to begin a new Premier League top-four challenge. (NM)
4. Clinical Palace could have huge impact on Leeds’ survival hopes
With Leeds 1-0 up against Crystal Palace and half time approaching (and following their midweek win against Nottingham Forest) it seemed like they were basically out of relegation trouble. Javi Gracia’s side had dominated the first half against Palace and should have been two or three up. Then Marc Guehi equalized right on half time and Leeds’ brittle confidence was clear for all to see as Crystal Palace surged to a remarkable 5-1 victory at a stunned Elland Road. Palace’s clinical finishing was incredible to witness in the second half as the brilliant Michael Olise bamboozled Leeds’ midfield and defense and the hosts reverted to their haphazard defending oft seen over the last few seasons. There had been a solidity about Leeds under Gracia but this hammering could undo all of the good work the Spaniard has done to steady the ship, and their play, since arriving in late February. Leeds have a tough run of games to finish the season and it looks like relegation six-pointers against Bournemouth and Leicester will decide their fate. As the first half against Palace proved, they probably have enough to stay up. But just like last season they’re determined to make it harder than it needs to be. (JPW)
5. Direct Manchester United regain intensity to boost top four hopes
Erik ten Hag changed his back four around with Tyrell Malacia, Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka coming in and it had the desired impact. United’s intensity was up, just like it was in the second half against Brentford in midweek. After such a sluggish display at Newcastle last week, the Red Devils have been sparked into life and rotating the squad to get some freshness back into key players was a smart move. Their display in the 2-0 win against Everton proved their squad is big enough to be rotated and for the levels not to drop. Erik ten Hag should rotate more (he now has Christian Eriksen and Casemiro back) to seal a top four finish and push to win the FA Cup and Europa League in the final weeks of the campaign. The intensity is back for United, they were relentless for most of this game as teams can’t cope with the movement of their front four. They have to keep the tempo high with games in all competitions coming thick and fast. (JPW)
6. Leicester in freefall and worse is to come
There were reports that Jesse Marsch was lined up to come in as Leicester boss but that deal has now collapsed and the American should be relieved to not be taking charge at the King Power Stadium. Leicester are in freefall and it is hard to see if they will win another game this season. They look totally devoid of confidence, their best players looked stunned they are in this situation — and in James Maddison’s case made the costly mistake which ultimately led to the 1-0 home defeat against relegation rivals Bournemouth — and they keep losing tight games in demoralizing fashion. Bournemouth didn’t even have to play that well to win at Leicester as they sliced through the Foxes time and time again. There is a real lack of fight and, most importantly, belief, among the Leicester players that they can get out of this situation. If Leicester do go down it will be one of the biggest shocks of the Premier League season. Right now, it’s not a big if. The Foxes are in freefall. (JPW)
7. Man City in best form of the season at exactly the right time
Last week Bernardo Silva said Manchester City were playing their best football of the season. He’s right. City have peaked at the perfect time and with the UEFA Champions League quarterfinal ties against Bayern Munich, plus an FA Cup semifinal and a showdown with Arsenal coming up, they are roaring towards the finish line. Kevin de Bruyne and Jack Grealish ran the show in their 4-1 win at Southampton, just like they did against Liverpool last weekend, and although they battled through a slow first half it was business as usual in the second. They have arrived at this stage of the season in stunning form so many times in recent campaigns (ask Liverpool) and they’re doing it again. Premier League leaders Arsenal will be extremely concerned ahead of their showdown with City at the Etihad on April 26. Right now City look unstoppable and Erling Haaland is back fit and banging in the goals too. City and Pep have no mercy. (JPW)
8. And the Premier League’s 2nd-best on-form side is…
Aston Villa, duh. Saturday’s 2-0 win against Nottingham Forest made it seven games unbeaten for Unai Emery’s side (6W-1D-0L), as only Arsenal have been better over their last seven games (Manchester City have an equal 19 points). They have conceded just two goals in the seven games, while scoring 13. One slight asterisk, of course: all seven games have been against sides currently in the bottom half of the table, including 11th-place Chelsea. (AE)
9. Resolute Irons stand firm for Moyes, who can put eyes on UECL
It was sloppy, it was cagey, and at times it was too open for anyone’s tastes, but David Moyes’ men made the most of a Fulham own goal as a 1-0 win helped West Ham back into a table footing more appropriate of their season. It’s a huge win if only because it improves the vibes ahead of a huge week. The Irons were always going to have to put in a fierce defensive effort next Sunday versus Arsenal, but now they can fire forward into the UEFA Europa Conference League quarterfinal matches against Gent that sandwich Arsenal’s PL visit. Kurt Zouma and Angelo Ogbonna’s days were made easier by committed showings from Vladimir Coufal and Aaron Cresswell out wide, while Declan Rice and Tomas Soucek showed themselves at near-peak form. Now the Irons need to pick the right people to get a big win at Gent. Cause you want that, right, West Ham fans? (NM)
10. Frank Lampard’s return fails to spark Chelsea
In Chelsea’s 1-0 defeat Wolves we saw the same Chelsea which faltered under Thomas Tuchel early in the season and the same which stuttered for months under Graham Potter. Perhaps this is just, erm, Chelsea? Frank Lampard’s surprise return wasn’t meant to have an immediate impact but they looked worse than they did against Liverpool last week when Bruno Saltor was put in caretaker charge. Lampard’s arrival seemed to further confuse an already confused set of players. Wolves didn’t really have to work that hard for the win and Chelsea never really threatened to draw level. Plus they were all over the place at the back, which was similar vibes to Lampard’s first spell in charge of the Blues. It was one of the most uninspiring displays in a season of uninspiring displays and that shows just how much work whoever comes in next (for the long term fix) has to do at Chelsea. (JPW)