Matchweek 36 of the 2022-23 Premier League season is 9/10 of the way in the book, and it’ll be one that a few clubs’ fans remember for quite some time — for good and for bad.
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For Manchester City, it will remind fans of a third straight Premier League title so nearly in the bag. For Arsenal, their title hopes stomped out. For Southampton, the day their 11-year run in the Premier League ended in relegation.
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 36
1. Man City prove that “experience is key” is no cliche (Everton 0-3 Manchester City): So many cliches are rolled out at the business end of the season: ‘they know how to get it done’ and ‘they’ve been here before’ and ‘we have been in this situation’ and on and on. Ilkay Gundogan rolled out the latter in his post-match interview and it proved that City’s players are feeling no pressure whatsoever in this type of situation. They embrace the pressure, live for it and play better for it. City did what they had to do against Everton and after a slow start Gundogan’s class in a couple of minutes blew Everton away as he revealed that defenders are so focused on 52-goal man Haaland that City’s other attackers have more space to operate in. City have ‘been there, done that and got the t-shirt’ and now all of their focus is on the Champions League semifinal second leg against Real Madrid. (JPW)
2. End-of-season collapses becoming an Arsenal theme (Arsenal 0-3 Brighton): The Gunners held an eight-point lead on April 1, just six short weeks ago, with only nine games left to play (one more game played at the time). Since then, Mikel Arteta’s side has gone 2W-3D-2L. Last season, they were in the driver’s seat for 4th place and a return to the Champions League, before losing five of their last 10 games, including the pivotal decider away to rivals Tottenham. There is no doubt that progress was made in terms of results this season, as they climb from 69 points to 81 (with two games left to play). But, the young side’s mentality has taken another tough hit as they watch eight months of hard work circle the drain for a second straight season. Spurs-y. (AE)
3. Embarrassing end to Southampton’s Premier League stay (Southampton 0-2 Fulham): Only the big-six sides and Everton have been in the Premier League longer than Southampton’s 11-year stay and after four-straight top eight finishes, European action, FA Cup semifinals and a League Cup final over the last decade, the way it has ended this season is nothing short of shambolic. From sacking Ralph Hasenhuttl to hiring Nathan Jones, then firing Jones eight PL games later and then putting assistant Ruben Selles in charge, Southampton have been all over the place this season. Sport Republic arrived as Southampton’s owners 18 months ago and spent heavily on young talents to rejuvenate the squad and it was a risky strategy. It hasn’t worked. At all. (JPW)
4. A missed opportunity for both teams (Leeds 2-2 Newcastle): Leeds had the chance to go 2-0 up via the penalty spot but Patrick Bamford’s poor spot kick was saved. At 2-1 up Newcastle had the chance to kick on and finish the game off but Eddie Howe’s subs had the opposite impact he was hoping for. Both Leeds and Newcastle needed a win in their respective battles to stay in the Premier League and to finish in the top four and both teams will be feeling despondent with the point. Leeds will be the happier of the two as they are within touching distance of safety with games against West Ham and Tottenham remaining. As for Newcastle, well, they know if they win two of their final three games (they face Brighton, Leicester and Chelsea) they are in the Champions League next season. (JPW)
5. Aston Villa back in Europa League hunt after beating Tottenham (Aston Villa 2-1 Tottenham): Aston Villa moved level on points with Tottenham, neck-and-neck for 6th (now 7th) place in the Premier League table, by way of a 2-1 victory at Villa Park on Saturday. The victory sends Aston Villa up to 57 points, within an inch or two of the final Europa League place (Tottenham +6 GD; Aston Villa +4 GD). With 57 points in the bag, this season will be Aston Villa’s highest Premier League points total since they hit 64 in 2009-10. (AE)
6. Bees may be fine without Toney (Brentford 2-0 West Ham): Yes, Ivan Toney is a wonderful player and any team would miss him. But Brentford didn’t on Sunday. The English striker missed the win against West Ham with a hamstring issue and given that he may be suspended pending the outcome of an investigation into allegations of breaching betting charges, Brentford may have to plan for playing without Toney for some time at the start of next season. Wissa, Mbuemo and Schade pulled West Ham all over the place and should have won by more than two goals. That is where Toney comes in and he would have had a field day. If one of the big boys comes in for Toney this summer then perhaps Brentford may not stand in his way because the other forwards proved they can operate effectively without him and if you replace Toney with a proper poacher then the Bees could still maintain their Premier League status and continue their top-10 charges. (JPW)
7. Dominant Red Devils take time putting away Wolves (Manchester United 2-0 Wolves): Manchester United was energetic with the ball and resolute without it, as Raphael Varane’s return was successful alongside Victor Lindelof at the back and Casemiro in front of them. But while United took 20 of the game’s first 25 shots, there was only Anthony Martial’s first-half goal to show for it. And so the Red Devils’ top four hopes felt safe but were one bad break away from the brink, so to speak, as Wolves stretched the affair long enough to allow Adama Traore to sub into the game with just over a quarter-hour to play. Fortunately, Alejandro Garnacho was the man to get the next goal and United wasn’t left to rue a performance with everyone but the goal(s). (NM)
8. Crystal Palace pushing on for mid-table finish (Crystal Palace 2-0 Bournemouth): Eberechi Eze scored a sensational brace to reach double-figure goals on the season, as Crystal Palace soared past a belabored Bournemouth side for a 2-0 victory at Selhurst Park on Saturday. The victory keeps Crystal Palace (43 points) 12th in the Premier League table, now three points clear of 13th-place Wolves. Bournemouth (39 points) are also safe from relegation in 14th, where they remain. (AE)
9. Blues’ sad season continues as Tricky Trees strengthen roots (Chelsea 2-2 Nottingham Forest): Chelsea fans might’ve felt a bit of normalcy when Raheem Sterling snapped his second goal of Saturday home. After all, Sterling was one of the big buys meant to show that Chelsea wasn’t going to falter under new ownership this season. But that’s not what’s happened, and Steve Cooper’s Forest never backed down despite the pressure of a relegation fight and the stage of Stamford Bridge. The mystique just isn’t at “The Bridge” right now and Chelsea’s next boss is going to have to find a way to rebuild it with meaning and not words. Lampard might’ve been an okay caretaker to get to the end of the season, but substance must arrive in a new system. (NM)
10. Leicester vs Liverpool – Monday, 3 pm ET (WATCH HERE)