Premier League 2020-21 team grades

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The Premier League 2020-21 season is over and it is time to dish out grades for all 20 teams.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]  

That’s right, we are not going to mess around here and as we always do at ProSoccerTalk, we tell it how we see it.

So below is a look at all 20 teams as we analyze their season and dish out a grade to each.

Safe to say you will agree with 100 percent of these grades, right?

Let’s get to it.


Premier League 2020-21 team grades

Arsenal: D

What a weird season for Arsenal. Started poorly despite a lot of positive vibes after winning the FA Cup and Community Shield in 2019-20. Rallied in the second half of the season as Mikel Arteta’s side picked up the third most PL points since Boxing Day. Still, a second-straight eighth place finish isn’t good enough and they were knocked out of the Europa League semifinals by Unai Emery and Villarreal. Ouch.

Amid fan protests against the Kroenke family and a first season out of Europe for 25 years, all is not well. Strangely, though, Arteta is probably delighted to not be in Europe and he can work on his young squad tactically next season. Saka, Smith Rowe, Martinelli and Tierney are the future of this team. The likes of Aubameyang, Lacazette and Xhaka may have to move on soon.


Aston Villa: B+

Brilliant season for Villa, as Dean Smith’s side flirted with European qualification for most of the campaign. They ended up finishing 11th but in just their second season back in the top-flight, that was a huge improvement after surviving relegation on the final day in 2019-20. Jack Grealish took his game to a whole new level, while Ollie Watkins and Emiliano Martinez were superb and they also smashed Liverpool 7-2 and beat Spurs and Chelsea late in the season. Can Villa push for Europe next season? With some savvy signings, you’d think so.


Brighton and Hove Albion: C

The ‘expected goals’ kings of the Premier League, as Graham Potter’s side dazzled between both boxes but couldn’t take the numerous chances they created. Watching Brighton is fun and they dominate games, but somehow they finished 16th in the table. The Seagulls will do well to hold on to Potter long-term, and they need to buy a couple of clinical finishers to take them to the next level. Everything else is in place, as long as they keep Bissouma, White and Lamptey too.


Burnley: C

They stayed in the Premier League, which is always the main aim for Sean Dyche and the Clarets, but this was a tough season. They had some big wins, with the victory at Anfield the biggest highlight, and Chris Wood’s goals and the play of Nick Pope saved them from getting sucked into a relegation scrap late in the season. They finished just one place out of the drop zone and squad investment from their new American owners will be key to pushing towards the top 10 next season.


Chelsea: B

They got the job done of finishing in the top four, but they made it hard for themselves and snuck in on the final day. Frank Lampard was fired midseason and Thomas Tuchel oversaw an incredible turnaround as they became an unlikely defensive juggernaut. New signings Kai Havertz, Timo Werner, Ben Chilwell, Thiago Silva and Edouard Mendy had mixed campaigns, which probably cost Lampard his job, as Silva and Mendy were the main positives.

After defeat in the FA Cup final to Leicester, Tuchel needs to win the Champions League to make this season a real success. That sounds silly to say, but this is Chelsea and the squad they have should be winning these kind of trophies. Still, if they can sign a clinical finisher this summer, Tuchel could have them challenging for the title next season. He has mostly got his tactics spot on in a 3-4-2-1, and he has N’Golo Kante too.


Crystal Palace: C+

Roy Hodgson said farewell to the Premier League as he stepped down at the end of the season, and up to 12 Palace players will be following him out of the door. So many are out of contract and there is expected to be a massive rebuild at Selhurst Park, with the likes of Frank Lampard, Eddie Howe and other young coaches linked with the job. With Wilfried Zaha and Eberechi Eze (before his long-term injury) leading the attack, Palace were midtable throughout the season. Nothing more, nothing less. Getting their next managerial appointment right will be the biggest challenge they’ve faced since they were promoted back to the Premier League.


Everton: C

A season that promised so much ended in bitter disappointment for the Toffees and Carlo Ancelotti. After spending big last summer, again, they started off brilliantly and looked ready to push for a top four spot, even late in the season. But their terrible form at home cost them dear and new signings Allan, Abdoulaye Doucoure and James Rodriguez all ran out of steam. Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Ben Godfrey had good campaigns but Richarlison was disappointing as Everton finished 10th. A step back for Ancelotti despite some big moments, and wins, especially away at Liverpool.


Fulham: D-

Never looked like they truly believed they could stay in the Premier League. Scott Parker tweaked the system and made them more defensive and tougher to beat, and it worked for a while, but their transfer business cost them dear. Late additions in both windows weren’t enough and although Fulham’s instant return to the Championship was inevitable in the end, it could have been very different. Parker may move on elsewhere, but with several loan signings now returning to their parent clubs, the Cottagers will look very different next season in the Championship. Fulhamerica have become the archetypal yo-yo club.


Leeds United: A

What a breath of fresh air Leeds were under Marcelo Bielsa! After 16 years away from the Premier League, they finally returned to the top-flight and a ninth place finish was brilliant. A fine end to the season will see plenty of positive vibes growing over the summer. Patrick Bamford scored lots of goals, Raphinha dazzled, the likes of Kalvin Phillips and Illan Meslier were sublime, and overall, Bielsa’s boys never changed their playing style. They took a lot of teams by surprise and won at Man City and at home against Tottenham. Can they prevail next season now that teams know all of their secrets? Bielsa will surely have more than a few tricks left up his sleeve, or under his bucket…


Leicester City: A-

There will be a strange sense of Deja Vu around Leicester this summer. An almost identical season to last, as they were in the top four throughout the entire campaign but slipped out in agonizing fashion on the final day. Still, they won the FA Cup and went on a deep run in the Europa League. Rodgers had to deal with plenty of injuries too. Tielemans, Ndidi, Iheanacho, Castagne, Evans and Vardy were all sublime, and there is a sense that Leicester can keep it going for next season. Still, there will also be a sense they may have missed their chance of finishing in the top four with the big boys retooling this summer.


Liverpool: B

What a rollercoaster of a campaign for Jurgen Klopp. The 2019-20 champs looked set for another title push despite catastrophic injury problems early in the season as they lost both starting center backs Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez to serious knee injuries in the space of a few days. Eventually, that lost told, and injuries kept piling up throughout the season. But when they figured out two young and inexperienced center backs in Phillips and Williams could step in and midfielders could go back to their normal positions, they regained their momentum.

Eight wins out of 10 to finish the season was brilliant and they achieved their goal of a top four finish on the final day. Alisson’s winning header at West Brom will live long in the memory, and Salah was very good too. Firmino and Mane dropped off, but these players getting a proper rest this summer, plus Van Dijk, Matip and Gomez returning, will surely see Klopp’s boys contend for the title next season.


Manchester City: A

Imperious is the best word to sum them up. From about November on, nobody could get near them. Guardiola rotated his team masterfully and with Sergio Aguero injured for most of the season and Gabriel Jesus not at his best, Kevin de Bruyne, Phil Foden, Mahrez, Sterling and Gundogan ran the show. City were defensively superb as John Stones and Ruben Dias formed a great partnership, while in a congested season due to the pandemic, having such a big squad to rotate well made a big difference. Everyone expected City to win the title, and they did.

With the Premier League title, a third in four seasons, won, plus another League Cup, City were gutted to not win the FA Cup too, but they could win the trophy they really want, the Champions League. They are red-hot favorites to beat Chelsea in the final in Porto and that would mean that Guardiola has truly delivered on his promise to turn City into a European powerhouse.


Manchester United: B+

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer led United to a second-place finish and there was a lot of progress made, but it still feels like they are a long, long way behind Man City. Early on they made a habit of leaking early goals but fighting back to win in true Fergie style, and their incredible away form proved how dangerous they are on the counter. Bruno Fernandes, Luke Shaw and Harry Maguire were the standout players, but United still need a center back and another holding midfielder to make them title contenders.

Edinson Cavani’s contribution up top was a bonus late in the season, so too was Mason Greenwood’s, as Marcus Rashford was consistent throughout and Paul Pogba also had his moments. The possibility of winning the Europa League is huge for Solskjaer, as he aims to win his first trophy as United’s manager. If they can beat Villarreal in the final, that feels like a big psychological barrier overcome.


Newcastle United: C+

All’s well that ends well, right? What a bizarre season for the Magpies, as fans wanted Steve Bruce out from the start but somehow they rallied and finished 12th after a great run at the end of the season. That was largely due to Saint-Maximin, Wilson and Almiron being back fit, plus the emergence of Joe Willock as he dazzled during his loan spell from Arsenal. Given the injuries Newcastle had, several players being hit hard by COVID-19 complications and the general fan unrest towards owner Mike Ashley and a dashed takeover attempt, Bruce did a solid job. They aren’t the prettiest to watch but when Newcastle have all of their star attacking players fit, they can cause anyone problems. The fans, rightly, want more from their club.


Sheffield United: F

Absolutely miserable season, but they did manage to salvage a bit of pride late on. Chris Wilder was fired after falling out with the owner and that was unthinkable 12 months ago. The Blades’ poor end to 2019-20 carried over to 2020-21 and at times it looked like they would be the worst team in PL history. They weren’t, but scoring goals was a huge issue and they lost a lot of tight games they won in the previous seasons. This was one of the biggest sophomore slumps ever seen in the Premier League as they were relegated and finished bottom. None of their big signings really worked either, and that was a huge reason why they went down.


Southampton: C-

Talk about a season of two halves! Southampton were top of the table in November and flying under Ralph Hasenhuttl, with Danny Ings banging in the goals. Then, injuries arrived and a huge downwards spiral in the second half of the season almost saw them dragged into a relegation scrap, and they lost 9-0 again, this time to Manchester United. In the end they finished 15th and reached the FA Cup semifinal where they lost to eventual winners Leicester. Not a bad season. But the end to the season was awful and Hasenhuttl needs Saints’ owners to spend big this summer to stop their slide. That isn’t going to happen, and many believe they will be relegation candidates in 2021-22.


Tottenham Hotspur: D

It all started so well for Jose Mourinho, but he didn’t even see out a first full season in charge of Spurs. They were top of the table heading towards the festive period but then they unravelled. Dropping points after going ahead early in games was their big problem, as Harry Kane and Heung-min Son were sublime early on but defensively they kept making the same mistakes. Hojbjerg had a good season, but he was the only standout from the new signings. They did reach the League Cup final, but lost, and the way they crashed out of the Europa League was embarrassing.

Gareth Bale finished with a flourish, mostly after Mourinho was fired, but his loan move didn’t really work out. All of that adds up to a lot of turmoil this summer as Kane could leave, Tottenham don’t have a manager and Daniel Levy has a lot of pressure on him from Spurs fans. Finishing in seventh and qualifying for the Europa Conference League isn’t ideal for next season either.


West Bromwich Albion: D

They never looked likely to stay up and sacking Slaven Bilic and replacing him with Sam Allardyce didn’t work. Matheus Pereira was very good, so too was Sam Johnstone (who had a lot of reps) but defensive issues plagued them all season. The Baggies will be at the top of the Championship next season because that is what they do, but they were never equipped to stay up and were relegated without much of a fight.


West Ham United: A+

An incredible campaign for David Moyes and West Ham, as they finished in sixth and qualified for the Europa League group stage. That is some achievement as West Ham secured their highest-ever PL points tally and did it in style. Michail Antonio was excellent, when fit, and so too was Declan Rice. Moyes used a 3-4-2-1 system which worked well as the likes of Soucek and Coufal were brilliant additions. Jesse Lingard then gave them a great push in the second half of the season, as his loan arrival was exceptional.

All in all, Moyes deserves a huge amount of credit for turning a team many tipped for relegation at the start of the season into genuine top four contenders heading into the final weeks of the season. Now, let’s see if West Ham can cope with a Thursday-Sunday schedule next season, and the return of more of their own fans…


Wolverhampton Wanderers: C-

One thing dominated Wolves’ season: the horrific head injury to Raul Jimenez. The Mexico star fractured his skull in late November and Wolves were never the same. They missed not only his goals but also his link-up play and Nuno Espirito Santo’s side never looked like pushing for European qualification. Nuno has now left too, and it will be intriguing to see if Wolves still have plenty of cash to spend on new players, or if this marks a new era at Molineux. Still, what a job Nuno did over four seasons and surely a big job beckons for the Portuguese coach. As for Wolves, they will be praying that Jimenez returns as the same player and they can push higher than their 13th place finish this term.

Man City – Everton, stream live! How to watch, start time, odds, prediction

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Premier League champions Man City say hello to their home fans on a Championship Sunday that visiting Everton hopes to ride back into Europe (start time 11am ET on CNBC and online via NBCSports.com).

Everton needs a win to keep pressure on seventh-place Tottenham and sixth-place West Ham United, with only two of the three qualifying for either the Europa League or the Europa Conference League.

WATCH MAN CITY – EVERTON STREAM LIVE

The Toffees have 59 points, the same as Spurs but well before them on goal differential, and they are three points behind West Ham.

City looks to finish its championship season on 86 points, which would be tied for the seventh-most since the PL went to a 38-match season in 1995-96.


Injury news (Injury report)

Manchester City injuries

QUESTIONABLE: Raheem Sterling (undisclosed), Ilkay Gundogan (knee), Kyle Walker (undisclosed), Sergio Aguero (adductor) | OUT: Joao Cancelo (suspension)

Everton injuries

QUESTIONABLE: James Rodriguez (undisclosed) | OUT: Jean-Philippe Gbamin (knee), Seamus Coleman (knock)


Odds and ends (full odds provided by our partner, PointsBet)

Man City is -239 to get back in the win column while an Everton result would be considered a big upset despite the difference in stakes. A draw is +375 while an Everton win pays +550.

PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links.


Prediction

Man City will be feeling pressure to deliver a vintage performance going into the UEFA Champions League Final, and it’s a big ask for Everton to take all three points. Kevin De Bruyne is the star of Man City 3-1 Everton.


How to watch, stream and start time

Kickoff: 11am ET Sunday
TV Channel: CNBC
Stream: Online via NBCSports.com

Follow @NicholasMendola

Premier League injury report, 2020-21

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Premier League injuries: It’s time to take a look at the players who might be unavailable, or set to return from injury, ahead of matchweek 35 in the 2020-21 Premier League season.

[ MORE: How to watch PLTV on Peacock ]

Prior to every matchweek this season, we’ll update this Premier League injuries page with the latest news and update, so make sure to check back regularly to see how your favorite — or least-favorite — club is getting on.

Note: Any player listed for COVID-19 reasons — whether a positive test or additional precautions — will always be deemed “questionable” until they make their return to action.

Arsenal injuries

QUESTIONABLE: David Luiz (thigh) | OUT: Hector Bellerin (undisclosed), Mat Ryan (loan – parent club)

Aston Villa injuries

OUT: Ross Barkley (loan – parent club), Trezeguet (knee), Matty Cash (hamstring), Morgan Sanson (knee)

Brighton & Hove Albion injuries

OUT: Neal Maupay (suspension), Tariq Lamptey (thigh), Solly March (knee), Joel Veltman (calf), Davy Propper (ankle), Danny Welbeck (thigh)

Burnley injuries

QUESTIONABLE: Nick Pope (knee) | OUT: Robbie Brady (calf), Kevin Long (calf), Phil Bardsley (hernia), Dale Stephens (ankle)

Chelsea injuries

QUESTIONABLE: N’Golo Kante (hamstring), Kai Havertz (undisclosed)

Crystal Palace injuries

QUESTIONABLE: Christian Benteke (achilles), Scott Dann (undisclosed), Tyrick Mitchell (undisclosed) | OUT: Eberechi Eze (achilles), Luka Milivojevic (undisclosed), James McArthur (calf), Nathan Ferguson (knee), Connor Wickham (undisclosed), Mamadou Sakho (thigh)

Everton injuries

OUT: James Rodriguez (calf), Seamus Coleman (undisclosed), Jean-Philippe Gbamin (knee)

Fulham injuries

QUESTIONABLE: Harrison Reed (knock) | OUT: Aleksandar Mitrovic (buttock), Antonee Robinson (ankle), Tom Cairney (knee), Terence Kongolo (knee)

Leeds United injuries

OUT: Diego Llorente (groin), Mateusz Klich (undisclosed), Adam Forshaw (groin), Helder Costa (back), Robin Koch (undisclosed)

Leicester City injuries

QUESTIONABLE: Cengiz Under (hip) | OUT: Harvey Barnes (knee – out for season), James Justin (knee), Jonny Evans (foot)

Liverpool injuries

QUESTIONABLE: Diogo Jota (ankle), Naby Keita (undisclosed) | OUT: Virgil van Dijk (knee – out for season), Joel Matip (ankle – out for season), Joe Gomez (knee – out for season), Jordan Henderson (adductor), Ozan Kabak (undisclosed), Ben Davies (undisclosed)

Manchester City injuries

OUT: Joao Cancelo (suspension)

Manchester United injuries

QUESTIONABLE: Anthony Martial (knee), Scott McTominay (undisclosed), Fred (undisclosed), Harry Maguire (ankle) | OUT: Phil Jones (knee)

Newcastle United injuries

QUESTIONABLE: Allan Saint-Maximin (calf), Martin Dubravka (hamstring), Joelinton (undisclosed), Joe Willock (fatigue), Elliott Anderson (groin) | OUT: Callum Wilson (thigh), Jamaal Lascelles (foot), Ryan Fraser (groin), Isaac Hayden (knee), Karl Darlow (knee)

Sheffield United injuries

QUESTIONABLE: George Baldock (knock), Sander Berge (undisclosed) | OUT: Jack O’Connell (knee), Billy Sharp (groin), Oliver Burke (foot), Oliver McBurnie (foot), Ethan Ampadu (groin)

Southampton injuries

OUT: Che Adams (groin), Ryan Bertrand (calf), William Smallbone (knee)

Tottenham Hotspur injuries

OUT: Japhet Tanganga (shin), Ben Davies (calf)

West Bromwich Albion injuries

QUESTIONABLE: Matheus Pereira (undisclosed) | OUT: Robert Snodgrass (back), Branislav Ivanovic (thigh)

West Ham United injuries

QUESTIONABLE: Arthur Masuaku (knee), Manuel Lanzini (groin), Lukasz Fabianski (undisclosed)

Wolverhampton Wanderers injuries

OUT: Raul Jimenez (head – out for season), Pedro Neto (knee – out for season), Daniel Podence (adductor), Jonny (knee – out for season), Owen Otasowie (knock)

Aston Villa – Everton, stream live! How to watch, odds, prediction

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Aston Villa – Everton is a tasty clash on Thursday (start time 1pm ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) as the Toffees try and keep themselves in the hunt for European qualification.

STREAM ASTON VILLA – EVERTON LIVE

Villa have missed Jack Grealish badly in recent weeks, as they have won just two of their last 10 games. But one of those wins did come away at Everton just 10 days ago. Anwar El Ghazi was the hero for Villa on that occasion and Dean Smith will be keen for their season to finish with a flourish as they aim to seal a top 10 finish.

As for Everton, Carlo Ancelotti’s men are still in the top four battle and this is their game in-hand. If they win at Villa they will be just three points behind fourth-place Leicester and will have a game in-hand on the Foxes. Dominic Calvert-Lewin was the hero last time out as they won at West Ham and Ancelotti has said all season long that European qualification is the aim. Everton would gladly take a Europa League spot but maybe, just maybe, they can sneak into the top four.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Aston Villa – Everton.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]  


Team and injury news

Aston Villa are without the injured duo of Morgan Sanson and Trezeguet, while Ollie Watkins is suspended after being sent off in the defeat to Manchester United. Jack Grealish returns on the bench after a lengthy spell out.

Everton are without Jean-Philippe Gbamin who has picked up a knee injury, as his rotten luck with injuries continues. Yerry Mina and James Rodriguez are both out.


Odds and ends (full odds provided by our partner, PointsBet)

Aston Villa are the slight underdogs at +165, with Everton favored at +155. The draw is at +235.

PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links


Prediction

This will be a tight, tense clash but given the fact that Villa will be missing Watkins and Grealish, plus Everton have improved defensively, go for a narrow Everton win here. Aston Villa 1-2 Everton.


How to watch, stream and start time

Kick off: Thursday, 1pm ET
TV Channel: NBCSN
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com

10 things we learned in the Premier League – Matchweek 34

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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.

VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Let’s get to it.


1. Aguero rolls back the years (Crystal Palace 0-2 Manchester City): Seeing Sergio Aguero score just his second Premier League goal since January 2020 was comforting. The way he expertly controlled then fired home on the half-volley reminded us of his incredible quality and the Argentine striker, if fit, still has lots to offer. It won’t be at City, as he will leave at the end of this season and clubs will be lining up to sign the free agent, but Aguero’s sharpness in the box sparked this game into life. He will surely play a big role as they aim to win the Champions League, and if they reach the final that will be his final game in a City shirt. Everything is set up for a late Aguero winner to seal glory (we’ve seen that before) and injury issues aside, it would be a perfect way for him to go out. (JPW)

2. Speaking of rolling back the years… (Tottenham 4-0 Sheffield United): Longtime Tottenham fans will remember Gareth Bale first as the dynamic left winger who torched Maicon (and plenty of other right backs) with near-sprinter speed, as well as the right winger cutting in from the right side to curl and smash beauties and beasts home from the edge of the penalty area. On Sunday, nearly eight years after he left for Real Madrid, Bale fully showed how different he is as a player, operating as a de facto second striker who makes runs off Harry Kane, to his first stint at the club. It’s a similar role to how Son Heung-min has operated the last few seasons alongside Kane, only slightly more direct and a lot more powerful with a full head of steam. The truth about Bale is somewhere in between scoring a Premier League hat trick and not being good enough to play for long periods of the 2020-21 season. (AE)

3. Tuchel is working (Chelsea 2-0 Fulham): It would be over-simplifying to say that Thomas Tuchel has fixed everything, as perhaps this is just the case of players like Havertz and Werner getting used to the Premier League (as well as both Christian Pulisic and Hakim Ziyech getting healthy). And, yes, Frank Lampard made it pretty easy to “fix” the defense by not playing Antonio Rudiger and under-deploying Cesar Azpilicueta. But Chelsea is a force at the back, with Man City the only team allowing fewer goals than the Blues. That’s incredible considering Chelsea had scored 33 goals and allowed 22 in PL play when Lampard was fired. Tuchel’s team has a 20-8 advantage since his hiring, and that includes a 5-2 loss with 10 men. (NM)

4. Iheanacho shows his set-up side (Southampton 1-1 Leicester): The Nigerian striker has collected a handful of assists each season but all anyone’s been talking about is his 14 goals in 14 matches coming into Friday’s match at St. Mary’s. But his cross to tie the score at 1 was very pretty and it’s notable that his assists-per-game is slightly higher at Leicester than it was at Manchester City. (NM)

5. Aston Villa depth steps up in Grealish’s absence (Everton 1-2 Aston Villa): Dean Smith surely wants another offseason to fortify his troop depth, because the Jack Grealish injury absence has definitely shown that the Villans attack is not driven by one man. Villa isn’t deep enough to snare a European place but El Ghazi’s show-stopping winner and Watkins’ industrious opener both showed that — along with John McGinn and the injured Trezeguet — there are pieces here. Yes, of course, Grealish drives the boat, chief. The 25-year-old is still tied for third in the PL for assists despite being out since Feb. 13, and Villa has 12 goals in that span… three of them coming against Fulham. Villa now has 48 goals this season. Grealish has the goal or assist for one-third of them and casts a big shadow, but Watkins’ 13 goals are more than all but six PL players this season. (NM)

6. Return to normalcy for Aubameyang (Newcastle 0-2 Arsenal): It’s very on-brand for this year in our world and Arsenal’s history that Aubameyang stop-start season featured three-straight PL absences with malaria. His assist was a lucky one on Sunday but his goal vintage Auba, and he’s perhaps quietly scored 10 goals in league play this season.

The Gunners are unbeaten across all competitions this season — seven wins, two draws — when Aubameyang gets a goal or an assist. (NM)

7. Europe a bit too far for Bielsa’s first PL voyage (Brighton 2-0 Leeds): Leeds will need to get to the summer for supplies (and health) after showing that Bielsaball can work in the Premier League. It took him some time to sort out his defense and injuries to Kalvin Phillips, Robin Koch, and Raphinha played big roles in what could’ve been a top seven finish. The continued growth of Illan Meslier and more comfort in England for Raphinha, Rodrigo, and Diego Llorente could make the club a force next season. (NM)

8. Everton too bad to be good, too good to be bad (Everton 1-2 Aston Villa): Carlo Ancelotti’s men must be tired or simply unable to operate at peak production without James Rodriguez, who was a late scratch from the lineup. There’s no other excuse for the misfiring Richarlison, sloppy Mason Holgate, or hung out to dry Jordan Pickford. Of course Calvert-Lewin found his goal and Lucas Digne was good as usual but this Everton team that showed so much promise early has thrown away Champions League hope as well as perhaps a Europa League place. The Toffees have taken just four of six points from Liverpool and Tottenham but just one point from Burnley and none from Newcastle. Infuriating.

And what could this have looked like had Ross Barkley not helped his old pals get on the scoreboard at his former home? (NM)

9. Fulham finished (Chelsea 2-0 Fulham): Scott Parker’s Cottagers continue to infuriate, boasting just four of their last 24 available points but getting that quartet against Liverpool and Arsenal. Fulham now maxes out at 39 points, which means that the Cottagers would have to win out while Brighton, Southampton, Burnley, and Newcastle would pretty much all have to fail to win another match (Fulham could, in theory, draw a match and find their way out since there are matches where that quartet face each other and could draw. It’s not a question of who returns to Craven Cottage. If Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa, Alphonse Areola, and Joachim Andersen are willing to play Championship football, this could be a force of a team. If not, many answers must arrive for the London set. (NM)

10. Quiet Magpies can’t muster more magic (Newcastle 0-2 Arsenal): The loss was Newcastle’s second in nine matches, joining two wins and five draws. The accumulation of results by hook and crook have helped the Magpies to a nine-point cushion over the bottom three, but safety is not assured yet because Leicester City and Man City are next on the fixture list and Fulham’s there on the final day. Fulham has Burnley and Southampton next before a meeting with Manchester United, who will have second-place sealed by then. Regardless of the unlikelihood of a Newcastle relegation, being thoroughly dominated by a substandard Arsenal should further underscore the need for a change in leadership. (NM)

Follow @AndyEdMLS