It was a huge week for Arsenal and a good week for Manchester United and Liverpool as the only “big six” teams to pick up three points as the Premier League continued its festivities this weekend.
The Gunners moved away from Brighton and Man United beat Wolves, as Arsenal now lead the league by seven points and could have a 10-point advantage when Man City take to the field. Liverpool also defeated Leicester and continued their way in the competition.
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That’s why the second-placed Citizens dominated Everton – Erling Haaland scored again – but were canceled out by a Demarai Gray beauty to join Chelsea in the draw and beat Tottenham as the top teams to drop points. Third-placed Newcastle continued their unbeaten ways but failed to convert many chances to equalize with Leeds heading into a big test at Arsenal on Tuesday.
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So what does it all mean?
Here’s a look at 10 things that emerged (as week 17 continues on Tuesday and Wednesday), as our writers Joe Prince-Wright (JPW), Andy Edwards (AE), and Nicholas Mendola (NM) observe. they share the most. last PL games.
10 things we learned from the Premier League: Week 18
1. Arsenal send a new, threatening headline message to fans (Brighton 2-4 Arsenal): Mikel Arteta’s men will not be happy with their defensive wobble as they lead 3-0 to 4-1 at the Amex, but the mark they gave to the rest of the league in this six-goal thriller is high. Arsenal can now lose both of their Premier League fixtures to Manchester City and still control their title destiny, an idea that seemed far-fetched and crazy before the season just a year ago. The Gunners have scored the second most goals in the league (Man City) and have the second best defense (Newcastle). There is no question that the Gunners should now be considered a team capable of winning the Premier League. Wow. Get in there, Gooners. (NM)
2. Everton defends with nine, 10, 11; making life very difficult for Man City (Man City 1-1 Everton): The three center backs are almost always at home with the two full backs. The three central midfielders work almost exclusively in their own half. Toffees centre-forward Dominic Calvert-Lewin had 15 touches of the ball in 70 minutes, more than half of which came inside the Everton half. It was poor and negative football from Frank Lampard’s side, and it was effective in giving Manchester City little time or valuable space inside the penalty area. Riyad Mahrez’s stunning set-up for Man City’s goal was notable only because it was he who broke Everton’s defense on the day. The final xG ratio improved from Man City, 2.04 to 0.09. Less than one-tenth for Everton. 598 passes completed, 183. 16 shots, 2 percent. 74 possessions, 26. Oops, one goal, one. (AE)
3. Marcus Rashford returns from ‘internal discipline’ bench (Wolves 0-1 Man Utd): Marcus Rashford was left out of the starting XI after arriving late for a meeting, but he makes a welcome return as he came off the bench to take United into the Premier League’s top four. He has been in sensational form for club and country this season and especially in recent months. Asked after the game by BT Sport if Rashford had given the right answer to being sent off, the United manager was in a happy mood. “That’s the right reaction.” Asked if this was the end of the matter with Rashford, here’s what the United manager said: “Of course. Everyone has to follow the rules and values. If you work like that, that’s the right answer.” (JPW)
4. Conte could move quickly as sluggish Spurs lose more ground (Spurs 0-2 Aston Villa): Yes, Tottenham are missing Dejan Kulusevski, Rodrigo Bentancur, and Richarlison but Tottenham should have a lot more going for them than this show. They looked disinterested from the start, although we have learned from them that they start games lightly and then roar in the second half. In the second half they were even worse this time. Antonio Conte has yet to announce his future beyond this season. He doesn’t really believe that Tottenham will give him his team to be successful in North London. There is a malaise at Spurs surrounding the uncertainty of Conte’s future. They need January additions but they also need the commitment of their manager. If they don’t arrive soon then they should part ways as soon as possible. (JPW)
5. Chelsea fail to win at the top, as Boly’s Forest bully a point (Nottingham Forest 1-1 Chelsea): Raheem Sterling got his goal, but he will be bemoaning his lack of presence on the scoresheet as the wide men created chances but the scorers were nowhere to be found in the blue shirts. USMNT star Christian Pulisic joined Sterling who was lively from the start. He dribbled into his own half before rising right to put Chelsea ahead early in the match, soon after delivering a cross that headed for Sterling with a dart around the left of the Forest backline. Kai Havertz had 48 touches but Willy Boly joined him and the Forest centre-back was ready to challenge at the other end when he crossed Pulisic – with his hands in the American’s face – and headed a second ball towards Aurier shook Havertz’s back. the cleanup effort went straight through the air. Graham Potter may strengthen in other positions, but the continued development of a centre-back – Havertz seems the best bet – must be achieved if Chelsea are to be in the top four. (NM)
6. Unbeaten Newcastle and Leeds’ Meslier, Adams leads the rest (Newcastle 0-0 Leeds): Newcastle burned some great chances wide or on the frame – Sean Longstaff’s two efforts are the most notable examples – and Illan Mesler claimed a full force of crosses. Leeds got good performances from Liam Cooper and Robin Koch and indeed when Rasmus Kristensen came on for Luke Ayling. But the real star was Tyler Adams, who handled the challenge of Bruno Guimares and Miguel Almiron well. The USMNT man had nine saves and created a pair of chances (according to Fotmob), one of the few Leeds players to make such a claim on the day. (NM)
7. Wout Faes’ sick day leads to Liverpool’s win (Liverpool 2-1 Leicester): Leicester City backed Wout Faes’ first goal in the 38th minute, as he curled an effort from Trent Alexander-Arnold’s cross over goalkeeper Danny Ward’s head. Seven minutes later, Faes scored again, and the way he played it was no less painful to watch. Darwin Nunez lifted the ball over Ward but only found the far front face. The ball came back into play, on the way to Faes two meters from the goal line. In a quick attempt to clear the ball, Faes hammered it into the roof of the net and sent Anfield into a frenzy once again. The Foxes’ 1-0 lead turned on its ear, and Liverpool remained in charge. (AE)
8. The Bees learn from mistakes, continue with the buzz to make this early lead (West Ham 0-2 Brentford): For the second time in five days, Brentford started a fantastic game and went 2-0 up, but this time the Bees held on to secure a 2-0 win away to West Ham on Friday. Despite leading Tottenham 2-0 after half-time on Boxing Day, Brentford (23 points – 9th place) came away with just a point in a thrilling 2-2 draw. Thomas Frank’s men learned from their mistakes on Monday and turned in a perfect, 90-minute performance against West Ham. (AE)
9. Saints advance, Cottagers take all points (Fulham 2-1 Southampton): Southampton were unlucky to fall behind after a shot from James Ward-Prowse took a deflection and flew into the ball, and that’s the sort of thing that happens when you go down the table. The Saints hung in there to their credit and deservedly were almost comfortable with Ward-Prowse’s free-kick magic. Saints had chances to win it and looked very dangerous. But Nathan Jones will be devastated that his side are undone: a Fulham corner is awarded and the unheralded Palhinha scores. There were plenty of positives for Saints to take but with a massive home game against Nottingham Forest coming up on Wednesday, they simply need to win that to give them more belief that they can get out of the bottom three. (JPW)
10. Palace calm down, deserved win at Bournemouth(AFC Bournemouth 0-2 Crystal Palace): Patrick Vieira was devastated to see his team not only lose 3-0 to Fulham on Monday, but also finish the game with just nine men in a truly disastrous situation. Saturday’s result – and a performance to match it – will help allay fears after back-to-back defeats at Nottingham Forest and Fulham either side of the World Cup. (AE)