Following the latest round of Premier League action we look at five things we learned from the weekend fixtures.
Title race poised perfectly after Anfield epic
Liverpool and Arsenal produced one of the games of the Premier League season, a chaotic clash that saw four goals evenly shared and the title race blown open.
Arsenal looked set to end their Anfield hoodoo after dominating the opening exchanges, with goals from Gabriel Martinelli and Gabriel Jesus handing the Gunners a two-goal lead. It looked like Arsenal were set to pass the latest test of their title credentials with flying colours, but back came Liverpool to rescue a point.
ONE OF THE BEST DRAWS YOU MIGHT SEE ALL SEASON 🤯💥
Liverpool vs. Arsenal delivered! pic.twitter.com/Om0jcvyGFk
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) April 9, 2023
Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino’s 87th-minute header earned the Reds a point, but Jurgen Klopp was left baffled as to how his side failed to take all three. A combination of bad luck, incredible goalkeeping and wasteful finishing saw Liverpool squander a host of chances late on and Arsenal hang on for a point.
It’s a result which leaves the title picture poised perfectly, with the Gunners six-points ahead of Manchester City having played a game more. City boast a superior goal difference and host Arsenal at the Etihad later this month. Both teams now know the Premier League is in their own hands.
City clicking into gear ahead of run-in
Manchester City appear to have found their form at the perfect time this season, with Pep Guardiola’s side thrashing Southampton to record an eighth consecutive win in all competitions.
That run has seen City score 31 goals and concede just three times, with Kevin De Bruyne back to his brilliant best, Erling Haaland racking up record numbers and Jack Grealish creative, cutting, and now at home in City colours. That trio combined to devastating effect as City swept aside Southampton this weekend, producing a punishing performance to increase the pressure on the struggling Saints.
— Manchester City (@ManCity) April 8, 2023
City have both momentum and experience on their side in the Premier League run-in, while their outstanding recent form has raised optimism ahead of Tuesday night’s blockbuster with Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals.
The Bundesliga champions will pose a formidable challenge to City’s quest for a maiden European triumph, but no side will fancy facing Guardiola’s team on current form. Slick, sharp and with a free-scoring focal point who appears unstoppable right now, the tools are there for City to be crowned champions of England and Europe.
Centuries up for Son and De Bruyne
There were some memorable milestones in the Premier League this weekend.
Erling Haaland added more records to his ever-growing collection, as the Manchester City forward became the fastest player to reach 30 goals in the division. His brace at Southampton also saw the Norwegian equal the record for most goals scored for a Premier League club across all competitions in a single season (44).
There were landmark moments for two of the Premier League’s longer-serving superstars. Kevin De Bruyne became just the fifth man to reach a century of assists in the Premier League and the fastest ever to achieve the feat. De Bruyne has now recorded 100 assists in just 237 appearances, breaking Cesc Fabregas’ record by 56 games.
Kevin De Bruyne reaches 100 assists in the Premier League.
No player has done it in fewer games (237) 🎁 pic.twitter.com/zLR9vuEmAU
— B/R Football (@brfootball) April 8, 2023
Frank Lampard (102) and Wayne Rooney could be passed before the end of the season, leaving De Bruyne chasing down Fabregas (111) and Ryan Giggs (162) as the most prolific creator the Premier League has seen.
There was another century celebrated in north London, as Son Heung-min became the 34th member of the Premier League’s 100 club. It’s been far from a vintage season for the South Korean, but a stunning effort from distance helped earn Spurs a 2-1 win over Brighton and brought up a century of Premier League goals.
The 30-year-old is also the first ever Asian footballer to score a 100 goals in the division. In the most watched domestic league in world football, he has been a trailblazer for the sport on his home continent.
— Premier League (@premierleague) April 8, 2023
Seagulls sore after VAR drama
Brighton’s hopes of gatecrashing the top four suffered a damaging blow at Spurs, as Roberto De Zerbi’s side lost 2-1 in north London.
The Seagulls dominated the game for large periods and were on the wrong end of some bad luck and bad decisions. Brighton saw two goals contentiously disallowed for handballs, as Kaoru Mitoma and then Alexis Mac Allister saw efforts ruled out. The latter in particular was painful, with debate as to whether the ball struck Mac Allister’s hand after Danny Welbeck’s effort deflected in off his teammate.
“Complete incompetence from VAR” 😳
— Match of the Day (@BBCMOTD) April 8, 2023
Worse was to come however, as Brighton saw TWO clear-cut penalty appeals turned down. First Mitoma was brought down inside the box, with Refereeing body PGMOL having since admitted Brighton should have had a penalty for Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s tackle on the Japanese winger.
There were also strong claims from the Seagulls as Lewis Dunk had his shirt pulled inside the penalty area, but the club’s appeals were waved away.
Goals from Son Heung-min and Harry Kane earned Spurs all three points and De Zerbi – sent off after a touchline fracas between both sets of coaching staff – can rightly feel robbed.
Brighton could have been a point behind Spurs in fifth, with two games in hand, with a win. Instead, they’re now outside the top six. An apology from PGMOL does not quite feel adequate.
Hodgson has got Palace performing
Roy Hodgson’s return to Crystal Palace was viewed by some as a backwards step, as the Eagles parted company with Patrick Vieira to bring back their former manager until the end of the season. Vieira had impressed during his debut season at the helm, but a 12-game winless run saw the Frenchman sacked as Palace plummeted towards the bottom three.
Hodgson was appointed and the Premier League’s oldest ever manager has had an instant impact. Last weekend Palace broke their winless run with a come-from-behind win over Leicester, before the Eagles again showed their powers of recovery – and then some – against Leeds on Easter Sunday.
Crystal Palace have picked up more points in their first two games under Roy Hodgson (6) than in their final 11 PL matches under Patrick Vieira (5):
◉ 2-1 vs. Leicester
◉ 1-5 vs. Leeds
The new manager bounce moves the Eagles six points clear of the relegation zone. ⬆️ pic.twitter.com/dUBYBLEV4n
— Squawka (@Squawka) April 9, 2023
Palace fell behind to Patrick Bamford’s fine header, before Marc Guehi levelled on the stroke of half-time. The second half belonged to one team, as Palace starved Leeds of possession and cut through the home side with alarming ease. Eberechi Eze was excellent on and off the ball and Jordan Ayew clinical, while Michael Olise was outstanding to provide three second-half assists in a 5-1 win for the visitors.
Hodgson has brought the best from Palace’s creative cast and their win at Leeds was emphatic. Back-to-back victories have put invaluable distance between the Eagles and the bottom three.
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(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by PostX News and is published from a syndicated feed.)