Premier League: 10 talking points from the weekend’s action

Estimated read time 9 min read


Impetuous Liverpool lose control

If emotion is carrying Liverpool towards a glorious farewell to Jürgen Klopp, then Old Trafford required cooler heads. Harvey Elliott’s point-rescuing contribution as substitute stood out because, for all his energy, he played with intelligence, seeking to progress the ball and tempting Aaron Wan-Bissaka into conceding a penalty. The likes of Dominik Szoboszlai and even usual pass-master Alexis Mac Allister had allowed a red mist to consume them. Luis Díaz, Mohamed Salah and Darwin Núñez – a modern “Crazy Horse” yet more madcap than Emlyn Hughes – were also guilty of impetuousness. On the sidelines, Klopp himself looked in danger of exploding, particularly after Kobbie Mainoo was granted space to score. With so little time in between matches, minds as tired as the legs, little wonder nerves are fraying. Liverpool must hope Manchester City and Arsenal develop the same anxieties that allowed what should have been an easy win at Old Trafford to slip away from them. John Brewin

  • Match report: Manchester United 2-2 Liverpool

Kobbie Mainoo curls home United’s second goal.View image in fullscreen


Postecoglou makes right call

Ange Postecoglou’s significant half-time intervention against Nottingham Forest moved Tottenham closer to next season’s Champions League and showed he is not afraid to take decisive action when required. Postecoglou rightly said Spurs lost their way following Chris Wood’s first-half equaliser, and it could have become a deeply uncomfortable evening after Forest dominated the latter part of the first half. Postecoglou hooked Yves Bissouma and Pape Sarr, with Pierre-Emile Højbjerg and Rodrigo Bentacur injecting energy in midfield. Such was the collective improvement, though, it was easy to imagine a particularly fiery half-time in Tottenham’s dressing room. Postecoglou said last week that success is about more than generating Champions League cash, and pointed out that qualification may make things more challenging next season. As he seeks fresh investment, the chairman, Daniel Levy, doubtless takes a different view, and the manager’s decisiveness ensured a meaningful step towards Uefa’s most lucrative competition. Luke McLaughlin

  • Match report: Tottenham 3-1 Nottingham Forest


Familiar frailties cue Frank response

Brentford throwing away their lead and having to make do with a draw at Aston Villa presented the perfect opportunity for Thomas Frank to be hit with an age-old post-match question. Was it a point gained or two lost? A pregnant pause followed. “We’ve dropped more points [from winning positions than any other Premier League team] so I’m happy that we’re still No 1 in that stat,” he said, sarcastically. “No, I’m not happy. It is a fine point but I think it is two dropped.” Brentford have squandered a league-high 30 points from winning positions and their failure to kill games means they remain at risk of relegation, particularly after Everton and Luton picked up wins. Brentford, however, have a favourable run-in and victory at home to the bottom club, Sheffield United, on Saturday would go a long way to securing another season in the top flight. Ben Fisher

  • Match report: Aston Villa 3-3 Brentford

Aston Villa’s Ollie Watkins scores to make it 3-3.View image in fullscreen


Havertz fires up Gunners again

Kai Havertz’s transformation into the leading man that Arsenal have been yearning for has been one of the biggest factors in their consistency since the turn of the year. The German has five goals and four assist in his past seven Premier League starts and was at his very best during the win over Brighton on Saturday as Arsenal warmed up in style for Tuesday’s Champions League quarter-final first leg at home to Bayern Munich. Arteta and the captain, Martin Ødegaard, spoke after about how they always had faith that Havertz would prove the doubters wrong after his surprise move from Chelsea in the summer and that was being rewarded. “We saw straight away the quality that he had,” said Ødegaard. “It was just about getting it out and you can really see that now with how much he is giving to the team, not just with goals and assists. He’s given us so much and I’m really happy for him.” Ed Aarons

  • Match report: Brighton 0-3 Arsenal


Fresh City prepared for Madrid test

Rodri’s withdrawal with 15 minutes to play at Selhurst Park represented a risk for Pep Guardiola, considering the midfielder’s talismanic status. The last time Rodri suffered any defeat was losing to Scotland when playing for Spain in March 2023. A first half including a couple of uncharacteristic errors had shown that even the very best can get tired, only for the anchorman to then play a leading role in City’s surge to lead 4-1. With Real Madrid looming, Guardiola wanted to “reduce the minutes” of players such as Rodri, having decided to opt for “fresh legs” in his starting lineup. With Kyle Walker and Nathan Aké doubtful for the Bernabéu, Guardiola’s toughest choice is whether Ederson, on the bench at Palace, replaces Stefan Ortega, who has done little wrong as stand-in keeper. “I have to think about it,” said Guardiola. “Eddy feels good but I have to decide if there’s a lack of rhythm.” JB

  • Match report: Crystal Palace 2-4 Manchester City


Totemic Branthwaite blunts Burnley

It wasn’t difficult to single out Jarrad Branthwaite from a dreadful spectacle at Goodison Park but praise for the young Everton defender carried significantly more weight when coming from Vincent Kompany. “That kid,” as the beaten Burnley manager described the 21-year-old, was chiefly responsible for thwarting the visitors before and after Dara O’Shea’s red card, with his perfectly timed challenges, intelligent interceptions and calm distribution the only genuine highlights of Everton’s performance. “I’m not saying it because he’s a young defender,” said one of the finest centre-halves of his day, “and it’s important to stay away from the hype sometimes, but it’s an objective analysis. It was a performance where my strikers did so well and he gets back so well. Sometimes his teammates get beaten and he reads it to go and cover. It’s a side of the game he has that is really promising for the future.” It is a future that is likely to lie away from Goodison this summer given Everton’s dire finances, and involve the European Championship with England. Andy Hunter

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  • Match report: Everton 1-0 Burnley


Up and down Fulham lacking purpose

Are Fulham on the beach? A challenge for European football was possible when they thrashed Tottenham and moved to 39 points last month. Since then, though, they have rescued a 3-3 draw at Sheffield United, lost badly at Nottingham Forest and thrown away three points against Newcastle. Maybe it is simply inconsistency. Yet similar happened at the end of last season and supporters are entitled to have concerns about their team’s mentality. Are Fulham, who are safe from relegation concerns, a little too comfortable? Will Marco Silva, who does not have the biggest budget, start to get itchy feet again? What happens if João Palhinha leaves? Of course, such concerns flare in the wake of a difficult run. Fulham are a dangerous, creative team and could easily regain their momentum. But after starting well against Newcastle, they felt flat during a second half in which Silva’s substitutions did not work. Jacob Steinberg

  • Match report: Fulham 0-1 Newcastle

Fulham’s head coach Marco Silva gives instructions from the touchline during his side’s 1-0 loss to Newcastle.View image in fullscreen


Emotions run high for happy Hatters

In beating Bournemouth Luton buried the ghost of their most painful defeat of the season. Losing 4-3 at the Vitality after leading 3-0 at half-time exposed that for all their endeavour, Rob Edwards’ team are nothing like too good to go down. On Saturday, Carlton Morris’ 90th-minute strike snatched a first win since January, a long wait in which only in losing 6-2 to Manchester City and 4-1 to Liverpool have they been exposed for a gulf in class. A victory celebrated with high emotion was made especially important by Everton ending their own winless run. That club waits on a potential further points deduction that could draw them down to Luton’s level. Luton meanwhile must sustain their effort levels. If Manchester City next week looks a tall order, Brentford, just four points clear, at Kenilworth Road in a fortnight rings out as a six-pointer. JB

  • Match report: Luton 2-1 Bournemouth


Negativity returns for Chelsea

Sheffield United and Chelsea posted reaction from their respective managers on X after the draw at Bramall Lane. Chris Wilder’s interview was nearly seven minutes long, while Mauricio Pochettino’s lasted a mere 28 seconds. That tells you which manager was happier with a point. Arsenal went to Sheffield in early March and won 6-0 – it easily could have been 10 – so in comparison this 2-2 draw is a fair reflection of how far Pochettino’s outfit are from challenging the best teams in the division. Chelsea’s manager trotted out the usual, about players being disappointed and frustrated, and the euphoria of last week’s 4-3 victory against Manchester United has swiftly been forgotten. “It never felt all afternoon [like] the situation that we’re in, which is incredible,” Wilder said of the positive vibes from home fans. The atmosphere will not be so upbeat when Everton visit Stamford Bridge next Monday. LMc

  • Match report: Sheffield United 2-2 Chelsea


Tactical tweaks catch Cooper’s eye

Among the 31,504 in attendance at Molineux there was a certain Steve Cooper. The former Nottingham Forest manager was in the directors’ box, enjoying the touchline tactical tinkerings. Gary O’Neil used the full-back Rayan Aït-Nouri as a No 10, and David Moyes made two half-time changes that turned the match in West Ham’s favour. Cooper did an excellent job at Forest and will be eager to return to work at the earliest opportunity if the right offer is made. O’Neil’s impressive season at Wolves has seen him linked to other jobs and if he moves on then Molineux may be a possible destination for Cooper. The future of Moyes is also somewhat up in the air and if he leaves West Ham the former Swansea manager will probably feature high on their shortlist. Clearly Cooper is doing his research to make sure he is across as much of the Premier League as possible. No one knows where the next job is coming from, so he has to make sure he is ready. Will Unwin

  • Match report: Wolves 1-2 West Ham

Pos Team P GD Pts
1 Arsenal 31 51 71
2 Liverpool 31 42 71
3 Man City 31 40 70
4 Tottenham Hotspur 31 20 60
5 Aston Villa 32 17 60
6 Man Utd 31 -1 49
7 West Ham 32 -4 48
8 Newcastle 31 13 47
9 Chelsea 30 3 44
10 Brighton 31 2 43
11 Wolverhampton 31 -5 42
12 AFC Bournemouth 31 -10 41
13 Fulham 32 -4 39
14 Crystal Palace 31 -18 30
15 Everton 31 -10 29
16 Brentford 32 -13 29
17 Nottm Forest 32 -16 25
18 Luton 32 -20 25
19 Burnley 32 -35 19
20 Sheff Utd 31 -52 16


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