football

10 Premier League highlights from weekend as Arsenal claim Tottenham triumph


As the Premier League season reaches its business end, it’s fair to say the big guns are turning up the heat.

Manchester City moved closer to reclaiming their top-flight crown with an emphatic win over Fulham, who remain in the bottom three amid a fiercely-competitive relegation scrap.

Indeed, the Cottagers will have felt further pain after seeing relegation rivals Newcastle, Brighton and Burnley all gain morale-boosting points over the weekend.

But, perhaps the most entertaining fixture of the weekend took place in north London on Sunday, where Arsenal bounced back to claim bragging rights over fierce rivals Tottenham.

Elsewhere, Manchester United battled to secure a victory over West Ham while Chelsea and Leeds played out a dull goalless draw.

Here, Mirror Football brings you 10 talking points from the weekend’s Premier League action…

1. Arteta shows ruthless side



Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on the substitutes bench
Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on the substitutes bench

Mikel Arteta has not revealed what the nature of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s disciplinary indiscretion was but the Arsenal manager made a bold call in dropping his star player for the north London derby against Tottenham.

The Gunners boss showed he can be ruthless but, while the squad will now know the consequences for stepping out of line, it was nevertheless a gamble.

In the short term it could have cost Arsenal the game and, in the longer term, there is the risk his relationship with a key player could fracture.

It was a brave and admirable call by Arteta who could have been castigated by the fans had Arsenal not recovered from conceding an Erik Lamela wonder strike to win 2-1 with goals by Martin Odegaard and Alexandre Lacazette, the second a penalty.

A vibrant display also proved Arsenal can prosper without their skipper who apparently took his medicine in good faith, later posting on social media: “North London is red, and that’s it!”

2. Man City not resting on laurels



Manchester City overcame Fulham over the weekend
Manchester City overcame Fulham over the weekend

Manchester City may have looked like champions-in-waiting for some time but, with Pep Guardiola’s side chasing an unprecedented quadruple, they showed no complacency against Fulham.

They may not have been at their dominant best in the first half at Craven Cottage but they ultimately eased to a convincing 3-0 win.

They will also take plenty more from the game. Guardiola played a different system with two centre-forwards in Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus both involved, as well as three centre-backs.

He also got 90 minutes and a goal out of Aguero as the Argentinian continues his drive to recover full match sharpness.

All this could prove beneficial for crucial knockout games in the weeks ahead.

3. Man Utd thriving from squad depth



Manchester United also produced a match-winning performance against West Ham
Manchester United also produced a match-winning performance against West Ham

Manchester United will not challenge old foes Manchester City for the Premier League title but a top-four finish looks within reach after an industrious 1-0 win over West Ham.

United have shown the kind of grit to grind out results which they often lacked under manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s predecessors, with squad depth playing a big part.

With Edinson Cavani and Anthony Martial injured and Marcus Rashford looking half-fit after a knock, it was 19-year-old Mason Greenwood who stood out against the Hammers.

Solskjaer will welcome the international break in the last week of March in a bid to make a final push for the runners-up spot as United also aim to win the Europa League and FA Cup.

4. Fernandes continues to dictate



Bruno Fernandes in action against West Ham
Bruno Fernandes in action against West Ham

It is very much the same story with United going forward – is Fernandes on song

When the playmaker plays well so do his team, but when he’s slightly off it its very apparent.

The onus placed on the Portuguese star is justified given his talent, but also an issue.

Rashford returned from injury against West Ham and looked slightly off the pace meaning the hosts were lacking a spark at times.

Their lack of a willing centre forward remains a problem that will need to be addressed.

A battling win will please Solskjaer, but the Red Devils could’ve been out of sight at half-time if they had an attack that was firing on all cylinders given the freedom they enjoyed.     

5. No strikers, no goals for Chelsea



Kai Havertz played as a false nine in Chelsea's draw with Leeds
Kai Havertz played as a false nine in Chelsea’s draw with Leeds

Thomas Tuchel remains unbeaten in 12 games as Chelsea manager and, while the German has got most things right since replacing Frank Lampard, starting with no genuine strikers in Saturday’s 0-0 draw at Leeds United left him open to criticism.

Timo Werner and Olivier Giroud were on the bench while Tammy Abraham was injured, Tuchel playing Kai Havertz as a false nine.

While Chelsea did create chances, this was a third 0-0 draw since Tuchel took charge and they have scored only 13 goals in that time.

Defensively they look watertight, although Leeds did hit the woodwork, but Tuchel may need to take a few more risks to make sure his side clinch a place in the top four.

6. Pulisic fails to take chance



Christian Pulisic (R) was handed his chance to impress Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel
Christian Pulisic (R) was handed his chance to impress Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel

Christian Pulisic had been yet to start a game under Tuchel.

It came as a surprise given that the American played under his current manager when they were both at Borussia Dortmund.

His constant omission has led to suggestions that he would be sold with reports linking him with Manchester United.

But in the Leeds draw, Pulisic was handed a chance to impress in a reshuffled formation that did away with wing-backs and converted back to conventional full-backs.

It meant the American was able to influence proceedings in the final third, but he will certainly enjoy more productive afternoons.

7. Wilder’s exit raises eyebrows



Chris Wilder's Sheffield United exit was confirmed on Saturday night
Chris Wilder’s Sheffield United exit was confirmed on Saturday night

For whatever reason, Sheffield United’s second season back in the top flight has been a miserable episode with the team spending the campaign at the bottom of the table.

Relegation has appeared a formality for weeks, yet respect around the game for manager Chris Wilder was undiminished and many argued that he would be the best man to get them back up next season, having earned two previous promotions.

Yet Wilder left on Saturday after five years in charge and with him went any remaining spirit the club had, as proven by a 5-0 hammering at Leicester, United’s worst defeat of the season.

8. Misery piles on for Southampton



Southampton endured another disappointing result, this time against Brighton
Southampton endured another disappointing result, this time against Brighton

Every season a club that starts well embarks on a downward spiral but Southampton’s descent has been spectacular.

Sunday’s 2-1 home loss to Brighton was their 10th in the last 12 league games – a period in which they have managed only four points, easily the worst in the division.

The end of the season cannot come soon enough for Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side who, while seven points clear of third-bottom Fulham, might have to be saved by the bell.

“There was no power, no energy in the team,” said the Austrian, whose side have not won at home since beating champions Liverpool in early January.

9. Zaha makes his own stand against racism



Wilfried Zaha became the first Premier League player not to take a knee before kick-off

Crystal Palace star Wilfried Zaha became the first Premier League player not to take a knee before kick-off.

The 28-year-old decided to stand ahead of Saturday’s match with West Brom at Selhurst Park, to highlight more needs to be done in the fight against racism.

Zaha revealed last month when speaking at the Financial Times’ Business of Football summit he would no longer perform a gesture which has become familiar with top flight players, officials and staff since Project Restart in June.

After returning from a hamstring injury earlier this month, he appeared off the bench at Tottenham last weekend before Palace manager Roy Hodgson included the Ivory Coast international in his starting XI to face the Baggies which gave the winger his first opportunity to stand.

When referee Simon Hooper blew his whistle at Selhurst Park to signal players, officials and staff could take the knee before kick-off, Zaha stood while the rest of his team-mates and those in the West Brom starting line-up took the knee.

10. Iheanacho sparks Foxes



Leicester City's Kelechi Iheanacho celebrates his hat trick with the match ball
Leicester City’s Kelechi Iheanacho celebrates his hat trick with the match ball

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More than six years have passed since Manchester City applied for a work permit for a then 18-year-old Kelechi Iheanacho arguing that, even though he was not a full Nigeria international, he was a ‘special talent’.

It did not work out for him at the Etihad Stadium, however, and it has also taken him time to find his feet at Leicester since his move in 2017.

Yet his current form underlines what they may have seen in Manchester all those years ago and could not be better timed for the Foxes.

His hat-trick against Sheffield United, extending his scoring streak to three successive games, brought Brendan Rodgers’ men three valuable points as they bid to consolidate a top-four place.





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