Manchester Metropolis moved 5 factors clear on the prime of the Premier League after beating Liverpool 4-1.
Backside membership Sheffield United misplaced 2-1 to Chelsea whereas fellow strugglers West Brom went down 2-0 at Tottenham and Newcastle held on with 9 males to edge Southampton 3-2.
Try my group of the week after which make your personal choices in the direction of the underside of the article.
Goalkeeper – Emiliano Martinez (Aston Villa)
Martinez: The free-kick from Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka was at all times going to be harmful. Martinez had seen his former team-mate convert them from this distance earlier than. However the Aston Villa goalkeeper’s save was wonderful. Martinez had a good strategy to journey to get to the shot, which was heading for the highest right-hand nook, however moved his toes brilliantly to get to the ball.
The Argentine has been excellent for Villa this season, with the exception of the current recreation in opposition to West Ham, once I thought he might need completed slightly higher. However, Liverpool’s Alisson has proven that even one of the best goalkeepers can have dangerous days.
Do you know? Martinez grew to become the third goalkeeper to maintain a clear sheet in his first two Premier League appearances in opposition to a membership he has beforehand appeared for within the competitors – after Shaka Hislop versus Newcastle (1998-99) and Mark Schwarzer in opposition to Middlesbrough (2008-09).
Defenders – Isaac Hayden (Newcastle), Lewis Dunk (Brighton), Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa)
Hayden: For me, Newcastle’s 3-2 win in opposition to Southampton on Saturday was the match of the day. The circumstances grew to become progressively worse however the high quality of soccer underneath the circumstances was simply large.
Newcastle performed with 10 males for half-an-hour and 9 males for 18 minutes – together with seven minutes of stoppage time – however miraculously held on for 3 factors.
Isaac Hayden was magnificent within the final 20 minutes of this fixture. His clearance off the road from a Danny Ings sliced shot was excellent. His capability to sense the hazard and maintain off the Saints bombardment was fairly sensible.
Do you know? Hayden has now performed extra Premier League video games in opposition to Southampton with out ever shedding than he has in opposition to some other facet within the competitors (P5 W4 D1 L0).
Dunk: You may’t go for very lengthy speaking about any form of Brighton success with out mentioning the identify of Lewis Dunk. In opposition to Liverpool his defending, or ought to I say blocking of pictures, was as soon as once more magnificent, as Brighton secured their first victory at Anfield since 1983.
Three days later, the Seagulls returned to the north-west of England and proceeded to play Burnley off the park. Dunk scored a terrific header however his group solely left with a degree. It did not do justice to Brighton’s efficiency – or that of their captain.
Do you know? Since Brighton have been promoted in 2017, Dunk has scored 9 Premier League targets, a determine solely three different defenders can higher (Marcos Alonso 14, Patrick van Aanholt 11, Virgil van Dijk 10).
Mings: Aston Villa have been run ragged by West Ham in midweek however recovered effectively in opposition to an Arsenal facet who lacked innovative. I do know Nicolas Pepe scored in opposition to Wolves final week however can Arsenal actually afford to depart somebody of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s class on the bench? I do not assume so.
Having received his group again on observe with some respectable outcomes, Mikel Arteta’s meddling once more. In the meantime, Tyrone Mings performed a masterful position in organising his troops and preserving the Gunners at bay.
Do you know? Mings made six clearances in opposition to Arsenal – solely Ezri Konsa made extra within the match (10).
Midfielders – Jesse Lingard (West Ham), Bruno Fernandes (Man Utd), Ilkay Gundogan (Man Metropolis), Phil Foden (Man Metropolis)
Lingard: What a press release of intent West Ham’s mortgage signing from Manchester United has made. His targets in opposition to Aston Villa have been effectively taken however his efficiency was fairly revealing. He could also be surplus to necessities at Previous Trafford, however given how little first-team soccer he has performed this season, Lingard has actually stored himself in good condition. He could not have had such an impactful match at Villa if he hadn’t.
His efficiency in opposition to Fulham a couple of days later was an extra indication of his focus. To have such an affect on a brand new group so quickly says volumes for the lad and flies within the face of his critics.
The large query is – can he stick with it?
Do you know? Regardless of this being simply his second Premier League look of the season, Lingard lined 11.26km for West Ham in opposition to Fulham – solely Tomas Soucek lined extra distance for the Hammers on Saturday (11.47 km).
Fernandes: It appears nearly inconceivable that Bruno Fernandes might be a part of a group that scored 9 targets in opposition to Southampton and solely get one for himself. It merely would not mirror the type of type he has been on this season.
His objective in opposition to Everton was way more like those we’re used to from the Portugal worldwide. What a pity United’s defensive frailties have but once more hampered their capability to benefit from the group’s – and particularly Fernandes’ – large firepower to collect wins.
No group could be anticipated to win the title if they’ve to attain 4 targets to win a match.
Do you know? Since Fernandes’ debut within the Premier League, solely Mohamed Salah (23) has scored extra Premier League targets than the Manchester United midfielder (21). In the meantime, solely James Ward-Prowse (5) has scored extra outdoors the field than the Portuguese (4).
Gundogan: In opposition to an outclassed Burnley, the motion by Manchester Metropolis’s Ilkay Gundogan was sensible – whereas his ball for Raheem Sterling to attain was even higher.
A couple of days later, Metropolis went to Anfield and took the champions aside. Having missed a penalty in a recreation of such significance, the Germany worldwide merely upped his recreation and instigated one of the best Metropolis efficiency at Liverpool for years.
Manchester Metropolis are on prime of the league and seem like a group who’ve discovered their urge for food for titles once more.
Do you know? Gundogan is now Manchester Metropolis’s joint-top scorer throughout all competitions this season (11, with Sterling), whereas Bruno Fernandes (18) is the one midfielder who has netted extra amongst Premier League gamers in all competitions this time period.
Foden: I’ve chosen Phil Foden in my group of the week however I need to confess I don’t see him being forward of Jack Grealish, James Maddison or Mason Mount. He’s undoubtedly gifted however at Manchester Metropolis, he’s surrounded by higher, extra gifted gamers. How can he not flourish – he is already gifted.
In the intervening time Foden, as was the case in opposition to Liverpool, places the ending touches to positive group performances, leaving the grown-ups reminiscent of Gundogan and Sterling and De Bruyne – when match – to interrupt the bow of the opposition. He is younger and has time however he is not able to take over from the adults simply but.
Do you know? Of all gamers to attain a minimum of 10 targets throughout all competitions inside the prime 5 European leagues this season, solely Erling Braut Haaland (20 years and 201 days) is at a youthful age than Manchester Metropolis’s Phil Foden (20 years and 255 days).
Forwards – Harry Kane (Tottenham), Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton), Raheem Sterling (Manchester Metropolis)
Kane: As a lot as I want to say it wasn’t so, Tottenham are in peril of changing into often called a one-man group. When Kane is within the facet, Tottenham look a distinct proposition. His team-mates comprehend it, the opposition comprehend it and the supervisor is aware of it. Son Heung-min is a top-class participant however even he has regarded misplaced with out his co-striker.
Kane regarded slightly rusty on his return to motion in opposition to West Brom however took his objective as if he was enjoying for his nation. It was the proper strategy to reintroduce the England captain and simply in time for the FA Cup fifth spherical. Spurs cannot afford to lose him for any size of time.
Do you know? Kane has now scored 208 targets in 317 appearances in all competitions for Tottenham, making him the joint-second highest scorer within the membership’s historical past alongside Bobby Smith (additionally 208 targets in 317 apps).
Calvert-Lewin: He could have scored his seventeenth membership objective of the season in opposition to Manchester United – however till final Wednesday, when he scored at Leeds, Dominic Calvert-Lewin had been going via a mini-barren spell within the Premier League.
The Everton striker scored the decisive objective at Elland Highway and salvaged a degree within the remaining seconds at Previous Trafford. What a dent it was to Manchester United’s title problem. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s face on the finish of the match was an image of shock.
Do you know? Solely Mohamed Salah (16) has scored extra Premier League targets than Dominic Calvert-Lewin this season (13).
Sterling: It was no coincidence that within the absence of Liverpool supporters, and with the intimidation issue eliminated, Raheem Sterling had arguably his finest recreation at Anfield since his departure to Manchester Metropolis. Fairly other than operating Trent Alexander-Arnold ragged, he pressured Fabinho to present away a penalty, scored Metropolis’s third objective and reminded everybody why he left Liverpool for Manchester Metropolis within the first place.
It wasn’t solely about profitable trophies, though the Premier League title is sort of actually heading again within the palms of Sterling and his team-mates, but additionally about changing into a greater participant. He is actually completed that and now wears the captain’s armband to show it.
Do you know? Sterling is barely the third participant to attain 100-plus targets in all competitions underneath Pep Guardiola in his top-flight managerial profession, after Lionel Messi (211) and Sergio Aguero (120).
The Crooks of the Matter
The sport is in disaster. Mohamed Salah’s open admission, after his two targets at West Ham in late January, that he doesn’t like VAR is an enormous indicator of what’s being mentioned in dressing rooms all through the Premier League. His Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson has additionally disapproved publicly of the way in which the expertise is getting used.
Nevertheless, the dismissal of Southampton’s Jan Bednarek at Manchester United, adopted days later by the sending off of West Ham’s Tomas Soucek at Fulham by the identical referee, can solely be described as incompetence on an unrivalled degree.
VAR was offered to the soccer public as one thing to help the officers of their determination making, not make it tougher.
But replays on Match of the Day clearly highlighted that neither Soucek nor Bednarek ought to have been despatched off. VAR insists that its proof is conclusive however it’s so poorly interpreted by Mike Dean, and a few of his colleagues, that it has put the sport on a collision course with gamers and followers.
Luckily, frequent sense prevailed when each Soucek and Bednarek’s crimson playing cards have been rescinded on attraction.
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