We were treated to a cheeky extra slice of Premier League football this week as Tuesday and Wednesday brought a full fixture schedule to take us out of February. There was plenty of drama and quality action once again, here’s a look at five things we learned from game week 28.
Chelsea get much needed tonic despite headline omission
It’s been nothing but doom and gloom for Maurizio Sarri and Chelsea of late. From headline grabbing drubbings, to cup final defeats and outright player mutiny, things have not been pleasant of late at The Bridge.
However, on Wednesday night there was finally some cheer for Chelsea fans as they secured a massive victory over Spurs. Goals from Pedro and an outrageous Kieran Trippier own goal helped them move on from their shoot out agony at Wembley.
It was a considerably improved performance which will go some way to boosting morale and Maurizio Sarri’s confidence. The Italian also responded strongly and correctly to Kepa Arrizabalaga’s public defiance as he left the young Spanish keeper on the bench in favour of Wily Caballero. Make no mistake; this was a huge victory for the West Londoners as they look to salvage the remainder of their season.
Liverpool respond to Old Trafford malaise
Jurgen Klopp will have been privately seething with his side’s performance at Old Trafford during the 0-0 stalemate with Manchester United. The league leaders were clumsy, ponderous and lacking in ideas as they faced a decimated United, who were there for the taking.
High flying Watford came to town on Wednesday night in a fixture that on current form, didn’t look so straight forward for Liverpool.
However, the hosts sent out a resounding response to recent criticism with a phenomenal performance and 5-0 victory to boot. Trent Alexander-Arnold, restored to right back, was outstanding as he patrolled his flank with menace and skill; bagging himself a hat-trick of assists as Watford were torn apart. They will have sterner test than this Liverpool, but boy, did they and their supporters need that as they stay top of the Premier League with 10 to play.
Newcastle storming up the table and out of trouble
It’s amazing what a few weeks and a new signing can do to a team. For most of this season to date, Newcastle looked in real danger of being sucked into that final relegation place as they limped through the autumn and winter in dire form.
However, recent results have seen Rafa Benitez’s men fly up the league and away from the danger zone. On Tuesday night, the Magpies were in brilliant form once again as they eased past Burnley, who were themselves, fresh from beating Spurs 2-1.
New boy Miguel Almiron delighted once again with his pace and hunger on the break, whilst Sean Longstaff and Fabian Schar bagged a brilliant goal each, with the latter’s a real goal of the season contender. There are shoots of recovery now on Tyneside. The question is; will it be enough to keep Rafa on board this summer?
Southampton win to open up relegation fight
Speaking of the relegation dog fight, The Saints have been wobbling of late and were in dire need of a big result as Fulham came to the South Coast.
Despite being under the cosh somewhat in the first half and enjoying just 36% of the ball, Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men nicked two vital goals to take charge of proceedings. No doubt Fulham’s already fragile confidence was shattered after that as they slumped to a 19th defeat of the season.
Southampton leapfrog Cardiff into 17th and draw level with Brighton after this result, on 27 points, albeit having played a game more.
This was a massive victory though that really keeps things wide open between three sides at the wrong end of the table. Hasenhuttl will know his side can play much better, but yesterday was crucial after four games without a win in the league.
Arsenal show top four quality with thumping win over Bournemouth
It is perhaps a sign of just how far Arsenal have fallen as a force in the Premier League, that they were considered by all, to be the rank outsiders for a top four spot this season. While it’s true, that Emery has not yet fixed all of The Gunner’s issues, he does deserve immense credit for what he’s done so far.
His side made it four wins from five games, with a resounding 5-1 victory over Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth at The Emirates. It was a display of pure dominance, it was Arsenal at their brilliant best, with five different scorers hitting the back of the net.
They pulled and ran their opponents ragged and will take a huge boost from this result ahead of that all-important North London derby on Saturday.
Manchester United still edge them in terms of genuine top four quality, but they are where they deserve to be at the moment and remain ahead of their old foes in fourth place as they eye a Champions League return.