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Premier League: Five things we learned from Matchday 22

Following the latest round of Premier League action we look at five things we learned from the midweek fixtures.

Can Palace keep hold of ‘£50m players’?

Chris Wilder was honest in his assessment of Sheffield United’s 3-2 defeat at Crystal Palace, admitting his team had been undone by the Eagles’ superior talent. Eberechi Eze and Michael Olise combined for all three goals, with the quality on show evidence of the talent depth of the Premier League.

Palace fought off interest in the attacking duo during the summer, but continued performances of this calibre will make that an impossibility in the coming windows. Eze was a sensational watch against Sheffield United, combining street-footballer silk with devastating end product, including a left-footed strike blasted into the top corner.

Olise is equally as mesmeric to watch in full flow and now has nine goal involvements in eight Premier League starts. Since returning from injury, he has been at the centre of Palace’s performances and has shown signs of being able to produce elite-level numbers.

Expect significant interest in the summer and Wilder was right in his assessment. In this inflated market, each can command £50m fees – at a minimum.

Matheus Nunes getting better in blue

Kevin De Bruyne’s return has hogged the headlines at Manchester City, but an eye-catching performance from Matheus Nunes will have pleased Pep Guardiola just as much.

The summer signing from Wolves has taken time to get up to speed at the Etihad but showed he can have a crucial contribution across the run-in. Nunes was excellent in a midfield three alongside De Bruyne and Rodri, where his dynamism and bursts from midfield can open up avenues to exploit.

The Portugal international’s powerful surge into space created the opening goal, as he showed his speed in behind and crossed for Julian Alvarez to head home. Nunes was full of poise and possesses an ability to glide away from the opposition when under pressure, boasting all the attributes to be an exciting cog in the City machine.

This was much, much better.

Chelsea miles away from Premier League’s best

If ever there was evidence of how far Chelsea have fallen from the top of the Premier League, this was it. Yes, the Blues were unfortunate with two strong penalty appeals that were turned down, but Mauricio Pochettino’s side were humbled at Liverpool in midweek.

Liverpool eased to a 4-1 win that could, and should, have been much more, with Darwin Nunez missing a penalty and hitting the woodwork on a Premier League record four occasions.

Liverpool’s 28 shots on goal was the joint-most any side has had in a Premier League match against Chelsea (since the data was first collected in 2003/04), with 13 finding the target, also a record.

The West London side’s £221m midfield of Enzo Fernandez and Moises Caicedo were second-best throughout, struggling against the intensity of the Liverpool press. This was an ominous display, ahead of a Carabao Cup final meeting between the teams later this month, where Chelsea will need to greatly improve to avoid embarrassment at Wembley. Defeat also continued a poor run on the road, with the Blues having now lost six of their last seven away from home in all competitions.

Werner proves his worth

Some sneered when Spurs signed Timo Werner this month, with the forward returning to English football after an underwhelming spell at Chelsea. Werner’s fortunes had hardly improved since leaving London for former club RB Leipzig, where despite a productive campaign last term he fell out of favour.

Ange Postecoglou believed Werner could complement his team and in the absence of Son Heung-min, the German is proving to be an astute addition. After an assist on debut at Manchester United, Werner produced his best performance in a Spurs shirt so far as the North Londoners came from behind to beat Brentford.

After a mixed first half, he came alive in the second, as Spurs scored three times in eight minutes. First, he linked up well with Destiny Udogie for the equaliser, before racing away to set up Brennan Johnson for the second. Full of endeavour and with the pace to pose a real problem on the break, Werner could prove plenty wrong under Postecoglou’s management.

The graft and craft of Alexis Mac Allister

When Alexis Mac Allister signed for Liverpool in the summer, he probably didn’t envisage he’d spend much of his debut campaign anchoring the Reds midfield.

Handed the number ten shirt and with the promise of more defence-minded arrivals to come, it hasn’t quite panned out as expected. Wataru Endo arrived late in the window, after failed bids for Mac Allister’s ex-Brighton teammate Moises Caicedo and Romeo Lavia. The Japan international has become a fan favourite, though a slow start and Endo’s current absence at the Asian Cup have added defensive responsibility to Mac Allister.

The World Cup winner has shown a side to his game that will please Jurgen Klopp, however, thriving with a tenacious approach in recent fixtures. The 25-year-old was outstanding against Chelsea in midweek, winning 11 duels and eight tackles, and dominating his midfield battle against the £221m duo of Moises Caicedo and Enzo Fernandez.

Tenacity and technique combined, he completed 90.1% of his passes and was at the centre of an impressive Liverpool performance. The Argentine’s adaptation to the demands of a Klopp midfield has been evident.

Most tackles made by a Liverpool player in a Premier League game in the last three seasons:
◉ 9 – Alexis Mac Allister vs. Bournemouth (2024)
◉ 8 – Alexis Mac Allister vs. Chelsea (2024)
And he won 25 duels across those two matches. 💪
— Squawka (@Squawka) January 31, 2024

Read – Premier League Team of the Week – Matchday 22

See more – Five Premier League youngsters who have seized their chance this season

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