The Premier League’s heralded return rumbled on this week with fixtures being crammed in left, right and centre after months of hiatus.
It was a potentially seismic week of football at both ends of the table with teams fighting tooth and nail for precious points. The title could have potentially been wrapped up neatly over the course of this week’s fixtures if results went the right way for Liverpool.
Here is a look at five things we learned from the best of the mid-week action.
Liverpool are crowned champions to end 30 years of pain
After a drab Merseyside derby last weekend, Liverpool responded in emphatic style with a thumping win over Crystal Palace on Wednesday night.
The Reds put in one of their most complete performances of the campaign as they overwhelmed Roy Hodgson’s men. They defended the half-way line as though it were the edge of the penalty area as Fabinho marshalled the troops on the field, and for the first time since detailed stats began in 2008, Liverpool prevented a side from gaining a single touch in their penalty area.
0 – Crystal Palace failed to record a single touch in the opposition box against Liverpool, the first side to do so in a Premier League match since Opta have full data for this statistic (2008-09). Distancing. pic.twitter.com/RwP8BUul3E
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 24, 2020
The win took the Reds to within two points of the title. They still needed Chelsea to stop Manchester City on Thursday night and were duly rewarded as Pep Guardiola’s men fell to a 2-1 defeat at Stamford Bridge to hand Liverpool their first-ever Premier League title and end a painful 30 year wait to once again be crowned champions of England.
Pulisic leads the charge for Chelsea in their quest for Champions League football
The headlines after this game may have all been about Liverpool, but Chelsea’s win over City on Thursday night could be crucial for their own long-term ambitions. Indeed Chelsea supporters will be encouraged by the form of their 21-year-old attacker Christian Pulisic who has looked unshackled and refreshed since the restart.
The United States international opened the scoring after his composed finish punished some sloppy play by Benjamin Mendy on the half-way line. He was always a threat on the counter and probably should have doubled his tally on the night, but saw his effort superbly hacked off the line after he’d rounded Ederson in the City goal.
Chelsea are set up nicely to be one of the most easy-on-the-eye teams in the league with their current crop of attacking players and with the supremely talented Pulisic still evolving, as well as the imminent arrivals of Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner, the future could be very bright indeed at The Bridge.
Lifeless West Ham in big trouble after Spurs defeat
When you are down in a relegation scrap, you desperately need someone, somewhere on the pitch to provide a moment of inspiration and get you a result. For West Ham such a scenario seems like a distant hope rather than a planned objective under David Moyes.
Against Spurs on Tuesday, they were simply far too conservative as they tested Hugo Lloris on just two occasions, though Jarrod Bowen did hit the post late on in the second-half. However, they have now registered just four shots on goal in two matches since the restart and look dangerously limp when they should be fighting for their lives to stay in the division.
They have now also lost seven consecutive league away games for the first time in 14 years – a run which could well drag them down to the second tier.
🗣 "I can't believe they've ruled that as a goal, who's on VAR tonight? they need subbed, not very good"
David Moyes is furious with VAR tonight 😡 pic.twitter.com/Po8VRePinj
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) June 23, 2020
Anthony Martial leads the line for free-flowing Manchester United
For much of the season, Manchester United‘s failure to recruit adequate forward players has been a sticking point for supporters and pundits alike. However, their resounding 3-0 victory over Sheffield United on Wednesday meant the Red Devils have now won their last four home games in all competitions with an aggregate score of 13-0.
The icing on the cake of this result was the club’s first league hat-trick in the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era with Anthony Martial in red hot form against the Blades. The French attacker linked up expertly with Marcus Rashford and was impossible to contain in a hungry display that saw him apply three very tidy finishes.
His current tally of 19 goals in all competitions is his best return since he joined the club. It is a purple patch that could well help propel United into the top four over the next few weeks.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) June 25, 2020
Eddie Nketiah shows his poachers instincts for the Gunners
It may have been a monumental error from Southampton keeper Alex McCarthy but Eddie Nketiah showed he has the vital instincts to be in the right place at the right time to pounce on an error and covert it into a precious goal.
The jury may still out as to whether the Arsenal youngster can be a viable first-team option in the long term, but with such a stark shortage of goalscorers when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is taken out of the equation, Nketiah’s predatory instincts may be a very useful tool for Mikel Arteta to utilise.
No team has had more goalscorers aged 20 or under in the Premier League this season than Arsenal:
🇧🇷 Gabriel Martinelli
🏴 Eddie Nketiah
🏴 Joe Willock
Youthful promise. ✨ pic.twitter.com/GsZ6uZPgcy
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) June 25, 2020
The youngster has now notched six goals from 11 starts in all competitions this season, including his loan spell at Leeds United in the Championship.
With seven games remaining, he has a fair chance to build on a solid season and stake a claim for a first-team place next term.