It was a tense and finely poised round of Premier League action this weekend as teams start to look anxiously over their shoulders or enviously up the league table. Here is a look at five things we learned from the best of the action.
Liverpool look to experience as James Milner saves the day against Bournemouth
Starting in his first match since January, Anfield stalwart James Milner put in a commendable shift at left-back for Liverpool as he helped his side recover from a harrowing first league defeat of the season.
His intervention to deny Ryan Fraser an equaliser in the second-half was a key moment in the match and one of the best goal-line clearances you are likely to see. With Adrian stranded and the ball looping towards the goal, the 34-year-old skipper raced back to somehow hook the ball away and keep his side in the lead.
It was an act as vital as a goal for the home side. The veteran may have been caught for pace a couple of times, including in the build-up to Bournemouth’s goal, but he showed the right spirit and mentality to help the Reds towards a record breaking 22 home wins in the Premier League.
That James Milner magic 😍 pic.twitter.com/L1fRJm0Ul0
— LFC USA (@LFCUSA) March 8, 2020
Dean Henderson proves he is England material with another fine display for Sheffield United
With Sheffield United’s splendid return to the Premier League showing no signs of slowing down, the Yorkshire outfit were indebted to yet another success story of their season, with Dean Henderson putting in one of the standout performances of the weekend during the Blades 1-0 over Norwich City.
The 22-year-old keeper made a series of wonderful and extremely brave stops to keep his side in front, following a frantic goal line scramble from a Norwich City corner. The youngster first got a strong hand to keep out Ben Godfrey’s header before getting his body in the way of Mario Vrancic’s stabbed follow up. Even then the ball fell generously for Josep Drimic who must have thought he’d bagged a precious goal, only for Henderson to again dive low with tremendous reflexes, to keep the ball out.
The Bramall Lane faithful were chanting “England’s number one” in gratitude to Henderson’s heroics as the game petered out. With nine games still to play, the on-loan Manchester United stopper has kept 10 clean sheets in 27 Premier League outings and is putting a fine case forward for some international recognition to follow what has been a wonderful maiden season in the top flight.
🔛🔥 this season.
Dean Henderson 👏 pic.twitter.com/VfUSvHvZO3
— Sheffield United (@SheffieldUnited) March 2, 2020
Allan Saint-Maximin earns his stripes for Newcastle during win over Southampton
Young French winger Allan Saint-Maximin has often cut a frustrated figure during a testing debut campaign in the Premier League. However, there is no doubt about the qualities that the youngster brings to the table despite struggling with his end product.
His ability was on display for all to see during an eye-catching, combative performance against Southampton on Saturday. Ruthlessly pouncing on a Yan Valery error, the French attacker closed in on goal to score the winner against a leggy ten man Saints rearguard. It was a confident finish to match an excellent 90 minutes for the 22-year-old who celebrated wildly.
Newcastle fans can breathe a sigh of relief as they ended a run of four matches without a goal in the league. With safety now more or less in the bag and an FA Cup run to enjoy, supporters may well start to look on with real optimism at the quality they possess in emerging young stars like Saint-Maximin.
Allan Saint-Maximin has completed 80 take-ons in the PL this season, more than any other U-23 player in Europe’s top five leagues.
Rewarded with his second goal of the season today. pic.twitter.com/NHvPY0cFiJ
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) March 7, 2020
Billy Gilmour shines for Chelsea as Everton are swept aside
Chelsea’s 18-year-old Scottish midfielder was thrown into the action against Everton after his eye catching display against Liverpool in the FA Cup earlier in the week. In place of the suspended Jorginho, the youngster put in another assured and impressive display at the base of the Blues midfield.
On Billy Gilmour:
Roy 🗣”I was at home with a cup of tea and a bit of chocolate, with no volume on and I got out of my seat and said who is this kid in midfield”
Gary 🗣”Wouldn’t it be easier to turn the sound on?”
Roy 🗣”I didn’t want to listen to the commentators” 🤣 pic.twitter.com/aB1FBv9932
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) March 8, 2020
The former Rangers man was excellent in the build up to Mason Mount’s opener and once again looked a composed presence in the centre of the park. Hugely impressive is the midfielder’s ability to always pick the right pass and his desire to play the ball forward whenever the opportunity presents itself.
Gilmour completed 74 passes during the 90 minutes, the most of any other player on the pitch, a stat which underscores the great excitement milling around West London regarding this talented young star.
Ederson errors ruthlessly punished as toothless Manchester City suffer derby woe
Manchester United put in arguably their best performance of the season to secure a huge victory over their noisy neighbours on Sunday. To a man, United defended with bravery and discipline. Going forward on the counter, they looked far more dangerous than City who were ponderous in possession at times as they failed to break through United’s deep lines.
In the end, it was City’s usually top-class keeper Ederson who handed United their advantage, after failing to stop a fairly routine shot from Anthony Martial in the first half following Bruno Fernandes’ clever free-kick. It was also his woeful throw out to Benjamin Mendy, while his goal was unguarded in stoppage time, which allowed Scott McTominay to smash home from distance with an exquisite finish to punish the Brazilian.
The game was done either way at this stage but City fans will be alarmed to see their keeper faltering, particularly at a time when their defence looks so vulnerable.