Following the latest round of Premier League action we look at five things we learned from the weekend fixtures.
Guardiola’s gamble ensures title initiative with City
Pep Guardiola sprang a surprise with his line-up for Manchester City’s crucial clash with Liverpool, choosing Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus as part of his front three and leaving leading scorer Riyad Mahrez and record signing Jack Grealish on the bench.
In a high-stakes game it was a decision that proved vindicated as Jesus provided problems throughout for Andy Robertson, whilst the Brazilian found the perfect time to ghost in and score his first Premier League goal since September.
Pep Guardiola says he's not friends with Jurgen Klopp … but there's nothing but respect between the two 🤝 pic.twitter.com/JcDhZR9H5P
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) April 10, 2022
Jesus and Sterling each worked tirelessly as City dominated the opening exchanges and the champions will not be too disheartened despite twice letting leads slip to draw.
Guardiola’s industrious attacking options found gaps left behind by Liverpool’s front-footed full-backs, as the Spaniard sought an approach to both negate and exploit Jurgen Klopp’s system.
The draw means its as you were at the top of the Premier League with Guardiola’s side a point ahead, but with more favourable-looking fixtures than Liverpool during the run-in the destination of the title is firmly in their own hands.
The Reds will keep trying, but the initiative is with City in a Premier League title race that could once again go down to the wire.
Toney pushing for England call-up
Ivan Toney has found his feet in the Premier League and his strong finish to the season will raise hopes of international recognition, with the Brentford forward having scored eight goals across his last eight Premier League appearances.
Having won the League One and Championship Golden Boots across the last two seasons, his rapid rise has continued with an excellent campaign in the top division.
— Premier League (@premierleague) April 11, 2022
Toney’s 12 league goals this season make him the joint-leading English scorer in the Premier League alongside Harry Kane and his recent form could propel him into Gareth Southgate’s thoughts ahead of the Three Lions’ summer fixtures.
Tammy Abraham’s superb season at Roma means he is likely to be granted a chance if fit, but Toney has done enough to put himself in contention.
Ollie Watkins’ inconsistency and Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s struggles have opened a door for alternatives and Southgate should use the summer to assess Toney’s credentials as the World Cup fast approaches later this year.
He has 16 goal involvements from 26 starts in the Premier League this season.
Kulusevski has turned Spurs’ deadly double-act into terrific trio
Tottenham have long leaned on Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min for inspiration, but the arrival of Dejan Kulusevski has been the perfect compliment to the club’s deadly duo.
Kulusevski arrived at Spurs from Juventus in January as Antonio Conte sought to improve his squad, deals for Adama Traore and Luis Diaz having collapsed before the loan signing of the Sweden international.
The 21-year-old has taken no time to find his feet in the Premier League and has emerged as one of the signings of the season, scoring three goals and providing six assists in just nine league starts.
Tottenham’s last four league games:
GF 14 GA 2
▪️ Kane: one goal, seven assists
▪️ Son: six goals, one assist
▪️ Kulusevski: one goal, three assists
— B/R Football (@brfootball) April 9, 2022
He scored one and made another in the 4-0 thrashing of Aston Villa and has added an injection of quality into the Spurs attack, possessing fine footwork and deceptive strength.
Spurs have won six of their last seven and have scored 25 goals across those fixtures, their new-look front three having gelled superbly and currently leading the side towards Champions League qualification.
Rodgers’ rebuild can centre around Dewsbury-Hall
Brendan Rodgers has faced plenty of challenges over the course of the campaign at Leicester, with the Foxes having struggled to mount another crack at the Premier League’s top four.
Amid the club’s injury issues and inconsistent form has been the emergence of Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, with the academy product having been arguably Leicester’s Player of the Season in his first campaign at this level.
▶️ 𝑵𝒐𝒘 𝒑𝒍𝒂𝒚𝒊𝒏𝒈: A Dewsbury-Hall masterclass 🧨 pic.twitter.com/gS28Z1kfgb
— Leicester City (@LCFC) April 10, 2022
The 23-year-old won a wealth of individual club awards following an impressive loan spell at Luton last season, before taking his chance to become a key cog in Leicester’s midfield.
Dewsbury-Hall was outstanding in the 2-1 win over Crystal Palace this weekend, creating Ademola Lookman’s opening goal with a brilliant turn and defence-splitting through ball.
The midfielder then scored a stunning second with a fierce effort into the top corner and it was telling that Dewsbury-Hall was one of the few to remain in a rotated side as Leicester kept one eye on their Europa Conference League clash with PSV Eindhoven.
Already integral and growing in influence, Dewsbury-Hall is another uncapped name who will be hoping to catch Gareth Southgate’s eye and looks set to be a cornerstone of Rodgers’ refresh at the King Power Stadium.
Turning point for Lampard?
How Frank Lampard needed this result.
Everton had lost seven of the previous nine Premier League games under his management and his credentials were being questioned from all angles ahead of Manchester United’s visit to Goodison Park.
The midweek defeat to Burnley had placed Everton’s safety in huge danger, but a 1-0 win over the Red Devils – coupled with Burnley’s loss at Norwich – has provided vital breathing room once again.
Frank's fist pump ✊
Vitalii's celebration 💙
Pure emotion 😍 #EVEMUN
— Everton (@Everton) April 10, 2022
Everton were far from perfect, but this was an encouraging performance in which the Toffees battled to three points with Vitaliy Mykolenko enjoying his best game in the club’s colours and the returning Fabian Delph excellent in midfield.
Everton’s run-in means their survival is far from assured, though this showing can be built on as Lampard looks to turn around the club’s fortunes.
The Toffees face Leicester (twice), Liverpool and Chelsea in their next four, a difficult run of games that their levels will need to be raised for to secure precious points.