Following the latest round of Premier League action we look at five things we learned from the weekend fixtures.
Gordon gives Everton hopes
Everton end the weekend in the bottom three as the threat of relegation grows larger, but there were positives to take from a Merseyside Derby showing in which the Toffees frustrated a title-chasing Liverpool for long periods.
Anthony Gordon, as he has been for much of a breakthrough season, was Everton’s most impressive performer with the winger causing problems with his speed and willingness to run at defenders.
The 21-year-old was booked for a first half dive inside the box and had a second call for a penalty contentiously turned down, with Gordon continually exploiting the space in behind Trent Alexander-Arnold at Anfield.
The winger has shown a tendency to go to ground easily in recent weeks but he will learn with experience and has been a bright spark in a season otherwise lacking much light at Goodison Park.
If Everton do go down, Gordon has the talent and attitude to be a major part of their rebuild next season.
Guimaraes looks the real deal
Sitting just behind Liverpool and Manchester City in the form table are Newcastle, whose miraculous escape from the Premier League’s relegation places continued with a 3-0 win at Norwich this weekend.
It’s now four wins in a row for the Magpies who are up to ninth in the division, with only the division’s top two having taken more points across their last 12 games.
No side had previously been winless after 14 games and survived, but Newcastle are set to do so in comfortable fashion and on current form are in line for a top-half finish.
Pure class. 👌🇧🇷 pic.twitter.com/xQoGgM2Lff
— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) April 23, 2022
The club’s January recruitment has proven shrewd and the signing of Bruno Guimaraes has added real quality to their ranks. The midfielder was excellent, again, at Norwich and capped another impressive performance with an audacious goal, showing composure and quality to scoop the ball over Tim Krul after first intercepting the goalkeeper’s wayward pass.
Bigger clubs than Newcastle had considered Guimaraes before his move to St James’ Park and there might just be some regretting their failure to take a chance on the Brazilian.
Divock Origi and the art of coming in cold
Divock Origi is unlikely to be a Liverpool next season, with the forward set to move on to pastures new when his contract expires at the end of the season.
The Belgium international has not started a Premier League fixture this season, but again demonstrated his knack for turning games off the bench against Everton this weekend.
Divock Origi absolutely loves the derby, doesn’t he 😍
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) April 25, 2022
Within two minutes of his arrival as a substitute he had played a crucial role in the game’s opening goal, after Liverpool had struggled to break down Everton for the first hour of the Merseyside Derby.
He was then in the right place to head home a second, extending his record to six goals against Everton with only Steven Gerrard having netted more for Liverpool against the Toffees in the Premier League era.
His contribution followed a stoppage-time winner off the bench against Wolves in December and a vital impact as a substitute as Liverpool came from behind to beat Norwich in February.
He now has more goals (6) than starts (5) in all competitions this season and Liverpool – despite their increased depth in the final third – will miss Origi’s ability to change games with little rhythm.
Ten Hag’s task a seismic one
If Erik ten Hag was not aware of the scale of task awaiting him at Manchester United, the club’s back-to-back defeats to Liverpool and Arsenal this week will have made it clearer.
United are almost certain to miss out on Champions League qualification after losing to top four rivals Arsenal this weekend, a scenario that could damage Ten Hag’s ability to both attract and afford key targets this summer.
Disjointed and disinterested in recent performances, the minimum the fans will demand of the incoming manager is the creation of a side that the support can relate to.
Erik Ten Hag’s Record at Ajax:
⚽️ 210 Matches
✅ 156 Wins
🤝 25 Draws
⛔️ 29 Losses
🟢 +400 Goal Difference
🏆 5 Trophies
Manchester United’s New Manager. 👹👹👹 pic.twitter.com/sUaNFN5Jer
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) April 21, 2022
There is no shortage of issues at Old Trafford at present, with perhaps no more than a handful of names certainties to remain a part of the Dutchman’s plans moving forward.
United are in disarray and a season of disappointment is finishing without as much as a whimper, each performance reemphasising the size of the task – and element of risk – facing Ten Hag in the Premier League.
Clarets change the right call?
Sean Dyche’s departure from Burnley caused surprise earlier this month, despite Burnley’s precarious position in the Premier League’s relegation places.
Dyche, for so long, had had the Clarets punching above their weight in England’s top tier and their struggles this season were largely viewed as a comeuppance for their lack of investment as opposed to any stagnation under the long-serving and popular former manager.
Since Dyche’s exit Burnley have found their form under u23 manager Mike Jackson, however, climbing out of the Premier League’s relegation places after taking seven points from nine games.
🗣️ "All the players, all the staff, everybody involved in the club and then to top that off you've got the response from the fans which has been unbelievable. It's been a good day and a good week."
— Burnley FC (@BurnleyOfficial) April 24, 2022
This weekend’s 1-0 win over Wolves was a performance filled with hard work and tenacity, traits which had been somewhat lacking for much of a challenging campaign at Turf Moor.
Back-to-back wins and clean sheets have now raised genuine hope of survival despite Everton’s game in hand and a clash with 19th-place Watford this weekend provides Burnley with a chance to move further clear of trouble.
All good things eventually come to an end and perhaps Burnley’s brave call on ending a decade with Dyche will prove the right one.