Following the latest round of Premier League action we look at five things we learned from the weekend fixtures.
Lacklustre Liverpool exposed again
Just when it appeared that Liverpool had turned a corner, Jurgen Klopp’s side were brought back down to earth with a thudding bump.
Liverpool’s 7-0 thrashing of Manchester United last weekend had stunned the Premier League, a result that will be remembered for decades to come as the club’s arch-rivals were embarrassed at Anfield. In a season littered with frustration, it had been billed as a performance to kick-start a strong end to the season, as Liverpool’s new-look frontline finally clicked into gear during an unforgettable second 45 minutes on Merseyside.
Less than a week later, however, Liverpool’s top four hopes were dealt a major blow. Few had anticipated an upset as the Reds travelled to a Bournemouth side sat bottom of the division, a team who were thrashed 9-0 in the reverse fixture earlier in the season.
Liverpool lose to 20th place Bournemouth.
What a difference a week makes 😅 pic.twitter.com/g0qQow2UwD
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) March 11, 2023
Liverpool failed to find a breakthrough despite a bright start on the south coast and the fragility which has summarised their season was evident once again as the Cherries’ confidence grew. Dango Ouattara was a menace to the visitors, while Philip Billing stamped his authority on a lacklustre midfield. Bournemouth’s breakthrough came as the former squared for the latter to convert, having breezed past Virgil van Dijk in a concerning passage of play.
The Dutch defender has looked some distance from his best this season, the aura he once possessed over Premier League forwards having now all but evaporated. His nonchalant attempt to stop Ouattara proved costly, as Liverpool crashed to a defeat which leaves them six points outside the Champions League places.
Richarlison found himself in the headlines this week after appearing to criticise Antonio Conte in an interview with Brazilian TV, voicing his frustration with his minutes during an underwhelming debut season at Spurs.
The Brazilian, signed from Everton in a deal which could reach a club-record £60m, has failed to score a league goal for the north Londoners and has started just eight league games. Conte recalled Richarlison for the 3-1 win over Nottingham Forest and the forward responded with a timely performance that will do his chances of more regular football no harm.
What a performance, @richarlison97 👏
📊 @KumhoTyreUK pic.twitter.com/1ukj1ucXYu
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) March 11, 2023
The 25-year-old came within fractions of scoring his first Premier League goal for the club, as a tight offside decision denied him following a fine finish. He continued with endeavour and effort and was involved in almost all of Spurs‘ best moments, battling well in the build-up to Harry Kane’s opener. A burst of pace then invited Joe Worrall’s clumsy challenge to win Spurs a penalty which Kane converted, before Richarlison turned provider for Son Heung-min to score the third.
Conte did not mince his words when agreeing with Richarlison’s assessment of his ‘s***’ debut campaign, but this was a performance full of positives as he looks to establish himself as a key figure in the manager’s plans.
Potter’s perfect week
Is the tide beginning to turn for Graham Potter at Chelsea?
The former Brighton boss has been forced to navigate some rather troubled waters since replacing Thomas Tuchel, with the pressure building following an underwhelming start to his tenure. The knives were sharpened further after a disastrous derby defeat at Spurs last month, but Chelsea have since responded with three consecutive wins.
Three wins on the bounce.
Graham Potter is turning things around at Chelsea 💪 pic.twitter.com/V63uprGsGx
— ESPN UK (@ESPNUK) March 11, 2023
A narrow victory over Leeds last weekend improved fragile confidence, before a comeback win over Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League booked a place in the competition’s quarter-finals.
The mini-revival continued with an away win at Leicester this weekend, as Ben Chilwell came back to haunt his former side and Kai Havertz ended his wait for a Premier League goal. With winter arrivals Mykhailo Mudryk and Enzo Fernandez providing assists, it was a positive performance from Potter’s side and one which will offer encouragement moving forward.
A top four finish appears ambitious, but the run-in will be about integrating and improving Chelsea’s expensively assembled squad. Potter’s philosophy was always expected to take time to implement and the club’s recent run of wins might just have bought the head coach some much-needed patience.
Trossard proves his worth
Leandro Trossard became Arsenal’s Plan B during the January transfer window, after Chelsea swooped in to steal top target Mykhailo Mudryk from under the noses of their London rivals.
Trossard has instead proven an excellent signing for Mikel Arteta and his recruitment team, a Premier League proven talent who has added an injection of quality into the club’s title challenge. The Belgian was outstanding as Arsenal restored their five-point advantage at the top of the Premier League this weekend, producing a performance of creative quality as the league leaders swept aside Fulham at Craven Cottage.
Trossard became the first player in Premier League history to provide three assists inside the opening 45 minutes of an away fixture, while he is just the third Arsenal player – after Thierry Henry and Robin van Persie – to produce a hat-trick of Premier League assists on the road.
3 – Leandro Trossard is the first player in Premier League history to make a hat-trick of assists in the first half of an away game. Trio. pic.twitter.com/kQKI0zRtA3
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) March 12, 2023
It was a display which highlighted the value Trossard has brought to Arsenal’s forward line, as he crossed for Gabriel and Gabriel Martinelli to head home at Fulham, before picking out Martin Odegaard for the Gunners’ third. It’s now five assists in five league starts for Trossard since his arrival from Brighton, while only Kevin De Bruyne and Bukayo Saka have created more goals in the Premier League this season. In today’s inflated market, his £27m arrival represents brilliant business for the north Londoners.
Casemiro’s costly red?
Manchester United were held to a goalless draw at home to Southampton this weekend, as the club’s top four hopes suffered a setback against the struggling Saints. Erik ten Hag’s team were forced to play for almost an hour with 10 men, after Casemiro was sent off for a challenge on Carlos Alcaraz.
The Brazilian’s red card was his second in just three Premier League outings and leaves him staring down the barrel of a four-game domestic suspension. Given his influence on the side this season, that will represent a major headache for Ten Hag as he looks to guide his side back into form after two league games without a win or goal scored.
Casemiro had never received a straight red card in his career before joining Man Utd.
He now has two in his last three Premier League games pic.twitter.com/XZ3cPqggG6
— B/R Football (@brfootball) March 12, 2023
United host Fulham in the FA Cup quarter-finals next weekend, before tough tests against top four rivals Newcastle (A), European hopefuls Brentford (H) and an Everton side finding defensive discipline under Sean Dyche (H).
How the Red Devils plug the gap left by Casemiro’s absence will be crucial to their hopes of a Champions League return. Ten Hag’s team are in pole position to return to Europe’s elite, but have little room for error as the chasing pack hunt down a place in the top four.
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