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Premier League weekend: Five things we learned

Following the latest round of Premier League action we look at five things we learned from the weekend fixtures.

Crisis? What crisis?

Manchester United’s fixture with Luton was billed as a must-win for the under pressure Erik ten Hag, with a nightmare start to the season having continued with a Champions League collapse at Copenhagen in midweek.

That defeat made it nine losses in 17 fixtures in all competitions for Manchester United, the club’s highest number of defeats at this stage of a season since the Red Devils were last relegated in 1973/74.

Victor Lindelof was the surprise hero as Ten Hag’s team edged a 1-0 win at Old Trafford on Saturday, with the Swede scrambling home a winner inside the area. The optics, again, were far from satisfactory as United struggled to break down the Hatters in a disappointing attacking performance, but this was another Premier League game in which United found a way to win. It’s now four wins from their last five Premier League games, with no team in the division having taken more across that period.

Ten Hag, meanwhile, has now recorded 30 wins in his first 50 league games in charge, a return only five managers in the division’s history can better. Statistics can paint pictures that are not always accurate, but Manchester United have upwards, if unconvincing, momentum right now.

Big Six fed to the Wolves

Wolves have become the bogey side of the ‘Big Six’ this calendar year.

Trips to Molineux have not brought much reward for the Premier League’s big boys, with only Liverpool – who were also beaten at the venue earlier in the year – having emerged with a result in 2023.

Gary O’Neil’s team trailed for 88 minutes during their clash with Tottenham this weekend, after Brennan Johnson fired the visitors ahead inside three minutes. Wolves battled on however, and got their reward late on with a thrilling comeback.

Substitute Pablo Sarabia fired Wolves level with a stunning equaliser in the 91st minute, before Mario Lemina ghosted in behind the Spurs defence to steer home a dramatic late winner.

Wolves have now hosted six fixtures against ‘Big Six’ sides in 2023, winning five. Liverpool, Spurs (twice), Chelsea and Manchester City have all returned from Wolves with their tails between their legs.

Trossard has been an astute addition for Arsenal

Arsenal will welcome the international break as the Gunners look to get their squad back closer to a full compliment. Injuries have limited Mikel Arteta’s options in recent fixtures, but the north Londoners bounced back from a first defeat of the season at Newcastle to beat Burnley this weekend.

Leandro Trossard was the difference for the Gunners, with the Belgian excelling in a central role in the absence of Gabriel Jesus. Trossard headed home the opening goal from close range for Arsenal, before an inviting delivery from the 28-year-old was met by William Saliba to restore the home side’s lead at the Emirates.

Trossard has struggled to command automatic status since signing for Arsenal last January, but he staked his claim for more regular football this weekend. Versatile, technical and a real goal threat, he has provided a goal or assist every 82 minutes in the Premier League since signing for Arsenal (15 G/As).

Trossard’s arrival made sense in January and he appears an even shrewder signing now. For an initial fee of just Β£20m, he has been an astute addition.

Ward-Prowse making mockery of Southgate snub

Gareth Southgate’s selections will never bring consensus. He’s not the first (and won’t be the last) England manager to receive backlash on each squad announcement, but there’s certainly weight behind some of the criticism of his recent decisions.

Southgate’s latest squad was much of the same from past editions, with personal trust placed above current form. Anthony Gordon, Cole Palmer and Raheem Sterling were all excluded despite impressive club performances, as was James Ward-Prowse. The latter’s continued exile remains a mystery to those who have watched him with regularity in a West Ham shirt this season.

Ward-Prowse has now provided nine assists and two goals in 15 games for the Irons, with his world-class threat from set-pieces earning his side a 3-2 win over Nottingham Forest this weekend. Ward-Prowse assisted two goals from dead balls to continue his strong start at the London Stadium, form which is in sharp contrast to that of those selected in similar positions in the latest England squad.

Kalvin Phillips has featured for just 89 minutes in the Premier League this season and has started just two top-flight games in 18 months as a Manchester City player, while Jordan Henderson showed signs of decline at Liverpool last season before departing for the Saudi Pro League in the summer. Is there an argument of any great credit that warrants their inclusion over Ward-Prowse? It’s a point of contention that will continue as long as the 29-year-old maintains this sort of form.

Chelsea and another Premier League classic

Chelsea were a wretched watch last season. The Blues scored just 38 goals in the Premier League last season, the club’s second-lowest return in a league season.

Many of those issues still remain, but Chelsea have been an unmissable watch in recent games. For the second time inside a week Chelsea were involved in a Premier League classic, following an utterly bonkers win at Spurs on Monday night with an equally exhilarating clash with Manchester City.

The two teams shared eight goals in a pulsating 4-4 draw at Stamford Bridge, one which saw the lead change hands and late, late drama. Chelsea are far from the finished article, but have shown their ability to compete with the Premier League’s top teams.

A classic game had a fitting conclusion, as if the Premier League had its own script writers on hand. Cole Palmer, who left Manchester City in search of opportunity at Chelsea last summer, slammed home a stoppage time penalty kick to earn the Blues a point.

We might be a little biased, but the Premier League is the best in the world. This was another perfect advert for that statement.

Read –Β Premier League Team of the Week – Matchday 12

See also –Β Tweets of the Week: Paul Merson gets the last laugh as Trippier confronts fans

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