Alphonse Areola saves a Premier League penalty from Everton forward Beto
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Premier League weekend: Five things we learned

Premier League weekend: Five things we learned from the latest action, featuring pressure on Pochettino, Everton’s familiar flaws, and the stage being set for a huge title battle next weekend.

Blues for Pochettino as Chelsea chants make feelings clear

The Chelsea contingent who made the short trip to Brentford’s Gtech Community Stadium made their feelings clear throughout a match that saw more dropped points for their side, with Mauricio Pochettino’s position as manager coming under pressure.

Fans could be heard in the chorus of some expletive-laden chants aimed in the direction of their own manager. In short, the Blues’ fanbase appears to have had enough of Pochettino and owner Todd Boehly, with each coming under fire during some not-so-polite chanting.

Chelsea again laboured on another disappointing afternoon for the west Londoners, who sit 11th in the table and 19 points from the Champions League places. Change now would increase the lack of continuity at Chelsea in what has already been a turbulent period under the new ownership, though it’s difficult to see how Pochettino – already facing a battle to win over the Blues given his past connection to Spurs – can turn this around unless results improve quickly.

The serenading of former manager Jose Mourinho in the away end was perhaps the first real push from the fans to provoke change. The discontent at Chelsea is palpable.

Familiar flaws haunt wasteful Everton

Everton suffered a setback after losing late on to West Ham at Goodison Park, a blow to the Blues who dominated for much of the contest.

Everton fired 22 efforts on goal, 11 on target, and posted an xG of 3.18 in comparison to West Ham’s 1.83, but an inspired performance from Alphonse Areola and some familiarly wasteful finishing resulted in a 3-1 defeat.

Sean Dyche made a change with Beto preferred to Dominic Calvert-Lewin after the latter’s 20-game goalless run, but the Portugal forward wasted a glorious chance as his tame penalty was pushed away by Areola with the game goalless.

Beto redeemed himself with a header from James Garner’s inviting cross to open the scoring, but further missed chances – the biggest from Dwight McNeil – saw Everton fail to kill off the game.

The result was late heartbreak as stoppage-time goals from Tomas Soucek and Edson Alvarez won it for West Ham after Kurt Zouma’s equaliser from a set-piece, with Everton’s underperformance in terms of xG now almost double that of the next-highest side. The Toffees’ inability to turn chances into goals has left Dyche’s side in danger of the drop.

Klopp changes keep Liverpool alive in title race

Liverpool left it late to snatch a 1-0 win at Nottingham Forest, with Darwin Nunez’s controversial 99th-minute winner ending the Reds’ 13-game winless run at the City Ground.

Forest felt aggrieved at the officiating in the build-up as Paul Tierney mistakenly returned possession to Liverpool after a pause in play, though Liverpool are celebrating a last-gasp success that keeps the club top of the Premier League table.

Nunez came off the bench and helped change the game for Liverpool, with the Uruguayan looking sharp as he was involved prominently before his decisive moment. The 24-year-old flicked Alexis Mac Allister’s cross into the bottom corner with almost the last touch of the game, incredibly the 21st goal that has been scored by a Liverpool substitute this season.

It helps, of course, to have players of Nunez’s calibre left in reserve on the bench, but Klopp’s changes once again altered a match in his side’s favour. No team in Europe’s top five leagues has had more goals and assists from substitutes than Liverpool this season (43).

Dejected De Zerbi hints at frustration with Brighton plan

Roberto De Zerbi could hardly hide his disappointment after Brighton were beaten at Fulham, with the latter running out comfortable 3-0 winners at Craven Cottage.

Brighton and De Zerbi have each taken their fair share of plaudits across the last 18 months but the Seagulls’ recent record stands at five wins from 20 league games. Brighton’s ability to recruit and nurture untapped potential has been the foundation for their success, though there is frustration from De Zerbi in the club’s failure to replace top talent with readymade options in recent windows.

“I think for us it is a very tough moment but I’m not speaking (only) now about it. I am starting to explain the future in September, in October, in November, in January – especially in January,” De Zerbi said.

“Now we can’t change anything. We have to move on to play better, to fight better, to play with different energy.”

A failure to add in midfield is a pressing concern. Moises Caicedo and Alexis Mac Allister departed for big fees in the summer and the engine of last season’s top-six finish has not been adequately replaced. Despite £150m being brought in from those sales, the free transfer arrivals of James Milner and Mahmoud Dahoud, alongside teenager Carlos Baleba, have not filled the void.

Brighton failed to address that need again in January with recruitment focused on additions for the u-21 side and 19-year-old Valentin Barco from Boca Juniors. Recent arrivals might improve the bank balance in the coming seasons, but De Zerbi clearly looks frustrated with the failure to build on Brighton’s best-ever top-flight season.

Stage set for Anfield epic

Once again, Manchester City faced questions and once again the champions answered them, coming from behind to win the Manchester Derby at the Etihad.

Pep Guardiola’s side have now trailed on 12 occasions this season and have reclaimed 21 points from those fixtures, with only Liverpool (22) having claimed more points from losing positions.

Phil Foden turned the game around for the Citizens, cancelling out Marcus Rashford’s opener with a stunning strike of his own at the Etihad. Foden sealed the win with a second, his 18th of the campaign in all competitions, firing a low finish under Andre Onana and into the far corner.

Manchester City’s win keeps them within a point of Liverpool, setting the stage for a titanic title tussle at Anfield next week. The Premier League’s top two will go head-to-head on March 9, having each earned big wins under pressure this weekend.

Liverpool and Manchester City have played out some unforgettable games in a thoroughly modern rivalry across the last decade and this one, the last of the Jurgen Klopp era in the Premier League, could be one of the biggest.

In what is shaping as the most exciting title race in years, with Arsenal also in the equation, next week’s showdown could have seismic significance on who ends the season top of the table.

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