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Premier League weekend: Five things we learned

Five things we learned from the Premier League weekend, featuring Chelsea’s rampaging right-back and Crystal Palace’s busy – and nervous – summer ahead.

Crystal Palace need to get their phone on aeroplane mode

It doesn’t take long, in fact just a run of impressive results, for the transfer rumour mill to hit overdrive. Crystal Palace’s fine form under Oliver Glasner has increased optimism over next season, though the knock-on effect is a summer full of anxiety over exits.

Palace are unbeaten in six, a run that includes wins over Liverpool, West Ham, Newcastle, Manchester United and Wolves. The consequence is speculation surrounding the core of their side. A release clause in the contract of Michael Olise means the Eagles might not be able to hang onto a player who appears destined for a bigger stage, while Eberechi Eze and Marc Guehi have wealthy suitors too.

Off the pitch, Newcastle have held talks with sporting director Dougie Freedman, while Glasner’s immediate impact has him linked with Bayern Munich.

Football’s food chain dictates that the sharks will always circle and Crystal Palace’s phone could be ringing off the hook with enquiries this summer.

Earthy bounces back after debut disaster

A Premier League debut is one of the most memorable moments in any young player’s career but for George Earthy the day ended in disaster. Just moments after his introduction, a collision with West Ham teammate Edson Alvarez saw the teenager knocked unconscious and stretchered from the pitch.

A month later, the 19-year-old made his return to the side and marked his second substitute outing with a goal this weekend. Earthy converted with his first touch just 67 seconds after being brought on at the London Stadium, a dream cameo after the nightmare of his debut disaster.

Earthy was presented with the Young Hammer of the Year award at full-time and will hope to play a part in the post-David Moyes era next season. West Ham have a proud history in promoting their own and the attacking midfielder, who has 15 goals for the u-21 side this season, has a bright future.

Southgate should consider Reece James for Euro 2024

Chelsea celebrated the return of Reece James this weekend and the club captain wasted no time getting up to speed. On as a second-half substitute at Nottingham Forest, James did not look like a player whose last Premier League appearance came in December.

The 24-year-old’s touch was flawless and he marauded forward like a man possessed to get Chelsea back into the game. James was involved in the equaliser as fellow substitute Raheem Sterling levelled at The City Ground, before assisting the winner for Nicolas Jackson moments later with a peach of a cross.

James, arguably, is England’s best right-back in terms of all-round game, a combination of the athleticism of Kyle Walker and final-third threat of Kieran Trippier and Trent Alexander-Arnold. With the latter expected to spend his time with England in midfield, Southgate should consider taking James in his 26-man squad, even given the risk of his body failing him.

Though it’s unlikely Southgate will move away from Kyle Walker, a right-sided axis of James, Alexander-Arnold tucked into midfield, and Bukayo Saka looks formidable.

Stadium farce symbolic of Manchester United decline

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. As the rain poured in at an ailing Old Trafford, it was perhaps the perfect symbolisation of the decline of the Premier League giant.

Clashes between Manchester United and Arsenal once defined seasons and while that might still be the case after the Gunners’ 1-0 win, the role of Manchester United in the story of the season is minor.

Defeat for Erik ten Hag’s team was their 14th in the Premier League this season, an unwanted club record, while it has been 50 years since the Red Devils last lost nine games at home in all competitions in a single season.

As storms erupted around Manchester, the rain poured in at Old Trafford through a leaking roof and dressing room. The ‘Theatre of Dreams’ has been a nightmare for much of the campaign, and a once-great stadium unfit for purpose.

Rival fans who endured two decades of dominance from Manchester United might revel in their plight, but it’s hard not to sympathise with a fanbase who have watched their club tumble from the top under criminal ownership. The silver lining, at least, is that new investors Ineos are leading change.

Saliba the rock Arsenal’s title challenge built upon

Arsenal ensured the Premier League title race will go down to the final day with a disciplined defensive performance at Manchester United.

The club’s 1-0 win earned Arsenal an 18th clean sheet of the campaign and a precious three points. Saliba starred at centre-back in another performance that confirmed the Frenchman is fast emerging as one of the elite defenders in the game.

The 23-year-old won 100% of his duels in the air and on the ground (7/7), led the game for touches (99), completed passes (76), clearances (6) and tackles (4), while he failed to commit a single foul and was not dribbled past once at Old Trafford.

Saliba is nerveless on the big occasion and has now won man-of-the-match awards at Anfield, the Etihad and Old Trafford in the same season. Different class.

Read – Premier League Awards: Voracious Gvardiol, Old Trafford waterfall, Merson’s promise

See more – Premier League Team of the Week for Matchday 37

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