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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, featuring David Moyes’ position at West Ham, Chelsea’s colossal centre-backs, and Manchester United’s midfield gem.

Injuries adding up for leaders Liverpool

Liverpool’s lead in the Premier League remained intact after a ruthless performance to beat Brentford, with the Reds showing their clinical touch in a 4-1 win in west London. Mohamed Salah’s return was a welcome boost as the Egyptian came off the bench to score and assist, though Jurgen Klopp’s options suffered further depletion against the Bees.

In a week where Alisson Becker and Trent Alexander-Arnold joined Dominik Szoboszlai, Thiago, Stefan Bajcetic and Joel Matip in the treatment room, the Reds saw Curtis Jones, Diogo Jota and Darwin Nunez add to the medical team’s busy workload.

Nunez’s substitution was called a precaution and there is optimism the Uruguayan will be fit for next week’s Carabao Cup final, but the prognosis for Jones and Jota looks worse. Jones, excellent in recent weeks, limped off after an awkward ankle injury, while Jota left the pitch on a stretcher after a similarly innocuous incident and ‘looks the worst’ according to his manager.

Fortunately, there’s quality in reserve for the Reds with Ryan Gravenberch and Cody Gakpo eye-catching off the bench at Brentford, but Klopp will concerned should his quadruple-chasing side suffer more losses in the coming weeks.

Free-scoring Arsenal can win the title

Rewind to late last year and much of the talk centred around Arsenal’s need to sign a striker in January. The lack of a reliable goalscorer was viewed as the biggest obstacle to the club’s title challenge, a notion the Gunners have made a mockery of since the turn of the new year.

Mikel Arteta’s team swatted aside Burnley to record a fifth consecutive Premier League win in 2024,  following last weekend’s 6-0 waltz at West Ham with a five-goal performance at Turf Moor.

Arsenal have opened a calendar year with five straight league wins for the first time and have scored 21 goals, conceding just twice, on that run. Bukakyo Saka has been in brilliant form and scored a brace at Burnley, while Martin Odegaard was outstanding as the creative hub of the side.

Only Liverpool (59) have scored more than Arsenal’s 58 goals in the Premier League this season. Question marks over their firepower have been answered of late, with a goalscoring blitz which has nestled the North Londoners right in the title race.

Moyes under pressure after hopeless Hammers response

David Moyes was defiant in his defence but a 2-0 defeat at Nottingham Forest has piled the pressure on his position.

Moyes has long divided opinion at the London Stadium. Last season’s Europa Conference League success was West Ham’s finest night in more than four decades, a two-fingered salute to the critics of his pragmatic and often uninspiring approach.

“I don’t think we can ever please everybody, but I think it would be hard to say there have been many better times at West Ham,” Moyes said at his post-match press conference.

“I think they’ll (the fans) honestly have to say that it’s as good a time as there’s been at the club regarding winning a trophy (Conference League) and league positions. Maybe they’ll be managers who excite them more, possibly. But the one who’s sitting here wins more.”

The Hammers fans have grown tired of the unimaginative football served up of late, though consolidation in the Premier League’s top half and a drought-breaking trophy reduced the numbers calling for change.

However, West Ham are winless in eight games since the turn of the new year, have failed to score in five of them, and followed a 6-0 home defeat to Arsenal with another disappointing performance at Forest this weekend.

Sections of supporters made their feelings known with a ‘Moyes Out’ banner at the City Ground, with some insisting now is the time for change. Coming under pressure, the West Ham board face a stick-or-twist decision.

Chelsea defenders at home in the centre

Axel Disasi and Levi Colwill will not have been overly content with their performances so far this season, with the defensive duo having had mixed campaigns in an inconsistent Chelsea team. Each has struggled to cement their desired roles in Mauricio Pochettino’s plans, spending long periods of the campaign at full-back.

Pochettino opted for a defensive axis of Disasi and Colwill for Saturday’s trip to Manchester City, and the duo responded with much-improved performances in their preferred position. Disasi was a magnet to loose balls in the box and racked up 16 clearances at the Etihad, the most any Chelsea player has recorded across the last eight seasons. The Frenchman was imperious at the back, in his best defensive display since signing from AS Monaco in the summer.

Colwill was excellent alongside Disasi, slotting in seamlessly in the centre in the absence of Thiago Silva and Benoit Badiashile. The 20-year-old made 10 clearances of his own and was, as ever, effective with his distribution forward. This could be the partnership Pochettino prefers moving forward, after a battling performance to earn a 1-1 draw at the champions.

Mainoo making case for England

Kobbie Mainoo’s fan club grows larger with each game and the Manchester United teenager produced another performance that defied his age this weekend.

Erik ten Hag’s side were far from convincing in their 2-1 win at Luton, a fixture that saw the Red Devils falter after a quick-fire start and forced to weather a storm at Kenilworth Road.

The one exception to the panic setting in across the side was Mainoo, who at 18 years old was the most composed performer on the pitch. Poised and elegant in possession, he completed six dribbles against Luton, recovered the ball on nine occasions, and showed calm and confidence whenever pressured.

Ian Wright is among the names to have called for Mainoo’s inclusion in the next England squad, who after just 11 league appearances is on banging on the door for Euro 2024 inclusion. That level of tranquillity in testing circumstances is rare to find. United have a gem on their hands.

Read – Premier League Awards: Awesome Odegaard, Nunez’s cheeky chip

See more – Tweets of the Week: Remote controlled pyro, Mbappe to Arsenal, Man City stumble

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