Following the latest round of Premier League action we look at five things we learned from the weekend fixtures.
Madueke makes an impression
After six straight losses Chelsea bounced back with a win at Bournemouth, in a performance that will offer some encouragement after a torrid run of results. Noni Madueke’s performance was a highlight as the winger gave Matias Vina trouble all afternoon.
Madueke has made just four starts since his £29m arrival from PSV Eindhoven in January and was rewarded with consecutive inclusions in the starting side after scoring against Arsenal in midweek. The 21-year-old was bright on the ball and a constant threat, offering signs he can be a key figure in Chelsea’s rebuild.
How good was this man yesterday? 👏 pic.twitter.com/FWXMaNsfeC
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) May 7, 2023
Interim manager Frank Lampard was full of praise for the England u21 international and believes Madueke has the raw ingredients to develop into a major attacking asset.
“Noni was very sharp, considering he was not so well actually on Wednesday and Thursday, trained yesterday [Friday],” Lampard told his post-match press conference after the win over Bournemouth.
“But I thought he was really good against Arsenal in a tough game and he got his goal. Today again he’s got a fantastic one-on-one ability to go past people, the end bit we want to improve.
“I like him as a lad, he’s got a real good energy about him, he’ll know that because I think he’s hungry and I want that, so it’s been a breath of fresh air him coming in and he’s trained well to deserve that.”
Salah remains royalty at Liverpool
The pre-game rendition of the national anthem was met in predictable fashion at Liverpool this weekend, with loud boos drowning out God Save the King at Anfield.
Liverpool fans made their feelings on the anthem clear, but were soon saluting the club’s own royalty as Mohamed Salah’s winner secured a sixth consecutive win for Jurgen Klopp’s side.
Salah’s goal saw him reach a century of Anfield goals in just 144 appearances at the famous ground, becoming the fifth fastest footballer in the club’s history to reach that total in home games.
Mohamed Salah is now the only player in Liverpool’s HISTORY to have scored in NINE consecutive games at Anfield 🔥 pic.twitter.com/ZwWwRm0c0n
— ESPN UK (@ESPNUK) May 6, 2023
It was also the ninth consecutive home game that Salah had scored in for Liverpool and despite a view from some that the Egyptian has been below his usual standard this season, the 30-year-old has reached 30 goals in all competitions for the fourth time in six campaigns.
It was far from the prettiest of goals and will not make any highlight reel montage of Salah strikes, but a 19th league goal of the season has kept Liverpool’s faint hopes of Champions League football alive and moves the forward level with Steven Gerrard on 186 goals for the Reds.
Expect that total to continue rising, with Liverpool’s Egyptian King a numbers machine.
Refined Romero can be elite
Cristian Romero’s form has been criticised in recent weeks with the defender part of a Tottenham defence which has capitulated of late.
The Argentina international has been rash and reckless in recent games, with his aggressive brand of defending exposed in defeats at Newcastle and Liverpool. That aggression is a large part of what makes Romero a fine defender, but must be refined and channelled in the right manner.
He produced a much-improved performance as Spurs won 1-0 against Crystal Palace this weekend, racking up a huge eight clearances, ten duels won, five interceptions and three tackles. Romero was also accomplished with the ball at his feet and completed 88% of his passes, including four of five long balls.
Romero has the attributes to be a leading centre-back and showed his talent during Argentina’s World Cup win last winter, with his tenacity and desire to defend having attracted Spurs to his services in 2021. Occasionally Rolls Royce but too often old banger in recent games, refining his game and finding consistency will determine whether Romero can rank among the division’s best defenders.
Arsenal answers questions to keep title race alive
Manchester City fans will have been watching Sunday’s showdown with keen interest, in a fixture many felt was Arsenal’s toughest test of the run-in. The Gunners faced a Newcastle team who have lost just twice on home soil since January 2022, while memories were fresh from the club’s collapse at the same venue last season as hopes of Champions League football crumbled.
Arsenal showed their mettle to pass the examination in impressive fashion, weathering an early storm at an atmospheric St James’ Park. Newcastle began brightly and hit the woodwork early on, while a penalty for the home side was overturned by VAR.
Arsenal keep their title hopes alive after winning an absorbing encounter#NEWARS pic.twitter.com/vUkUKWVDoI
— Premier League (@premierleague) May 7, 2023
The Gunners, however, refused to be beaten and grew into the game with Jorginho and Martin Odegaard calming presences in midfield. The latter handed Arsenal the advantage before half-time with a sweet strike from distance, before Fabian Schar turned into his own net to double the north Londoners’ lead after the break. It’s now 10 clean sheets on the road this season, double the amount of the next-highest sides.
Arsenal have had to deal with a ‘chokers’ label after a four-game winless run allowed City to overhaul their lead at the top, but Mikel Arteta’s young side have shown time and time again their steel this season. Missing out on the title to this City side would be no shame. Beating them to it – hopes alive after a crucial win this weekend – would be some achievement.
Ten Hag’s De Gea decision
Manchester United’s goalkeeping situation is a problem Erik ten Hag must solve ahead of next season, with uncertainty surrounding the club’s number one position.
David de Gea is out of contract at the end of the season with discussions over a new deal having failed to find an agreement despite an expectation the Spaniard will re-sign. Ten Hag’s reign began with reservations over De Gea’s footwork and distribution, but a run of form earlier in the season appeared to have convinced the Dutchman that De Gea can – for the immediate – remain first choice at Old Trafford.
There is a strong argument to rethink that stance however, with De Gea’s costly mistake at West Ham condemning the club to a second straight league defeat. The 32-year-old let a weak Said Benrahma shot through his grasp, while West Ham continually looked to unsettle De Gea with set-pieces floated in towards the goal line.
David de Gea will not want to see this one again!
Saïd Benrahma is gifted the opener of the game pic.twitter.com/5YOORsFsQ4
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) May 7, 2023
De Gea has been a fine servant across more than a decade at Manchester United, but his weaknesses have been too often exposed. His reluctance to come from his goal-line – both in terms of sweeping off his line and claiming crosses – is a vulnerability teams will continue to exploit.
Read – The players with the most headed goals in a single Premier League season
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