8 Things We Learnt From Premier League GW24

Joe Simpson

By Joe Simpson

Joe Simpson

28 Feb 2023

As Manchester United secured the first silverware of the Erik Ten Hag era, the Premier League played host to a series of crucial fixtures at both ends of the table. Here is our round up of some of the key talking points from the weekend’s action:

Skipp And Spurs Inflict More Pain On Potter

Chelsea versus Tottenham in recent times is a match that at the very least would have massive implications for the top 4 places. While Tottenham still harbour Champions League ambitions, it’s fair to say midweek continental football looks a world away from the blue side of London right now. 

Away from home Chelsea made a good account of themselves in the early knockings and were certainly the side asking the questions. Confidence is a powerful thing and as the game wore on you could literally see it vanishing. Rather than staying strong in their convictions Chelsea reverted to the shy and stale playstyle that has plagued them this season and ultimately paid the price. 

After some haphazard defending the ball fell to Oliver Skipp who’s long range effort opened the scoring at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium just seconds into the second half. With the game petering out Harry Kane dealt the death blow as he tapped home late. Tottenham’s season at times has bordered on crisis but with manager Antonio Conte away dealing with an illness, the north London side have managed to persevere and give themselves a fighting chance for a top 4 finish. Chelsea on the other hand are now winless in six matches and have only achieved one victory in their last 11 games in all competitions.

Graham Potter is a man on fire and not in a good way. The hot seat he finds himself glued to right now would have seen him unemployed just a year ago under a previously less patient Chelsea regime. In fact, if not for the massive endeavour it took to get him out of Brighton alongside the market busting spending on his behalf in terms of players, he’d very likely be gone already. There seems to be a massive disconnect between ownership, manager, players and fans right now at Chelsea. Each faction will have their own views and expectations but each matchweek it feels like things are dangerously close to coming to a head.

Jesse Williams

City Cruise To Victory At The Vitality

Manchester City shook off the cobwebs and returned to form on Saturday evening, brushing aside a Bournemouth team that were levels below Pep Guardiola’s title chasing side. The game was sewn up by half time, with the strike partnership of Erling Haaland and Julian Alvarez both finding a way past Neto in the Bournemouth goal, before Phil Foden was gifted a third by a wayward Phil Billing backpass.

Salt was rubbed into the Bournemouth wounds by a Chris Mepham own goal moments after half time. The Cherries found a way past Ederson thanks to a consolation from Jefferson Lerma, but it was all too little too late as City closed out the game with ease. This kind of dominant performance would have been exactly what Pep Guardiola needed after a turbulent few weeks on the blue side of Manchester. Disappointing results in the Premier League and in Europe, coupled with drama off the pitch has made this season a difficult one to navigate, but City will hope that a comfortable victory that keeps them in touch with Arsenal at the top will be enough to weather the storm.

Bournemouth were outclassed on the day and the gulf in quality in almost every position was evident across the pitch. Gary O’Neil will need to keep a positive attitude within the Cherries camp, which may well prove difficult as fixtures against Arsenal and Liverpool loom. The south coast side will be hoping results go their way over the next two weeks, otherwise they may well find themselves stranded at the bottom.

Joe Simpson

Villa Cast Doubt On Dyche Era

Everton versus Aston Villa has always provided some interesting clashes over the years and that was certainly the case here. Once rivals for the UEFA Cup (Europa League) positions, they now find themselves in more trying times. Villa have shipped a lot of goals, conceding 11 in their previous three games and finding themselves in mid-table. Everton meanwhile had lost their last two and were just outside the relegation zone. In a game of many chances, the team who took theirs won on the day.

Ollie Watkins caused the most problems for the away side, first from a forward run onto Boubacar Kamara’s long pass and then a header from Lucas Digne’s cross. Both times Jordan Pickford came to Everton’s rescue, showing that he will be key to his club’s survival. Everton were the team causing the most problems and will rue missed opportunities. Vitalii Mykolenko whipped in a great cross, only for Emiliano Martínez to tip Amadou Onana’s header over the bar. Dwight McNeil then caused all sorts of problems with his free kick. After clearing their lines briefly, Villa were caught off-guard when a shot from Alex Iwobi which was seemingly going wide deflected off Ezri Konsa into the air. It looked like Conor Coady would finish and put the Toffees in front, but Tyrone Mings came to the rescue on the line.

It was then the team in claret and blue who drew first blood when a dangerous throw-in found its way to John McGinn who was brought down for a penalty. Watkins stepped up and smashed it high into the middle of the net to put the team from Birmingham in front. The victory was then sealed when Mings’ ball forward was taken down the centre by McGinn, who was given way too much space. He then found Emiliano Buendía who made it look very easy and finished at the near post to make it 2-0 on the day.

It was a great win for Aston Villa, surviving an onslaught of Everton chances and finishing theirs up front. A clean sheet was also a welcome reward and now sit level on points with 10th place Chelsea, Villa will look to get a result against Crystal Palace on Saturday. Despite a good start, the Sean Dyche era isn’t going as planned and Everton are now back in the relegation zone. They need to start getting results soon but face a tricky trip to the Emirates on Wednesday. While Villa look for a comfortable mid-table finish, Everton fans will be worried about the prospect of Championship football next season.

Tom Atkinson

Ings Brace Delivers Hammer Blow For Forest

West Ham hosted Nottingham Forest on Saturday afternoon – another game that proved to be important at the bottom half of the table. With both teams not showing much consistency, both have managed to pull out huge performances in some games this season, making this fixture a tough one to predict.

It was West Ham who prevailed in arguably the Hammers’ best performance this season or at least best half game of the season. The first half was tight-knit; both teams created chances yet no-one could break the deadlock, and neither team could really complain going into the second half. With both teams pushing to find a breakthrough, it was David Moyes’ men who pushed the hardest, taking the lead through Danny Ings in the 70th minute. What this sparked off was something of a whitewash; three minutes later Ings scored a second, followed by a Declan Rice goal five minutes later, rounded off by a Michail Antonio Header seven minutes after that. 15 minutes of great football – something that the West Ham fans would argue they deserve after having a somewhat bumpy season.

Forest looked lost from the moment the first goal went in – it seemed their game-plan was to stay in the game and hope to break the deadlock first – however Steve Cooper’s men didn’t get the tactical game plan spot on this week. I don’t think the alarm bells should be ringing for either teams however just yet, and I predict both will have enough to keep themselves in the league for next season.

Harvey Marwood

Palace Frustrate Liverpool In Selhurst Park Stalemate

Off the back of one of the worst nights in Liverpool history, Jurgen Klopp and his not so merry men headed down the M6 with redemption on their minds. While Wednesday was a night of indignation, Saturday proved to be one better described by frustration. Selhurst Park has built a reputation as one of the trickier away grounds in the league, especially under the lights. Crystal Palace are in an almighty slump and have managed to register just a single win home or away since club football returned post World Cup, and so with both teams desperate for a win it’s unfortunate that the game failed to match the weight of that context.

In truth if Jean Phillipe Mateta had put his shooting boots on, the narrative around the game would have been very different. In the first half he was gifted two golden chancesm one which he sheepishly attempted to chip Red’s goalkeeper Alisson with, and with the other he managed to crash the bar from 6 yards out. Mohammed Salah would also find no love from that same crossbar in the second half with a curling effort but those were the fine margins this game was played at. In a fixture that hasn’t been goalless since 2003 this game perfectly captured where both teams find themselves right now.

When the final whistle blew at Anfield on Wednesday night Liverpool fans found it within their hearts to sing the players off the pitch. A testament to the clubs unwavering support of the players, manager and the club itself. However, if results continue to decline it would be far from surprising to hear the singing turn into boos. 

Jesse Williams

Martinelli Strike Keeps Man City At Bay

Arsenal travelled to Leicester knowing that Brendan Rodgers’ side have vastly improved since their last meeting at the Emirates in August. The midlands team have become more defensively resolute and Kelechi Iheanacho has found his form in front of goal, propelling them into the safety of mid table.

The Nigerian striker had the ball in the back of the Arsenal net, but it was ruled out for offside by VAR. Gunners January signing Leandro Trossard also had a goal chalked off after Ben White was found guilty of grabbing onto Danny Ward’s arm, as Arsenal struggled to break down the Foxes back line.

Mikel Arteta would have rightly felt aggrieved after Bukayo Saka did not receive a penalty after being brought down off the ball in the box. The England international is one of the most fouled players in the Premier League and it sometimes feels as if he doesn’t get the correct level of protection from Premier League referees. It would not be long into the second half however before Gabriel Martinelli put the Gunners in front, latching onto a pass from Trossard and coolly slotting the ball into the bottom corner.

Arsenal played without a recognised striker and still managed to come away with all three points, demonstrating a flexibility from Mikel Arteta that should serve them well going forward. As the end of the season edges ever closer, the pressure on Arsenal will only increase and it is up to the Arsenal boss to protect his players and carry the weight of expectation on his shoulders. If he is able to do this without cracking, Arsenal have a real chance to hold off City and deliver a first league title in nearly two decades.

Joe Simpson

Solomon Stunner Salvages Point

The Friday night clash between Fulham and Wolves promised to be an exciting affair between two interesting sides. Fulham had enjoyed a successful season and continued their challenge to bring some sort of European football to Craven Cottage next year, which was aided by Sunday’s Cup final result. Wolves meanwhile, after a poor start to the campaign had found some form under new man Julen Lopetegui, but still found themselves near the relegation zone. This match did not disappoint and was a thrilling stalemate.

The first half started well for the Wanderers with a great 1-2 down the right channel between Nélson Semedo and Raúl Jiménez, almost finished off by Pablo Sarabia, whose effort had its power taken off it by Issa Diop, which his keeper appreciated greatly. No one was able to stop Sarabia a second time, as Matheus Nunes’ tasty ball in found him courtesy of a Jiménez header and he finished low and through the legs of Tim Ream into the left corner. Fulham then came into the game but failed to test the keeper too much, bar Andreas Pereira’s free-kick which José Sá tipped over the bar.

The chances kept on coming in the second half with Sarabia almost doing a reverse of his goal, as his dangerous ball was headed just wide by Raúl Jiménez. This once-goalscoring machine still appears to be struggling since that awful head injury, having not scored in the Premier League this season. His last goal came in March last year, making it a year since he last scored in the league and a difficult spell for the Mexican striker. Fulham however has someone who is taking their chances and Manor Solomon certainly did that to make it 1-1. Receiving the ball on the left side, he ran into space before curling it from outside the box, as it dipped out the reach of Sá and into the bottom right corner. It was a sensational finish and that is now 3 goals in 3 games for the in-form winger. Both sides went for the winner, but Craig Dawson’s header was deflected over, and Carlos Vinícius’ dangerous header was saved well by a diving Sá. This was truly an exhilarating game, and a draw was probably a fair result, although both sides had opportunities to take the three points. Fulham remained where they were at the start of the game, missing the chance to close the gap on 5th place Newcastle. They next face a tricky trip to Brentford on Monday, which should be another exciting clash. Wolves meanwhile will have hoped for more, as results below them mean they are only three points above the places they are trying to avoid. They don’t have long to prepare for their next game, as they play Liverpool tomorrow at Anfield. Both sides will have wanted more, but Solomon’s goal will live long in the memory and may prove pivotal to where Fulham finish this season.

Tom Atkinson

Leeds Edge Past Saints In Huge Relegation Fixture

Leeds hosted Southampton on Saturday afternoon in a fixture that looked to be crucial in terms of the race for safety at the bottom of the table. With Southampton firmly rooted at the bottom, Leeds going into the game sat just one point ahead of the latter – a six point fixture by all accounts.

Leeds dominated the fixture possession wise – however few big chances were created throughout the game. Leeds created almost 0.91xg throughout the game whereas Southampton created 0.38xg – the tale of two teams who find themselves struggling at the bottom of the table. It took until the 77th minute to find a breakthrough – coming from the unlikely scorer Junior Firpo, who swept the ball past Bazunu from Jack Harrison’s clever pass. With Southampton not having created much in the game – they struggled to chase for an equaliser, with Leeds managing to defend wisely to see out the 1-0 win to go one spot clear of the relegation zone.

Southampton fans will now be increasingly concerned with the way their season is shaping up – little consistency has been shown throughout. However, Leeds are certainly not in the clear yet either – the remaining fixtures this season are going to be all so important with the points in the league still being so tight.

Harvey Marwood