8 Things We Learnt From Premier League GW28

Joe Simpson

By Joe Simpson

Joe Simpson

4 Apr 2023

The weekend’s action caused a spate of sackings and drama at both ends of the table in the Premier League. As Arsenal keep on winning to maintain their gap above City, the battle to avoid the drop has never been closer, while the final European spots seem more than up for grabs. Here is our round up of some of the key talking points from the latest round of fixtures:

Villa Put An End To Potter’s Era

Chelsea hosted Aston Villa in what proved to be the last match in Graham Potter’s tenure at the west London club. A goal from Ollie Watkins and a John McGinn screamer were the final nails in the coffin as Villa leapfrogged Chelsea into 9th. 

In a weird way, Unai Emery is the man responsible for creating the odd dynamic the league finds itself in. Under Gerrard Villa looked a shoo in for the relegation scrap, but now sit on the precipice of European football for the next campaign. Villa’s uptick in form has seen the midtable grey area vanish, with a double digit gap at times between 11th and 12th in the table. The biggest credit to Emery is that Villa look competent and have established themselves as a top half of the table side. 

Since losing to Spurs at the end of February it looked as though Potter had placated the Chelsea fans, at least enough that the audible booing stopped ringing out at the Bridge, by going unbeaten in March with 3 wins in 4. 

Personally I do feel for Potter, the odds always seemed stacked against him. He inherited an over bloated squad with superstar egos, came in to replace a Champions League winning coach, all while being the most “backed” manager of all time with Chelsea dropping over 600m on transfers this season. Also, having watched quite a few Chelsea games this season his players inability to put the ball in the net has been mind numbingly frustrating. However, this is a trait that has seemingly followed him from his previous job at Brighton who now with the exact same players under De Zerbi no longer lack goals. It’s not hard to come to a damning conclusion on Potter given he is the common denominator. Ultimately his ambition got the better of him, leaving the humble stability Brighton afforded him for the big time circus of Chelsea.

Jesse Williams

City Sparkle With Liverpool’s Season On The Line

Liverpool arrived at the Etihad on Saturday knowing that the next seven days would define their season. Their game against Manchester City was the start of what looks to be a frenetic week, with further games against Chelsea and league leaders Arsenal.

Jurgen Klopp’s side would have been buoyed by the news that Erling Haaland would miss the fixture with a groin injury, and things were only looking up for the Reds as they found themselves ahead against the run of play through a smart Mo Salah finish. This shining moment had lost its lustre by the end of the ninety minutes however, as Pep Guardiola’s team showed all of their offensive prowess and put Liverpool to the sword, four goals to one.

It is not breaking news that this Liverpool team is a far cry from the group we watched compete for the quadruple last year. Defensively, there has been a real drop off and teams have made it obvious that their tactic is to target Trent Alexander-Arnold on the right hand side. Jack Grealish had one of his best games in a City shirt as he had the freedom of his wing to pull strings and link up with Kevin De Bruyne. Trent cannot be the only person who receives blame however, as his midfield have not done enough to cover his attacking runs all season, causing him to constantly be found out of position when tracking back.

For Liverpool, they have two more chances to get themselves back on track this week, and it feels as if they would need to secure points in both of their upcoming games to have a realistic chance of Champions League contention. On the other side, Manchester City proved the depth of their squad on Saturday and will need to keep on putting in world class performances if they are to stay in contention at the top.

Joe Simpson

Jesus On The Scoresheet As Gunners Run Riot

Arsenal maintained their 8-point advantage over Manchester City as they completely dominated Leeds United on Saturday. Following the international break, Mikel Arteta’s men were hungry and ready as they entered the final stage of the season. Leeds were 13th before the game, but still very much in a relegation battle despite some important results under Javi Gracia. It was an important game for both sides, but one left a lot happier than the other.

Leeds made a very good start, and the efforts of Rasmus Kristensen caused the Gunners’ back-line a few issues before his ferocious effort was saved well by Aaron Ramsdale. Arsenal took the lead late in the half when Gabriel Jesus’ fancy footwork and bad decision-making by Luke Ayling led to a penalty. Jesus stepped up to the plate and scored his first goal since October, having spent some time on the sidelines. It was almost two when Illan Meslier was brought out of his goal and a cheeky chip by Gabriel Martinelli was cleared from the goal by Luke Ayling.

The second half started well for the North London side, as Martinelli’s low cross was smashed in off the crossbar by Ben White. It was then three up as a nice 1-2 between Jesus and Leandro Trossard saw the Brazilian bag his second. Leeds grabbed one back when Jack Harrison’s fabulous run allowed Kristensen the opportunity to score from a deflection. The Islington side finished on a high when Martin Ødegaard whipped in a class ball, which was headed home after a great run from Granit Xhaka. It was the same scoreline as their previous fixture, with smiles all around the home fan’s faces.Mikel Arteta celebrated his 100th win as Gunners manager as they continue to look on course for a long-awaited Premier League trophy. With Jesus back amongst the goals, they now look destined to remain in 1st, but next travel to Anfield where they haven’t won in the league since 2012. Leeds meanwhile have dropped back into the relegation zone and remains in a perilous situation. They need to regroup quickly as they face Nottingham Forest today in a relegation six-pointer. The winning train continues for Arsenal, as they continue on their journey towards the league title.

Tom Atkinson

Keane Redeems Himself As Spurs Self-Destruct

The last fixture of the weekend saw Everton host Tottenham last night, and with Antonio Conte having just been sacked, a test of character for the North London side was served up against Sean Dyche’s Toffees. 

The first half saw no goals fly into the back of the net, with Everton somewhat having the upper hand with more shots than Tottenham in a largely uneventful opening period. The second half however shaped up a lot differently with more drama. In the 58th minute, an altercation between Harry Kane and Abdoulaye Doucoure saw the latter being sent off for a push in the face. 9 minutes later, Michael Keane gave away a sloppy penalty which saw Harry Kane convert into the bottom left hand corner. 1-0 Tottenham. With various changes being made for the home side, Dyche’s team pushed to try and find an equaliser, but struggled until a turning point saw Spurs also drop down to 10 men, with Lucas Moura getting sent off for a horrifically timed tackle in the 88th minute. 2 minutes later, Michael Keane turned from zero to hero, scoring an absolute belter from 25 yards out leaving Lloris unmoved.

The game saw six added minutes but nothing was to be split between the two teams, and they shared a point each in a result that will do way more for Everton than it will Tottenham. The pressure is on if the latter want to push for that Champions League spot. 

Harvey Marwood

Willock And Wilson Leave United Wobbling

In a repeat of this year’s Carabao Cup final, Manchester United travelled to Newcastle in an important game for both teams in their battle for Champions league football. St James’ Park was rocking as the Toon Army sought revenge for their disappointing day out at Wembley.

Newcastle certainly had the better of both halves, forcing David De Gea into some smart stops either side of half time. Although defensively resolute, the criticism for Eddie Howe’s side has been their lack of a clinical touch in front of goal. They did however find themselves in the ascendancy thanks to a well worked goal finished off by Joe Willock, before Callum Wilson broke his goal drought with a strong header from a corner. The Magpies will be feeling confident that they can secure a spot in the top four, making them ahead of schedule in their quest for European domination.

Erik Ten Hag will be disappointed in his side’s performance on Sunday, as United lacked any real courage or ambition on the ball throughout. This is not the first time this season that this team has gone missing in big occasions, which will be a cause for the concern for the Manchester United boss in his attempts to get the club back to the promised land of the Champions League. Any title talk a few weeks ago surrounding United has been shown to be massively premature, as Ten Hag is still being shown that he is in the midst of a rebuilding stage at Old Trafford.

Joe Simpson

Brighton And Brentford Battle To Entertaining Stalemate

Saturday afternoon saw Brighton host Brentford, two competitively matched teams chasing a European spot as both sides have been seeing good form recently. It was always expected to shape up as a good game – and it certainly didn’t disappoint. 

Brentford took the lead in the 10th minute through a Pontus Jansson header, before Mitoma continued his fine form with an excellent chip from a Jason Steele through ball 11 minutes later. Directly from the kick off, Ivan Toney put Brentford straight back into the lead 1 minute later, before yet another equaliser 6 minutes later from Danny Welbeck saw the scores even at 2-2 going into half time. An explosive first half, Brighton dominated and saw way more chances, however Brentford found themselves to be more clinical in front of goal. 

The second half got up to a fast start as well, with Ethan Pinnock putting Brentford ahead again in the 49 minutes, and just like that Brighton found themselves behind for the third time. Throughout the whole of the second half, De Zerbi’s men chased the game, and ended up with their highest ever XG they have ever recorded in the league, with 33 shots and 4.47XG. In the 90th minute, Mac Allister equalised with a perfectly converted pressure penalty, after a handball from Hickey left the referee with no choice but to point to the spot. 

The game ended in a draw at 3-3, however Brighton will feel hard done by not managing to get the three points after the complete dominance throughout the game. Brentford tactically were well organised and structured, and Brighton found it hard to take their chances. 

Harvey Marwood

Tavernier Turns The Tide On The South Coast

It was a big day at the bottom of the table, as Bournemouth picked up a very important win on Saturday afternoon. Against a European chasing Fulham, they pulled off a big comeback that secured back-to-back wins at home. They started the day in 19th and Gary O’Neil’s men needed a big result. Fulham were in 9th place and after back-to-back defeats and an F.A. Cup exit, needed a win to rejuvenate their season.

The Cottagers started the game well and opened the scoring after a great attacking move. Following some silky play and top-notch passing, they cut open the Bournemouth defence as Harrison Reed laid it off for Andreas Pereira to finish. It could have been two when Bobby Decordova-Reid’s ball wasn’t cleared and trickled across to Antonee Robinson who smacked the crossbar from distance.

After not offering much in the first half, the Cherries came to life in the second half. Jefferson Lerma’s dangerous ball should have been finished, but Fulham’s defence managed to clear it off the line. The equaliser then came after Bernd Leno cleared a corner away before Marcus Tavernier grabbed the ball and curled in an absolute screamer into the top-left-hand corner. The south coast team then went in front after Ryan Christie forced a save from Leno, and Robinson’s late reaction allowed Dominic Solanke to bundle the ball over the line. It could have been more, but Philip Billing’s free-kick was headed just wide by Lerma.It was a match full of thrills, spills, and sensational goals.

For Bournemouth, it was a big win that lifted them to 17th and boosted their hopes of being in the division next season. Up next for O’Neil’s men is an home fixture against Brighton that they will be looking to pick up at least a point from. Fulham has now lost three league games in a row and their European hopes are beginning to dwindle. Having dropped to 10th, they will hope to be back to winning ways at home to West Ham on Saturday. While Fulham’s hopes appear to be turning to disappointment, the Cherries may dare to dream of more Premier League football next season.

Tom Atkinson

Hammer Blow For Saints At London Stadium

For both teams this match was the first in a succession of crucial clashes with fellow relegation-avoiding hopefuls. With so much on the line for both, the cagey and reserved nature in which this game ultimately played out should have been no surprise. The match itself lacked many talking points. Both teams fought hard but whether through apprehension or just a lack of quality, failed to press the issue offensively. However, the game’s one true moment of quality was enough to secure the three points. Nayef Aguerd guided home a first-half header from a precise Thilo Kehrer’s free-kick, subject to a lengthy VAR check for offside. The Saints really created nothing of real note, but could have left with a vital point in the final minutes when goalless January signing Paul Onuachu headed against the bar.

There is a real sense of inevitability hanging over Southampton and their relegation out of the top flight. Their admirable experiment which sees them boast the youngest squad in the Premier League has not worked and has instead become a cautionary tale to the rest of the bottom half sides. Filling your team with young and exciting talents is fun on paper but without the requisite experience around them you’re setting them up for failure. 

West Ham, while still unconvincing, seem to have the required nous to pick up points. A far cry from their Europa League exploits last season, the club is again having to show faith in David Moyes to guide them out of a mess of his own creation. Whether or not they survive this season it feels more and more necessary that the West Ham and Moyes renaissance needs to come to an end.

Jesse Williams