8 Things We Learnt From Premier League GW33
2 May 2023
The race for the title took another twist this gameweek, while at the bottom of the table we saw another managerial casualty. After a high octane, high scoring round of fixtures, we rounded up some of the key talking points from the weekend’s action:
City Strike Force Powers Forward Title Charge
Manchester City return to the summit of the Premier League, firmly back in the driving seat for the title race. The incumbent champs looked locked in as they took all 3 points away to a spirited Fulham side.
Goals from Haaland, Vinicius and Julian Alvarez made for a reasonably enjoyable game of football. One of the more underrated stories this season has been the striker situation at Manchester City. Haaland rightly commands a lot of attention but 23-year-old World Cup winner Alvarez is deserving of some praise too. On the same day Haaland equalled the all time Prem goal tally it was him, not the towering Norwegian who stole the show, scoring the winner and keeping the Citizen’s title defence on track with a wonder strike. In any other team on the planet Alvarez would be an undisputed starter and has already proved an invaluable asset in what could be a historic season for the blue side of Manchseter.
Fulham’s season looks to have all but died following their FA cup exit to United. Thinking rationally, going from the Championship to European football might have been too big of a jump and looking at the other promoted sides Fulham should consider this season a whopping success.
Joy For Jota Who Keeps Liverpool Hopes Alive
Liverpool kept their hopes of European football alive with a stunning late win over Spurs on Sunday. After an early onslaught that saw the Reds up 3-0 after just 15 minutes, Spurs called upon the spirit that saw them fight back against Manchester United in midweek. After goals from Kane and Son – stalwarts of this Tottenham side – the comeback looked complete after a late Richarlison equaliser in injury time. The Brazilian’s first Premier League goal of the season was however reduced to only a footnote, as Diogo Jota scored immediately after the restart to claim back all three points.
For Jurgen Klopp’s side, this win against a near rival will be vital in their quest for European football this season. Although this game did expose the fact that their defensive frailties are still an issue, the team had enough fighting spirit to claw back this game as Liverpool are finally hitting consistent run of form.
This result however will compound a tumultuous season for Spurs. The club is lacking a clear vision, and although Ryan Mason has instilled a battling mentality, these kinds of collapses have become all too apparent. With rumours continuing to swirl around Harry Kane’s future, this season may well signal the end of an era at Tottenham Hotspur.
Spoils Shared In Entertaining Battle At The King Power
Monday night saw a big clash at the bottom of the table, with both sides searching for three points. Dean Smith had made a slight turn around, but after drawing with Leeds on Tuesday, needed maximum points. Meanwhile, Everton were really struggling, having not won in 6 games and being off the back of a 4-1 battering by Newcastle. Both sides started the game in the relegation zone, but after the final whistle, that wasn’t the case.
Daniel Iversen was one of the key players on the night, showing why bringing him into the starting line-up may define Leicester’s season. He made a crucial save from Alex Iwobi early on, flipping his direct effort over. Unfortunately, his teammates didn’t help him and Timothy Castagne’s clumsy push on Dominic Calvert-Lewin led to a penalty. The Sheffield striker stepped up and smashed it in for his 60th Everton goal. Leicester then equalised after Harvey Barnes’ cross was headed into the path of Çağlar Söyüncü by Wout Faes, whose slip led to a perfectly-sliced finish. They were soon in front, in what was the game’s best move. Youri Tielemans won the ball back in midfield and laid it off to James Maddison. His sensational through ball found Jamie Vardy who went round the keeper and slotted home.
We then had the game’s craziest moment that could have gone either team’s way. Dwight McNeil whipped the ball across to Calvert-Lewin in what should have been a tap-in. However, he failed to make good contact and it hit the leg of Iverson and began a Leicester counter-attack. Tielemans then looped the ball towards Vardy who you would have backed to score, but he hit the crossbar. The Foxes then won a penalty after Barnes’ cross was blocked by the arm of Michael Keane. Unfortunately, Jordan Pickford knew where to go as Maddison’s tame effort down the middle was parried away. The second half was in Everton’s favour and led to the equaliser. McNeil once again was pinging balls in, but the defence could only clear as far as Iwobi who sidefooted into the bottom-left corner. Abdoulaye Doucouré almost sealed the win with an outside-the-box effort, but Iversen came to the rescue again with a diving save. It was a big save, with both goalkeepers being crucial to securing the final result.
A stalemate was not the result either side wanted, but it was a thrilling game that showed both teams are still fighting down there. Back-to-back draws are disappointing for Leicester despite getting out of the relegation zone after the final whistle. They will hope to be back to winning ways away at Fulham next week. Everton have now gone 7 games without a win and remain in 19th place. Sean Dyche needs to get some results to secure the Merseyside club’s place in the league, but they next face a difficult trip to Brighton. Both sides still face difficult times ahead, but one will be happier than the other.
Brno Strike Gives United Victory Over Villa
Manchester United hosted a competitively thriving Aston Villa side at Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon – a tight-knitted fixture that resulted in a close but deserved 1-0 home victory.
The first half was quite a cagey affair, yet Manchester United came out the blocks better of the two sides not only in the first 45 mins, but throughout the game as a whole. The defining moment came in the 39th minute where a close range strike from Bruno Fernandes beat Emi Martinez and made the difference in a game that held high significance in the race for different tiers of European football this season.
Aston Villa’s defence did however look a lot more stable and has done since Unai Emery has come in, yet the attack struggled to get into the swing of things this weekend. Marking the first game that Unai Emery’s team haven’t scored in since his appointment, a mere 7 shots throughout the game and 43% possession showed the difficulties they faced, but credit to Ten Hag’s men, they put in a great shift to see the game out for the three points. If it wasn’t for Martinez between the sticks for Villa it could’ve easily resulted in 3 or 4 goals being scored for the home side. The closing stage of the season is due to be great with so little between the teams racing for Europa League and prying away from relegation.
Seagulls Hit Six Against Woeful Wolves
Brighton marched on in their quest for European football, putting Wolves to the sword with a six goal thrashing at the Amex. Jaded from their penalty shootout heartbreak in the FA Cup semi final and a surprise loss to relegation strugglers Nottingham Forest coach Roberto De Zerbi saw it fit to make some wholesale changes for Wolves.
Much like their football, the club itself just seems to have this constant flow about it. When Graham Potter and Cucurella left for Chelsea they had De Zerbi and Pervis Estupian waiting in the wings, Mitoma for Trossard, Caicedo for Bissouma and so on and so on. Continuity.
With how well the south coast side are doing, they won’t be able to hold onto their star players for too much longer. However, Brighton have really established this brand of calculated contingency so it will be no surprise to see one star go and another slot in seamlessly with especially with talents like Julio Enciso, Facundo Buonanotte and Evan Ferguson in their roster.
As for Wolves there isn’t much to be said. All but safe from the drop, to say they might be on the beach would be flattering. Lopetegui will be looking to draw a line under the sand on this one and finish the season with something to build on.
Saints Slump Continues As Toon March Forward
Firmly rooted at the bottom of the league, struggling Southampton took the trip to St James Park to face a thriving Newcastle side on Sunday afternoon, an eventful fixture for sure.
Going into the game, most would’ve expected Newcastle to strike early in the first half, but Southampton proved defensively strong in the early stages, and completely against the run of play managed to go 1-0 up courtesy of Stuart Armstrong in the 41st minute. Based on the first half performance, Southampton couldn’t have really asked for anything better, and Ruben Selles would’ve been banking on showing the same strength in the second half.
However, trying to solidify their spot in the Champions League for next season, Newcastle came out firing in the second half. It took 9 minutes of pushing to equalise, with Callum Wilson scoring a right footed goal past McCarthy in the centre of the net. It was a case of attack after attack in the second half, and Newcastle finished the game with a 4.38xg and 22 shots at goal, as supposed to Southamptons 4 shots. In the 79th minute, Southampton’s hope for a point was crushed when Theo Walcott unfortunately turned one into his own net, before Callum Wilson bagged a second goal 2 minutes later in the 81st minute. 3-1 Newcastle, game done. Newcastle proved too strong for a desperately willing Southampton defence, a result that will bring gloom for many Saints fans.
It’s looking pretty clear that Southampton will not be playing Premier League football next season – they have components of a great team yet nothing seems to go right for them on the pitch, and it hasn’t been their season. Newcastle on the other hand have got it all nailed down a T, and their progression and game style has been nothing short of a joy to watch this season.
Cherries Fire Four Past Lacklustre Leeds
Bournemouth all but made sure of their Premier League survival with a resounding victory over relegation rivals Leeds on Sunday. A rare Jefferson Lerma brace gave the Cherries a foothold in the game, before Patrick Bamford gave the away side a glimmer of hope by firing past Neto.
Leeds hopes were quickly dashed in the second half thanks to a fine finish from Dominic Solanke, who is closing out the season in imperious form. Antoine Semenyo made sure of the result late on in what turned out to be a resounding victory for Gary O’Neil’s side. The Cherries have been written off all season, even by their former manager Scott Parker, but O’Neil deserves credit for steadying the ship and employing his brand of counter attacking football which has been enough to guide the south coast club away from danger.
Leeds on the other hand are in dire straits. With Javi Gracia about to be the latest managerial casualty and Sam Allardyce coming in to replace him, there is no doubt that these are desperation plays from the Yorkshire side’s board. Due to the table being so tight at the bottom, there is still a chance they can turn their season around, but at the moment Leeds find themselves in free fall and need a coach who can shore up their defence. Big Sam has done it before, but with so few games left he will face a mammoth task ahead of him.
Palace Reach Safety In Selhurst Park Thriller
Crystal Palace and West Ham United might play in different areas of London, but this was an exciting London derby. Both sides were looking for a result to help secure their survival in the league next season. Roy Hodgson had lost his first game since his return to Selhurst Park in mid-week but was on the verge of securing a return to the division next season. West Ham had narrowly lost to Liverpool in the week and were hoping to continue a decent run of form which included making a European semi-final. In a clash between the two oldest managers in the league, it was an absolute goal fest and a fixture to remember.
The Hammers struck first after a corner by Jarrod Bowen was not dealt with properly. Michael Olise’s poor defensive header gave Tomáš Souček the perfect opportunity to smash in the opener. Palace finally got into gear with Olise playing the ball into space and finding Jordan Ayew, who cooly finished to level the scores. The Eagles continued to play sleek football with Eberechi Eze and Olise shining in particular. After some great passing play, Olise’s ball across the box took a deflection into the path of Wilfried Zaha who finished for his 90th goal for the club. Olise was one of several players to have a mixed game with Souček also having fantastic and disappointing moments. Jeffrey Schlupp bullied him off the ball and megged the goalkeeper for goal number 3. However, the team from the Eastside kept things interesting going into half-time. Once again it was from a corner, as Souček flicked it across for Michail Antonio to head home, making up for his earlier error.
The game continued to deliver excitement in the second half, as Palace received a penalty following a 1-2 between Ayew and Eze. Eze was brought down by Nayef Aguerd in what was a very 50/50 decision but VAR did not overrule. Eze stepped up to the spot and sent the keeper the wrong way to restore his side’s lead. The Hammers kept things interesting, again scoring from a corner, with Souček’s flick-on forced over by Aguerd. It was a win in the end for Palace, but their defenders will have to go back to the drawing board when it comes to dealing with corners.
Crystal Palace have turned a corner under Hodgson and have now reached the magic 40 points mark, which usually guarantees safety. Despite making it hard for themselves, they showed great attacking play and will fancy their chances away at Tottenham on Saturday. West Ham will be disappointed not to take something from this game, putting more pressure on David Moyes. It doesn’t get any easier for them as they face both Manchester clubs this week and are only four points clear of the drop zone. In the battle of the veterans, one manager secured safety, while the other will still be fearing the drop and the sack.