7 Things We Learnt From Premier League GW36

Joe Simpson

By Joe Simpson

Joe Simpson

16 May 2023

While we thought the title race would go down to the final day, Manchester City secured their grip on the Premier League trophy, while the drama at the bottom end of the table continues to sever up surprises. Here are our thoughts from the weekend’s action:

Gundogan Brace Proves City Experience


Manchester City put one hand on the premier league title with an effortless 3-0 away victory over relegation strugglers Everton. Fresh off a midweek stalemate at the Santiago Bernabeu, City continued their sparkling form wiping the floor with a determined Everton side. With a treble in their sights many would have earmarked the trip to Goodison as one of the most likely of any unlikely slip up for Pep Guardiola’s side. However the Citizen’s strength in depth shone through yet again as Ilkay Gundogan took over and bagged another brace, this time in spectacular fashion, stretching City’s lead at the top of the table to 4 points. 

As mentioned previously, this was at least initially a very spirited and determined Everton performance. While not finding any joy in an attacking sense the Toffees were proving typically stubborn in defence. Sean Dyche’s football has its pros however once a team manages to break through their deep block set up it’s very hard to keep up a similar level of resolve. Survival is still in Everton’s hand and they won’t face a team as good as Man City again. One more win should just about get them over the line. 

This game exposed the key difference between City and this season’s title challengers Arsenal. While the North London club look mentally and physically spent, City are operating on autopilot. Regardless of the pressure or opponent City never let the moment become frantic and it’s that same even keeled temperament that sees them on the cusp of a historic treble. The story of what looks set to be the most successful season in the club’s history largely comes down to management: not just Guardiola’s genius but the ability for the players to manage games and manage their mental stability. City have ‘been here, done it’ before and it is really showing.

Jesse Williams

Brighton Bruise Arsenal Title Chances

In a highly anticipated Premier League clash on Sunday afternoon, Arsenal hosted Brighton in a must win game for both sides; a win for Brighton would mean a strong challenge for European football yet would also suggest that Arsenal’s title hopes are as good as over.

The game began with Arsenal looking to take it to De Zerbi’s Brighton side. Spurred on by their passionate home crowd, the Gunners looked to

ify Brighton’s build up possession by high pressing the back-line. For the opening minutes of the game, it worked, and Brighton were forced into a lot of lost possession and mistakes. However, as the first half progressed, De Zerbi’s side started to assert their control and grow into the game. Their intricate passing and quick movement troubled Arsenal’s defence, forcing them to retreat deeper into their own half. A cagey affair for both teams in the first half, despite each side having excellent chances, half time came to a close at 0-0.

Off the back of a 5-1 home defeat to Everton at the start of the week, Brighton had something to prove, and they showed that in the second half. The intensity stepped up a notch, and the breakthrough came in the 51st minute through Julio Enciso, who headed in a from a scrappy cross from Estupianan after some shocking Arsenal defending and organisation. Continuing to showcase their dominance, Brighton’s efforts to remain resilient and shut up shop were rewarded again the 86th minute, when a mistake from former player Leandro Trossard set up Denis Undav, who lobbed the ball over Ramsdale to make it 2-0. A fast counter attack to further deflate Arsenal hearts ended with a third goal in the 96th minute; Pervis Estupinian fired home his first goal for the club after a fantastic move from De Zerbi’s men exposed the Gunner’s defence.

Title hopes gone for Arsenal, ecstasy for Brighton, who with 4 games left this season are looking poised for competing within Europe next season. It’s been such a great season, with so many bumps along the road, but the closing stages are well and truly underway.

Harvey Marwood

Big Sam Salvages Point To Keep Survival Hopes Alive

Leeds United played Newcastle United in an exciting Saturday afternoon kick-off that was a crucial game for both sides. The return of Sam Allardyce had started with a disappointing 2-1 defeat to Manchester City, so they needed something out of this game to keep alive hopes of survival. Newcastle meanwhile had lost to Arsenal the week before, so needed to get back to winning ways with Liverpool looming over the horizon. In the end, it was a point apiece in a thrilling game.

Leeds drew first blood after Nick Pope made a great save from a header, only for his defence not to respond. Someone who did respond was Luke Ayling who smashed the rebound in for his 10th goal for the club on his 250th appearance.  It could have been worse for the Geordies when a great run by Junior Firpo was halted by a foul in the box by Joelinton. Up stepped Patrick Bamford but his penalty was just at the right height to be saved by Pope, who has been a key part of Newcastle’s successful season. Speaking of penalties, it was Newcastle’s turn to have a go from the spot after Max Wöber brought down Alexander Isak after his 1-2 with Bruno Guimarães. Callum Wilson stepped up to the plate and placed it direct and low into the bottom-left corner for the equalizer. At half-time, it was all square.

We then had a third penalty after VAR intervened after Firpo’s hand brushed the ball in the area. Having already been booked and with his hand clearly in the air, he was lucky not to receive his second booking. Wilson was there again to finish, this time high and straight down the middle. He has gone a bit under the radar due to his lack of starts, but that is now Wilson’s 17th Premier League goal of the season, showing he has been crucial to the Toon’s push for Champions League football. Leeds would get their equalizer late on after they didn’t deal with the pressure of a Leeds attack and Rasmus Kristensen’s half-volley deflected in off the head of Kieran Trippier. That second yellow would eventually come for Firpo after he bundled over Anthony Gordon. Luckily for the Whites, it was just outside the box this time.

It was a big point for Leeds and could have been more if not for some poor defensive errors. If they play like that then they may somehow get out of this relegation scrap. They are a point from safety and without a win in five, so need a big win away at West Ham on Sunday. Newcastle meanwhile will be disappointed to drop two points, especially now Manchester United have caught them up and Liverpool are only a point away. Champions League qualification is still in their hands, and they need a positive result at home to Brighton on Thursday. It was a point apiece, but will it be a point closer to each team’s goals or two points away from reaching their aspirations?

Tom Atkinson

Liverpool Pile Pressure On Relegation Battling Leicester

Liverpool breezed past Leicester in a comfortable 3-0 victory on Monday night. A brace from Curtis Jones and a beauty of a free kick from Trent Alexander Arnold saw the Reds keep their Champions League hopes alive, while the Foxes are staring down the prospect of Championship football next season.

Liverpool have finally found a string of form after a season filled with false starts. The movement of Alexander-Arnold to a midfield role has diminished his defensive responsibilities, while Jurgen Klopp’s side seem to have found a clinical edge to their play that was lacking in the first half of the season, especially away from home. The Merseyside team will be hoping that this is not a case of too little too late, but they will be relying on other results to go their way in order to secure a top four spot.

Leicester meanwhile offered very little throughout the game and have failed to deliver all season. Dean Smith has struggled to sort out their defensive misjudgements, while in front of goal their strikers have been lacking the cutting edge necessary to maintain Premier League survival. After winning the league just seven years ago, this rapid fall to the bottom is demonstrative of how tough and competitive the Premier League can be. Every side possesses quality that can hurt the opposition, and Leicester have failed to rise to the occasion far too often in this campaign.

Joe Simpson

Forest Take Another Step To Safety Against Sloppy Chelsea

The 22/23 season cannot end soon enough for Chelsea as they dropped points at home again – this time to Nottingham Forest in a frustrating 2-2 draw. 

Taiwo Awoniyi continued his rich vein of scoring form, cancelling out a Raheem Sterling brace with one of his own to help his side tighten their grip on top flight survival. Their form has not been convincing in the slightest but Steve Copper’s side look to have just about done enough. 

As Forest inch closer to safety Chelsea inch closer to the worst finish in the club’s premier league history. The contextual backdrop of their managerial circus and their over half a billion spend doesn’t need to be regurgitated. The whole football world knows the mess that the Blues are in but what is more of a concern now is ascertaining what players are fit for purpose going forward. 

For the first time in a long time it looks like Chelsea’s executives might have made a reasonable and measured decision. Despite a poor spell at PSG and history with rivals Spurs it is one Mauricio Pochettino who looks set to take on the task of fixing Chelsea. The Argentinian will have a deep pool of talent at his disposal and will be granted the time to work with greater job security than most have enjoyed at Stamford Bridge. The task is to elevate this team from rock bottom and be back amongst their top 6 buddies at a minimum next year.

Jesse Williams 

Saints Sunk By Fulham Firepower

Southampton has been relegated from the Premier League after 11 consecutive years in the top flight. They had some memorable talents like Sadio Mané and Virgil van Dijk in that time while reaching a cup final and bringing European football to the South Coast. Most fans knew what was coming after a poor season and three managers, but hoped for something to delay the inevitable after losing a thrilling contest to Nottingham Forest earlier that week. Fulham had been seen to be on the beach after exiting the F.A. Cup and being out of the race for Europe. But, after the goal fest against Leicester last Monday, they were looking to end the season on a high. It ended up being a fairly comfortable Fulham win that ended the Saints’ time in the top division.

Initially, there was some hope with Fulham’s one major first-half chance from Willian headed off the line by Lyanco. His other defenders’ lack of closing down was a sign of things to come. Southampton wasted their big opportunity with Carlos Alcaraz going too early and being caught offside after finishing nicely from a through-ball by James Ward-Prowse. Soon enough, Fulham were 1-0 ahead. Tom Cairney played a beautiful-curling sideways pass to Harry Wilson who played the ball through to Harrison Reed. His tackle won the ball back and directed it towards the feet of Carlos Vinícius who opened the scoring. It was brilliant football, but it was finished into an empty net, highlighting the poor defending on display.

Kyle Walker-Peters made a great run down the channel and his cross was on the money, but unfortunately, Paul Onuachu could only head over. The game was then sealed after Wilson’s cross was headed in by Aleksandar Mitrović on his return from suspension. Again, it was a great header and movement by the Serbian striker, but he was allowed to get into that position. Kamaldeen Sulemana would then drag wide, and Manor Solomon would force the keeper to parry away after a great run and effort, but the job was done.

Southampton were relegated after a tame, feeble effort against the Cottagers. Conceding 66 is bad enough but scoring just 31 this season has cost them. Their lack of goalscoring prowess and poor defending was on display in this game, as it had been all season. Rubén Sellés has now lost 10 of his 16 games in charge and clearly, he was not the man for the job. They are unlikely to restore any pride with games against Brighton and Liverpool to finish the season, while the likes of Ward-Prowse and Walker-Peters are likely to move on in the summer. Fulham meanwhile are finishing the season on a high, with a top-half finish all but secured in their first season back. They will hope to continue this good form into their game against Crystal Palace on the weekend. While one team is just beginning their period in the top flight, another ends theirs on a whimper.

Tom Atkinson

Martial Helps Manchester United Stay In European Driving Seat

Manchester United got their season back on track thanks to a relatively comfortable win against Wolves at Old Trafford on Saturday. A first half goal from Anthony Martial put the Reds into the ascendancy, thanks to great work from Bruno Fernandes and Antony, who had one of his best performances in a United shirt.

The three points were secured in stoppage time as Alejandro Garnacho marked his return from injury with a goal. Erik Ten Hag will be pleased that his side coped with the pressure from those below them in the table. If United are able to secure Champions League football next season, the Dutchman will be pleased with the fruits of his labour after his first year in charge.

Given how much of a mess United found themselves in last season, Ten Hag has been a stabilising presence who has already brought silverware back to Old Trafford. United therefore will be hoping that this upward trajectory carries through to next season, where they will look to make more of a challenge for the title.

Joe Simpson