Thu. Mar 4th, 2021

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Ederson will take penalties one day and nine other THINGS WE LEARNED from the Premier League weekend

9 min read

There may still be a long way to go but we are an awful lot closer to discovering who this year’s Premier League champions will be come the end of the season. 

Manchester City made it 16 wins in a row in all competitions with a 3-0 victory against Tottenham while Liverpool lost away at Leicester City and Manchester United failed to win at West Bromwich Albion. 

The top four race has heated up as well as Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea stepped into the driving seat after a win over Newcastle. The Blues are closely followed by David Moyes’ West Ham who leapfrogged Liverpool with a win over Sheffield United.

At the bottom, Fulham boosted their survival hopes with a win at Everton, while Burnley moved themselves further away from the drop with victory at Crystal Palace.

Sportsmail looks at the weekend’s results in more detail and highlights ten things we learned…

Manchester City moved closer to the Premier League title after another successful weekend

Manchester City moved closer to the Premier League title after another successful weekend

DE GEA’S TIMELY REMINDER OF WHY HE’S NO 1

After his double-gaffe against Everton last week, the writing appeared to be on the wall for Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea and his Old Trafford future.

All the fingers appeared to be pointing towards Dean Henderson taking over the United gloves but De Gea was handed another chance at West Brom.

And while the Red Devils put in a disappointing display at the Hawthorns, the Spanish goalkeeper provided a timely reminder why he is still first-choice for Ole Gunnar Solskajer’s side. 

David De Gea made a double save at West Brom to show why he is Manchester United's No 1

David De Gea made a double save at West Brom to show why he is Manchester United’s No 1

De Gea could do nothing about Mbaye Diagne’s opener but did do something with the West Brom striker’s threat in the second-half.

The 30-year-old saved well while one-on-one against Diagne before impressively clawing away the rebound to keep United on level terms.

A lot of focus will surround United’s centre-backs, the visitors’ missed chances and VAR once again, but De Gea sitting away from the limelight is testament to his performance on Sunday.  

WHERE HAS SADIO MANE GONE?

Before their seven-minute collapse away at Leicester on Saturday lunchtime, two of Liverpool’s front three showed why they still have it despite the Reds’ sharp downturn in form.  

Roberto Firmino’s impressive drag-back to Mohamed Salah – who swept in a brilliant first-time finish at the King Power Stadium – was not only two moments of genius but also highlighted Sadio Mane’s recent downturn in form.

The Senegalese winger has only one goal and one assist in Liverpool’s last seven league games. Mane also went eight league games without scoring between October and mid-December earlier this season. 

Sadio Mane made it one goal in seven league matches in Liverpool's 3-1 loss at Leicester City

Sadio Mane made it one goal in seven league matches in Liverpool’s 3-1 loss at Leicester City

In the Reds' title-winning season, Mane never went more than three games without a goal

In the Reds’ title-winning season, Mane never went more than three games without a goal

The 28-year-old never went three games without a goal last season as Liverpool won their first title in 30 years. To put it short, Mane’s recent shyness in front of goal means Jurgen Klopp’s side have a quality attacking two this season, not a three. 

Rivals Everton come next in the league for Liverpool before games against bottom-three sides Sheffield United and Fulham. Three perfect opportunities for the winger to get back on track.  

ARTETA’S ATTACKING ARSENAL A NOD TO THE WENGER DAYS 

Wherever Arsene Wenger was watching Arsenal’s 4-2 win over Leeds, there must have been a huge grin on his face when he saw the line-up.

Mikel Arteta selected Dani Ceballos, Emile Smith Rowe and Martin Odegaard in a very attacking midfield that showed flair and forward intent as the Gunners raced into a 3-0 half-time lead.

The use of several attacking midfielders is reminiscent of the team selections Wenger used to make when he was the boss in north London. 

Mikel Arteta named an attacking side for Arsenal's win over Leeds, including Martin Odegaard

Mikel Arteta named an attacking side for Arsenal’s win over Leeds, including Martin Odegaard

The line-up reminded many of the attacking midfield Arsene Wenger used to select at Arsenal

The line-up reminded many of the attacking midfield Arsene Wenger used to select at Arsenal

The Gunners’ best teams of the Emirates era included the likes of Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla in the same team. Go further back and Cesc Fabregas, Alexandr Hleb and Tomas Rosicky all featured together. 

With Emmanuel Adebayor, Robin van Persie and Alexis Sanchez all historically benefiting from this attacking midfield set-up, there’s no surprise that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang ended up with a hat-trick on Sunday. 

Long-term, Arteta is trying to take the Gunners into a new era – but it’s a nod to the past that is helping them boost confidence in the short-term. 

EDERSON WILL TAKE PENALTIES ONE DAY 

There was so much build-up about Manchester City goalkeeper Ederson taking the club’s next penalty that it was almost inevitable that Pep Guardiola’s side were to be awarded one against Spurs on Saturday. 

Sadly, the Brazilian shot stopper was not called up to take the first-half spot kick, with midfielder Rodri tasked with putting the ball past Hugo Lloris – just. 

Ederson picked up an assist against Spurs on Saturday and wanted to take Man City's penalty

Ederson picked up an assist against Spurs on Saturday and wanted to take Man City’s penalty

But according to beIN SPorts, Ederson was pleading with his Manchester City team-mates to let him take the penalty until Rodri picked up the ball. It shows that the Ederson penalty discussion has moved from a joke to serious suggestion. 

This means it is only a matter of time before the goalkeeper gets his call-up. With Guardiola rotating his squad on a regular basis, now-first-choice Rodri won’t start every game.  

Ederson’s 80-yard assist for Ilkay Gundogan’s second goal in the 3-0 win just goes to show the goalkeeper can affect matters in the opposition’s half.  

TUCHEL TAKING HIS RUTHLESS STREAK SERIOUSLY

Five wins in six games and only one goal conceded – Thomas Tuchel’s appointment looks like another masterstroke by Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich. 

One reason for the new German manager’s success is his ruthless team selection. Tuchel promised everyone a ‘clean slate’ at Stamford Bridge and he has stuck to that promise. 

The new Blues boss dropped Frank Lampard’s ever-presents Edouard Mendy, N’Golo Kante and Ben Chilwell for the 2-0 victory over Newcastle. 

Thomas Tuchel (middle) is continuing his fine start as Chelsea manager using a ruthless streak

Thomas Tuchel (middle) is continuing his fine start as Chelsea manager using a ruthless streak

Meanwhile, Tuchel-favourite Christian Pulisic and new winger Hakim Ziyech were also named on the bench. 

Blues trio Kepa Arrizabalaga, Antonio Rudiger and Marcos Alonso appear to have been brought in from the cold at Chelsea too. The clean sheet against the Toon will only boost the trio’s chances of more regular league this term appearances.

HAMMERS DEPTH COULD BE KEY IN EUROPE HUNT

If you didn’t believe it before, you should now – West Ham are chasing a Champions League spot with less than half the season to go. 

David Moyes’ side climbed above Liverpool into fifth after their 3-0 win over Sheffield United on Monday – picking up all three points without a recognised striker on the pitch. 

The Hammers’ versatility is a sign they have good strength in depth which bodes well for the rest of the season. Jarrod Bowen showed his flexibility in place of Michail Antonio while Jessie Lingard’s January addition looks like a masterstroke of a signing. 

David Moyes (third left) is guiding his West Ham side into a European place this season

David Moyes (third left) is guiding his West Ham side into a European place this season 

Ryan Fredericks' (second right) goal from the bench shows Moyes has great depth in his side

Ryan Fredericks’ (second right) goal from the bench shows Moyes has great depth in his side

In defence, Issa Diop – brought into the side for the injured Angelo Ogbonna – scored and kept a clean sheet to show he can be a reliable option despite being a back-up. 

Furthermore, Moyes will be delighted that substitutes Said Benrahma and Ryan Fredericks managed to combine for West Ham’s third while Pablo Fornals was not even needed on Monday. 

Yet Tottenham, Man City, Leeds, Man United and Arsenal await in the Hammers’ next five games. Moyes’ metal and West Ham’s squad will both be tested. 

MARTINEZ STAKING CLAIM FOR GOALKEEPER OF THE SEASON 

Let’s be honest – Brighton’s goalless draw with Aston Villa was far from a cracker, though one bright spot was the display of visiting goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez. 

The Argentinian shot stopper kept his 12th clean sheet of the season – his £20million signing from Arsenal looks better value upon the passing of every week. 

In fact, there’s a strong case behind Martinez being named the best goalkeeper in the division come the end of the season. Regular contenders Alisson, David de Gea and Bernd Leno have not been their usual selves since the start of the season.  

Aston Villa's Emiliano Martinez shone once again in goal against Brighton in the league

Aston Villa’s Emiliano Martinez shone once again in goal against Brighton in the league

Manchester City’s Ederson is the closest contender to Martinez as he has 14 clean sheets this term – though that is partly down to the success of John Stones and Ruben Dias in front of the Brazilian. Kasper Schmeichel could be in with a shout too.

If Martinez does end up with the goalkeeper gong at the end of the season, then the 28-year-old’s former club Arsenal will surely be kicking themselves… 

KING NEEDS TO STEP UP IN PLACE OF EVERTON’S PRINCE 

Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s absence was Everton’s achilles heel in the Toffees’ 2-0 loss to Fulham on Sunday. 

Carlo Ancelotti’s side lost their focal point and the Italian’s use of James Rodriguez and Richarlison as strikers did not pay off. 

Calvert-Lewin is set to remain sidelined for Wednesday’s visit of league leaders Manchester City and should the England forward miss any more games then Everton’s Josh King needs to step up. 

Dominic Calvert-Lewin was absent for Everton, who lost 2-0 at home to Fulham on Sunday

Dominic Calvert-Lewin was absent for Everton, who lost 2-0 at home to Fulham on Sunday

Stand-in striker Josh King (above) needs to step up when Calvert-Lewin is absent again

Stand-in striker Josh King (above) needs to step up when Calvert-Lewin is absent again

The former Bournemouth man was knocking on Premier League clubs’ doors since the Cherries relegation last term. Now that he’s got his move, the Norwegian striker needs to show why he’s a top-flight player once again.

King could look at fellow January signing and Fulham match-winner Josh Maja as inspiration of how to make a difference when your side needs you most. 

INGS IS OUTGROWING SOUTHAMPTON

When Ralph Hasenhuttl was asked in January how likely Southampton were to keep Danny Ings next season given European interest, the Austrian manager was adamant.

‘I think if he wants Champions League football he must score 10-15 goals more for us this season and then we have a chance to go there,’ he replied. ‘It’s not impossible I think.’

It’s looking pretty impossible now. Six straight defeats, the latest being a 2-1 loss to Wolves on Sunday, leaves the Saints way off the pace and they could even be drawn into the relegation picture. 

Danny Ings scored a superb volley but Southampton lost a sixth straight game against Wolves

Danny Ings scored a superb volley but Southampton lost a sixth straight game against Wolves

Ralph Hasenhuttl could lose his star striker in the summer if the Saints' form continues to drop

Ralph Hasenhuttl could lose his star striker in the summer if the Saints’ form continues to drop

Ings gave Southampton the lead with a sensational volley from Stuart Armstrong’s cross, which received plaudits from across the country including the league’s all-time record goalscorer Alan Shearer.

If there was ever a point for the 28-year-old striker to move on from Southampton to seek a bigger challenge, this was it. It’s getting to the stage where Ings is becoming too big for the Saints.  

ROY NEEDS TO ADDRESS PALACE’S FORWARD WOES

Failing to find the net when you play three centre-forwards from the get-go is not a good look for Crystal Palace.

Roy Hodgson started Jordan Ayew, Christian Benteke and Michy Batshuayi against Sean Dyche’s Burnley on Saturday yet still ended up losing 3-0 at home.

The Eagles boss tried to address his forward area with the loan signing of Jean-Philippe Mateta but the Mainz forward will surely take a few more weeks to settle in. 

Roy Hodgson (above) picked three strikers but Crystal Palace lost 3-0 at home to lowly Burnley

Roy Hodgson (above) picked three strikers but Crystal Palace lost 3-0 at home to lowly Burnley

Without the influence of talisman and top scorer Wilfried Zaha, Palace resemble a blunt sword going forward. The trio of strikers who started against Burnley have a combined goal tally of five this season but the precedent of lack of goals up front has been set over previous years. 

In the 2017-18 and 2018-19 campaigns, the club’s top scorer was midfielder and penalty taker Luka Milivojevic. Hodgson needs a more reliable option up front if he wants to take Palace forward.

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