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Tuesday, June 6, 2023

10 key things we learned from EPL this weekend


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We’re now a quarter of the way through the 2016/17 Premier League season and there’s only a single point to separate the three teams at the top.

Big wins for Manchester City (4-0 vs West Brom), Arsenal (4-1 vs Sunderland) and Liverpool (4-2 vs Crystal Palace) ensured that it’s as you were at the top of the table.

Chelsea’s 2-0 victory over Southampton saw them leapfrog Tottenham into the top four, after Spurs drew 1-1 with champions Leicester.

A bad day at the office for Jose Mourinho , who was sent to the stands, saw Manchester United drops to eighth following their goalless draw with Burnley.

At the bottom, Sunderland now find themselves three points adrift, having picked up just two draws and no wins from their opening ten games.

1) Why have one No.9 when you can have two?

Owen Humphreys/PAAlexis Sanchez celebrates scoring his side's first goal
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring his side’s first goal

Such is the class of the man Alexis can virtually play anywhere in the offensive half of the field.

The Chilean was an absolute menace against Sunderland, buzzing all over the field, at the heart of everything Arsenal did well.

While you always expect him to be a focal point and the principle attacking threat, he also linked play and held up the ball superbly too.

But just when you thought Sanchez had made the Gunners’ troublesome striking role his own, Giroud comes on and shows he isn’t going anywhere yet.

Arsenal FC via Getty
Olivier Giroud gives Arsene Wenger something to think about with his two-goal cameo

2) It looks a long way back for Mkhitaryan

Mkhitaryan did not even make the bench, even though Mourinho backed him yesterday.

The Armenian playmaker, signed for £26million from Borussia Dortmund, is not injured, but Mourinho says he lacks match fitness.

Yet he does not feel he is ready to add to his meagre tally of 104 minutes of Premier League action. A percent Catch 22-situation for Mkhitaryan.

3) Liverpool are the Premier League’s great entertainers

Liverpool FC via Getty Images
Jurgen Klopp’s side have now won eight of their last nine games

If we didn’t know it already, we do now. Liverpool, under Jurgen Klopp, are fabulous to watch.

It’s fluent, exciting and they have some terrific, top quality players. Yes, they will let in goals and concede chances but what is football about if it’s not entertainment.

Liverpool are genuine title contenders. Make no mistake about it. And they’re also great fun.

4) Aguero loves playing the Baggies

Justin Tallis/AFP/GettyManchester City's Argentinian striker Sergio Aguero (L) shoots to score the opening goal
Aguero again popped up to haunt West Brom

Aguero’s first half double means he has now scored seven times in nine Premier League games against West Brom.

It leaves him on 13 goals this season and ended a five-week drought for the Argentine as City have failed to win while he has struggled for goals.

5) Chelsea’s three-at-the-back works – without John Terry

Antonio Conte may finally have found a defensive formation that works at Chelsea without John Terry

Under the former Italy coach, Chelsea look very Italian. Solid at the back, then they break forward with speed and class.

Eden Hazard and Diego Costa are back from their sabbaticals and Pedro is the player he was at Barcelona.

But there is no place for Terry in this slick formation.

6) Sunderland are down

Craig Brough/ReutersSunderland's Jermain Defoe in action as Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger and Sunderland manager David Moyes look on
Sunderland were abject in the first half against Arsenal

Remember that Derby County team of 2007/08? They had five points by now – this Sunderland team have two.

It all looks very bleak for the Black Cats and boss David Moyes.

Yes, today against Arsenal was never circled as a home banker in the manager’s diary, but following a decent enough opening 20 minutes they collapsed thereafter never looking anywhere worthy of anything other than another defeat.

Moyes is in real trouble – they remain the only club in the Football League without a win and the truth is they don’t look anywhere near getting one.

The home faithful seem resigned and who can blame them.

7) Spurs defence IS breachable

Leicester became the first side to breach Spurs’ defence in open play in the Premier League this season when they equalised early in the second half.

Spurs kicked off as the only side not to concede from open play in the top flight.

Before Ahmed Musa struck they had only let in Ross Barkley’s free-kick, James Milner’s penalty, Ben Gibson’s header from a free-kick and Nacer Chadli’s goal from a corner.

GettyAhmed Musa of Leicester City scores his team's first goal
Ahmed Musa was able to breach Spurs’ stingy backline

8) Romelu Lukaku answers his critics

Action Images via ReutersRomelu Lukaku celebrates scoring
Romelu Lukaku notched up his 50th Premier League goal for Everton

Romelu Lukaku has his critics still, but it’s hard to see why.

His inevitable goal against West Ham – his ninth in his last nine games against them – brought up 50 Premier League goals for Everton in 113 appearances, the quickest for the club since Bob Latchford.

And he deserves to be named in that company, because he’s already becoming one of the great Blues number nines….even if in these ridiculous days he of course doesn’t wear the centre forward’s number!

9) Ramirez shows his class… finally

Gaston Ramirez finally showed signs of his potential with a wonder goal.

The Uruguayan forward dispossessed Bournemouth deep into Boro’s half then sprinted a good 80 yards before turning Andrew Surman inside-out and side-footing past Artur Boruc six minutes before half-time.

Boro fans old enough to remember will liken it to a goal scored by John Hendrie, against Millwall at Ayresome Park in October 1990, when the Scot ran with the ball from just outside his own box before scoring – that was later voted the club’s greatest ever goal by Boro fans.

Ramirez, who helped Boro to promotion last season during a loan spell from Southampton before making the move permanent in the summer, went close with this effort.

Close, but Hendrie’s wonder goal will take some beating.

Gaston Ramirez showed glimpses of the form that helped Boro to the Premier League today

10) British Summer Time ended in August for Hull

Don’t forget to turn your clocks back an hour tonight – but in truth, British Summer Time for Hull ended more than two months ago.

The Tigers pitched up at Vicarage Road having won only a single point in the Premier League since August 20 and, whatever you make of this result, you can see why their pickings have been so lean.

They were many people’s favourites to go down before a ball was kicked and not much has changed, but at least they have located the backbone that went missing in the six-goal hammering at Bournemouth.


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