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5 things we learned from this weekend’s Premier League action
Title rivals Manchester City and Liverpool both picked up wins, while the survival battle took another twist.
Everton finished the weekend in the relegation zone after they slipped to a 2-0 defeat at Merseyside rivals Liverpool, who kept up their title challenge.
Manchester City continued to lead the way at the top of the table, while Manchester United were left to face further questions after defeat at Arsenal and the bottom two were both beaten again.
Here, the PA news agency looks back across a dramatic weekend at both ends of the table.
Toffees stuck in a rut as Reds march on
While Liverpool remain very much in the hunt for the championship following Sunday’s derby triumph at Anfield, Everton face a battle to retain their top-flight status over the last six matches of what has already been a campaign to forget. It is the first time since early December 2019 that the Toffees have ended the day in the Premier League’s relegation zone. With a home clash against Chelsea to come next weekend ahead of tricky away trips to Leicester and Watford, Frank Lampard will have to quickly regroup his battle-weary squad for what could be the most important run of games in their careers.
City slickers keep foot on the gas
Any hopes Liverpool may have held over their FA Cup win against Manchester City derailing their rivals’ title charge have been swept aside after victory over Brighton on Wednesday night was followed by the 5-1 trashing of relegation-battlers Watford. City, a point ahead, have also eaten into the Reds’ goal difference, which is now down to just four, as the title race shows little sign of letting up. There is, though, no time for Pep Guardiola’s men to recharge – with the small matter of a Champions League showdown against Real Madrid ahead and their own European dreams on the line.
Jackson’s Clarets on the rise
Burnley’s decision to part company with Sean Dyche may have initially left critics shaking their heads. However, Sunday’s battling 1-0 win over Wolves was another impressive result for under-23s boss Mike Jackson and his interim coaching staff, who have overseen a three-match unbeaten run and back-to-back victories. There are certainly set to be more twists and turns ahead in the battle for Premier League survival, but if the positive momentum continues, maybe axing Dyche was not such a madcap idea after all.
United front needed at Old Trafford
Manchester United’s 3-1 reverse at Arsenal in Saturday’s lunchtime kick-off left more questions over the future direction of the club as they prepare for the summer arrival of Erik ten Hag. Whether or not the Dutchman will inherit a side set for Champions League football remains to be seen – but on current form, Ralf Ragnick’s men have it all to do. Talks of dressing room disharmony may have been dismissed, but ultimately the truth will out in what manner of performances the players can come up with out on the pitch over the last four games of another season of under-achievement.
Canaries and Hornets look down and out
While Brentford, promoted via the play-offs, appear ready to comfortably retain their Premier League status, both of last season’s Championship top two look well set for a swift exit. The writing has long been on the wall for Norwich and Watford before comprehensive defeats this weekend – but Burnley’s revival has now all but extinguished any flickering hope of a pulling off a remarkable survival act. While both clubs have bounced back swiftly from previous relegations, the manner of their Premier League capitulations this season have left some big questions to be answered when preparing for life in the second tier once again.