This weekend provided great entertainment for all Premier League fans. From Arsenal’s shock defeat to Manchester City’s extension of their victory cushion, we look at five key points that heavily marked the action.
- There’s much more to blame at Arsenal other than Wenger.
Fine. It goes without saying that Arsene Wenger’s time at the club has come to an unfortunate end. However, the old man is not the only one to blame for the huge mess at the Emirates. The club’s majority shareholder Stan Kroenke isn’t as interested in a winning team as he is a profitable business. This is part of the reason Wenger has been retained so much longer than made sense; and a succession of talented players have shrunk and failed.
- Tottenham is strong enough to beat Juventus
The first leg of the Juventus/Tottenham fixture was primarily supposed to be difficult for Spurs. It was not. Son Heung-min scored his 15th goal of the season on Saturday and his 10th in the league. He gave a man?of-the-match performance, not just for his goals but his attacking thrust. The South Korean is in good form but, as Spurs approach the biggest match of their season so far, against Juventus on Wednesday, he is not alone. In many home games at Wembley, breaking through the opposition’s defensive line has proved hard for Spurs. But now they have greater attacking options than before and are firing. Can they make the difference in midweek?
- No ambition at Chelsea
There is something striking about watching the defending champions cede their title to their successors, and this was a particularly mournful way to go about it. The last time a title-winning Chelsea team visited the side that was destined to succeed them they lost 2-1 to Leicester in December 2015 and promptly sacked their manager. This display is unlikely to accelerate Antonio Conte’s apparently inevitable summer departure, but a performance so stripped of ambition and attacking quality certainly reflected poorly on him. What Conte failed to see is that for a team of Chelsea’s recent history, ambition and resources an emphatic thrashing is not the only form of humiliation.
- Brighton is on the verge of survival
Brighton is almost there. The manner in which they dismantled Arsenal in the opening half-hour here was a measure of their qualities. Glenn Murray has eight goals in 10 games and, while he has never been quick, mustered the most sprints in the in-game statistics. Lewis Dunk and Shane Duffy are rugged defenders and spread panic at set pieces. Moreover, there is a balance and organisation to this team which will surely see them clear of trouble. That stems from their manager. “This group are working so hard, giving themselves every chance,” said Chris Hughton. He will not rest easy just yet but, on this evidence, cause for celebration is close.
- Mahrez continues proving himself
Riyad Mahrez is the best player outside the Premier League’s current top five clubs and it will be no surprise if Manchester City, along with others, try to take him away from Leicester again in the summer. Admirers must be impressed by how he has regained form after digesting the disappointment of being denied a move in January. His continued fine performances, including his wonderful stoppage time equalizer against Bournemouth on Saturday, mean if and when he leaves the club where he made his name, it will be on good terms. “It was a difficult situation but I was very pleased with the way the fans have been with me throughout this – I thank them all,” Mahrez said after the match on Saturday. “While I am here, I will keep giving everything for this club.” If at all Mahrez leaves, it looks like he will do everything to leave the club in very good terms