The Premier League yet again threw up plenty of the usual talking points and drama over the weekend.
Manchester City beat Crystal Palace 3-1 at Selhurst Park before Liverpool made their own statement once again with an impressive 2-0 victory over Chelsea to keep the Premier League title race at boiling point.
Here, AMITAI WINEHOUSE assesses 10 things we learned from the latest weekend of the top-flight season…
Liverpool kept up their Premier League title charge with a 2-0 victory over Chelsea
Manchester City saw off Crystal Palace 3-1 in the Premier League on Sunday afternoon
1. Remember the old Chelsea? They were the side that, no matter what else was going on, turned up for the big occasions.
That included the Steven Gerrard slip, that night at the Nou Camp and even last year’s FA Cup final with Antonio Conte heading out the door. Now, after losing to Liverpool, they have lost their last six away Premier League matches against fellow ‘big six’ opponents, conceding 16 goals across those defeats.
More than anything, that is what Maurizio Sarri is struggling to cope with as Blues boss. Chelsea have lost their big game mentality.
Chelsea have lost their last six away Premier League games against fellow ‘big six’ rivals
2. You can see why Sadio Mane might be the man for Zinedine Zidane. This season, at 27, he is hitting his peak.
Mane has now scored 21 goals in all competitions – his best tally in a campaign for an English side. Like his header against Chelsea on Sunday, they tend to come at the biggest moments too.
While no Liverpool fan would want to see him leave Anfield, it is easy to picture him in Madrid. He’s becoming the Real deal.
Real Madrid target Sadio Mane has scored 21 goals in all competitions for Liverpool this season
3. How will Tottenham handle life without Harry Kane? Well, the evidence suggests they may be able to get on just fine.
After their win against Huddersfield, they have now managed to emerge victorious in all five of the Premier League games they have played this campaign without Kane.
And, given his reputation at one stage, it is incredible to see Fernando Llorente has the best minutes per goal involvement rate of any Tottenham player this season in all competitions, at one every 71.1 minutes.
Kane will make any team better, but with his injury, Spurs have nothing major to worry about over the rest of the campaign.
4. Manchester United’s recent form has put question marks over Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – but at least the Norwegian has turned Old Trafford into a fortress again.
They are now unbeaten in 14 Premier League home games, with nine wins and five draws, and only Liverpool – 37 – and Arsenal – 16 – are on better runs at their own grounds.
Keep the home fans happy and Solskjaer will have time to turn around their ropey form elsewhere.
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has turned Old Trafford into a fortress again
5. It has been easy to miss just how much Kevin De Bruyne’s injuries have impacted his season, but his assist on Sunday highlighted how much of a struggle it has been.
The pass for Raheem Sterling was his first assist in the Premier League in 336 days, with De Bruyne last doing so before Sunday on the final day of the 2017-18 season against Southampton. That is staggering given his record of 16 last campaign.
It may explain why Pep Guardiola has used him sparingly. De Bruyne can now hope to push on for the rest of the season.
6. Ayoze Perez has been touting himself for a move to La Liga again, and that will almost certainly mean a switch to one of the bigger sides.
It might be worth those top teams noting that since Miguel Almiron came in and the burden of playing behind Salomon Rondon alone was taken off Perez’s shoulders, he has come to the fore. His header on Friday means he has now been directly involved in four of Newcastle’s last six goals (three strikes, one assist).
When Newcastle were struggling, Perez’s ambition seemed misplaced. Now you can see why he feels he’s ready to play for a team that can compete.
Ayoze Perez has been in fine form for Newcastle of late as they all but secure their survival
7. What a job Ralph Hasenhuttl has done. And what a decision he has made for his future in joining Southampton.
After beating Wolves, they have won eight of their 18 Premier League games under the Austrian, as many as they’d won in 52 games under their two previous permanent managers combined. That is a staggering improvement with the same group of players.
It also makes a point. Hasenhuttl is clearly a top manager and can cut it in England. Keep this up next season and he can expect to follow Mauricio Pochettino’s path to the top sides.
8. It is easy to see why Brighton are starting to feel the jitters when they suffer historic losses like the defeat against Bournemouth.
That 5-0 home loss was the first time they have been beaten by five or more goals on their own patch since an 8-2 defeat against Bristol Rovers in the third tier in December 1973.
They should survive – and comfortably – but that loss shows just how bad their recent performances have become.
Brighton’s 5-0 defeat vs Bournemouth shows just how bad their recent displays have become
9. Burnley will not repeat their staggering finish from last season yet there is still plenty to admire about how Sean Dyche has moved his side along.
They won a third consecutive top flight game by a margin of two goals for the first time since October 1968 when they beat Cardiff. And homegrown prospect Dwight McNeil has been involved in as many goals as any other teenager in the top flight – eight.
They do not have a European campaign to look forward to but Dyche has plenty to build on again.
10. Maybe having the pressure off does lead to strange results. Fulham had not won in nine games before they beat Everton on Saturday.
Yet relegation at the hands of Watford the game prior seems to have flipped a switch. They secured their first win since January and overcame a side who had been in good form in the process.
Swap that result with Watford and it would have only papered over the cracks but Fulham’s players now have the chance to prove they belong at Craven Cottage next season without the pesky notion of playing for something hanging over them.
With the pressure off, Fulham overcame an Everton side who had been in good form
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