We’re at the business end of the Premier League season and there were plenty of winners and losers at the weekend. Let’s take a look at who had a good weekend in the top flight and who had one to forget…
Chris Wood, Burnley
The former Leeds United striker bagged a first-half hat-trick as Burnley ripped Wolverhampton Wanderers apart at Molineux yesterday.
On paper the game had all the hallmarks of an early afternoon snore-fest, but the Clarets swiftly dispelled that notion.
Wolves played like a side already on the beach, with the Clarets bringing their performance levels from Old Trafford last weekend to the Black Country in a thumping 4-0 win.
That hat-trick put Wood into a star-studded list of Premier League strikers too:
The result should seal another season in the Premier League for Sean Dyche’s men. It also all but condemns Fulham to an instant return to the Championship.
The win propelled Burnley into 14th place only five points behind Wolves, who can’t wait for this season to end.
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Kalvin Phillips, Leeds United
Leeds last met Manchester United in December and were 2-0 down at Old Trafford before they had time to blink.
Marcelo Bielsa’s man-marking system allowed Man United’s midfield to pull Leeds all over the place as Bruno Fernandes’ movement dragged Kalvin Phillips away from his screening role in front of the back four.
Yesterday, Phillips comfortably won the battle with the Portuguese maestro. Eight tackles tell their own story and it underlines Leeds’ collective improvement.
They have kept clean sheets against Chelsea and Manchester United in recent games and taken points from Liverpool and Manchester City.
That’s testament to Leeds’ solidity and Bielsa’s evolution of the defensive side of their game. It allowed Phillips to shine once more in yesterday’s grudge match. However, the 0-0 draw wasn’t the most entertaining game of the weekend that’s for sure.
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Steve Bruce, Newcastle United
Newcastle are now nine points clear of the drop zone with just five games remaining after Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Anfield.
Nobody could begrudge the Magpies their point either. They were the dominant side in the game’s closing stages and fell victim to a harsh VAR call that ruled out Callum Wilson’s strike before Joe Willock’s late, late goal.
There has been a marked improvement by Newcastle since their abject 3-0 defeat to Brighton and Hove Albion.
They have started to show the kind of adventure Newcastle fans have been crying out for all season – and it has paid dividends.
That doesn’t excuse the fact Newcastle have been dour to watch for much of the campaign or change the fact the fans have a right to expect more than they’ve seen from their side.
But it does mean another season in the top flight should be secure and it allowed Bruce a moment of unbridled joy on the Anfield touchline on Saturday.
Bernd Leno, Arsenal
Arsenal are tenth in the Premier League after Friday’s 1-0 home to defeat to Everton and could drop further if Aston Villa win their game in hand.
The game at the Emirates was a cagey affair and both sides would have settled for a 0-0 draw.
As it was, Bernd Leno let Richarlison’s harmless cross-shot slip through his legs, leaving the Gunners going into their huge Europa League semi-final on Thursday on the back of yet another defeat.
Leno’s timing could have been better. He recently refused to rule out leaving Arsenal, which throws fresh doubt on the club’s decision to sell Emi Martinez in the summer. To Aston Villa, no less.
Perhaps Arsenal played within themselves on Friday, not wanting to risk injury ahead of this week’s trip to Spain to face former boss Unai Emery and Villarreal. But that’s a dangerous game – it’s not easy to turn performances on and off like a tap.
Nuno Espirito Santo, Wolves
A grim day for Wolves.
Shock results can happen when one team is on the beach and the other has something to play for.
But Nuno made a point at his press conference on Friday of telling his side to keep their levels up this season to build a strong foundation for the next.
That message plainly fell on deaf ears as his side made it so, so easy for Burnley.
The injury to Raul Jimenez has had a huge impact on Wolves’ campaign but they simply have to be better next term. Avoiding batterings like Burnley gave them is essential or confidence will be lower than a limbo pole ahead of a hugely important summer at Molineux.
Brighton and Hove Albion
The Seagulls should be safe.
They are 17th but have a seven-point cushion to Fulham below and a far superior goal difference.
But on Saturday night Brighton had a chance to all but seal survival against a Sheffield United side whose own relegation had been confirmed – and they blew it.
David McGoldrick’s goal sealed all three points for the Blades as poor finishing once again cost Graham Potter’s side.
Brighton’s defeat has given Scott Parker a glimmer of hope where there should be none.
The Seagulls’ run-in isn’t the easiest but one win should be enough. Going on current form, Brighton will hope to get it when they travel to just-walloped Wolves on 9 May.
But the Seagulls have once again been their own worst enemies by failing to build on their outstanding performance against Chelsea.