Three things we learned from the Premier League
Arsenal’s Premier League title charge suffered a setback as Liverpool rescued a dramatic 2-2 draw against the leaders.
Frank Lampard’s Chelsea return was a damp squib, while Manchester United consolidated their top four place despite Marcus Rashford’s injury.
AFP Sport looks at three things we learned from the weekend’s action in the top-flight:
Arsenal finally crack under pressure
After a run of seven consecutive league wins, Arsenal finally buckled under the pressure applied by Manchester City’s 4-1 win at Southampton on Saturday.
The Gunners appeared to be cruising towards a crucial win when Gabriel Martinelli and Gabriel Jesus put them 2-0 up inside half an hour against a Liverpool side low on confidence.
Yet, despite a season of struggle, the Reds have still only lost one league game at home and came roaring back in a thrilling clash.
Arsenal were grateful in the end to Aaron Ramsdale for leaving Merseyside with even a point as he made stunning saves to deny Mohamed Salah, Darwin Nunez and Ibrahima Konate in the closing stages.
The two points dropped could yet prove the difference in the title race, with City hitting top form at the right time.
In contrast to Mikel Arteta’s novices when it comes to the title run-in, Pep Guardiola’s men are battle-tested after lifting the trophy four times in the last five years.
Despite a six-point deficit, City now know that if they win their remaining nine games they will almost certainly retain the title.
‘Angry’ Chelsea lose on Lampard return
Just as Thomas Tuchel and Graham Potter found before him, Frank Lampard quickly learned that Chelsea’s problems are deep rooted and impossible to erase overnight.
Lampard is back at Stamford Bridge as the club’s third manager this season after the Chelsea legend agreed to replace the sacked Potter until the end of the campaign.
But Lampard’s return, following his sacking by Chelsea in January 2021 and subsequent dismissal by Everton earlier this season, did little to inspire a revival as Matheus Nunes’ first-half goal condemned the Blues to a 1-0 defeat at Molineux on Saturday.
Despite spending over £500 million ($621 million) on new signings this season, Chelsea remain a dismal 11th in the Premier League ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League quarter-final first leg at Real Madrid.
If Lampard can mastermind a shock victory against the European champions, it would be a major feather in his cap given Chelsea’s usual lack of cutting edge against lowly Wolves.
Summing up the frustrated mood in the Chelsea camp, midfielder Conor Gallagher said: “We can’t have too many complaints. We’re disappointed and angry because we want it so bad.
“It’s just not clicking at the minute. There are a lot of areas we can improve and do better. We have to look at ourselves, individually and collectively. We didn’t do enough on the day.”
Man Utd show strength in depth
Harry Maguire believes Manchester United can thrive without Marcus Rashford after the England forward’s injury scare during the 2-0 win against Everton.
Rashford is being assessed after pulling up holding his groin towards the end of Saturday’s match at Old Trafford, with United boss Erik ten Hag admitting the injury didn’t “look well”.
Fourth placed United sit three points ahead of fifth placed Tottenham in the race to qualify for next season’s Champions League and a sustained absence for Rashford would be a blow.
But United defender Maguire is confident Ten Hag’s reinforced squad can cope as they chase a top four finish as well as competing in the FA Cup and Europa League.
Casemiro will now return from suspension and Christian Eriksen and Anthony Martial are back to full fitness.
“We’re never going to be successful as 11 players. We’re playing in all competitions. To do that you need more than 11,” Maguire said.
“To get Christian back, Anthony back, they’re huge players for us. We’ve got a good squad to be able to cope with the demands that we’ve been put through.”
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