Premier League things learned as Man City seal title and Arsenal in battle with Burnley

David Cooper 15/04/2018
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Manchester City’s title was wrapped up after the weekend’s Premier League results.

Here, we reflect on Pep Guardiola’s triumph and the rest of the week’s issues in the top flight.

City stumbles stop as celebrations start

After three defeats in a row – twice by Liverpool in the Champions League and once in the Manchester derby – Pep Guardiola and Manchester City were on the back foot for the first time in the entire campaign.

The soul-searching was banished after 90 highly impressive minutes against Tottenham at Wembley and the title was wrapped up as Jose Mourinho’s Red Devils were stunned by rock-bottom West Brom on Sunday evening. Make no mistake, a 16-point lead at this stage of the season is no accident: City are the country’s dominant force and everyone else is playing catch-up.

United lost to West Brom.

United lost to West Brom.

Harry getting Kane-d

In going to a formal panel to get a goal credited to him, Tottenham’s Harry Kane made the logical extension of every striker’s instinct to raise an arm and celebrate whenever a goalbound shot has passed within touching distance but it has made him the most meme-worthy target since John Terry’s ‘full kit’ celebrations.

That Jordan Henderson and James Milner both joined in the japes following Liverpool’s victory over Bournemouth suggests he will have to shoulder as much ribbing from his fellow professionals as internet trolls.

Harry Kane kept quiet.

Harry Kane kept quiet.

World Cup bolters

Gareth Southgate has cast his net far and wide since becoming England manager, but hinted after March’s international break that he was unlikely to consider any new faces for this summer’s tournament.

That conviction may gradually be shaking given the form of Newcastle midfielder Jonjo Shelvey – who earned the last of his six caps in 2015 – and uncapped Liverpool right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold. Both have done enough in recent weeks to gatecrash the conversation.

World Cup-bound?

World Cup-bound?

Gunners facing Burnley battle

Seventh place seemed to be the height of Burnley’s ambitions for much of what has been a superb season, but with five games to go Arsenal have hovered tantalisingly into view.

After defeat to Newcastle the Gunners lie just two points clear while manager-of-the-year candidate Sean Dyche has steered his side to five successive wins. The pair meet on May 6 in what may yet be a decider.

Arsenal lost at Newcastle.

Arsenal lost at Newcastle.

Allardyce and Everton growing apart?

Sam Allardyce confidently declared his season’s work at Goodison Park a success after this weekend’s draw at Swansea, which it is when measured against the chaos and confusion of the early campaign.

But the disgruntled fans who flood the phone-in shows and the persistent rumours of owner Farhad Moshiri looking past the former England boss offer a different perspective. Clarity is needed one way or the other if the Toffees are to grow next term.

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Man United player ratings as a frustrating defeat to West Brom hands Man City the title

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United lost to West Brom.

Manchester United produced a superb performance to deny Manchester City the chance to win the Premier League title at the Etihad last week but an insipid display at Old Trafford on Sunday handed their neighbours the prize this time around.

The Baggies scored through a Jay Rodriguez header to win 1-0 and spark celebrations in the Blue half of Manchester.

Here, we rate the performances of United’s players.

MANCHESTER UNITED (4-3-3)

David De Gea – 6: Made a fine save in the first half low to his right and a couple of routine ones followed.

Antonio Valencia – 5: Was solid at the back but ran out of ideas going forward.

Chris Smalling – 6: Decent shift from the Englishman, had a header on goal late on that he could’ve done better with.

Victor Lindelof – 6: Apart from one nervy moment when he was closed down quickly, he looked comfortable throughout.

Ashley Young – 5: Didn’t link up well with Alexis Sanchez. Little defending to do but like the rest of the team, short of ideas going forward.

Ander Herrera – 5: Should’ve won a penalty when Craig Dawson brought him down inside the area in the first half. Replaced at half-time.

Nemanja Matic – 5: Played 121 passes on the day, more than any other player by a mile. Horrendous header back across goal to gift Rodriguez the winner.

Paul Pogba – 4: Was a shadow of the player that sparked a remarkable comeback against City and was hauled off before the hour mark.

Juan Mata – 5: Was busy as ever and had a couple of shots at goal but couldn’t find the killer pass.

Romelu Lukaku – 6: Forced a couple of phenomenal saves from Ben Foster in either half although he could’ve been more precise with his first effort. Looked the most likely to score though.

Alexis Sanchez – 5: Worked hard and chased things down but another tough outing in a United shirt.

SUBS:

Jesse Lingard – 6: Replaced Herrera at the break and almost made an instant impact. Looked threatening.

Anthony Martial – 5: Wasn’t able to offer the kind of penetration he was sent on to provide.

Marcus Rashford – N/A: Came on for Young in the 75th minute.

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Man City crowned champions as Man United lose 1-0 at home to West Brom

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Manchester City have been confirmed as Premier League champions following second-placed Manchester United’s loss to West Brom.

Pep Guardiola’s side put themselves on the brink of title glory with Saturday’s 3-1 victory at Tottenham and United’s failure to take points off the bottom side on Sunday left City beyond mathematical reach.

Jay Rodriguez headed the only goal of a dull contest at Old Trafford 18 minutes from time, handing the Baggies an unlikely victory.

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