The Hard Tackle rounds up the action from Gameweek 26 of the Premier League, with Liverpool, Arsenal, and Manchester City the big winners.
The 2022/23 Premier League season rolls on as we get closer to the campaign’s final phase. And there were some big movements across the table, with stories building up across the top division. In particular, the title race seems to be between Arsenal and Manchester City for good after Manchester United suffered a heavy defeat to Liverpool.
The Red Devils seemed to be the dark horses in the Premier League title race, especially after winning the Carabao Cup. But after the mauling at the hands of Liverpool, they are 14 points behind Arsenal, having played a game less. That seems to be a bridge too far for Erik ten Hag’s resurgent Manchester United.
Nonetheless, rounding up the action in Gameweek 26, the latest round of fixtures began with the meeting between Manchester City and Newcastle United at the Etihad. The match-up was crucial for the Citizens in the title race as the Magpies have been tricky customers in the Premier League. And the reigning champions cruised to a 2-0 win in the lunchtime kick-off.
The action then moved on to the “Goal Rush” segment, with Arsenal being the star attraction. It also featured other big hitters like Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, and Brighton & Hove Albion. Starting with Arsenal, who needed to show the heart of a champion to seal a memorable comeback win.
How things look after an entertaining few days 😅 pic.twitter.com/S25KPg9DfZ
— Premier League (@premierleague) March 6, 2023
The Gunners were 2-0 down before the hour mark and needed a late injury-time winner from Reiss Nelson to seal three points. That might have been the catalyst for a battling title win come May. Meanwhile, Chelsea and Tottenham suffered contrasting fortunes, with the Blues clinching what is a shock win these days while Spurs went down to Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Elsewhere in the “Goal Rush” segment, Brighton hammered West Ham United, cruising to a 4-0 win at the Amex Stadium in a result that bolstered the Seagulls’ credentials for European football. And Aston Villa eked out a 1-0 win over ten-man Crystal Palace. Finally, the day ended with a crucial 1-0 win for Southampton over Leicester City at St. Mary’s.
Moving on to Sunday, where the action began with an engrossing affair between Nottingham Forest and Everton at the City Ground. And the Toffees almost sealed a much-needed win, only for Brennan Johnson to complete a brace in the 77th minute and ensure the two teams shared the spoils at the end of the 2-2 draw.
In the main event of the evening, Liverpool and Manchester United met in the latest instalment of the Northwest Derby. And hardly anyone could have envisioned what followed in the 90 minutes at Anfield, as the Reds blew away their bitter rivals to clinch a shocking 7-0 win.
The two teams were evenly matched in the first half, with Liverpool scoring a late goal to go into the break 1-0 up. But Manchester United lost the plot as Liverpool scored with almost every shot on the night. And before long, the hosts were 7-0 up, with the visiting players looking for a place to hide their faces.
Gameweek 26 finally ended with an enthralling match-up between Brentford and Fulham on Monday. The two teams traded blows throughout the contest, with the Bees coming out as the victors, scoring the odd goal in five. And Carlos Vinicius’s injury-time strike came too late for the Cottagers to mount a comeback. The Hard Tackle now looks at the three winners and losers of the latest Premier League round of fixtures.
We will start with the favourites for the title race as we approach the business end of the 2022/23 season. Arsenal cannot afford to drop any points considering they are five points ahead of Manchester City, with the two teams yet to play the return fixture.
The Gunners need enough buffer to account for a possible defeat to the reigning Premier League champions. So winning every remaining game is crucial for Arsenal to do the unthinkable and win the title. That includes comeback wins like the one against Bournemouth.
When the Cherries were up 2-0 at the hour mark, many fans would have started lamenting the beginning of the end of the title race. But Mikel Arteta has been forging a group of headstrong individuals. And they showed their mental fortitude with a come-from-behind 3-2 win with practically the game’s final kick.
Some would say such wins show the cracks in the team’s foundation. But those who see the glass half full would assert that Arsenal showed the mental traits of a champion team. And so, the title race rolls on, with Arsenal and Manchester City likely to take it down to the wire.
Our list of winners continues with the team that might be starting to peak at the perfect time. Their current run comes after a disastrous start to the season that will likely end without a trophy. But Jurgen Klopp will be satisfied if Liverpool can end the campaign by clinching a top-four finish.
The Reds were once as low as tenth on the Premier League table, with many dooming them to go into the 2023/24 season without any European football. And after uncharacteristic defeats to Wolverhampton Wanderers, Brentford, and others, one cannot blame such sceptics.
But Klopp’s men are now on a five-game unbeaten run that has lifted them to fifth in the standings. And Liverpool’s 7-0 win over Manchester United has left them just three points behind Tottenham. To make matters even sweeter, the north London giants have played a game more.
Liverpool will have some big games coming up, as they will face Manchester City, Chelsea, and Arsenal in a span of nine days. And how they fare in that run will determine if they clinch a top-four finish. But momentum is with Klopp’s charges, and they might be turning a corner at the perfect time.
.@BrentfordFC's impressive run of form continues 👏 pic.twitter.com/L1fXvEtwa8
— Premier League (@premierleague) March 7, 2023
Tottenham will be perilously looking over the shoulders, with the chasing pack growing with every passing day. The north London giants are the team to catch at the moment as clubs chase a top-four finish. And our third winner sits at the back end of the said queue. We are, of course, talking about Brentford.
Thomas Frank’s men are the form team in the Premier League, with their unbeaten run dating back to the pre-World Cup break. The Bees have now gone 12 games without a defeat, with the 3-2 win over Fulham leaving them seven points behind Tottenham.
That seems like a sizable gap. But with Tottenham playing two more games than Brentford, a top-four finish might be on the cards. And with Frank’s charges hardly losing a game, one can back Brentford to take the top-four battle down the wire.
Amid all this, it is hardly surprising that Frank is a managerial target for Chelsea. And if the Danish tactician can mastermind Brentford to clinch European football, we might see him moving to Stamford Bridge in the summer.
Our list of losers begins with a team that seemed like a dark horse in the Premier League title race. But those faint hopes will have diminished considerably after a morale-sapping mauling. We are, of course, talking about Manchester United.
The Red Devils have been on a roll under Erik ten Hag, going from strength to strength in recent months. They have lost just twice in the Premier League since the World Cup break ended. But unfortunately for Manchester United, the second loss came this past weekend.
Erik ten Hag’s men were on cloud nine after winning the Carabao Cup. Alas, Liverpool went into seventh heaven after Sunday, with Manchester United looking for inspiration. Some fans have gone into a frenzy, fretting about their top-four hopes. Others reckon this was just a blip.
But after the petulance shown by some players, especially Bruno Fernandes, there are causes for concern. And ten Hag will look to nip a potential crisis in the bud as the Red Devils search for a morale-boosting win. For now, their title hopes have seemingly ended.
🗣️ "The goals are set up for the team and only going for that way otherwise it's going to be really, really poor and very sad."
Heung-min Son outlines what Tottenham have to do for the rest of the season to achieve a successful season pic.twitter.com/u4dgDbiGfT
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) March 7, 2023
The next team on the list of losers features a club that might have suffered a crushing blow to the top-four hopes. We are talking about Tottenham Hotspur, whose blow-hot-blow-cold campaign continued on Saturday.
Tottenham came into the game on the back of a two-game winning run in the Premier League. And with Newcastle United dropping points, they had climbed into the top four. But the north London club showed the after-effects of the defeat in the FA Cup to Sheffield United.
The hangover continued at the Molineux, with Wolverhampton Wanderers eking out a 1-0 win. That result might not be the end of the world for Tottenham. But they have games against Newcastle United, Manchester United and Liverpool coming soon.
It is also worth noting that the north London giants are now just seven points ahead of Brentford, with the Bees playing two games less. And if teams behind them win their games in hand, Spurs can potentially drop as low as ninth by the time the season ends.
Our feature ends with our last loser of Gameweek 26 of the 2022/23 Premier League season. And with the relegation picture witnessing a seismic shift, we have gone with a team marginally outside the drop zone after the latest round of fixtures. We are talking about Leicester City.
Bournemouth dropped to the foot of the table, while Everton’s lead over Southampton is now down to one point. Meanwhile, Leeds United and West Ham United are barely outside the drop zone. But we have gone with Leicester City due to what is the worst recent run in the Premier League.
The Foxes have lost three games in a row, leaving them just three points outside the relegation zone. The pressure is thus ramping up on Brendan Rodgers as he looks for inspiration from someone. The worst might be behind Leicester, with Liverpool and Newcastle United the only daunting opponents left in the run-in.
But the Foxes are not winning games against their rivals either. So while the business end of the 2022/23 season will feature winnable games, Rodgers needs a swift upturn in fortunes. But the recent three-game run means his charges are one of the losers this week.
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