Five things we learned from Premier League GW23
Photo: Getty Images - Clive Mason

Five things we learned from Premier League GW23

Here's what we learned from this week's thrilling Premier League action.

grantmcquillan
Grant McQuillan

We are 23 games into the Premier League season and with the FA Cup coming thick and fast and the Champions League knockout's just around the corner, England's top flight league is still proving so tough to call all across the board.

At the top of the table, Liverpool had a scare, but came through it like, dare I say, champions. But the real champions, Manchester City, stayed hot on their heels with an easy 0-3 victory over the seemingly doomed Huddersfield.

Tottenham Hotspur had a struggle without Harry Kane and Son Heung-min, but their other Harry sealed all three points over Fulham, as Harry Winks nodded home with seconds to spare to win 2-1.

Also at the top end, Arsenal made easy work of the London derby, by cruising to a 2-0 victory over the seemingly lifeless Chelsea, whilst Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made it seven out of seven, forcing the gap between sixth and fourth to just three points.

Down at the bottom, both Fulham and Huddersfield succumbed to Spurs and Man City respectively, pushing them closer to the Championship, just as Southampton claimed another three points, forcing them three clear of the drop.

Newcastle United claimed arguably the result of the weekend, after battering Cardiff City 3-0. The Magpies, as a result, forced Neil Warnock's men to swap with them in the bottom three.

Liverpool win it like champions

Each year, the soon to be champions hit a brick wall of some kind. It always happens.

Games come that should be winnable, but cause a bit of trouble, and when they collect three points the phrase 'that's what champions do' appropriately gets attached.

That is just what happened for Liverpool against Crystal Palace, and perhaps they showed their title-winning mentality for maybe the first time in the Premier League era.

Jurgen Klopp's men didn't have their best day at the office, but they still won - and that's what champions do. Liverpool came from behind to lead 2-1 against Palace, but fell into a 2-2 draw, and ended up winning the game 4-3.

They got a slight bit of luck with one of Mohamed Salah's goals, but, again, that bit of luck is often earned through a championship-winning mentality.

Perhaps what puts Liverpool ahead of Manchester City now, is that when City fell behind to Palace, it stayed that way. But when the Reds did so, they scored two more.

FACT: Crystal Palace are the first team to score more than once at Anfield this season and the first to score three goals there since January 2018 when Manchester City lost 4-3.

It's sunshine and rainbows at Man United, but there is a slight crack in the road

Solskjaer has made it seven wins in a row for Manchester United - a truly remarkable, record-breaking start.

But, if you analyse the last two games against Spurs and Brighton & Hove Albion, you will see that despite the result, United have hit a slight bump in their new road.

A victory over Spurs was the first 'real' test passed for Solskjaer, however, the phenomenal abilities of David De Gea were just as important than the outfield players who created the only goal. Kind of the same old, really.

Then, this week, Brighton gave the Red Devils a scare with a goal late on, and then Brighton took control until the final whistle, sending nerves throughout the fans yet again.

Of course, it is seven wins out of seven for the Norwegian and that's all that matters. But perhaps a team with better goalscoring ability would have punished United in these last two matches, say, for example, a Paris Saint-Germain.

Put it this way, PSG just won 9-0, so these cracks may become more evident very quickly when the French side go to Manchester in three weeks.

FACT: Only Pep Guardiola and Carlo Ancelotti have won their first six Premier League games in charge. If United beat Burnley at Old Trafford next week, Solskjaer will set a new record.

Newcastle finally lay down their marker

Newcastle was winless in their first 11 games in all competitions until they finally got going with a victory over Watford on the 3rd November. But even since, they have failed to properly get going.

Over the hectic Christmas period, the Magpies slipped into the relegation zone, after picking up just six points out of the 24 available in December.

But now, in the New Year, just when the January transfer window seemed to be gobbling up all motivation for the club to do well, Rafael Benitez has finally laid down his marker this season.

A 3-0 win over Cardiff was not just made to look easy for the first time this season, it also made the Welsh side switch places with Newcastle in the relegation zone.

We saw that the Magpies clearly can play well and that Benitez can take them further up the table. They simply must kick on from here.

FACT: Newcastle have won by three or more goals for the first time in the Premier League since the end of last season when they beat Chelsea 3-0.

Chelsea awful, Arsenal brilliant

The two London rivals came into the game with six points separating them, and with Chelsea's vastly superior defensive record and Arsenal's attacking threat, it looked like being a close tie.

However, the Gunners made easy work of their victory over the Blues. Unai Emery clearly outclassed Maurizio Sarri, and every Arsenal player outworked their counterpart.

Sarri's side looked lost for ideas, tactically inept and awfully unbalanced and rarely was the Arsenal backline tested, whilst Bernd Leno was never bothered one bit.

Emery's men worked tirelessly and it was clear to see the impact the Spaniard had with his tactical planning, as opposed to Sarri with his side.

Perhaps there is an element of stubbornness from the Italian at the moment, with his constant questionable decision to play N'Golo Kante on the right side of midfield to make way for Jorginho and to play  Eden Hazard as a central striker.

Jorginho struggled once again and was found out plenty of times, whilst Kante could not dictate the midfield as he so often does, plus, Hazard never got going and David Luiz was made to look average.

All in all, in every aspect of the 90 minutes of football at the Emirates, Arsenal were considerably better, and now the race for the top four is blown wide open and there are now more questions asked of Sarri, just as Emery silenced the many facing him.

FACT: Unai Emery is the first Arsenal manager to win an Arsenal home game against Chelsea that wasn't Arsene Wenger since February 1994, 67 meetings ago.

The Ralph Hasenhüttl appointment is working like a charm

Before the appointment of Ralph Hasenhüttl, Southampton had won just three of their last 22 Premier League matches under Mark Hughes and their identity was fading, as was their top-flight status.

But now, under Hasenhüttl, it's 13 points from the 21 available after losing his first two. As a result, Southampton are three points clear of the drop, and the Saints have now scored more goals than anyone in the bottom seven.

The Austrian has managed to get more out of Southampton's younger players, and the likes of James Ward-Prowse are starting to shine a little brighter, whilst they are maintaining a relatively decent defensive record.

Now, Hasenhüttl still has plenty of work to do, of course. But the Saints are creating more, conceding less and overall, finally winning games.

However, three points from safety can be easily overturned and their better goal difference may end up being the difference between survival and the drop, but as of now, the ex-Leipzig man is turning out to be a charm.

FACT: Southampton have won consecutive Premier League games for only the second time in two years (3-2 vs. Arsenal, 1-3 vs. Huddersfield in 2018 and 3-1 vs Crystal Palace, 0-1 vs. West Brom in 2017 were the previous two)

VAVEL Logo