A jubilant Manchester United celebrating what would turn into a 2-0 victory over the previously unbeatable Manchester CityAssociated Press
We are rapidly approaching the business end of the premier league season. That glorious time of year when every point matters that much more. Every goal can make or break a season. Sure, things look relatively assured at the top of the premier league table (more on that shortly), but everywhere else you look, there is plenty to play for.
With roughly 10 matches to play, it’s time to dive in a little deeper. We want to examine the storylines that will determine the outcome of the season and where teams will finish—whether that means celebrating a European berth, being sent packing to the doldrums of the Championship, or somewhere in between.
This week’s action provided a good variety for this Winners and Losers article—a host of interesting results that give us plenty to discuss.
The Manchester derby? A result we maybe should have seen coming.
Fulham beating Liverpool at Anfield? Not so much, even considering the Reds’ abysmal form.
Things are getting congested at both ends of the standings, and it’s going to make for an exciting final third of the season.
Before I get too ahead of myself, let’s determine the best and worst of premier league Matchweek 27.
Winner: Luke Shaw, Manchester United
“Lukerto Shawlos”Dave Thompson/Associated Press/Associated Press
That’s right, Luke Shaw—a man who, at more than one point within the last few seasons at Manchester United, was nothing more than an afterthought. Now a crucial part of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s plans, the Englishman was the best player on the pitch in the 2-0 win at the Etihad.
Capping an incredible run for the Red Devils’ second goal against a baffled Pep Guardiola and Manchester City, the amusing Roberto Carlos meme comparisons were, for a moment, acceptable. Oh, and Shaw, who has seemingly been around for an age, is only 25 years old.
His resurgence has delighted United fans, and long may it continue. Gareth Southgate on line one.
Six straight losses at Anfield. Absolutely unfathomable.
It’s hard for me to pick on Liverpool here. You almost feel bad about how far the champions have fallen since their near-perfect season a year ago…but this is getting out of control.
Even in contrast to the first half of this season. Look at the numbers:
B/R football @brfootball
Liverpool’s season 📈📉 https://t.co/DVzFuGFDym
The wheels have officially fallen off. Upcoming matches against Aston Villa, Leeds United and Newcastle United provide good chances to get back on track.
Winner: Scott Parker, Fulham
During his playing days, there were few players you liked more than Parker. He was a dependable and versatile midfielder who always put in a shift and never let his shirt get untucked. Now, he has just picked up the biggest victory of his managerial career.
5 – Fulham’s 1-0 win at Anfield was only the fifth time in premier league history a newly-promoted side has beaten the reigning champions away from home, with Fulham the first side to do so since Bournemouth beat Chelsea 1-0 back in December 2015. Style. https://t.co/yfEkXGdMIj
Yes, Liverpool has been bad. Yes, the injuries have depleted Jurgen Klopp’s squad and kept them from any kind of consistency. Yes, Fulham is in a relegation battle due to a not-so-hot first two-thirds of the campaign.
On Sunday, none of that mattered. Fulham came to Anfield and secured a 1-0 win. The Cottagers piled on the Reds’ pain with a resilient, massive performance to keep the home side off the scoreboard (again).
Loser: Arsenal fans
As charming as Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta can be, and as exciting as Arsenal can play at times, it’s hard to empathize with anyone in the Gooner community more than the fans themselves.
Currently a lowly 10th in the table, Arsenal has not been good this season, and it must be hard for the supporters to take. Gone are the glory days of the early 2000s. Those teams are an extremely far cry from the product on the pitch at the Emirates these days.
Saturday’s excruciating 1-1 draw against Burnley, which was highlighted by an unlucky own goal and VAR’s unceremonious involvement, leaves anyone wearing red in north London scratching their heads and wondering what the next thing will be to lose sleep over.
Winner: Top-4 Chasers
Despite Sunday’s loss to United, Manchester City is still the overwhelming favorite to win the premier league this season. If that doesn’t happen, it’d be quite the surprise. So, the title race is not that exciting at the time of writing.
The duo of Harry Kane and Gareth Bale will be a problem for the rest of the league as the season marches on.Julian Finney/Associated Press
Where it gets interesting, however, is the chase for a UEFA Champions League position: the second, third and fourth positions in the table.
This weekend’s matches saw Leicester City, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea and West Ham all pick up big wins in their push for Europe. The seriousness of the matter seems to be sinking in, and we’ll see teams buckle down as we head toward the home stretch. It should make for some quality viewing, as the financial boon from a UCL berth would go a long way in recouping some of the losses from the pandemic.
Loser: Carlo Ancelotti, Everton
Not the return to Stamford Bridge that Ancelotti would have hoped for.
The former Chelsea manager, who won the premier league, FA Cup and Community Shield with the Blues in 2009-10, was back in London with his improving Everton side. Winners of their last three, including a first win at Anfield vs. Liverpool in 22 years, Ancelotti’s charges were looking to crash the Top Four party and keep arch-rivals Liverpool buried below them in the table.
A mostly tame display from Toffees, which was highlighted by an own goal and a surrendered penalty, ended the winning run and was a definite dose of reality for the Merseyside club.
Winner: Ralph Hasenhuttl, Southampton
To say Southampton’s form was bad is one thing, but putting it in numbers shines a new light on the situation. No premier league wins in two months since it beat Liverpool (sorry) 1-0 on January 4, Hasenhuttl’s side, which was once in the European contention picture, was in need. That’s a stretch of nine matches.