12 March 2023

Top two power on as relegation battle heats up – 5 things from Premier League

12 March 2023

Arsenal and Manchester City kept pace with each other while things are tighter than ever at the bottom of the Premier League.

With attention also focused on matters off the pitch, this weekend’s action saw victories for the top two but some unexpected results lower down.

Here, the PA news agency picks out five things we learned from the latest round of fixtures.

Relegation scrap

The fight to stay in the top flight looks set to go to the wire for all three positions. Normally, at least one or two clubs are cut adrift by this stage but the bottom nine clubs are covered by only five points after victories for Bournemouth and Everton and draws for Southampton, Leeds and West Ham. Leicester look in real danger after four defeats in a row, while Crystal Palace, Wolves and Nottingham Forest are also in the mix after losing this weekend.

Gunners holding firm

After the drama of last weekend’s last-gasp victory over Bournemouth, Arsenal cruised to a 3-0 win against Fulham to restore their five-point lead over City at the top of the table. That made it five wins in a row in the league for Mikel Arteta’s side, who are showing no sign of faltering and also welcomed back Gabriel Jesus. April looks set to be a decisive month, though, with games against Liverpool, City and Chelsea.

Liverpool not there yet

Jurgen Klopp’s side were brought back down to earth comprehensively after their hammering of Manchester United as they slumped to a 1-0 defeat at Bournemouth. The Cherries were not even flattered by the result and could have scored more, while Liverpool were disappointing across the board. Having looked favourites for fourth spot, they are now six points behind Tottenham, who claimed a much-needed win over Forest, while Newcastle returned to fifth.

Dyche and McNeil dream team

Dwight McNeil has not pulled up any trees in his first season with Everton following last summer’s move from Burnley but, reunited with former boss Sean Dyche, there are signs the winger could be a key figure if they are to escape relegation. McNeil, who has started every game under Dyche, scored the winner against Brentford on Saturday, and said of his boss: “He knew what type of player I am and the person I am off the pitch as well, which was massive.”

Costly Casemiro

Manchester United midfielder Casemiro has been one of the signings of the season but his discipline must be called into question after he was shown a second red card in little over a month. United at least took a point in a goalless draw with Southampton after playing more than 45 minutes with 10 men but the Brazilian will now miss four domestic matches having already sat out three. Erik ten Hag’s side look secure in the top four but Casemiro’s absence will be felt.

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