Toxic Jose Mourinho is doing more harm than good at Tottenham, Bruno Fernandes could save Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Aston Villa are fading fast… 10 things we learned from this weekend’s Premier League action
- Frank Lampard bettered Jose Mourinho once again after Chelsea beat Spurs
- Bruno Fernandes could the catalyst for Manchester United’s top four ambitions
- Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal revival continued after the five-goal thriller with Everton
- VAR struck again controversially with Bournemouth suffering from decisions
The Premier League once again treated spectators to twists and turns galore, with plenty of drama ensuring that the race for Europe and the battle against relegation will head right down to the wire.
Chelsea did their best to remain in pole position to snatch fourth place, at the expense of former boss Jose Mourinho, and yet more VAR controversy created frustration and chaos in the top division.
Sportsmail takes a look at 10 things we learned from another entertaining weekend of action.
Chelsea once again ensured they remain favourites for fourth spot after beating Tottenham
Apprentice Lampard has master Mourinho’s number
With three wins from three over his former mentor, it is no wonder Frank Lampard celebrated with such exuberance during Chelsea’s victory against Tottenham.
The Blues have done the double over their London opponents this season, and the former midfielder also bettered his ex-manager when Derby County knocked Manchester United out the Carabao Cup last season.
Lampard, unsurprisingly, was keen to play down the intriguing tactical battle between the two managers – although Mourinho claimed before the clash that he was confident over Chelsea’s team selection.
As it turned out, Lampard sprung a surprise with four changes and the hosts proved too powerful for an injury-hit, conservative Tottenham.
Frank Lampard has bettered Jose Mourinho on three occasions following Saturday’s result
Jose’s siege mentality may be doing more harm than good
Following Tottenham’s limp defeat at Stamford Bridge, Jose Mourinho reiterated his desire to skip ahead to July 1 – in order to be able to work with sidelined stars Harry Kane, Moussa Sissoko and Son Heung-min again.
But his comments effectively hinted that Spurs’ current crop simply aren’t up to the same standard, despite choosing to leave highly-rated teenager forward Troy Parrott out entirely at Stamford Bridge.
Mourinho’s efforts to construct a siege mentality in north London, by continuing to bemoan their lack of attacking options compared to their top-four rivals, may in fact just generate toxicity among the club’s fanbase.
Pundits have already began to grow frustrated with the Portuguese’s comments – with Martin Keown even believing that Tottenham’s players are being sent the wrong signals. It certainly appeared so on Saturday with his negative substitutions and outlook.
Mourinho has continued to bemoan his lack of attacking options and angered pundits
Bruce must change his ways to revive Newcastle
Newcastle may not be embroiled in a relegation scrap just yet, but Steve Bruce’s men sleepwalked to defeat against Crystal Palace and failed to score for a third successive Premier League game.
The away contingent could be heard chanting ‘attack, attack, attack’ at Selhurst Park, with Patrick van Aanholt’s thunderbolt from the edge of the area adding to their misery.
Bruce pledged to ‘try something different’ in his post-match interview, after Newcastle appeared worrying bereft of creativity in possession once again.
The under-fire boss even hinted towards a change in tactics, a comment which may concern the St James’ Park faithful – but dragging out the best from his resources is crucial to avoid the mood around the club souring further.
Steve Bruce will consider changing Newcastle’s tactics after a limp defeat at Crystal Palace
VAR chaos is deflating Bournemouth’s relegation fight
Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe cut a dejected and pained figure in his windswept technical area at Turf Moor during his side’s defeat to Burnley.
The south coast outfit, scrapping for their lives to preserve their top-flight status, were twice affected by VAR decisions – both of which generated ire and plenty of controversy.
Josh King’s opener was ruled out for handball, despite the ball appearing to strike the Norwegian frontman’s shoulder, and Bournemouth’s leveller was also chalked off.
That time, Adam Smith was adjudged to have handled before the visitors broke away to tee up Harry Wilson, leaving VAR with little option but to award Burnley a penalty at the other end.
Howe bemoaned both decisions after the clash, and his side understandably appeared deflated before Burnley consigned them to another poor result.
Eddie Howe and Bournemouth were aggrieved after VAR struck in their defeat against Burnley
Blades’ form means stalemate is disappointing
Sheffield United have been this season’s surprise package, with Chris Wilder’s side currently flying high in the top half of the table.
The news that fifth spot could even secure Champions League football after Manchester City’s two-year ban may have caused Blades fans to dream, but Wilder was keen to ensure that it remains business as usual as Bramall Lane.
With several of the division’s largest sides regularly dropping points, United have crept into the upper reaches on merit – and Wilder admitted that the draw with Brighton on Saturday featured a ‘very, very slight tinge of disappointment’.
But the Wilder also praised his team’s efforts despite the smallest of reality checks, and will regardless reflect back on a season beyond his wildest dreams come May.
Sheffield United’s superb campaign back in the top flight has earned Chris Wilder plaudits
Aston Villa show worrying lack of fight in survival race
Dean Smith was forced to furiously deny rumours of a heated exchange with his assistant John Terry as ‘bulls***’ after Aston Villa fell to a limp defeat against Southampton.
But ironically, that outburst was the most passion showed by anyone representing the club on the south coast.
The furious Villa boss declared that several of his below-par stars had ‘played their way out’ of the Carabao Cup final against Manchester City – with Smith visibly embarrassed by the manner of his side’s performance.
Quite simply, the Villa registered one attempt on target and are in real danger of slipping back into the Championship. They are just one point clear of the bottom three.
And it doesn’t get any easier for the strugglers, because they must face up to a Wembley showpiece against Pep Guardiola’s serial winners next. That could end in a huge boost to morale… or sap it completely.
Dean Smith was impassioned after Aston Villa’s defeat but his players failed to follow suit
Manchester City are still consumed by penalty problems
Despite Pep Guardiola insisting he is unconcerned with his side’s struggles from 12 yards, the fact remains that Manchester City have now squandered their last four penalties.
The reigning champions were awarded a spot kick against Leicester after Dennis Praet was adjudged to have handled inside the box, but Sergio Aguero’s attempt was pushed clear by Kasper Schmeichel.
The club’s record scorer became the fourth City player to miss from the spot this season, along with Gabriel Jesus, Ilkay Gundogan and Raheem Sterling – and Guardiola also revealed that it falls to City’s players to decide who will take. A worrying lack of decision-making from the manager.
Jesus spared Aguero’s blushes with a late strike at the King Power, but City will not want to be punished with another missed penalty as the season edges closer to its conclusion and with success in cup competitions still on the cards.
Sergio Aguero became the fourth Manchester City player to miss a penalty this season
Feeble Norwich may have to admit it’s all over soon
Daniel Farke claimed that Norwich will not raise the white flag and surrender their Premier League status, but his team unfortunately appeared not to heed his words during their defeat by Wolves.
A battling performance against runaway leaders Liverpool showed that determination and spirit still remained, but neither were evident at Molineux after the 3-0 reverse.
Farke later reflected on a ‘soft’ display from his team – and time truly does appear to be running out with the Canaries now seven points adrift of safety and six adrift of their nearest rivals West Ham and Watford.
The Great Escape is not mathematically impossible just yet, but it will take a miracle to save the club from the inevitable now.
Daniel Farke claimed Norwich wouldn’t wave the white flag before their defeat against Wolves
Bruno is the man to keep Solskjaer in a job
The sight of Bruno Fernandes wheeling away in celebration would have been very welcome at Old Trafford – and the midfielder soon vowed to help Manchester United ‘conquer’ the race for the top four.
The club have often been accused regularly throughout the campaign of relying on individual flashes of brilliance, but £68million Fernandes has slotted superbly into the team and could be the catalyst for a final push.
United’s latest addition also teed up Anthony Martial’s sublime lob, and Mason Greenwood thunderbolt, to round off a successful afternoon against Watford.
With rivals likely to drop points in the battle for Europe, Fernandes could be the player that decides United, and potentially Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s, fate.
Bruno Fernandes could be the catalyst to ensuring Manchester United secure a top four spot
Arteta has the nous to overcome Arsenal nerves
The full-time whistle sounded at the Emirates and Mikel Arteta punched the air exuberantly, with his Arsenal side having secured a second consecutive, and crucial, victory against Everton.
His opposite number Carlo Ancelotti promptly vanished down the tunnel, but Arteta remained behind to bask in the adoration from the home faithful. They are starting to believe now more than ever that their former midfielder is the right man to lead the club forward.
Arsenal remain unbeaten in 2020 after the five-goal thriller that gave them the win over Everton, and were forced to battle hard for three points with the pressure piled on in the closing stages on Sunday evening.
But they stood firm, another sign that Arteta is gradually piecing together confidence in north London, and Arsenal continue to haul their way back into European contention after a largely disastrous campaign.
Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal continued their resurgence after beating Everton in a five-goal thriller
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