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Unexpected turn in the title run-in

Last weekend saw an astonishing turn of events in the Premier League title race. No one expected both Arsenal and Liverpool to lose at home.…

Last weekend saw an astonishing turn of events in the Premier League title race. No one expected both Arsenal and Liverpool to lose at home. It was Liverpool’s first defeat since New Year’s Eve and their first loss at Anfield since October 2022. Sitting watching both matches City manager Pep Guardiola must have thought Christmas had arrived all over again. To quote that old cliché, the title is now City’s to lose but with several games left there could yet be some twists and turns. 


Fulham are tough to beat at home and following Liverpool’s disaster last week losing 1-0 at home to Crystal Palace and the Cottagers winning away 2-0 at West Ham, the west London club are confident they can inflict more damage on Liverpool’s title hopes.

Fulham’s Rodrigo Muniz, Bobby Decordova-Reid and Alex Iwobi will be looking to increase their goal tallies as they face Robertson, Konate and Van Dijk but the Red’s Conor Bradley will be missing following injury. Willian and Andreas Pereira will supply the assists but are equally likely to score if a chance presents itself. Sasa Lukic and Joao Palhinha will fight in midfield against Mac Allister, Endo and Jones but Robinson, Bassey, Adarabioyo and Castegne will have their hands full as Salah, Nunez and Diaz try to put the Palace horror behind them. If Fulham play like they did in the league game away at Anfield earlier in the season they will give Liverpool a real test. Robinson was superb that day and gave Salah a difficult time. Liverpool needed some world class goals to beat Fulham.

Jurgen Klopp is desperate to leave Anfield with the title and definitely a top four place but Fulham are no easy task as the West Ham result shows but they did lose their last home game 1-0 to Newcastle. Playing in the Europa League on Thursday and travelling to Italy against Atalanta has not helped Klopp’s preparation for Fulham but he insists his team are fit and ready but there might be some tired legs. Arsenal have already left Craven Cottage empty handed this season proving that Fulham know how to beat thB top teams. Keep an eye out for Fulham’s in-form Muniz who was the Premier League player of the month in March.

Opponents have worked out how to play Spurs

Like so many others I have admired Tottenham’s style of attacking football this season under Ange Postecoglou. The problem is that many opponents have worked out how to beat them and none more so than Newcastle who took Spur’s Plan A game apart in beating them 4-0. Eddie Howe had clearly done his homework and his midweek training briefings concentrated on breaking down Tottenham’s high playing line and Anthony Gordon, Harvey Barnes and Alexander Isak simply dismantled Tottenham’s midfield and defence. Why Postecoglou didn’t recognise what was happening and drop his forward line back and deeper I cannot imagine. The Australian coach has been praised all season but this lack of ability to change things mid-match is a worrying sign.

Captain Son Heung-Min looked frustrated and annoyed as he was replaced in the 56th minute against Bournemouth. Many see him as Tottenham’s shining light but like his close associate and friend Harry Kane, Sonny has won nothing at Spurs in terms of silverware. Moving on is in his thoughts but he is also a loyal servant like Kane but many think he has remained at the club too long. There will be a long queue for his services if he decides to leave.   

Two players Arsenal looking to replace

A clearly angry and frustrated Mikel Arteta blamed much of Arsenal’s 2-0 home defeat to Aston Villa on Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko. He didn’t openly criticise them in from of the TV cameras or in the press briefing but that is what he was thinking. Both players joined from Manchester City and have played regularly however Jesus has scored only one goal this year and Zinchenko, for all his ability, constantly makes mistakes which leave his midfield in chaos as they try to retrieve a losing position. Both players were left out of the Arsenal starting line-up at Bayern Munich this week. Kai Havertz has proved to be a step up this season and has shielded much of Jesus’s mis-timed attempts at goal and Jorginho is a better player than Zinchenko but is constantly a non-starter. A repeat of last season’s final run in collapse is in the mind of every Arsenal supporter and, if it is not too late, wordB is that Arteta has to address replacing these two players and possibly letting them go at the end of the season.

Picture looks even more bleak for Ten Hag

The one thing a coach does not do is to avoid answering a question from the media by walking out of the post-game press briefing. That is exactly what Manchester United boss Erik Ten Hag did after being asked what would happen if the club ended up lower than seventh. The question annoyed him and he left. He is described around Old Trafford as a dead man walking and the pressure has finally got to him. Champions League qualification has surely gone although he still believes it possible…no one else at the club shares his view. Chelsea and Newcastle have improved their performances and even United’s Europa spot is under threat. The cub has less points at this stage of the season than it had accumulated in the season when David Moyes was sacked as manager. Ten Hag keeps on blaming his injury list and yet other teams, such as Bournemouth who drew last Saturday with a weakened team, have had bad injuries and come through a difficult re-organisation. Heaping blame for poor results on having players out injured undermines the confidence of those trying to play for the pride of the badge.

Ten Hag should be attempting to end the season quietly and without friction in his camp. However, following the very public fallout with Jadon Sancho, he is risking another major row. Many supporters posted on X that Alejandro Garnacho had been thrown under a bus after being hooked off at half time against Bournemouth. He had given the ball away which led to Bournemouth’s opening goal. Fans criticised Ten Hag and not Garnacho. The striker liked the posts on social media after the coach had called the striker “erratic in possession.”  

Brentford drop price for Toney

Brentford have decided they will definitely lose their talisman striker Ivan Toney at the end of the season but have considerably dropped their £100 million valuation. The 28-year-old is entering the final 12 months of his current contract with Brentford and is free to leave in 2025. The club have decided that given Toney is determined to move to a bigger club and they want some money for him and are now quoting £30-£40 million.

The Bees are confident both Ben Mee and Josh Dasilva will sign contract extensions which will keep them at the club beyond the summer. Dasilva and Mee are recovering from long term injuries and will be offered short term contracts ahead of next season. Mee has been forced to use crutches since suffering an ankle fracture in February. Dasilva returned from a hamstring injury in February but regrettably suffered a serious knee ligament problem which required surgery. The Bees intend to be active in the transfer market this summer and Club Brugge striker Igor Thiago is joining to replace Toney for £30million. On loan keeper David Raya will join Arsenal permanently at the end of the season.


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