Home » Arsenal refuse to give in AGAIN and Aston Villa see off Man City to prove they’re the real deal, but Ange Postecoglou’s tactics are starting to cost Spurs… 10 THINGS WE LEARNED from the Premier League

Arsenal refuse to give in AGAIN and Aston Villa see off Man City to prove they’re the real deal, but Ange Postecoglou’s tactics are starting to cost Spurs… 10 THINGS WE LEARNED from the Premier League

The first midweek round of Premier League fixtures this season has flown by and it threw up plenty of intriguing storylines.

Arsenal kept hold of top spot with a last-gasp 4-3 win at Luton, while Liverpool remained hot on their tails by seeing off Sheffield United 2-0 in Chris Wilder’s first game back at Bramall Lane.

But defending champions Manchester City lost 1-0 to Aston Villa to stretch their winless run to four matches, while there were also defeats for top-four hopefuls Tottenham and Newcastle.

Meanwhile, Erik ten Hag‘s Manchester United bounced back from their weekend loss at St James’ Park to seal a 2-1 home win against Chelsea.

After 30 goals were scored across the 10 top flight games, Mail Sport picks out 10 things we learned over the past few days. 

Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal are still top of the table after their last-gasp win at Luton

Arsenal leave it late again

Tuesday night almost went very wrong for Arsenal. Playing in a hostile atmosphere at Kenilworth Road, the Gunners twice threw away leads and then fell behind following two errors from goalkeeper David Raya.

In the past, they may have given in and accepted it wasn’t their night. But not this Arsenal side. Kai Havertz brought them level on the hour mark, and then they kept pushing for a winner until deep into stoppage time.

In the 97th minute they finally got their reward as Declan Rice headed home Martin Odegaard’s cross to seal all three points.

Mikel Arteta’s men have made late winners their trademark this season and it is building belief that this could finally be the season that Arsenal end their title drought.

The jubilant scenes at the final whistle certainly suggested that the north London outfit feel they might just be on to something special. 

Arsenal left it late but finally got the job done against Luton thanks to Declan Rice's winner

Arsenal left it late but finally got the job done against Luton thanks to Declan Rice’s winner

Man City are vulnerable  

Gary Neville accused City of being complacent after their weekend draw against Tottenham, but Pep Guardiola’s side still had more than enough chances in that game to win it.

The same could not be said following their loss at Villa Park. City had just two shots in the whole game – both in the same passage of play – while Villa had 22 efforts on their goal.

In truth, the 1-0 scoreline flattered City. They were thoroughly outplayed from start to finish and the balance of the team looked all wrong. 

The team looked lost without the suspended Rodri, and Kevin De Bruyne’s return from injury can’t come quickly enough for the champions. 

Right now, City are vulnerable, and they must fix things quickly if they are to become the first Premier League team to win four titles on the trot. 

Pep Guardiola and his players have some thinking to do after being well beaten by Aston Villa

Pep Guardiola and his players have some thinking to do after being well beaten by Aston Villa

Aston Villa are the real deal

Let’s not take anything away from Villa. They were exceptional on Wednesday night and have been for the majority of the season.

This week always looked like a defining one for Unai Emery’s side, with the Villans hosting City and Arsenal in the space of three days.

They navigated the first of those two challenging fixtures impressively well, and should have put the game to bed long before Leon Bailey’s deflected 74th-minute winner.

Villa smothered City, pressing them all over the pitch and forcing uncharacteristic mistakes. Picking out individuals doesn’t seem fair – this is a well-drilled team that knows exactly what is expected of them.

They are now just four points off top spot and have the chance to close to within a point of Arsenal if they can beat them on Saturday evening. A title challenge may be a step too far at this stage, but Villa are certainly in the race for a top-four finish. 

Aston Villa beat Man City thanks to Leon Bailey's second-half strike at Villa Park

Aston Villa beat Man City thanks to Leon Bailey’s second-half strike at Villa Park

Unai Emery has turned his Villa side into the real deal just over a year after taking charge

Unai Emery has turned his Villa side into the real deal just over a year after taking charge

Ten Hag gets a response

United were dreadful at Newcastle on Saturday, with Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial coming in for particularly heavy criticism.

The mood around Old Trafford hardly improved during the week, with some reporters banned from Erik ten Hag’s press conference for failing to contact the club for comment before the publication of stories.

Ten Hag badly needed a response from his players against Chelsea and he got it. 

Having dropped Rashford and Martial, Ten Hag watched on as Scott McTominay’s brace either side of a Cole Palmer goal handed United a narrow win.

It was not the perfect performance and United still looked far too open at times, but it was an important result and an improved display. The Red Devils now need to back this up when they host Bournemouth on Saturday or the pressure will ramp up on Ten Hag again. 

Erik ten Hag needed a response from his side against Chelsea and he got it

Erik ten Hag needed a response from his side against Chelsea and he got it

Scott McTominay was the hero, scoring both United's goals in a 2-1 win

Scott McTominay was the hero, scoring both United’s goals in a 2-1 win

Chelsea still have a long way to go under Pochettino

While United can take heart from their performance at Old Trafford, Chelsea were very poor.

Pochettino labelled Chelsea’s display in their 4-1 defeat at Newcastle last month as the worst he’d seen since he arrived in the summer, and this wasn’t much better.

The Argentine pointed out fatigue as a factor, and it was a quick turnaround for the team after their weekend win over Brighton that saw them play over half the game with 10 men following Conor Gallagher’s red card.

But it still wasn’t good enough, and Chelsea still look a soft touch at times, especially away from home.

They travel to in-form Everton on Sunday, and if they don’t step their game up, they will leave Goodison Park empty-handed as well. 

Mauricio Pochettino has plenty of work to do at Chelsea to get them challenging again

Mauricio Pochettino has plenty of work to do at Chelsea to get them challenging again

Everton are up for the fight 

The wind was taken out of Everton’s sails in their first game after their 10-point deduction by a wonder goal from Alejandro Garnacho.

But they bounced back against Nottingham Forest on the weekend and deserved their win against Newcastle on Thursday.

Admittedly, they were given a helping hand by Kieran Trippier, who had a night to forget, but the Toffees created plenty of chances and with the home crowd roaring them on they eventually got their reward.

Tempers boiled over at the final whistle, with Jordan Pickford squaring up to Bruno Guimaraes before others quickly got involved, but the most important thing was the win that took Everton out of the bottom three.

Pickford and Everton showed no signs of backing down during or after the game, and this attitude has given them every chance of staying in the league despite their 10-point penalty. 

Everton climbed out of the bottom three after beating Newcastle at Goodison Park

Everton climbed out of the bottom three after beating Newcastle at Goodison Park

Newcastle look knackered 

Newcastle fell apart in the final 15 minutes at Goodison Park and it is little surprise given their injury problems and fixture list at the moment.

They produced three huge performances in a week against Chelsea, PSG and Manchester United, but this was a step too far.

Playing the same XI for the fourth game on the trot – minus the injured Nick Pope – Newcastle ran out of steam in the closing stages and Everton took full advantage.

The Magpies have been very unfortunate with the number of long-term injuries they have picked up this season, and Eddie Howe has been reluctant to turn to his bench in their last four matches, instead relying on the starting XI to get the job done.

That may need to change soon because the team looked knackered on Thursday. Fresh legs are required, and Howe may have to consider throwing some squad players and academy prospects into the mix in some games to prevent running his best performers into the ground.

Newcastle ran out of steam against Everton, with Kieran Trippier making two costly errors

Newcastle ran out of steam against Everton, with Kieran Trippier making two costly errors

Postecoglou’s one-dimensional style is proving costly 

The mood changed at Tottenham on Thursday.

The team had gone four games without a win before West Ham visited the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, but there was still widespread optimism that Ange Postecoglou’s ultra-attacking style of play would pay dividends. It fell flat against the Hammers, though.

For the fifth successive game Tottenham started well and took the lead. For the fifth successive game they failed to win.

The longer the game went on, the more West Ham settled into it, and Spurs appeared to run out of ideas in the second half. David Moyes’s men then took advantage of Tottenham’s defensive lapses to turn the game around. 

Postecoglou is dealing with an injury crisis at the club, but his tactics were still questionable. There were times when his team appeared to be passing the ball for the sake of it, and the lack of width was alarming. 

Spurs have been very entertaining this term and have deserved the plaudits they have received, but Postecoglou may need to tweak things as sides seem to be figuring Tottenham out. 

Ange Postecoglou has plenty to ponder after his Tottenham side were beaten by West Ham

Ange Postecoglou has plenty to ponder after his Tottenham side were beaten by West Ham

Liverpool having a cracking time, but Klopp isn’t 

Liverpool weren’t at their best against Sheffield United but still came away with a comfortable 2-0 win.

Arguably the highlight of the match was Trent Alexander-Arnold inadvertently flashing his bum just before taking the corner that set up the opening goal for Virgil van Dijk.

Fans certainly saw the funny side, but Jurgen Klopp didn’t seem in the best mood after the game. 

The Reds boss snapped back at Amazon Prime presenter Marcus Buckland after he attempted to make light of Liverpool being handed another 12.30pm game on a Saturday this weekend, this time against Crystal Palace. 

The news that Joel Matip is likely to miss the rest of the season with a serious knee injury won’t have cheered him up either.   

Jurgen Klopp going into an awkward exchange with an Amazon Prime presenter on Wednesday

Jurgen Klopp going into an awkward exchange with an Amazon Prime presenter on Wednesday

His mood won't have been helped by the news that Joel Matip is expected to miss the rest of the season

His mood won’t have been helped by the news that Joel Matip is expected to miss the rest of the season

Cooper on the brink 

Steve Cooper may have expected to be given the sack after his Nottingham Forest side slumped to a humiliating 5-0 defeat at Fulham on Wednesday.

It was Forest’s fourth straight loss and the worst of the lot by a distance.

However, he has been given another game to save his job, with Forest travelling to Wolves on Saturday.

Cooper apologised to the travelling fans at Craven Cottage, and he still appears to have the support of the majority of them.

But defeat at Molineux would surely spell the end for him at Forest, with owner Evangelos Marinakis seemingly ready to move in another direction. 

Steve Cooper apologised to the travelling fans at Craven Cottage and is now on the brink

Steve Cooper apologised to the travelling fans at Craven Cottage and is now on the brink

IT’S ALL KICKING OFF! 

It’s All Kicking Off is an exciting new podcast from Mail Sport that promises a different take on Premier League football.

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