Premier League weekend awards: Erling Haaland channels Michael Jordan

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We witnessed the man go on the run in Manchester on Saturday when Erling Haaland rose at the back post to spear Rodri’s cross into the far corner. Behold Haaland doing his best Michael Jordan impression.

Not content with His Airness moment, Haaland added a further three goals in City’s 5-1 win over Wolves, taking his tally in club football to 200 in five seasons. “Not bad,” Haaland said after the match.

It was another ruthlessly efficient performance from City, with a touch of Haaland-induced magic. What remains special about Pep Guardiola’s side is how they can cross off crucial games in May as if they were unremarkable games in October. City have routine perfection at the end of the year. It doesn’t matter if other contenders win, as long as it looks tight at the top. They keep dragging along.

With few exceptions, great teams have life cycles. They gain experience, win a lot, grow older and become bad. Not city. The depth of their team is second to none. And now their star is back in form. With three games to go they are favorites to take a fourth title in a row.

Player of the week

In a league full of one percent, you look for whatever fraction of a percentage can provide an advantage. Leandro Trossard becoming the competition’s most diverse finisher is one such advantage.

It is no coincidence that Liverpool’s title bid slipped away when Diogo Jota was knocked out of the squad due to injury. Trossard to Arsenal is what Jota was to Liverpool: a clever finisher who takes up clever positions in the penalty area. He took Arsenal’s second place in a 3–1 draw against Bournemouth and helped his team keep pace with City at the top.

Like Jota, Trossard scores every goal imaginable, and some are difficult to imagine. According to StatsBomb, Trossard has been the most two-footed player in the Premier League over the past five seasons. However, his impact extends beyond goals. He does a little bit of everything. He is a magnet for the ball. He makes sharp runs. He is difficult to dispossess. He maintains Arsenal’s possession. And when an opportunity arises in front of goal, it is deadly. He produces more valuable chances this season than Bukayo Saka, Phil Foden and Cole Palmer. He is neck-and-neck with Kai Havertz in shot conversion rate since the turn of the year, and his post-shot xG – the quality of his finishing – ranks second in the league, behind only Haaland.

Trossard is the walking embodiment of Mikel Arteta’s belief that Arsenal are at their best when sharing goals within the group. The manager resisted the urge to go all-in and sign a ready-made central striker. Instead, Arteta relied on the development of Declan Rice, Gabriel Martinelli, Havertz, Saka and Trossard to share the responsibility.


It worked. The movement of a mobile, amorphous front-line three has broken up the defensive lines, creating opportunities for wide players and midfielders driving into the penalty area. Martin Ødegaard (16) and Rice (15) scored goals and assists, but it was Trossard who provided crucial finishes at the end of the season. He has scored in five of his last eight league games and has netted eight times since the start of 2024.

Saturday marked one year since Arsenal surrendered first place to Man City last season. This year they have held their own. City appear immune to pressure, but Arsenal are doing their best to push the title race into the final day of the season.

Relegation subplot of the week

The race for the Premier League’s survival may be over. Nottingham Forest’s 3-1 win over relegated Sheffield United put them five points ahead of Burnley and three ahead of Luton. Burnley were beaten 4-1 by Newcastle on Saturday, almost guaranteeing they will be playing Championship football next season.

With two games to play, Luton were able to make up ground. But Forest’s goal difference (11 ahead of Luton) gives them a crucial advantage. Luton will need to pick up four more points than Forest in their final two games to ensure they stay top.

The remaining fixtures make that difficult. Forest host Chelsea and travel to Burnley on the final day of the season. Luton have a trip to West Ham and have yet to play a home game against Fulham.

On the field, the relegation places seem decided. The three teams from last season will likely go down again. The one lingering question: will the Premier League impose further penalties on Forest or Everton for breaching the league’s profit and sustainability rules? To the courtroom!

Statistic of the week

Liverpool tore Tottenham apart in the opening hour at Anfield on Sunday and raced to a 4-0 lead. Spurs eventually pulled the score back to 4-2, but the damage had already been done.

No one but Drake has had a worse week than Ange Postecoglou. Tottenham lost the North London derby, were hammered by Chelsea in midweek and then limped to a match against Liverpool despite still having an outside chance of securing a top four place and next season’s Champions League -to secure football.

Postecoglou is a pass-and-move, high-pressure fanatic, but that all came crashing down in the past month. Since the start of April they have taken four points, a worse run than anyone other than Luton and Sheffield United. They have a minus nine goal difference in that period, which puts them second-worst in the league.

That’s relegation stuff. Spurs look lifeless when they have the ball and have no plan when they lose the ball. On Sunday, Liverpool won possession in the final third eight times in the first half alone – more than any other opening 45-minute period in the Premier League this season, according to Opta.

It has become a familiar sight for Tottenham fans: Spurs cannot create any real chances of their own, while they get a big chance every time they go forward. Liverpool’s full-backs had more touches in the opponent’s penalty area than the entire Spurs team in the first half.

Postecolgou has been criticized (rightly) for his unwillingness to adapt during matches. Like Guardiola and Arteta, Postecoglou wants his side to stick to their principles, moving the ball sharply, rather than turning when things go badly. He prefers to change personnel rather than change his team’s style. But if you stick to dogma, you can get into tricky games along the way. At Anfield they were outplayed, outplayed and overrun until Jurgen Klopp made changes in the second half.

Postecoglou has been cutting his teeth this past week. First he showed his side on the pitch against Chelsea, and then he took to a press conference to emphasize the need for change this summer. His players, who moved into the hot-seat and fought for a spot next season, responded with another dud.

At some point, inconsistency stops being a maddening habit that keeps you from becoming who you were meant to be. It’s who you are.

Raw performance of the week

A special mention to Tottenham’s Emerson Royal, who was tormented by Mohamed Salah and the right side of Liverpool’s attack at Anfield.

Here is a back cover of the notebook accounting of his day:

Emerson, a right winger masquerading as a wing-back, was deployed on the left side of the defensive line to cover for injuries. It was a disaster. It’s hard to think of a player who has had worse individual performances this season.

The Ned Stark Prize

West Ham lost their heads – again – in a 5-0 defeat away at Chelsea. Chelsea were sharp in attack and cut apart a hapless West Ham team. There is a tendency to see such a performance as something that goes against the David Moyes culture. This is not what a David Moyes team doesresembling.

Yes that is true. Moyes’ team has become easy to play against. They lose games in a merciless, almost absurd way. West Ham have now conceded 70 goals in the Premier League this season, the worst figure for Moyes in a season and the fourth worst figure of any team this season. They have scored twelve goals in their last three games. Not what you want when your club uses managers to possibly replace you.

Sunday’s performance at Stamford Bridge was a vintage ‘one, two, three… Cancun’ display from a team that felt it had little else to play for the rest of the game – apart from perhaps the manager’s job.

The victory moves Chelsea to seventh place, one place ahead of Manchester United. The defeat for West Ham leaves Moyes at zero. Time for Julen Lopetegui to start making the carpets to measure.

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