Premier League weekend prizes: Anthony Gordon is showing no signs of slowing down

<span><een klas=Anthony Gordon has made rapid progress over the past twelve months. Photo: Serena Taylor/Newcastle United/Getty Images” src=”–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTU3Ng–/ 4584604f08f20d” data src=”–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTU3Ng–/ 584604f08f20d”/>

Letdown of the week

What do you get when you match two of the Premier League’s best teams, both of whom typically play melodic, pass-and-move football? A 0-0 error. Manchester City vs Arsenal was not the Easter burner that was promised. Instead we were treated to a messy game with no real quality. When the independent regulator finally comes to grips with English football, the first point of order should be to ban managers of big clubs from starting four centre-backs.

Arsenal will be happy with a point, even though the game was up for grabs. City were difficult with the ball and gave it away a few times in their own half in the first half. This was a game tailor-made for a new-look Arsenal team. They have beaten opponents in the past three months and have been around the field by a margin of more than 28 goals since the beginning of January. But while last season’s success was built on tippy-tappy creativity, Arsenal have counter-attacked and deployed monsters this season. They haven’t been as ruthless in possession as a year ago, but the shift in approach has given them a stronger footing against the league’s best. One clear opening, one well-worked set-piece and Arsenal could have taken three points on Sunday.

For Mikel Arteta, a point, no matter how frustrating, is enough. But Pep Guardiola will be disappointed. City had a lot of ball possession, but lacked the typical cadence between the lines. Guardiola preaches patience, but City’s build-up play bordered on the yawn-inducing against an Arsenal team unwilling to give up openings. The most damning statistic: Erling Haaland finished with fewer passes and touches than Nathan Aké, who left the field injured in the 27th minute.

Goal of the week

In the context of Sunday’s draw at the Etihad, no goal this weekend was bigger than Mohammed Salah‘s winner for Liverpool in their 2-1 win over Brighton.

This was Salah at his best, sliding into an opening in the penalty area, the ball sticking to his boot like Velcro and then ending up on the swivel for the first time. “To me this is sexy football,” chief Roy Keane told Sky Sports. “I enjoy watching that.”

Salah’s strike puts Liverpool two points clear at the top of the table, with a favorable match against lowly Sheffield United on deck. Liverpool have the advantage in the title race, for now.

Referee incident of the week

Let’s head to St James’ Park for the most controversial decision of the week: a Kalvin Phillips foul on Anthony Gordon that led to a penalty in a thrilling 4-3 win for Newcastle against West Ham.

I mean, come on now. What are we doing here? Phillips tries to clear the ball. Pulling his leg back, Gordon sneaks through the back door. Phillips, blind to Gordon’s positioning, with his eye on the ball, swings his leg. Gordon contacts Phillips for the West Ham midfielder is able to clear the ball. Phillips lunges and the Newcastle striker falls down. Realistically, Phillips can’t do anything. His only option: let Gordon cut through him and pinch the ball.

Fear not, West Ham. The PGMOL will be on the phone on Monday with the usual apology.

Player of the week

An unreliable penalty – or two, if you’re of the West Ham persuasion – may not detract from Anthony Gordon‘s impact for Newcastle.

Some young players grow gradually. At 23, Gordon has become the complete package in 12 months. Against West Ham he was a quick one-man player who gave Newcastle’s attack a boost as soon as they crossed the halfway line. He finished the day with six shots, an assist, three chances created and won two penalties; he was also sent off in the closing stages for a second yellow card.

There is no delay with Gordon. He is explosive when he cuts inside and has developed as a playmaker. But it is his speed in the first steps that gives defenders attacks. When Gordon starts to move down the left flank, the defenders retreat in despair. There’s no easy way to play him. Buckle up, and Gordon will have the feet to jump away and burn into open grass. Wait a moment, and it gives Gordon a clear runway to drive at top speed.

Some players are 0-to-60 burners. Others make hay in cramped corridors. The very best can combine both, zooming at top speed while maintaining grace with the ball. Gordon was a speed racer early in his career, riding with his head down in an enclosed space. These days he’s gotten smarter in the box. Speed ​​is still at the heart of everything, but he now thinks one step ahead and manipulates defenders – and sometimes officials. The results were gaudy.

All told, Gordon ranks third in the league in terms of expected goals, the quality of chances he creates and the number of times he wins the ball back.

Statistic of the week

How many times can Manchester United deliver a rudderless performance under Erik Ten Hag? It’s become vintage United to show a spark of life before returning to Earth. If it weren’t so common, it would be mind-boggling.

It was only one international match ago that United produced a come-from-behind classic against Liverpool in the FA Cup. But against Brentford on Saturday, in a 1-1 draw, United gave in to their worst instincts: a disappearing midfield, a defensive line that was too deep, wide players too isolated and Rasmus Højlund leading the way to chase the ball alone. .

Ten Hag’s team took the lead against the run of play in the 96th minute, but almost immediately lost it and conceded the equalizer to Kristoffer Ajer in the 99th minute.

It could – and should – have been worse. “Brentford was better than us today,” Ten Hag said after the match. “They showed more passion, desire and determination. There are always reasons. It’s mental. It’s psychological. Don’t know. We should bring more.”

Over a period of 100 minutes, United were terrible. Brentford won the expected goals match by 2.67 to 0.5 – hitting the woodwork four times. More worrying, however, are the figures further under the hood. Brentford finished with 85 touches in Manchester United’s penalty areathe most by any team in any Premier League match in the latter five seasons. And this was a Brentford side who had won just three of their last eighteen games and missed the usual four games.

Dig further and it’s even more disturbing. No team has had more shots than United in 2024. If you only count Premier League matches, they have given up 81 shots in their last three games. Not even Sheffield United have sunk to that level of ineptitude. It would be one thing if United played a free-flowing, kinetic style, generating as many chances as they allowed. But United have been out of touch in 16 league games this season, including against the league’s relegation fodder.

United are eight points behind Spurs in fifth place with nine games left to play. Participating in next season’s Champions League seems a distant hope.

Relegation subplot of the week

It is an oddity of this season that the relegation battle is being decided in the courtroom rather than on the pitch. But on the pitch, Burnley grabbed a crucial point with a 2-2 draw at Chelsea.

Burnley had a hard time in the closing minutes of the first half, with a dubious penalty reducing the team to ten men.

It’s hard to know what Lorenz Assignon should do in this situation. It’s textbook defense. Mykhailo Mudryk didn’t grab the ball; it was there for the taking. Assignon did not leave his feet. He stood his ground. What should have been an everyday defensive encounter culminated in Burnley conceding a penalty and losing a man for the rest of the match.

Vincent Kompany was furious about the decision and received a red card for his troubles. Yet Burnley scraped by and fought through the second half despite Chelsea’s advantage, twice coming from behind to grab a result.

The draw puts Burnley on 18 points, four behind Luton in 18th and Nottingham Forest in 17th. They face a decisive week, with games against Wolves and Everton. Given the difficulty of the remaining matches, Kompany’s team will probably have to get four points from those matches.

Leave a Comment