Published On: Sun, Mar 11th, 2018

3 things we learned in the Premier League this weekend

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Before Stoke City and Manchester City meet on Monday, theScore looks back at a Premier League weekend that saw West Ham United fans find a more economical method than plane flyovers to express their irritation.

Any kind of protest may be futile

Arsenal fans have tended to show their displeasure with the Arsene Wenger regime by organising plane flyovers and daubing slogans on bedsheets. On Saturday, West Ham supporters took to the pitch during a 3-0 defeat to Burnley to admonish their players and to intimidate those in the directors’ box.

The differences in approach from two fan bases so close to one another geographically are prime for a sociological analysis, but the results have been the same. Wenger is still in charge of the Gunners, and West Ham still plays at a cavernous ground and to the whims of an out-of-touch board.

Despite their frustrations, West Ham followers should view Manchester City‘s 1990s story as a warning. Peter Swales was eventually pushed from his role as chairman after angry demonstrations from City fans for years, but things worsened under his successor, Francis Lee, and the club was soon toiling in the third tier.

Is there a way to protest peacefully and achieve the desired results? Maybe by hitting the board members’ pockets and not attending, but not getting behind a team while it’s in the thick of a relegation battle could be ruinous.

Related – Look: Chaos reigns as angry West Ham fans confront players on pitch

Is Arsenal showing signs of life?

Besides silencing the boo birds – at least temporarily – Arsenal’s 3-0 win over Watford on Sunday achieved a lot of things. Mesut Ozil became the fastest Premier League player to reach 50 assists, Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored his first league goal for the club, and Petr Cech recorded his 200th clean sheet in the competition.

More importantly, the Gunners showed crestfallen supporters a glimpse of what they can do when they’re on form.

Arsene Wenger’s side has now won back-to-back matches after losing each of the previous four. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang combined well with Mkhitaryan, Ainsley Maitland-Niles continued to show poise on the ball, and Ozil reminded the critics that he can indeed track back and get stuck in. The football was flowing at the Emirates – even if a third of the stands was empty.

With at least nine matches remaining in the campaign, there’s still time for the north London outfit to fill the seats again.

Mourinho’s long-ball tactics work, sometimes

Plenty of jokes have been made about Jose Mourinho’s rudimentary tactics, but that direct approach earned praise in the aftermath of Saturday’s clash with Liverpool. A pair of goal-kicks launched the moves that led to both of Manchester United‘s goals in its 2-1 victory. The long balls also allowed United to bypass Liverpool’s relentless pressing in midfield.

A closeup of Mourinho’s notepad revealed that the Portuguese had planned the first goal nearly to a tee. Although his writing is difficult to decipher, his notes appeared to allude to Romelu Lukaku winning a second ball. That’s exactly what the Belgian did on David De Gea‘s goal-kick, nodding the ball into Marcus Rashford‘s path moments before the opener.

(Courtesy: @MirrorFootball)

United also did a fantastic job of defending its lead, forcing Liverpool out to the wings and allowing few legitimate cracks at goal. Just two of the visitor’s 14 shots were on target.

Related: How Mourinho’s tactical changes exposed Liverpool

“You can be in control without having the ball, you can be in trouble when you have the ball,” Mourinho said afterward, per Simon Evans of Reuters. “I don’t remember a dangerous situation to our goal. I think we deserved the three points.”

Around the grounds

Newcastle United 3-0 Southampton: The Saints were clueless on Tyneside. It’s incredible that a club that’s been so merciless in the past – Nigel Adkins and Claude Puel were hastily dispensed with – still has Mauricio Pellegrino at the helm. But it was Newcastle‘s day, and an occasion that was blessed with quality individual showings from two-goal Kenedy, Jonjo Shelvey, and Jamaal Lascelles.

West Bromwich Albion 1-4 Leicester City: West Brom is surely back in the second tier after an eight-year pardon. The Baggies were especially woeful in the final 20 minutes or so of Saturday’s tie, seeming to unwind as Kelechi Iheanacho scored once and assisted on another during his cameo off the bench.

Related – Pardew: West Brom board ‘might think a change is a better thing’


  • Bournemouth 1-3 Tottenham
  • Chelsea 2-1 Crystal Palace
  • Everton 2-0 Brighton & Hove Albion
  • Huddersfield Town 0-0 Swansea City

Monday: Stoke City vs. Manchester City

Manchester City submitted one of its performances of the season when Stoke City visited the Etihad Stadium in October, pummelling Mark Hughes’ side 7-2. Kevin De Bruyne was sensational that day, and he – along with Fernandinho and Raheem Sterling – may be fresh for Monday’s meeting after sitting out the midweek clash against FC Basel. Stoke has shown improvement under Paul Lambert, but it’s unlikely to be enough against the champion elect – even when it’s robbed of the services of Sergio Aguero.

(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)

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