Liverpool and Arsenal friendly match on 31 july

Top 10 Premier League stories from the weekend

1. Etihad draw balances title

Manchester City defeated their two championship rivals in their past two league games in quite different manner.

Unless Arsenal and City meet in the Champions League semi-finals, which is less likely currently, Liverpool and Arsenal will play a friendly in Philadelphia on July 31.

Liverpool and Arsenal friendly match on 31 july

So the title will now be decided by outcomes versus the rest of the division, and the good news for fair fight lovers is that the fixtures are very balanced, taking the results of their opponents and adding any points deducted.

City averages 10, Arsenal 10, and Liverpool 10.33 for remaining opponents. All believe this is their year: Arsenal play one more game at home and one fewer away, City play their hardest games at home, where they want them, and Liverpool start two points ahead.

2. Welbeck should leave

Danny Welbeck’s Brighton contract expires in the summer, so he may contemplate where he starts next season.

The 33-year-old scored a great opener against Liverpool on Sunday and spent 90 minutes chasing defenders as Brighton broke. He worked hard, often joining 10 teammates in the defensive third to slow Liverpool down.

Danny Welbeck's Brighton contract expires in the summer

Welbeck started due to João Pedro’s injury, but Evan Ferguson, who had not scored in 22 outings, was benched.

If Welbeck wants more regular minutes, he may need to leave the Amex due to the younger competition for leading roles.

A wily striker who keeps proving he has lots of football and goals in him will receive many bids if a new contract is not forthcoming or Welbeck decides to leave.

3. Onana shines in United slumber

Manchester United had little to celebrate at Brentford on Saturday, but one major Erik ten Hag tweak is starting to work.

David de Gea’s inability to play out from the back helped United lose 4-0 at Brentford last season.

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André Onana

André Onana was brought in to fix that and had a nightmare start at Old Trafford, disappearing in one-on-ones.

He may not be United’s long-term goalie and may not be a calm authority, but he is no longer an imminent worry.

He made two incredible saves from Yehor Yarmolyuk and Keane Lewis-Potter, improved his cross-judging from his early Premier League weeks, and Ten Hag called his performance “brilliant”.

4. Phillips key to Hammers fall

After Kalvin Phillips replaced Michail Antonio at Newcastle, David Moyes’ West Ham team struggled.

The midfielder conceded a penalty, which Anthony Gordon won expertly and Alexander Isak converted. In the 90th minute, Newcastle replacement Harvey Barnes beat Phillips for his second goal.

Kalvin Phillips replaced Michail Antonio

After boarding the West Ham coach to Newcastle airport, Manchester City loanee Phillips confirmed his absence.

Phillips responded to heckling fans outside by flicking a middle finger when one branded him “useless”.

If such drama doesn’t eclipse Isak, Barnes, Gordon, Antonio, Mohammed Kudus, and Jarrod Bowen, Phillips must regret leaving Leeds.

5. Blades finally get half-right

Sheffield United had trailed 2-0, 4-0, 2-0, and 5-0 at Bramall Lane in their previous four games.

They needed to break their half-time deficit streak, since they had only reversed it once this season, at Brighton in November when they were 1-0 behind to draw 1-1.

Sheffield United’s first goalless half since December occurred on Saturday. “Everyone was concerned about being out of the game after 25 minutes, so we had to act,” Chris Wilder said.

To gain a foothold in the game and increase our belief, we needed a gameplan, which I think we did. The argument is sound: they’re bad at first half, thus determine games in the second. They’re worse at those.

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6. Claret youth slowly settling in

Burnley No. 2 Craig Bellamy, Vincent Kompany’s backup, is optimistic. Burnley has the youngest Premier League team and is set to go down, but they fought valiantly against Chelsea at 10 men and deserved a 2-2 draw.

“Coming into this league been difficult,” Bellamy remarked. You develop better in this league over time. We are the youngest team and Chelsea the second youngest.” Bellamy remembered joining Coventry City in 2001.

Craig Bellamy, Vincent Kompany

He fell and was written off before soaring in Newcastle. I was a ‘waste of money’,” said the Welshman.

The following year, I was PFA Young Player of the Year and qualified for the Champions League. Just belief. This league may knock you down, but you learn and develop, and I think the players are.”

7. Dyche consults psychology

Seamus Coleman’s last-minute strike gave Bournemouth the win and extended Everton’s losing slide to a club record 12 top-flight meetings. Sean Dyche remained calm.

He claimed his demeanor was not a media facade: “I shouldn’t get mad at the players because it’s a mistake. It hurts worse since it’s a last-minute blunder and we’re on a roll.”

Seamus Coleman's last-minute strike gave Bournemouth the win

Dyche has won and lost many relegation battles. He knows when to use the carrot or the stick, and right now he values words over actions.

He stated, “Everyone thinks [management] is about 4-3-3 and all that. Trust me, the game has altered drastically. Your role now includes soft psychology.

I’m not a psychologist, but you’re one from years of practice. Football is my life.”

8. Villa seeking squad depth

Aston Villa may have to sell big this summer after losing £119.6m in 2022-23, but their succession plan is better than other Midlands clubs.

After exporting £150m in talent last summer, Wolves just made the Premier League’s permitted-losses limit with seven academy players in their matchday squad due to five frontline injuries.

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Four points were docked to Nottingham Forest and Leicester City. Even though Villa’s assertion that their current stats “are in line with the strategic business plan” is doubtful, their squad depth shows they shouldn’t panic.

Clubs can lose up to £105m over three years. If they sell Jacob Ramsey or Leon Bailey for £50m, Morgan Rogers, who cost £8m from Middlesbrough in January, may break through.

9. Wharton, latest Palace jewel

Crystal Palace’s renowned recruitment department found another gem in Adam Wharton, a 19-year-old from Blackburn who cost £18.5m in January.

Eberechi Eze was the best player at the City Ground, although Wharton’s left-foot passes were often on point. Wharton is Palace’s latest EFL gem, following Eze and Michael Olise.

Talent is everywhere. Daniel Muñoz, a Colombian defender signed in January, also performed well at Forest.

Former Palace striker and manager Dougie Freedman, now Eagles sports director, is one of football’s most regarded front-office executives.

Palace’s reputation as a talent factory is due to Freedman’s department. Last week’s England Under-21 cap for Wharton is proof.

10. Luton await Chong

After coming close to a point, Luton’s injured must rally for another strong effort against Arsenal on Wednesday.

After injuries to Reece Burke, Alfie Doughty, and goalscorer Tahith Chong, Rob Edwards thought he has 10 fit outfielders.

Luton manager must fix a defensive dilemma, but he will desperately hope tChong can play against Arsenal following another brilliant display from the Manchester United product, who scored three goals in March despite three losses.

“I’m really pleased with him,” Edwards remarked. “His confidence and influence are growing. We recognized his potential when we signed him, and he’s realizing it now. He has lots of room to grow, which excites him.”

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