TEN THINGS we learned from the Premier League weekend

Aston Villa are genuine top four contenders, VAR horror continues to plague hapless Wolves – while Erling Haaland adds ANOTHER record to his collection after reaching 50 goals… TEN THINGS we learned from the Premier League weekend

  • Manchester City and Liverpool shared the spoils with a 1-1 draw on Saturday 
  • The Gunners left it late to beat Brentford 1-0 and climb to the top of the table
  • Pressure is easing on Man United boss Erik ten Hag: Listen to It’s All Kicking Off 

The Premier League returned after the third and final international break of the year and provided fans with more thrills and spills ahead of a busy festive period.

Alejandro Garnacho’s sensational overhead kick will forever timestamp this weekend in Premier League history, while there was plenty of moving and shaking at the top of the table after Manchester City’s 1-1 draw with Liverpool.

Arsenal left it late to win 1-0 over Brentford, taking top spot in the division, with north London rivals Tottenham failing to capitalise after losing 2-1 to Aston Villa.

Down at the bottom, Luton made the most of Everton’s 10-point deduction and climbed four points above the relegation zone with a 2-1 victory over Crystal Palace, and it was more doom and gloom for cellar dwellers Burnley following their late capitulation against West Ham.

But what else did we learn from the Premier League weekend? Mail Sport takes a look at the major talking points. 

Trent Alexander-Arnold’s equaliser handed Liverpool a crucial 1-1 draw with Manchester City

It was more doom and gloom for Vincent Kompany as Burnley lost 2-1 against West Ham

Aston Villa leapt into the top four with a superb 2-1 away win over injury-plagued Tottenham

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Goal-hungry Haaland breaks even MORE records

Haaland has reached his 50th Premier League goal at record-setting pace. The ‘robot’ has scored 50 in 48 games, compared to next best Andrew Cole who took 65 games.

The Norwegian’s incredible goal-scoring form shows no signs of slowing down after already making his way to 14 goals in 13 Premier League games this season.

His incredible achievement saw him break even more records – and not just being the fastest to reach 50 goals.

After notching against Liverpool, Haaland has now scored against 20 of the 21 teams he has played against. Only Brentford can say they have kept him out thus far. He has averaged 1.13 goals per game this season – with 33 per cent of his 43 shots finding the net and 67 per cent on target. 

Is that enough for you? Well, here’s another incredible fact. A breakdown of his 50 goals shows he has netted 48 inside the box, 33 with his left foot, six with his right and ten with his head. The ‘striking viking’ scores most of his goals in the same way, yet teams still find it nearly impossible to stop him scoring. 

However, despite his red hot form, he was unable to inspire Pep Guardiola’s men to victory against Liverpool. Manchester City’s 1-1 draw was the first time they have failed to win a home game at the Etihad in 2023, ending a run of 23 games.

Erling Haaland broke another Premier League record, reaching 50 goals after just 48 games

Jet-setter Justin Kluivert makes his mark in England

Kluivert has become just the second 21st century player to score in each of the big five European leagues, after ex-Manchester City star Stevan Jovetic.

The son of legend, Patrick, has bagged in the Serie A with Roma; Bundesliga with RB Leipzig; Ligue 1 with Nice; LaLiga with Valencia and now the Premier League with Bournemouth.

He scored yet another against Sheffield United, whose 34 goals conceded is the worse shipped by a Premier League side since 1997-98 after losing to Bournemouth 1-3.

Bournemouth winger Justin Kluivert picked up a unique record of his own at the weekend, becoming just the second player in the 21st century to score in all of Europe’s top five leagues

Mikel Arteta enters Arsenal folklore 

The Spaniard has won more games in his first 200 as Arsenal manager than anyone else in the club’s history, now with 116 victories.

By beating Brentford 0-1, he helped extend Arsenal’s unbeaten run to 17 games in league London derbies, whilst putting a stop to Brentford’s 15 match London derby unbeaten run.

This sent Arsenal top of the table, thanks to yet another substitute contribution totalling 10 goals in all competitions from the Gunners’ bench, which is a Premier League high tied with Brighton.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has won a record 116 of his 200 games in charge at the Emirates

Brighton’s Evan Almighty grows stronger

Teenager Evan Ferguson has already matched his Premier League goal tally from last season with six goals, this time reaching six in 12 games instead of 19, scoring as Brighton beat Nottingham Forest 3-2.

That takes his tally to 11 for the calendar year, matching Wayne Rooney’s output as a teenager in 2005. Only Michael Owen, Robbie Fowler, Nicolas Anelka and Francis Jeffers have scored more Premier League goals as a teenager in a single year.

He will hope his side can be stronger at the back though, as their run of having both scored and conceded for 17 games in a row is the longest such run in Premier League history.

Brighton’s 19-year-old star Evan Ferguson has picked up his sixth goal in 12 appearances so far

Wolves are right to feel injusticed by VAR

It now seems every week – or certainly every fortnight – fans, players and managers will be left incensed by controversial refereeing decisions. 

Wolves, again, were the victims of an unfortunate series of errors against Fulham on Monday, falling to a 3-2 defeat after two penalties were awarded against them.

‘We don’t want flowers,’ was Gary O’Neil response to PGMOL’s apology after the match, as he questioned to point of VAR when it fails to overturn simple on-field decisions. Brace yourselves for VAR to crop up again in the list next week. 

Wolves boss Gary O’Neil was left frustrated after his side were let down by VAR once again

Everton’s scoring woes are not helping their crisis 

After beating Everton 3-0 on Sunday, the Red Devils took their tally of minutes without conceding to 312, which is the longest run out of any club in the league this season.

This was despite Everton having 13 more shots than United: Sean Dyche’s side have now lost three games this term while posting 10 or more shots than their opposition, securing an unwanted Premier League high.

The Toffees have scored 14 goals in total this season – only five teams have scored fewer than them. 

In worrying circumstances, having been deducted 10 points, Everton are now only inferior to Burnley in terms of points returned at home, having picked up just four.

Everton were left to rue their missed chances as Manchester United triumphed 3-0 on Sunday

Wolves boss Gary O’Neil claimed VAR did not help the on-field official Michael Salisbury

Chelsea’s leaky back line is a concern

For the first time in the club’s history, Chelsea have conceded four goals in consecutive Premier League games.

Having lost 4-1 to Newcastle, it was also Chelsea’s biggest margin of defeat in the league this season and Pochettino’s heaviest Premier League loss since 2019.

While for Newcastle, Lewis Miley became their youngest ever player to register a Premier League assist at 17 years and 208 days old.

Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino will be worried after his side continued their poor defensive form

Villa DO have a chance of making the top four 

Aston Villa are fourth in the table after their smash-and-grab 2-1 win at Tottenham – and they have a real shot of qualifying for Europe’s elite even though boss Unai Emery brushed off the idea.

The Villans now have 28 points from 13 games after nine wins – level on points with Liverpool in third, one point off Man City in second and two points off leaders Arsenal. This is no fluke. Not after already beating Chelsea, thumping Brighton 6-1 and thrashing West Ham 4-1.  

Villa’s impressive form has been aided by Douglas Luiz – who has been directly involved in 15 Premier League goals this calendar year, including 10 assists and five goals, with only Bruno Fernandes and James Maddison providing more goal contributions from midfield.

Luiz delivered a delightful dead-ball delivery for Pau Torres to head in, before Ollie Watkins scored the winner in a 2-1 victory over Tottenham Hotspur.

Watkins is now the second highest goal scoring Premier League player across all competitions, behind only Erling Haaland, as Aston Villa ended the day in the top four after 13 games for the first time since 2009.

Aston Villa really are top four contenders after their impressive 2-1 win away at Tottenham

Clarets join an unwanted club after West Ham defeat 

West Ham came from behind to beat Burnley 2-1 and have now scored more cross-assisted goals than any other side in the Premier League.

The Hammers trailed until the 86th minute to a Jay Rodriguez penalty and need to get wiser around their own penalty area, having conceded more penalties than any other Premier League side.

Unfortunately for Burnley, it is the first time in Premier League history that a side has lost their opening seven home games in a row.

Luton alive and kicking 

Instead of chucking games away, Luton are trying to fight back in league matches – with 67 per cent of their goals coming in the final 15 minutes.

This totals eight out of their 12 goals and has helped them pick up points in three out of their last five fixtures, including a historic first Premier League win at Kenilworth Road.

They were able to pick up the 2-1 win in spite of a goal of the week contender from Michael Olise, who scored in the league for the first time since January on his return to the Crystal Palace side. 

His strike likely won’t gain the plaudits it deserves after Garnacho’s acrobatic wonder goal.

Rob Edwards will be delighted to see his Luton side four points clear of the relegation zone


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

It is available on MailOnline, Mail+, YouTube, Apple Music and Spotify.

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