Who takes top spot in Mail Sport's POWER RANKINGS this week?
Gundogan delivers his best when Man City need him most, Salah helps keep Liverpool’s Champions League hopes alive and Awoniyi steps up again for Nottingham Forest… but who takes top spot in this week’s POWER RANKINGS?
- Arsenal lost more ground to Man City – who beat Everton – by losing to Brighton
- Forest and Leeds both earned draws while Southampton were at last relegated
- Piers Morgan reveals his transfer shortlist to win Arsenal the league next season
The Premier League is now fast approaching it’s final destination, with just two weeks to go until the final day of the season, with everything still seemingly to play for.
Manchester City strengthened their grip on a third successive crown with a win at Everton, while Arsenal’s bid was thrust firmly into the ‘snookers required’ column with a 3-0 defeat to Brighton that still leaves them mathematically in with a shot.
The competition for the final two Champions League spots is heating up, with Newcastle dropping points in third, while Manchester United, Liverpool and the Seagulls all recorded important wins to take the race down to the wire.
At the bottom end of the table, Southampton’s 11-year stay in the top-flight came to an end, as the Premier League’s first casualty revealed themselves with just two games to go.
Meanwhile, Everton, Leicester and West Ham all tasted defeat this time out, while Leeds and Nottingham Forest secured potentially vital draws.
But who excelled themselves most in this thrilling week of action, and will Martin Odegaard keep hold of his place at No 1? Here are Mail Sport’s Power Rankings for week 36 of the Premier League.
Manchester City tightened their grip on their own crown with a 3-0 win over Everton at Goodison Park
Arsenal’s already unlikely-looking title bid was dealt a bitter blow by Brighton who won 3-0 at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday
Southampton’s relegation to the Championship was at last confirmed following their 2-0 loss to Fulham
Last week’s top 10
10. Noni Madueke
9. Jordan Pickford
8. Thiago Silva
7. Tom Cairney
6. Cristian Romero
5. Mohamed Salah
4. Erling Haaland
3. Trent Alexander-Arnold
2. Aaron Ramsdale
1. Martin Odegaard
10. Taiwo Awoniyi (new entry)
With their Premier League status on the line – and only six points on the road so far in the season – Nottingham Forest needed somebody to step up and put in a big performance if they were to take anything back to the City Ground.
And that somebody was Taiwo Awoniyi, with the Nigerian striker netting his seventh and eighth goals of the campaign to secure a well-deserved 2-2 draw at Chelsea on Saturday.
It was a tale of two headers; the first saw him squeeze between Thiago Silva and Edouard Mendy to give the Tricky Trees the lead, the second securing the point with a point-blank bullet, the striker staying alive at the breakdown to pounce when offered the chance.
Forest still have a clash with Arsenal and a trip to Crystal Palace to, but if Awoniyi can keep up his goal scoring form they should be able to escape the pull of the Championship to return next season – although it looks set to go down to the wire.
Ex-Union Berlin striker Taiwo Awoniyi scored his seventh and eighth goals of the season against Chelsea
9. Curtis Jones (new entry)
Liverpool’s reported need for a reboot in the middle of the park this summer has seen them linked with every promising young midfielder in Europe, but they might just have one of the keys to their new-look side right beneath their noses.
Curtis Jones was irrepressible on Monday night at Leicester, emerging from deep areas with a worrying regularity for Leicester fans, and showcasing a clinical eye for goal that has been missing from Jurgen Klopp’s midfield this term.
His first strike was seemingly simple, although any experienced striker will tell you that plenty of focus went into reading the bounce of the ball just before his foot as he charged into tap home on the half volley to open the scoring.
The second, however, was undeniably brilliant. A cushioned pass into his feet from Mohamed Salah was received by the 22-year-old on the edge of the box, with Jones taking one touch to flick the ball up, before finishing with aplomb on the turn.
It was just his second and third goals of the campaign, but if the youngster can stave off injuries there was plenty of evidence at the King Power Stadium to suggest he can feature prominently for the Reds for at least the four years he has on his contract.
Curtis Jones scored twice from midfield in an impressive showing as Liverpool beat Leicester
8. Eberechi Eze (new entry)
Joachim Andersen’s apparent ‘punch’ on Jefferson Lerma grabbed the headlines when Crystal Palace took on Bournemouth, but beneath that cloud Eberechi Eze managed to once again shine at Selhurst Park with his second brace of the season.
His first strike may have been a tap in after a some fine work from Wilfried Zaha and a flick by Jordan Ayew, but his second was a thing of beauty.
With the ball fired into him by Michael Olise from deep on the right, Eze took a touch out of his feet before cutting in across three defenders before letting fly from the edge of the area through two more bodies and into the top-right corner.
After scoring one of the goals of the season, Eze simply trotted away as if it was the sort of thing he does every five minutes in training in a fearsome display of confidence in the ability that he has. No wonder Gareth Southgate is taking serious note for his England squad.
Eberechi Eze scored his second brace of the season to help Crystal Palace beat Bournemouth
His second was one of the goals of the season, cutting in from the left and firing into the top corner
7. Pervis Estupinan (new entry)
There aren’t many that can keep Bukayo Saka – undeniably one of the Premier League’s best performers – out of the game, and even fewer that can do so while getting on the scoresheet, but that’s exactly what Pervis Estupinan did on Sunday.
The Ecuadorian full-back was clearly handed a particular task at the Emirates, to keep the Gunners starlet quiet, and the England forward was hard-pressed to have the impact we have become used to seeing from him.
Yet despite plaguing one of the brightest and most energetic youngsters in the division for close to 100 minutes, Estupinan still showed the drive and desire to get himself up the pitch and provide Brighton’s third killer blow to the Gunners’ title bid.
With 96 minutes on the clock, Deniz Undav let fly from outside the box with Aaron Ramsdale only able to parry wide, but Estupinan was quickly on the scene to thump home from six yards and pick up his first goal of the campaign – a just reward for a fine display at both ends of the pitch.
Pervis Estupinan plagued Bukayo Saka for the majority of Sunday’s clash in a brilliant defensive display
The Ecuadorian defender was then on hand to add the third goal of the match on the half-volley
6. Martin Odegaard (down five)
Martin Odegaard has rightly ruled the roost in Mail Sport’s Power Rankings over the past few weeks with some stunning displays against Chelsea and Newcastle, but it was a game to forget for the Norwegian magician on Sunday.
Against Brighton he found less than no joy picking passes through the well organised defensive unit, and managed only 29 passes at an accuracy of 72.4 per cent – putting him eighth of the 11 players to start the game.
Odegaard did still manage two key passes – it is impossible to keep someone of his ability completely quiet, after all – but it was with the armband that he struggled most on Sunday, unable to bring his side together when their backs were against the wall.
With 15 goals and eight assists, Odegaard should make the team of the season, but even the best players in the division are prone to the odd anonymous game – that this one came in such a big game, though, may perhaps cause concern for some Arsenal fans.
Martin Odegaard has had a stunning season with Arsenal but was unable to make an impact against Brighton
5. Callum Wilson (new entry)
Elland Road is a difficult place to go at the best of times, but with Leeds battling tooth and nail against relegation, the atmosphere was as fervent as it gets – just ask Eddie Howe, after he was confronted by a pitch invader in his own technical area.
But not even that could put off Callum Wilson, Newcastle’s top scorer and talisman. The 31-year-old was the coolest man in the house, not once, but twice, firing the Magpies to a point from the penalty spot.
Anyone will tell you that taking two penalties in the same game is no mean feat, but Wilson laughed at the suggestion that Joel Robles’ antics could get to him by thundering home in emphatic fashion straight down the middle into the roof of the net, for his 14th Premier League penalty goal from 15 attempts.
Plenty has been made of Ivan Toney’s impeccable record from the spot, and Harry Kane’s ability is of course famed, but it would now appear Gareth Southgate has a third option ahead of a major tournament in 2024 – and the obvious threat of penalty shoot-outs.
Callum Wilson netted twice from the spot in a dramatic 2-2 draw with Leeds at Elland Road
4. Ilkay Gundogan (new entry)
Ilkay Gundogan’s brace in the final game of last season to win the league title may have been more dramatic, but his double strikes in both of the past two games may have had just the same effect in 2022-23 for the Citizens.
Against Leeds, the German scored twice from almost the exact spot before fluffing his lines from 12 yards, but on Sunday it was two strikes from very different areas of the pitch that grabbed the headlines.
Gundogan opened the scoring with a fantastic bit of skill, trapping a whipped Riyad Mahrez cross on his thigh before flicking the ball into the bottom corner with his back to goal from eight yards with the outside of his right boot, all while shrugging off the challenge off the considerably larger James Tarkowski.
But his second was a work of art. With City already 2-0 up, the skipper stood over the ball with a free-kick just to the left 25 yards out, just a couple of steps away with Mahrez looking the more likely to step up.
With Pickford on the left facing the ball, Gundogan instead took two steps before clipping it beautifully over the wall and sneaking it under the bar with very little back lift to make it 3-0
Ilkay Gundogan scored two brilliant goals against Everton to take his tally for the season to eight
3. Mohamed Salah (up two)
There aren’t many better goal scorers than Mohamed Salah – barring the Erling Haaland-sized elephant in the room – but it was the way the Egyptian pulled the strings against Leicester that was most impressive this week.
Salah has been the get-out-of-jail card for Liverpool for a number of season now, and with 19 goals and 10 assists this season he has arguably been one of the most underrated performers of the campaign.
Although he was unable to add to his goal tally – with a particularly poor miss probably catching several commentators out as they went to call his 20th of the season – he provided three assists and gave Jonny Evans and Co endless headaches.
His cross for the opener was pinpoint and expertly lofted to leave Jones with little to do other than watch it carefully and anticipate the bounce, while his second came after some brilliant movement and a trademark change of pace to tee Jones up once more.
The third was largely academic, laying it off for Trent Alexander-Arnold’s strike, but Salah was almost unplayable on the night, constantly flitting between Evans and Timothy Castagne at right-back in seemingly endless supplies of space in a performance that was one missed opportunity away from perfect.
Mohamed Salah provided three assists against Leicester in a 3–0 win though his finishing was wayward
2. Erling Haaland (up two)
It is almost boring now, the regularity with which Erling Haaland finds the back of the net. Almost, but not quite.
It has been said endlessly this season, but he has been a breath of fresh air in the Premier League with his no frills attached approach and persistence to never stray outside the width of the penalty area, trusting in his side to serve it on a silver platter for him.
Criticise his touches-to-goals ratio all you want – his most recent effort came with just his third touch of the ball – it hasn’t stopped him shattering records everywhere he looks this term, and it doesn’t look like he’ll be changing his ways anytime soon – nor should he!
This 36th goal of the season came with an almost old-fashioned style header from a few yards out, clattering the ball past Jordan Pickford after picking up the space between Tarkowski and Mason Holgate with worrying ease.
He is now running out of time to reach Dixie Dean’s 63-goal season record, but even if City don’t make the Champions League final you wouldn’t bet against him just yet with two league games and an FA Cup final left.
Erling Haaland scored a record-extending 36th goal against Everton and is in with a shout for a treble
1. Trent Alexander-Arnold (up two)
Salah pulled the strings on Monday night against Leicester, but Trent Alexander-Arnold put on the sort of performance that we had grown to expect from him before the questions over his ability to defend began to circulate.
Despite seemingly playing in a completely new role as a right-back-cum-midfielder, Alexander-Arnold defied the critics that have plagued him for the past few years to put in a performance of the highest calibre.
Trent Alexander-Arnold put in a performance of the highest calibre to silence his critics
Not only did he keep a clean sheet against a Foxes side that it by no means toothless, but he scored a free-kick goal that will no doubt be replayed over and over and over again before the season ends.
With the ball around 25 yards out, slightly to the left of centre, there was no doubt in anyone’s mind with the right-back stood over the dead ball – but even his most ardent supporters will have been left with their jaws on the floor.
A touch from Salah flicked it into his path, and Alexander-Arnold unleashed a rocket of a striker into the top-right corner, giving Daniel Iversen no chance – it still would have beaten him had he been stood ready on the spot.
The England man finished last week’s rankings in third place, but after a clean sheet and a stunning goal, there is surely none more deserving of top spot this time around.
His free-kick arrowed into the top-right corner of Daniel Iversen’s goal leaving him no chance
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