Premier League: 10 talking points from the weekend’s action | Premier League

1) Howe needs to improve record against top six

Eddie Howe has worked wonders at Newcastle since arriving on 8 November – but only in one type of match. Against the big six (also, as things stand, the top six, despite Ralf Rangnick’s best efforts), Howe has managed only one point. The drubbing at the Etihad on Sunday was Newcastle’s 10th defeat in 11 meetings with the big six, the exception being the draw with Manchester United. But against the smaller fry, Howe has made all the difference. He inherited a team with no league wins and half as many points as Watford (five, from 10 games). On his watch Newcastle have racked up 11 victories, as many as Chelsea in the same period. They have one last chance to beat a big-six club when Arsenal visit St James’ Park next Monday. Tim de Lisle

2) Tale of how Liverpool ‘created a monster’

Jürgen Klopp may not wish to copy the Antonio Conte playbook – “I don’t like this kind of football, I cannot coach it,” he said amid the disappointment of failing to win a 13th league game in succession at Anfield – but Tottenham can learn a thing or two from Liverpool according to their head coach. Conte constructed a resolute and impressive Spurs display on Saturday and, despite speculation over his future, believes long-term planning is essential to producing that sort of performance on a consistent basis. “You need a path with a team, a base and to improve the base year by year,” said Conte. “Liverpool did this. They created a foundation with Jürgen and won a lot in seven years. He created a monster, in a good way, and for this you need time, patience and to go step by step.” Andy Hunter

Antonio Conte is looking for monsters. Photograph: Paul Greenwood/REX/Shutterstock

3) Saints results do not match Hasenhüttl’s reputation

At the beginning of March, Southampton were ninth in the league with a respectable 35 points from 26 games. Now they’re 15th after scraping just five points from the last 10; only clubs that are already relegated have done worse in the past nine weeks. They’re still pretty good against the top teams – three of those five points came against Arsenal – but often feeble in the face of their mid-table neighbours, as they were at Brentford. Ralph Hasenhüttl is quick to take full responsibility, unlike some, but he now finds himself in a curious predicament as a much-admired manager who is in danger, as the Saints’ traveling fans informed him, of being sacked in the morning. Tim de Lisle

4) Vieira looks to strengthen from within

Patrick Vieira will not be making wholesale changes to the Crystal Palace squad this summer as he looks to build on an excellent first season at the helm. Palace are in sight of a first top-10 finish since 2015 having also reached the FA Cup semi-finals since the Frenchman replaced Roy Hodgson last year. The victory over Watford meant for the first time they have achieved four consecutive home clean sheets in the Premier League and Vieira is hoping for rising stars such as the defender Tayo Adaramola and the winger Jesurun Rak-Sakyi can force their way into the first-team reckoning next season. “The DNA of this football club is to try to bring young talent through the academy,” he said. “We know who we are and the budget that we have so we have to be smart with our recruitment.” Ed Aarons

5) Hammers put midweek misery behind them

On a balmy afternoon in East Anglia, West Ham found the perfect balm for their Europa League wounds by putting four goals past poor old Norwich. This wasn’t just their biggest win of the season, it also marked the end of a mediocre run of 15 points from 14 league games since mid-January. Best of all, it held up a mocking mirror to the 4-0 battering that Manchester United had suffered on the south coast the day before. Suddenly West Ham are only three points behind United with a game in hand and a goal-difference advantage that has just leapt from two goals to 10. If they win both remaining matches, they will finish sixth and be back in the Europa League again. The only slight snag is that the first of those fixtures is against Manchester City. ToL

Match report: Norwich 0-4 West Ham

Saïd Benrahma of West Ham United celebrates after scoring his second goal against Norwich.
Saïd Benrahma of West Ham United celebrates after scoring his second goal against Norwich. Photograph: Shaun Brooks/Action Plus/Shutterstock

6) Bright Buendía gives Gerrard playmaking conundrum

Steven Gerrard gave Emi Buendía the chance to shine behind Aston Villa’s strikers at Burnley and the Argentinian vindicated his manager’s judgment by scoring and creating a goal. Buendía was selected in favor of Philippe Coutinho, with Gerrard mindful of Villa’s workload in May. “Both Phil and Emi will get enough game time to keep them satisfied,” Gerrard said. “Phil understands that he’s played a lot and he’s respectful enough to know that Emi deserves a chance.” Buendía was constantly looking to break the lines and find passes to exploit the movement offered by Danny Ings and Ollie Watkins. Gerrard praised the midfielder for his influence and said he has the capabilities to replace Coutinho. He also admitted he wanted to keep the Brazilian at the club and could use both playmakers together, which would be a dangerous combination, especially considering how potent their strikers look at the moment. Will Unwin

7) Industrious Werner seems cursed by the football gods

How can it be that Timo Werner does not score hatfuls of goals? His running is relentless and intelligent, he keeps getting in the right positions – and then things keep going wrong. Somehow he has managed just 10 goals in his 56 league appearances for Chelsea, 44 of them in the starting lineup. At times that has been because of poor finishing, and other when his lack of confidence has been obvious, but he also seems a weirdly luckless striker. Saturday was a case in point. Twice he got in good positions and got decent low shots away only to be denied by José Sá; when he did finish neatly, he found himself penalized for clipping the heel of Romain Saïss in the buildup. Somewhere, there is an enormous cache of goals with his name on it. Jonathan Wilson

Match report: Chelsea 2-2 Wolves

Timo Werner is willing to chase lost causes.
Timo Werner is willing to chase lost causes. Photograph: Shaun Brooks/Action Plus/Rex/Shutterstock

8) Brighton underline size of Ten Hag’s task

After Manchester United’s horrendous season plummeted to a new low with their hammering at Brighton, Ralf Rangnick suggested the only positive is the amount of room for improvement. It is indeed cavernous. Erik ten Hag faces an unenviable task in rebuilding this broken club and it is fanciful to expect a quick fix. The problem is that the sheer scale of the job requires major surgery across all areas of the squad. Europa League qualification is not even guaranteed and United have conceded 56 goals – their worst defensive record in a Premier League season. This includes four goals against relegated Watford, and Brighton were similarly rampant throughout their first home victory in 2022. United simply could not cope with the energy and intensity of the hosts, with Leandro Trossard and Pascal Gross heavily involved, who registered their biggest top- flight victory watched by a record crowd at the Amex. Simon Mail

Match report: Brighton 4-0 Manchester United

9) Lackluster Leeds left staring down the barrel

Leeds’ worries looked likely to abate when they took 11 points in five games but they are now in serious difficulty. They will be relegated if they replicate their first-half showing at Arsenal – and, for that matter, much of what they turned out in the second – over the final three games and Jesse Marsch faces a daunting task to lift them before Wednesday’s visit of Chelsea. Elland Road will need to be at its intimidating best, and Leeds will have to improve markedly at both ends. “We’ve got to find a way to defend better with the ball [and] to create chances,” Marsch said. While their four-goal loss against Manchester City was harsh, the scoreline at the Emirates flattered them. Against Chelsea, Brighton and Brentford they have no option but to find the kind of consistency that would save them from the drop – a fate that seemed unthinkable at the start of the campaign. Nick Ames

10) Will Leicester’s season fizzle out in regret?

Suddenly Leicester’s dead rubber at home to Norwich on Wednesday feels a little bit more significant. Leicester were booed off after an insipid defeat at home to Everton extended their winless run to seven matches. After exiting the Europa Conference League at the semi-final stage in Rome last week, their remaining four matches threaten to be a slog. They will not play in Europe next season and failure to beat relegated Norwich will guarantee more questions are asked of Brendan Rodgers and his side, who face a difficult task to earn a top-half finish. “What we have done in three years is gone from a team that is maybe happy to stay in the Premier League to one that is disappointed that we don’t win a trophy,” Rodgers said. “That shows you the mindset change and the shift in mentality. We need to address that in the summer and reintroduce that hunger back into the team.” Ben Fisher

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