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10 things we learned from Week 33 of the 2023-24 Premier League season

Manchester City atop the table during the Premier League run-in? Same as it ever was.

How the 2023-24 Premier League season got here, and what’s staring us in the face over the next five weeks? A wild, wild life.

City hammered Luton Town on Saturday to summit the Premier League table and put a little pressure on Sunday contestants Liverpool and Arsenal, who were at home to Crystal Palace and Aston Villa respectively.

Who saw Liverpool going down early and then failing to score against Palace? And of that group, who figured Arsenal would lose 2-0 at home to Aston Villa? The shared part of that Venn diagram is surely very small.

[ MORE: Premier League upcoming schedule, all results | PL table ]

Jurgen Klopp was frustrated with Liverpool’s loss but branded it “unlucky” after the game, already moving past a devastated looking vibe on the field after the game, where Palace’s away fans drowned out any efforts at noise from a stunned Anfield.

Arsenal counterpart Mikel Arteta was steaming after his side’s loss, and his words challenging the leaders in his room to embrace a perfect opportunity at midweek against Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarterfinals carried venom.

Then there’s the top-six fight, which Manchester United has left open after barely taking a point from Bournemouth. Erik ten Hag says it’s part of a process, but that process may not include him much longer as Newcastle passed the Red Devils with other teams also in sight of their 50 points.

One of those teams could make this all even nuttier if Chelsea further congest the top-six picture while keeping the bottom-three fight unclear with a win over visiting Everton on Monday at Stamford Bridge (Watch live at 3pm ET on USA Network and streaming online via NBC.com).


10 things we learned from Week 33 of the 2023-24 Premier League season

Unai Emery slows former club Arsenal’s title roll

Arsenal 0-2 Aston Villa

[ MORE: Mikel Arteta’s post-match reaction | Ollie Watkins as Player of the Season? ]

Oh, this had to be almost as sweet for Unai Emery as it’s sour for the Arsenal side his men defeated 2-0 at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday. Emery had been run out of North London after little more than a year, the Gunners’ Europa League runners-up run in 2018-19 not enough to withstand a five-match Premier League winless run the next season. Out after 13 weeks of Year No. 2, Emery led Villarreal to the Europa League crown the following season and may lead Aston Villa to the Conference League this season. It’s all great, yes, but it’s also worth pointing out that Emery was truly scapegoated by Arsenal as being the first man to manage the club post-Arsene Wenger was truly a poisoned chalice. Emery, it seems, had chosen poorly. Arsenal felt the same and got it right with its next hiring of Mikel Arteta. But Arteta may not win the Premier League title this season because of Emery, who led Villa to 1-0 and 2-0 wins over the Gunners. That’s right, this vaunted Arsenal attack did not find a way to goal in both matches against Emery. It’s the fifth time the Gunners have been blanked in the Premier League this season. Rough. Nick Mendola

Extended HLs: Arsenal v. Aston Villa Matchweek 33
Arsenal looked set to settle for a point against Aston Villa, but two late goals from Leon Bailey and Ollie Watkins guided Unai Emery's side to victory in a monumental blow to the Gunners' title hopes at the Emirates.

No one expected this possible end of Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool era

Liverpool 0-1 Crystal Palace

[ MORE: Jurgen Klopp’s post-match reaction ]

No one expected this. It’s worth saying again, as even cynics predicting this sort of end to a legendary Liverpool era were more hoping against hope than making some sort of psychic call from the future. Liverpool produced myriad chances on Sunday but it wasn’t until a desperation final sub for Harvey Elliott hit the pitch in the 83rd minute that it seemed possible: Liverpool could again lose a seismic late home game to Palace at Anfield. But it did. Days after Jurgen Klopp’s Reds lost big against Atalanta in the first leg of their Europa League quarterfinal tie, the Reds put a serious hit in the Premier League title hopes. Throw in last week’s PL draw with Manchester United, and there are huge callbacks to the failed 2014-15 run-in (although that occurred much later in the season). There’s dark humor in one opinion shared on PST earlier this week — that Klopp’s Liverpool is not a side that could fall at home to Palace like it did to Dwight Gayle the week after “the slip” (it was mine). The mentality is too strong. And to be fair, it is; The Reds dominated Palace but just never found that equalizer, let alone a winner. As a dejected Klopp walked off the pitch and Palace’s fans sang louder than the stunned home crew at Anfield, it was clear that no one at Liverpool expected anything other than a fateful silverware run in Klopp’s final year. This fairytale still could go in Liverpool’s favor, but for now it’s more like some of the original Grimm’s tales — dark and stormy. Nick Mendola

Spurs’ shortcomings ruthlessly exposed by magnificent Magpies

Newcastle 4-0 Tottenham Hotspur

Speaking to TNT Sports in the UK after he had ripped Tottenham apart, Anthony Gordon revealed Newcastle totally changed the way they usually play to make the most of Spurs’ weaknesses. It worked a treat. Newcastle scored goals on the counter, hit long direct balls up to Alexander Isak, Gordon and Harvey Barnes and pressed Tottenham in defensive areas when the time was right. Spurs didn’t know what to do. Ange Postecoglou’s side had no control of this game from the first minute but they kept playing a high line, making rash decisions to step high, and playing directly into Newcastle’s hands. Yes, Tottenham’s tactics are exciting to watch but this game showcased the depth of their flaws. When a team has figured you out and is clearly well-suited to play against your style of play, surely you have to do something different? Ange won’t do that and that is why Spurs’ top-four hopes are still up in the air as they head into a truly brutal stretch of games to finish the season. Arsenal, Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea are all coming up in a terrible 16-day period that will define Spurs’ season. If Spurs play in their cavalier style against the title contenders, surely there will be more field days like Newcastle’s on Saturday? Speaking of the Magpies, having Gordon, Isak, and Barnes playing in attack together provided quality and speed. That trio has led this resurgence in recent weeks and despite all of the injuries, the Magpies are dreaming of Europe. — Joe Prince-Wright

Erik ten Hag’s Manchester United often too busy solving problems to cause them

Bournemouth 2-2 Manchester United

[ MORE: Erik ten Hag’s post-match reaction ]

There’s no impetus from Manchester United anymore outside of Bruno Fernandes and Alejandro Garnacho, and Erik ten Hag’s system — or lack thereof — sacrifices so much by allowing both to do as they please. Fernandes, for what it’s worth, has earned his KDB/Martin Odegaard free-flowing role in the center midfield but he also doesn’t hurt a defensive structure and always puts in a shift. Garnacho runs a lot, too, and is an electric attacker but he’s not yet dynamic enough to make up for his lapses in maturity and commitment. That leads to problems, and United does not have many other players who can also play to their strengths as they make amends for errors and weaknesses. Throw in injuries and Marcus Rashford’s precipitous drops in confidence and execution. What do you get? A team with enough talent to produce — and complete — moments but not much else. United right now are being celebrated for getting back to some sort of average status. And that’s just not acceptable. We bet there are fans hoping Coventry City upset Man United next weekend in the FA Cup if only to hasten a change at Old Trafford. Nick Mendola

Back ups bring the energy as Man City run riot

Manchester City 5-1 Luton Town

Manchester City haven’t been top of the Premier League table for almost five months, but they went back to the summit on Saturday. It was thanks to their back-up players, who proved to Pep Guardiola they can be trusted in this surge towards a potential double treble. Jeremy Doku, Matheus Nunes, Julian Alvarez, Mateo Kovacic, Rico Lewis and Josko Gvardiol were all superb against Luton, with Doku and Kovacic excellent as they stood in for Jack Grealish and Rodri respectively. As they chase Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup glory they will need to utilize their entire squad and Rodri’s comments in midweek about needing a rest summed up the fact that City haven’t had that luxury much this season. With the likes of Erling Haaland, Kevin De Bruyne, Doku, John Stones and Grealish all being out injured for chunks of the campaign, there hasn’t been as much rotation as usual. Now there can be. There are certain players who are guaranteed starters for City but even the likes of De Bruyne couldn’t find a spot in the starting lineup against Real Madrid in midweek and that proves just how well everyone is stepping up when called upon. KDB will surely start against Real this time and Guardiola had the luxury of resting Stones, Phil Foden, Grealish, Rodri, and the returning duo of Nathan Ake and Kyle Walker at the weekend. All six could start against Real Madrid on Wednesday. Expert rotation is how you win a treble. Again. — Joe Prince-Wright

Extended HLs: Manchester City v. Luton Town MWK 33
Relive Manchester City's 5-1 rout of Luton Town, where goals from Erling Haaland, Mateo Kovacic, and Jeremy Doku helped guide the defending champions to victory at the Etihad.

Fulham remain one of the strangest teams in the league

West Ham 0-2 Fulham

On their day Marco Silva’s Fulham can beat teams 5-0. They can also lose 5-0. There isn’t much in-between. After putting in some woeful displays recently, especially the loss at Nottingham Forest, they beat West Ham comfortably and created so many chances. When Fulham are at their best they are ruthless, free-flowing, direct in attack, and horrible to play against in midfield. All of that was on show on Sunday. Fulham were also the last team to beat Arsenal in the Premier League back at the end of 2023 (before their loss against Aston Villa) and their inconsistency must drive Silva crazy. Still, they have an outside chance of surging towards Europe late in the season and have some big home games against Liverpool and Manchester City left on the fixture list. The Cottagers could have a big say in the title race because they are so difficult to predict from one week to the next. When it clicks they can beat anyone. Watch out, Liverpool and Man City. Arsenal found out how strange Fulham can be to play against the hard way. — Joe Prince-Wright

Kevin Schade returns from 7-month injury, assists as stoppage-time sub

Brentford 2-0 Sheffield United

For the vast majority of the first half of the season, Brentford’s attacking unit was comprised of Bryan Mbeumo, Neal Maupay, and Yoane Wissa, and they mostly made do while Kevin Schade, who was slated to be an impact starter in his first full season at the club, was sidelined since Sept. 16 with an adductor injury and Ivan Toney banned until Jan. 20. Then, just as Toney returned, Wissa departed for the Africa Cup of Nations, and Mbeumo picked up an injury to miss AFCON and three months altogether. Now, most of the above are back from injuries, only for Toney to find himself limited to substitute availability due to his own injury. Thomas Frank will now focus on rebuilding in earnest what was not so long ago a frightening attacking team capable of beating any side on any day (and they often did). Toney will leave for a hefty fee in the summer, of course, but the next five games should give Bees fans a glimpse into the future and — with a little bit of injury luck — good reason to be hopeful. — Andy Edwards

A performance that Gio Reyna (and Forest) can build on

Nottingham Forest 2-2 Wolves

Gio Reyna made his first start since joining Forest in January, and he was much better than you’d expect from a player who hadn’t started a game (for club) since Nov. 1. The USMNT star, who is somehow still just 21 years old, had played 271 minutes in 15 substitute appearances since his last start, without a single goal or assist in that five-and-a-half-month stretch. Safe to say, Reyna needed this one. Not only did he tally his first assist for Forest, but he was smart and decisive in possession throughout, carried the ball 15-20 yards forward on a number of occasions, and generally made all the right plays when picking where and when to pass the ball. Playing as one of three attacking midfielders behind Chris Wood could suit Reyna quite well going forward, with the big man working hard to knock down and lay off balls to the likes of Reyna, Morgan Gibbs-White, and Callum Hudson-Odoi (as it was on Saturday). Final verdict: Give him another start, Nuno. And then another. And another. — Andy Edwards

Gibbs-White heads Forest level v. Wolves
Morgan Gibbs-White's towering header finds the back of the net to get Nottingham Forest level against his former team on the stroke of halftime at the City Ground.

Cruel moment for strong Arijanet Muric sums up Burnley season

Burnley 1-1 Brighton

Kosovar star Arijanet Muric did not deserve this, not one bit, but his misplay of a back pass turned into an own goal that has defined the Clarets season of okay performances and poor results. Muric has undoubtedly been an upgrade on young James Trafford since Vincent Kompany switched keepers last month, and he was one of the reasons Burnley was on track to win this game when calamity struck the Clarets. The man who made eight saves on the day including a tremendous free kick parry looked away from a back pass and saw it skitter toward his line, scrambling back to paw it out of the goal just after it crossed the paint. It’s sad to say, but that’s been Burnley’s season. A suspended Vincent Kompany would’ve watched from the stands and wondered yet again what might’ve been had just two or three of their 67 conceded goals so far had been played like their record (and still bad) 60.95 xGA. Nick Mendola

Bournemouth unfortunate to miss shocking European run

Bournemouth 2-2 Manchester United

Little bounces again went against the Cherries, who would probably give you anything to restart the season right now. That’s because Bournemouth went nine matches without a win to start the season. And since losing 6-1 at Man City on November 4 to start 1W-3D-7L, Andoni Iraola’s men have gone 10W-6D-5L. That’s a 65-point pace over a full season, one that’s seen Alex Scott, Tyler Adams, Max Aarons, Lloyd Kelly, and Ryan Fredericks miss double-digit appearances to injury. The future is bright at Bournemouth, but there may not be a better chance to plow forward into Europe — as surprising as it would’ve been to say in August — than there was this season. It’s still possible, but... Nick Mendola

Kluivert blasts Bournemouth in front of Man United
The Cherries get back in front thanks to Justin Kluivert's powerful shot from inside the box to give Bournemouth a 2-1 lead over Manchester United at the Vitality.