10 things we learned in the Premier League: Week 11
Week 11 of the Premier League season did not disappoint from Friday all through to Sunday.
Ivan Toney showed off his class as Brentford got the best of Brighton to start the weekend, but It was Liverpool’s ability to keep Erling Haaland off the scoreboard that would gather headlines by the end of the weekend.
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In between we saw Chelsea get a much-deserved win, Arsenal a fortunate one, and Newcastle show Manchester United they’re in the same race these days.
Elsewhere, Wolves scored (and won!), Harry Kane kept Harry Kane-ing, and Leicester, Southampton, and Fulham will all take different things from draws.
Here’s a look at 10 things that stood out, as our writers Joe Prince-Wright (JPW), Andy Edwards (AE), and Nicholas Mendola (NM) share their observations from across the most recent PL games.
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10 things we learned in the Premier League: Week 11
1. Passionate Klopp gets personnel spot on (Liverpool 1-0 Man City): Jurgen Klopp deserved to get sent off for confronting the linesman and Klopp will admit it. He got that wrong. He got everything else right, starting with playing James Milner at right back in place of not fully-fit Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Klopp pushed the right buttons in attack with Diogo Jota, Harvey Elliott, Roberto Firmino, and Mohamed Salah up top in a fluid four with Fabinho, Thiago in midfield to get on the ball and try to calm things down. His plan worked a treat and this result will breath new life into Liverpool’s season. Klopp will now face a period in the stands but his team has shown it has not yet been sidelined in this title race. Not yet. (JPW)
[ MORE: Player ratings for Liverpool vs Man City ]
2. You need luck to stay in a title race. Arsenal got it (Leeds 0-1 Arsenal): The Gunners played Thursday in the Europa League and looked like it. At points in the first half you might’ve convinced Mikel Arteta to take a draw, but Martin Odegaard and Bukayo Saka teamed up for the 35th-minute goal that would stand as the difference at Elland Road, as Leeds continued its trend of performing but underdelivering. Oh, Patrick Bamford. How did you not score? (NM)
3. Kepa stands tall to repay Potter’s faith (Aston Villa 0-2 Chelsea): When Edouard Mendy suffered an injury, Chelsea fans will have feared the worst. However, Kepa has been brilliant in recent games and magnificent saves in the first half to keep his team ahead. Much maligned over the last few years, Kepa is now ahead of Edouard Mendy and his ability on the ball seems to suit Graham Potter’s style much better. Most importantly, he seems to have improved his shot-stopping ability and presence. (JPW).
4. Newcastle, Man United have the ingredients to challenge top four this season (Man Utd 0-0 Newcastle): <— The heading says as much about what Eddie Howe has done early in Newcastle’s rebirth as it does about how far Manchester United fell off under Ole Gunnar Solksjaer and others. But Newcastle is in every game and controls portions of it, even in buildings like Old Trafford. And while that would also seem like a knock against Manchester United, Erik ten Hag’s team looks increasingly comfortable with his system and Sunday’s pairing of Fred and Casemiro looked plenty strong.
5. Tottenham in with a shout thanks to on-fire Harry Kane (Spurs 2-0 Everton): This could become a tired comparison by the end of the year, but Harry Kane is having the best season of any player in the Premier League not named Erling Haaland. Kane’s goal was followed up by a “hockey assist” on Hojbjerg’s goal that showed both the intelligence and resilience of the English captain. Kane chased down his own wayward touch and waited for Rodrigo Betancur to take off down the right flank. Betancur found Hojbjerg, whose finish came with Kane-level calm. Still, the center forward needs a rest: Kane is playing week-in, week-out and often multiple times a week. (NM)
6. James Maddison remains Leicester’s big hope (Leicester 1-1 Crystal Palace): With Gareth Southgate watching on, James Maddison was once again Leicester’s brightest spark in attack. He had a great chance early in the second half which he dragged wide and his grimace said it all. He kept plugging away, tried to get on the ball and turn in dangerous areas and Maddison is playing with creativity and freedom in a team which looks set for a scrap against relegation. That is not easy to do but his character and quality has always been clear and perhaps England will take him to the World Cup after all. The only issue was his late dive in the box as he looked for a penalty kick. He picked up a booking and Leicester will now be without their main man for their midweek trip to Leeds. (JPW)
7. Tim Ream, Antonee Robinson keep asking big question of Berhalter (Fulham 2-2 Bournemouth): This is over-simplifying, but if your center back position is unsettled before a World Cup and a possible starter on the side in question is playing every week next to your left back in a Premier League side, how do you not at least bring Tim Ream to the tournament with Antonee Robinson? The left side of Fulham’s back line could be helping the USMNT ramp up for Qatar beyond the play of its starting left back (NM)
8. Wolves will take goals however, whenever they can find one (Wolves 1-0 Nottingham Forest): Adama Traore cut inside from the right wing, shot the ball as hard as he could at an opponent’s hand, in the general direction of Forest’s goal, but never on target or threatening it, and that’s how Wolves won the game. Wolves’ xG output prior to the penalty kick: 0.43; Wolves’ xG output after the penalty kick: 0.01. It’s difficult to create chances without a midfield or wide playmaker, just as it’s difficult to convert chances without a reliable striker, but to lack both is a harsh reality that Wolves (and whoever replaces Bruno Lage on a permanent basis) navigate. On the other side, Nottingham Forest were even more putrid in attack, with just 0.40 xG prior to their penalty kick. In the ensuing and final 11 minutes, chasing from a goal behind, Forest created 0.28 xG. 0.27 of that came during stoppage time. (AE)
9. Lady Luck helps the Saints, but not necessarily Hasenhuttl (Southampton 1-1 West Ham): Southampton was lucky to go ahead but Saints have been lacking that luck this season. Despite holding on for a point, manager Ralph Hasenhuttl is still under pressure and this wasn’t a great display. But if Saints win at Bournemouth in midweek, then this point can be seen as a very good one and a good step forward. If not, Hasenhuttl could be gone. There is a real lack of confidence about this team and the fans have turned against the manager. Usually, that only has one outcome. (JPW)
10. Ivan Toney shows Brighton the difference a complete center forward makes (Brentford 2-1 Brighton): It wouldn’t be at all unfair to say that ever since Graham Potter came to the club in the summer of 2019, Brighton has played a more attractive, entertaining style of football than Brentford in the Bees’ season-plus in the top flight. Last season, it produced five more points and a finish four places better in the Premier League table. This season (thus far), it’s just one point and one place. It’s hard to watch Brentford vs Brighton without thinking, “How good would these Seagulls be if they had a center forward like that guy?” ... Not only did Toney score two more goals on Friday (his 52nd and 53rd goals for Brentford in just over two full seasons – all competitions), but he continues to be the player who steps up in the Bees’ biggest moments. For that alone, Toney’s face and name are most synonymous with Brentford’s incredible rise to the PL (and establishing themselves to stay there). And to think, Brighton have managed to get to where they are without their Toney. Just how good would they be, though? (AE)