Premier League winners and losers: Arsenal, Luton and Grealish brilliant; Chelsea, Liverpool and Emery poor

Matt Stead
Liverpool forward Mo Salah, Aston Villa manager Unai Emery and Arsenal player Bukayo Saka
Another big weekend in the Premier League title and relegation races

Arsenal remain underrated; Luton and David Moyes left it late. Chelsea followed their ‘turning point’ with an awful one and some numbers expose Liverpool.


Another example of Arsenal’s normalised brilliance
is in the reaction to this run which would have kept them in touch of the almost-unblemished challengers in 2018/19. There has never been a more flawless end to a title race, with Manchester City dropping three of a possible 54 points from January onwards and Liverpool bottling it by drawing a handful of matches – one against Manchester United at Old Trafford, as it happens – and winning each of their last nine.

Arsenal are taking on both teams and managers at their own game, dropping two points this calendar year, barely conceding any worthwhile shots and generally finding a way to stride through in attack. And still there is a seeming lack of external praise.

Liverpool are their closest challengers for the best defensive and attacking record, but Arsenal have scored three more and conceded six fewer than the Reds. They are quantifiably the strongest team in the Premier League this season in more than one sense. It might still not quite translate to trophy-based glory and Spurs would laugh just as loudly as the Gunners did in 2016/17 if that comes to pass. But that does nothing to change how Arsenal’s brilliance seems to have gone under the radar.


If Premier League games ended in the 75th minute – and these things cannot be ruled out while Arsene Wenger has time on his hands and ideas in his head – Luton would be bottom of the table, 11 points adrift of anyone else and 16 from safety.

Their games have been subject to by far the most result-altering late goals, with eight points dropped through goals conceded in the 80th minute or later, but 10 gained through those scored in the same time. Their injury problems and in-built inferiority make that spirit absolutely priceless.

3PM BLACKOUTLuton revenge as Villa hand advantage to Spurs and Everton break 2024 duck


Micky van de Ven
It always feels a bit Crooksian to praise defenders after scoring, but Van de Ven’s goal against Nottingham Forest was a tangible accompaniment to another dominant performance.

The impact he has on Spurs – and it is worth reiterating this is a 22-year-old in his first Premier League season, burdened with a £34m price tag in a transitioning team – is remarkable. When ranking every Premier League player with meaningful minutes this season on individual PPG, the first 33 are inevitably part of either Arsenal, Liverpool or Manchester City’s title-chasing sides. The highest player outside of those teams is Van de Ven, with whom Spurs have lost twice in 20 starts and without whom Spurs have lost five times in 11 games.

Micky van de Ven celebrates a goal for Tottenham against Nottingham Forest
Micky van de Ven celebrates against Forest


Jack Grealish
The more obvious, quantifiable brilliance was provided by the usual suspect
, but the impact of Grealish was arguably more important. He played either the last or penultimate pass for all four Manchester City goals and unlocked the Palace door before Kevin De Bruyne raided the property.

“If you watch the game back you’ll see I played well,” said Grealish after completing consecutive 90 minutes in the Premier League for just the third time this season. The Pep Guardiola full-time aggressive on-pitch tactical debriefs might feel performative but the improvement it has prompted cannot be doubted.


Jean-Philippe Mateta
“If I get given my chance, I can be one of the best goalscorers in the Premier League,” the Crystal Palace striker said ahead of a visit from Manchester City. Within three minutes Mateta had proven his point, collecting Adam Wharton’s excellent pass and beating Stefan Ortega with some assistance from the post; it would be his only shot of the game.

That made it seven goals in his last 16 Premier League games, which can be boiled down further to five in nine or, under Oliver Glasner, four in six. And some of those finishes have been sublime: unstoppable and high against Forest; intuitive and instinctive against Luton; a stunning header against Brighton. He will relish the return of Michael Olise as much as anyone.


Sean Dyche
There have never been a more ‘back to basics’ three points. Dyche (39.5%) still trails Tony Pulis (41.8%) for the highest proportion of 1-0 wins in an overall career Premier League victory total, but he will at least briefly overcome that disappointment to bask in the moment.

It matters little that both of Everton’s last two Premier League wins have come against Burnley, 111 days apart, nor that 13 clubs have won more games this season but only four have done so to nil.

What is important is that Everton decided to “play long and strong and make the game as awkward and as ugly as possible and get an ugly win” and it worked. They changed what blatantly hadn’t been working for months, they told Jarrad Branthwaite to block everything, they probably mocked Burnley’s away record at half-time and they maintained some breathing space to the bottom three.


Andre Onana
In Europe’s top five leagues, only Oliver Baumann of Hoffenheim (currently eighth in the Bundesliga) and Lorient’s Yvon Mvogo (in the Ligue Un relegation zone) have made more saves than Onana. For all the many faults in the truly bizarre tactical set-up of Erik ten Hag, allowing a ludicrous amount of shots does at least give his £47.2m goalkeeping gamble the opportunity to look good.

The bloke is also clearly having his fun, as shown by that nifty little drop of the shoulder to deceive Cody Gakpo when Liverpool suddenly started losing their heads. Once of the biggest perceived problems at Manchester United, he is far down on that list now.

Read more: Who is the best goalkeeper in the Premier League? Stats put Onana in fifth

David Moyes
Has completed three Premier League doubles in the last two seasons and two of them have been against Gary O’Neil. The only manager against whom Moyes has a perfect managerial career record in more matches is Andrew Ritchie, whose Oldham team were beaten five consecutive times by Preston last millennium.

Moyes has his flaws but the bloke knows how to defend his role as the statesman for downtrodden British coaches who would go much further with exotic names.


James Ward-Prowse
Someone is going to suggest with no hint of sarcasm that he should be on the plane to Germany in case England get a corner when chasing a goal in the Euro quarters and it will be glorious.


Sheffield United
Another obstacle overcome, with Derby a mere speck in the rear-view mirror. Sheffield United now have more points than Sunderland’s 2005/06 iteration, are level with Huddersfield’s 2018/19 effort and might cobble together enough draws and wins to pull clear of the five worst teams in Premier League history.


Chris Wood
Had the Nottingham Forest striker not scored this season, Erling Haaland would have caught him on 55 Premier League career goals. But Wood has decided to have his cake and eat it by establishing the best conversion rate of any player across Europe’s top five leagues, while knowing he can afford to leather the post unnecessarily aggressively from about three yards out.


Martin Dubravka
Yet to concede a single goal in six games against Fulham. Marco Silva is probably sick of the sight of the Slovakian, and not just because of his “tactical” first-half injury stoppages.



Behold, the longest unbeaten Premier League run of Todd Boehly’s stewardship. Seven games without defeat is the best Chelsea have managed since the heady title-challenging days of December 2021 – and still it underlines just how stupid this team is.

It features no clean sheets. Six of those matches had result-altering goals scored in the 80th minute or later. In the last week alone, they went from scoring twice in stoppage-time to salvage a win when losing to conceding once in stoppage-time to draw when winning. Not a single facet of this is sustainable and Chelsea have still won consecutive Premier League games just twice all season.

Three days after Mauricio Pochettino saw one positive result secured in ridiculous circumstances as a “turning point” for Chelsea, they encountered the dead end of a negative draw delivered just as laughably. They are not to be taken in any way seriously.

Oli McBurnie celebrates his late equaliser for Sheffield United against Chelsea
Oli McBurnie celebrates his late equaliser against Chelsea


One trait which underpinned Liverpool’s brilliance at their peak under Jurgen Klopp but which appears to have deserted them during his farewell season is an ability to score in bursts. They used to overwhelm teams with waves of attacks which delivered goals in quick, unstoppable clusters. While still entirely capable of the former, they can no longer consistently rely upon the latter.

When they beat Manchester United 7-0, it was because of a seven-minute window either side of half-time in which they scored three goals. It was the same in the 5-0 – goals in the fifth and 13th minutes, before three more in the 38th, 45th and 50th. Those sudden, irresistible surges have broken countless spirits over the past nine years, with none as memorable or as striking as the three goals they scored between the 59th and 68th minutes to stun an unbeaten Manchester City in January 2018.

Only seven times this season have Liverpool scored two goals within two minutes of one another (against Wolves in September, Brighton and Nottingham Forest in October, Fulham in December, Newcastle and Bournemouth in January and Luton in February).

It might not sound like too much of a problem but the fourth-highest scorers in Europe’s top five leagues should be blowing teams away more often, particularly with 28 shots. But it turns out that Diaz-Nunez-Salah is still not quite Mane-Firmino-Salah.

READ MORE16 Conclusions on Man Utd 2-2 Liverpool: Arrogance, Fernandes, Elliott, title race, Allardyce, Amad


Only six teams have ever received more red cards in a single Premier League season, and of those only Leicester (eight in 1994/95) and Sunderland (eight in 2009/10) have had more different players sent off in one campaign than Burnley’s seven.

There are points to be made about Burnley’s away record, the continuing inability of their goalkeepers to exhibit competence or common sense when playing out from the back, and the fact no team has failed to score in more games this season. But Dara O’Shea’s mindless dismissal from a situation in which he should have been in complete control of the ball summed up one of the more damaging aspects of their season.


Not since Spurs in 2007/08 has a team dropped at least 30 points from winning positions in a single Premier League season. Brentford reaching that mark in a game they trailed in, led and then ultimately drew – much like they did against Spurs in August and Chelsea in March – feels fitting.

It was another useful point in what is their longest unbeaten run of the campaign since November, but their position remains precarious. Before the end of this month they host Sheffield United and Everton, with a trip to Luton in between. Dropping points in any circumstances, winning or otherwise, could have catastrophic consequences in any of those matches, so this semblance of forward momentum is welcome.


Unai Emery
Arsenal supporters will be thankful for the distraction of a ludicrously tight three-team Premier League title race against two of the finest managers of any generation, because glancing even a couple of positions down said table might induce some painful flashbacks.

The Gunners were fourth heading into March 2019, upon which they drew two and lost four of their final ten games, including a run of one win and four defeats in six, to finish fifth by a single point.

Aston Villa’s current form of one win in five has already opened the door for Spurs and would feel ominous if any of the teams immediately below them displayed any level of consistency, or if fifth wasn’t likely to be enough for Champions League qualification anyway.


The whipping boys of the top half, with only Luton (eight points), Crystal Palace (six), Sheffield United (four) and Burnley (three) accruing fewer points against the teams currently first to tenth.

A significant marker of Brighton’s scalable progress last season was in how they performed against such opponents. They drew with Manchester City, beat Arsenal 3-0 away, did the double over Manchester United and took four points from Liverpool.

This campaign, they drew with Liverpool and won against Spurs, Manchester United and Newcastle but also lost 3-0 to Arsenal at home, 6-1 to Aston Villa away and Nottingham Forest are the only team they have beaten twice.

Roberto De Zerbi will point to injuries and ambition in mitigation but more should be expected from a manager being linked with the biggest jobs.


Gary O’Neil
The first manager to receive a PGMOL apology this season will be waiting for these decisions to even themselves out on the final day of the season, which is not great news for Liverpool.

The ‘subjective offside’ against Tawanda Chirewa certainly pushes the “coming together” between Andre Onana and Sasa Kalajdzic, and the Joao Gomes deflected handball against Luton, in terms of questionable decisions which can be justified in written law but little else. Mulling over refereeing decisions is as boring as it is pointless and detrimental but Wolves have had little choice in the matter this season.


Bernd Leno
Fewer Premier League clean sheets than Jordan Pickford this season, which should be a source of embarrassment specifically for the blind-ranking German.