Sancho, Aubameyang, and 10 THINGS WE LEARNED from the Premier League

Jadon Sancho is hitting form just in time for Ralf Rangnick, but Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is facing another tricky winter at Arsenal… 10 THINGS WE LEARNED from the Premier League weekend

  • The Premier League produced more drama in a cold and wintery weekend
  • Chelsea drew with Manchester United, but Man City and Liverpool both won
  • There were also victories for Arsenal, Brentford, Aston Villa and Leicester City
  • Sportsmail looks at the 10 things we learned from this weekend in the top flight 

Storm Arwen hit the Premier League this weekend but it also managed to shake up the title race, with the battle at the top of the table now so close.

League leaders Chelsea were held to another draw at home by an out-of-form Manchester United to hand their rivals a boost, especially as Liverpool and Manchester City claimed wins over Southampton and West Ham respectively. 

Aston Villa continued their rise under Steven Gerrard with a win at Patrick Vieira’s Crystal Palace while Arsenal got back to winning ways as they beat Newcastle – but Everton continued their slump with another defeat, this time at Brentford.

With so much to dissect from the weekend, Sportsmail looks at the things we learned as the games come thick and fast…

Chelsea were held to a draw by Manchester United in the pick of the Premier League games

Storm Arwen hit the Premier League this weekend, which saw Burnley vs Tottenham off

Jadon Sancho is starting to click

It has been a turbulent week at Manchester United but somebody who has managed to keep his feet rather stable is Jadon Sancho, who put in another exciting display against Chelsea on Sunday.

The £73million man backed up a strong outing away at Watford and his goal against Villarreal in midweek with another strike at Stamford Bridge, closing down Jorginho on the halfway line before showing confidence and composure to slide home.

That Stamford Bridge effort was the 21-year-old’s first ever Premier League goal and Sancho is starting to look at home at United after his big-money summer move from Borussia Dortmund.

Jadon Sancho (right) hit another goal as his Manchester United form continues to improve

The United winger needs this purple patch in form after being dropped by Gareth Southgate for November’s England squad due to a lack of game time – and now he will become undroppable at club level if he keeps this up. 

With Ralf Rangnick now confirmed as interim United boss, and set to bring a Sancho-style high-pressing philosophy at Old Trafford between now and the end of the season, things are starting to look up for the young attacker. 

Aubameyang looks to be regressing again 

A player very much out of confidence is Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who looks like he is undergoing another difficult winter as Arsenal captain following a horrendous miss against Newcastle.

The Gabon forward somehow put a first-half effort onto the post from a couple of yards out with the goal open, and while the Gunners went on to down Eddie Howe’s men 2-0, Aubameyang failed to find the net and has now gone four league games without a goal. 

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang missed the target from a yard out in Arsenal’s win over Newcastle

Aubameyang (left) looks like he is being carried by Arsenal’s younger players this winter

This season has seen Aubameyang miss two penalties in a barren run for the striker that resembles the troubles he went through this time last year. He scored just one goal between the middle of November and the middle of January last season as Mikel Arteta’s Gunners slipped down the table towards the drop zone. 

Aubameyang was once a top-class talent capable of leading the club but it turns out players like Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe are now actually carrying him instead. 

The 32-year-old’s pressing game still pleases Arsenal fans but failing to turn up in big games such as Manchester United on Thursday could spell the beginning of the end of Aubameyang as an elite forward.  

Jorginho’s horrid big-game streak continues

Another horror moment saw Jorginho gift the ball to Jadon Sancho to give league leaders Chelsea a mountain to climb against an out-of-form Manchester United. 

Why the Italian midfielder chose not to head a high clearance instead of controlling it into the path of a high-pressing Sancho, only he will know. 

Jorginho’s glaring mistake was costly in Chelsea’s 1-1 draw with Man United on Sunday

Jorginho got his redemption by scoring a late equaliser from the penalty spot, but there will be that lingering feeling of what could have been had he not made his blunder earlier in the second half. 

That error will not take away from what has been a brilliant year for the 29-year-old, who won the Champions League with Chelsea and Euro 2020 with Italy – but the midfielder has endured a long list of horror moments over the last six months. 

Jorginho missed two crucial penalties in separate World Cup qualifiers for Italy against Switzerland recently to cost the Azzurri a direct spot in Qatar next year, while he also failed to convert in the Euro 2020 final shootout against England.

Before the Euros began, Jorginho was also to blame for Emile Smith Rowe’s winner in a London derby against Arsenal back in May. Some considered Jorginho as a potential Ballon d’Or winner but those mistakes will surely hold the Italian back. 

Jorginho’s poor touch allowed Sancho to fire United ahead, before the Italian’s penalty later

Jota will be vital as Liverpool prepare for AFCON losses

It’s a good time to be Diogo Jota right now. 

The Portuguese forward found the net twice for Liverpool, who swept past Southampton 4-0 on Saturday. 

Add that to strikes against Atletico Madrid, Arsenal and Manchester United in the past four weeks and the phrase ‘on fire’ would be apt to describe the 24-year-old. 

Liverpool will hope Diogo Jota’s (right) good form continues when they lose stars to AFCON

A lot is made of Liverpool’s front three consisting of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino but Jota has staked his own claim to become a talisman in his own right at Anfield.

Jota’s form will be particularly important when Salah and Mane shoot off for the Africa Cup of Nations in January, with the duo facing the prospect of missing eight games for their club should their respective countries do well. 

But with Jota in this kind of form, Jurgen Klopp will have less worries with regards to missing attacking firepower.  

Potter shows his spiky side in booing the boos

What’s the best way to make up for a goalless draw? A fiery post-match interview. 

Brighton’s stalemate at home to Leeds was full of goalmouth action, with 31 shots between the two teams – but no goalscoring spark. 

Thankfully, Brighton boss Graham Potter had some fireworks of his own as he hit out at his own supporters for booing their side off following the draw.

Graham Potter hit out at his own supporters who booed Brighton’s 0-0 draw at home to Leeds

‘The fans are entitled to their opinions but I disagree with them,’ he said after the game. ‘You have to understand the game, who we played and what we did. 

‘We are sitting eighth in the Premier League but maybe I need a history lesson on this club.’

Hitting out at your own fans is not the best way to stop the boos, but the outburst did show another side to the Seagulls boss – who very rarely shows emotions in these type of interviews. 

Potter should take the jeers as a compliment to his side, given how well they have started the season. The rising of fan expectations shows how far his club have come from relegation candidates to a team challenging in the top half.   

Bees are not so nice after all

Speaking of showing a nastier side, Brentford showed a bit more steel that we have been accustomed to seeing in recent weeks in their 1-0 win over Everton.

The Premier League new boys used their passionate fanbase and attractive style of football to win over many top-flight fans and become everyone’s ‘second team’ – but Sunday was a much grittier display from Thomas Frank’s men. 

Brentford showed a steelier side to their game by beating Everton 1-0 on Sunday afternoon

Going into the game without a win in five, the west Londoners appear to be used to the demands of the Premier League and made many more fouls than normal – and picked up more yellow cards and made more tactical fouls. 

A second-half brawl between Bees and Everton players over not kicking the ball out for an injured player was an example of the fire the home side used to keep out Rafa Benitez’s men in a second period which saw their backs very much against the wall.

Keep that passion and fire within them and the Bees will be fine in terms of staying in the division.  

City’s injury-hit frontline will be tested 

Manchester City’s 2-1 win over West Ham was not just impressive given the quality of their opposition, but also due to the injuries they have suffered in recent weeks.

Pep Guardiola’s side had Kevin De Bruyne out with coronavirus and England internationals Jack Grealish and Phil Foden out with minor injuries but still managed to overcome the challenge posed by West Ham, who shocked Liverpool earlier this month. 

Pep Guardiola will be praying his Manchester City forwards can return for a busy December

City only had three experienced and recognised attackers in their matchday squad – Riyad Mahrez, Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus – with their bench consisting of mainly defensive players and academy stars such as Cole Palmer and James McAtee.

That victory was, of course, important for the context of City’s season but the real challenge for them starts now with seven Premier League games in four weeks for the reigning Premier League champions.

Rotation will be key but City will not be able to switch their frontline too much should their injury list remain this large. Guardiola needs the likes of Foden and Grealish back soon if they are to keep up with their title rivals.  

James Maddison can go on a run before Christmas  

This calendar year has been problematic for James Maddison. 

Missing out on Champions League football with Leicester, shunned from the FA Cup final starting line-up and no closer to getting to a breakthrough in Gareth Southgate’s squad, you would forgive the 25-year-old for wanting to see the back of 2021.

James Maddison played a man-of-the-match role in Leicester’s 4-2 win over Watford last week

Maddison scored one early on then set up two goals for Jamie Vardy in the Sunday victory

But the midfielder’s stellar display against Watford could be the template for an early New Year’s Resolution for him: get more goal contributions and nail down a Leicester spot as your own. 

Maddison showed excellent daring and composure to put Leicester in front against the Hornets, before setting Jamie Vardy up twice to put the Foxes in control in a 4-2 win.

The Leicester man has recently found his fire again after scoring the winning goal against Brentford last month, and with Brendan Rodgers’ side facing a favourable run of games between now and Boxing Day, this is Maddison’s time to generate some form.

Set-piece woes continue to haunt Vieira

Finally, Crystal Palace’s unbeaten run has come to an end at the hands of Steven Gerrard’s Aston Villa – and while that is a relatively new feeling, it’s an old issue that is hurting the Eagles.

Patrick Vieira’s side conceded their 10th goal from a set piece this season when Matt Targett lashed home from inside the box in the first-half of the 2-1 loss – no side has let in more from dead-ball situations than the Eagles.

Crystal Palace conceded their 10th set-piece goal of the season in their 2-1 loss to Aston Villa

This problem is costing Palace points. Along with the Villa defeat, set-piece woes have seen Vieira’s men draw with Arsenal late on, throw away a lead at Burnley and give bottom club Newcastle a point at Selhurst Park. 

Vieira was part of an Arsenal side that gave very little away in terms of set-piece goals. How he would love to have the likes of Sol Campbell and Martin Keown to help organise this Eagles backline. 

Smith needs talisman in January to keep Norwich alive

After such a terrible start to this season, Norwich are improving under Dean Smith. 

The Canaries now have seven points from a possible nine games and four of them are down to their new manager, who helped his team pick up a draw with an in-form Wolves side. 

Despite Norwich winning a precious point, Smith and his players are allowed to be disappointed with the result given the quality of chances the home side created.

Norwich need a new striker to help out Teemu Pukki after their 0-0 draw with Wolves last week

Max Aarons, Teemu Pukki and Lukas Rupp were all guilty of missing gilt-edged chances at Carrow Road – which highlights the need for Norwich to go out and get a new forward in January. 

Talisman Pukki is normally a safe pair of hands but there will be times when the Finnish forward doesn’t have a good day at the office. That’s where Norwich need to find some external help to get them in and amongst the goals again.

Smith knows all to well about clinical forward men, with the Canaries boss getting the best out of Said Benrahma and Ollie Watkins at Brentford, while he also coached several top forwards including Tammy Abraham at Villa. 

The former Villa boss needs another moment of coaching inspiration in east Anglia. 

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