PL hits & misses: Ten Hag pleads for patience – but time is running out


Ten Hag pleads for patience – but time is running out

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Highlights from Manchester United’s match against Burnley in the Premier League.

Manchester United look like a team in need of open-heart surgery, to take a turn of phrase from Ralf Rangnick. He said that two years ago, ahead of Erik ten Hag’s appointment.

The Dutchman has brought in his own signings, but they haven’t had the desired impact and once again United are unravelling ahead of the season’s finale. Champions League qualification is now out of reach. Sixth place looks to be the summit of United’s ambition, and even that is now under threat from Newcastle.

Patience was the plea from the manager after the draw with Burnley at Old Trafford – the fifth league game they have failed to win in their last six. There’s understandable sympathy for the injuries Ten Hag has had to deal with, but there’s only so long that’ll last.

Antony scored just his second Premier League goal at Old Trafford and his first in 26 such matches since netting against Arsenal on his debut in the competition in September 2022.
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Antony scored just his second Premier League goal at Old Trafford and his first in 26 such matches since netting against Arsenal on his debut in the competition in September 2022.

Ten Hag needs to establish a discernible style of play that can be bought into if he is to truly convince the fans – and more importantly his new bosses – that he is worth sticking with.

He argued in his programme notes that he’s worked on developing a shared game model with the academy, which has helped the integration of Kobbie Mainoo and Alejandro Garnacho in the first team this season. The results are yet to be seen at the top level.

It is a different story at youth level, though. Mainoo, Garnacho and the other promising talents coming out of Carrington are perhaps the thing that could save Ten Hag, who has built a team over two years incapable of playing his system.

That is, of course, only if INEOS allow him to finish his work.
Zinny Boswell

Liverpool’s Premier League title dream is all-but over

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Sky Sports’ Eleanor Roper and Charlotte Marsh dissect the dispute between Jurgen Klopp and Mo Salah during their match against West Ham

The clue is in the title – one win in five Premier League games leaves Liverpool needing luck and a large dose of improbability to see them lift that famous trophy come May 19.

It all lies in checks and balances – will Arsenal and Man City drop enough points in their remaining games for Liverpool to overtake them? And could the Reds win their final three matches to do?

At the moment, those scales are leaving Liverpool looking up rather than down and nothing is in their hands.

The players have chosen the wrong time to go through a blip. It’s not the exciting, free flowing Liverpool we’re used to. The usually-reliable Mohamed Salah was relegated to the bench – and had a mysterious touchline argument with Jurgen Klopp, suggesting that all may not be well.

At the other end, both of West Ham’s goals came from unmarked headers, following on from similar goals conceded against Everton in midweek too.

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Jurgen Klopp says the side-line disagreement between himself and Mo Salah has been resolved in the dressing room after the match

Looking back, the Merseyside derby and now the draw at the London Stadium will likely be pinpointed as where Liverpool lost their way.

But Jurgen Klopp remained unphased by any talk of a title collapse – “I don’t think about it,” he nonchalantly replied in his post-match press conference.

And while that is true of Klopp, it will certainly be on the minds of three sets of fans with almost as many games to go. For now though, Liverpool must sit back, watch and wait, knowing that their title hopes are likely over for another season.
Charlotte Marsh

Poch’s patience snaps after latest controversial call

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Highlights from the match between Aston Villa and Chelsea in the Premier League

Finally, Mauricio Pochettino is losing his patience. Saddled with a young and inconsistent squad that has constantly been undermined by injuries, the manager had until recently been stressing patience and the need to trust the process.

The manager has also bitten his tongue in the face of provocation, refusing to criticise the officials for their baffling decision not to punish Jack Grealish’s clear handball in the FA Cup semi-final last week.

But poor recent results against Burnley, Sheffield United and Arsenal have prompted a slight change in tone. Pochettino has questioned his players’ mentality and pointedly said it is not only him that needs to prove he deserves to remain at the club next season.

That tetchier mood unsurprisingly came to the fore again after the officials’ decision to halt Chelsea’s three-goal comeback at Aston Villa by ruling out Axel Disasi’s 95th-minute winner. If Pochettino held his tongue after the controversy at Wembley, he wouldn’t now.

He labelled Craig Pawson “unbelievable” and said the decision, prompted by VAR Chris Kavanagh advising the referee to review a nudge on Diego Carlos by Benoit Badiashile, was “ridiculous”.

To overturn the goal, the officials had to decide they had made a ‘clear and obvious error’. Given the innocuous nature of the incident, it’s extremely hard to see how they came to that conclusion.

When asking why they look set to end another season without silverware or a European berth, Chelsea must firstly look at their own deficiencies – but the officials have cost them in crucial games on back-to-back weekends.
Joe Shread

Can Bowen hit the magic 20 Premier League goals mark?

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from the Premier League clash between West Ham and Liverpool

When you’re looking for a Premier League striker, there is always talk of ’20 goals per season’ being the marker for success.

Well, on that balance, Bowen is already there in all competitions this season – with 16 of those coming in the Premier League, including another against Liverpool on Saturday.

In the process, Bowen equalled Paolo Di Canio’s Premier League record for the most Hammers goals in a single season.

He now has three league games to score another four goals to reach that magic 20, but there’s no denying how key he has been for West Ham this season.

Even if he did not score any more, 16 goals and six assists – again, another coming against the Reds this weekend – is still a great return, especially considering he has played in different offensive positions through the season.

West Ham did not have the better of possession or chances, meaning Bowen had to spend a lot of the game waiting. But when called upon, he made things happen for the Hammers and had a hand in both goals – and that is the mark of a quality player.
Charlotte Marsh

Gueye underlines his importance to Everton

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HIghlights from Everton’s match against Brentford in the Premier League.

Arnaut Danjuma was quick to make the point out on the pitch as he mobbed the match-winner. “The best player on the pitch,” he said as he pointed at the head of Idrissa Gueye.

The Senegalese, whose current deal expires at the end of June, has not been known for his goalscoring prowess during his time on Merseyside. In fact, rewinding only a week and he had scored just once from 99 shots during his time at Everton.

But in making that two from 100 in the vital 2-0 victory over Nottingham Forest, he backed up an impressive display in the Merseyside derby with another goal to preserve Everton’s Premier League status.

Idrissa Gueye celebrates his strike on the hour-mark
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Gueye has scored three Premier League goals for Everton this season, as many as in his first five campaigns in the competition combined. Indeed, he’s netted two in his last three games in the competition, as many as in his previous 98 appearances

Speaking as a special guest on Sky Sports, former captain Phil Jagielka had warned that Brentford would pose arguably the toughest test of the week, given that the Forest and Liverpool assignments spoke for themselves.

Toney was back, and the shackles were off Thomas Frank’s side after their own safety was assured before kick-off. An anxiety that has pervaded matches at Goodison was drifting back in when Pickford made a brilliant save to deny Brentford’s returning talisman.

But Gueye’s timely intervention transformed the mood, and rubber-stamped just why tying him down to a contract extension is so important this summer.
Ben Grounds

Relegated Sheff Utd doomed from outset in nightmare season

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Highlights from Newcastle’s match against Sheffield United in the Premier League

It has always been a case of when and not if Sheffield United would be relegated from the Premier League.

The Blades’ return to the Premier League was doomed from the outset as the club sold arguably their best two players in the summer as forward Iliman Ndiaye joined Marseille and midfielder Sander Berge moved to Burnley, and then failed to spend any money.

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Sheffield United head coach Chris Wilder reflected on the 5-1 defeat to Newcastle which has forced them back into the Championship

It has resulted in one of the worst seasons in Premier League history with their 5-1 defeat at Newcastle epitomising their nightmare.

The Blades, who have conceded an embarrassing 97 goals in 35 league games, are now on course to break Swindon Town’s unwanted record of the most goals conceded in an entire Premier League campaign (100 in 42 games in 1993-94).

The only saving grace for this Sheffield United side is that they have managed to amass 16 points, five better than Derby’s 11 points in 2007/08 – the fewest points in a top-flight campaign.

But even that statistic cannot save this side from being remembered as one of the worst in Premier League history.
Declan Olley

Momentum remains behind Glasner revolution

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Highlights from Fulham’s match against Crystal Palace in the Premier League.

It’s taken time for Oliver Glasner’s influence to truly take hold at Crystal Palace, but the Eagles are soaring under the Austrian.

Palace have had things go their own way of late; storming Anfield, steamrollering West Ham and brushing European-chasing Newcastle aside to guarantee a 12th successive season of Premier League football at Selhurst Park.

Palace dominated large spells at Craven Cottage but very nearly paid the price for failing to take a host of chances, as Rodrigo Muniz’s second-half strike moved Fulham to within three minutes of victory.

It required a strike of sheer brilliance from Jeffrey Schlupp to rescue a point for Palace, but a point was the least this improving side deserved.

Saturday’s draw may have seen a three-game winning streak come to an end, but it provided further evidence that this new-look Palace under Glasner’s guidance can not only get results but secure them in a multitude of ways.
Jack Wilkinson

Kilman’s reliability and class shines through

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Highlights from Wolves’ match against Luton in the Premier League.

During a season where injuries have decimated teams, having a key player that keeps himself fit, firing and available is a huge advantage. Wolves have that with Max Kilman. He has now started 72 of Wolves’ last 73 Premier League games and he remains the only player at the club to play every minute of this season. You can set your clock by him.

Until recently, Kilman had been best known for the quirky tale that he is the first England futsal international to play in the Premier League. That isn’t the narrative anymore. He’s known as one of the best defenders in the Premier League – his performance against Luton showcased that.

He was a tower of strength at the heart of the Wolves defence, organising his troops and producing some excellent defensive work when Luton turned the heat up. Kilman is one of the best around.
Lewis Jones



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