An exhilarating Premier League season may be nearing its end but drama at both the top and bottom of the table continues apace.
Arsenal got their title hopes back on track with a 3-1 victory over hapless Chelsea – whose run goes from bad to worse under Frank Lampard.
City had briefly gone top of the table for the first time since February after beating Fulham 2-1 on Sunday.
At the other end, Leicester and Everton both missed out the chance to earn a vital win as they drew 2-2 at Goodison Park, and Southampton’s prospects were further dented in a 3-1 defeat to top four-chasing Newcastle.
Wolves were on the receiving end of 6-0 thrashing at the hands of Roberto De Zerbi’s rampant Brighton, Aston Villa’s 10-game unbeaten streak ended at Old Trafford as Manchester United won 1-0 at home, and Tottenham’s search for a win under caretaker manager Ryan Mason continued as they lost 4-3 to Liverpool in a dramatic affair at Anfield.
So who makes it into our top 10 Power Rankings after the latest round of Premier League fixtures?
Arsenal got their title hopes back on track after strikes from Gabriel Jesus (right) and Martin Odegaard
But Manchester City didn’t slip against a feisty Fulham side on the road at Craven Cottage
John Stones has been ultra-versatile for Pep Guardiola this season and it has paid dividends
10. John Stones (down five)
City’s stalwart continues to shine as yet again he makes the rankings after a sterling performance at Fulham. John Stones’ role this season has been less straightforward than in previous years as he has been given a more hybrid position between defence and midfield.
But wherever he plays, he looks assured. Alongside Kyle Walker, who has been out in the cold for segments of the season as Guardiola worked out how he might fit into the new system, Stones reverted to a more straightforward centre-half role after Fulham’s equaliser on Sunday.
This gave City renewed confidence and shortly after, Julian Alvarez’s exceptional strike pulled the visitors ahead.
Stones has played a pivotal role in City’s increasingly dominant season. He is a vital cog in Guardiola’s machine and him maintaining his form could be vital in their treble charge.
9. Jordan Pickford (new entry)
All is not well at Goodison Park. Sean Dyche’s appointment has not sparked a new manager bounce and Everton are in severe danger of losing their Premier League status.
Currently sitting 19th in the table and perilously close to relegation from the top-flight, the Toffees are in need of heroes.
Against Leicester on a must-win Monday night – when the points were inevitably shared – Jordan Pickford’s save of James Maddison’s penalty saw the England No 1 rise to the occasion.
The England No 1 was unwavering on the line and the stop may have lasting consequences
Jordan Pickford’s cheat sheet provided the well-researched key to stopping James Maddison
Pickford had a cheat-sheet water bottle and saved easily from Maddison, who fired straight down the middle, as predicted.
It could prove a costly miss for Leicester, who are just a point ahead of Everton in the bottom three
The goalkeeper has made the third-highest number of saves in the Premier League this season, behind only Bernd Leno for Fulham and Brentford’s David Raya, and Pickford has come to Everton’s rescue many, many times.
8. Julio Enciso (new entry)
Of the six goals that Brighton did put past a luckless Jose Sa, none of them actually sprung from the boot of summer signing Julio Enciso. But Danny Welbeck, Dennis Undav, and Pascal Gross all owe the Paraguayan a debt of gratitude, so deft was his performance on a triumphant day at the Amex.
De Zerbi called what he saw from his team ‘the best performance in my career as a coach’, and Enciso’s contributions were key. The 19-year-old has featured for the Italian in the starting line-up since his eye-popping goal from the bench against Chelsea and saw out his first win in some style on the south coast.
Teenager Julio Enciso was the jewel at the centre of Brighton’s expert showing against Wolves
The 19-year-old was directly responsible for two assists but provided much more as the home side overran Julen Lopetegui’s side
Directly assisting both of Gross’ efforts within the space of 13 minutes, Enciso’s pace made him look ungettable and Wolves’ defence allowed him acres of space they could ill afford. His partnership with Billy Gilmour, who also dazzled, was mesmeric.
The win was the biggest in the Seagulls’ history, and wholly necessary after the team were knocked out of the FA Cup and on the receiving of a shock loss at the City Ground against Nottingham Forest.
Enciso’s command performance will lift the fans’ spirits in more ways than one: seemingly out of nowhere, Brighton have yet another high-quality forward as they look to once again find themselves raided by Premier League big beast. Alexis Mac Allister, Moises Caicedo and Kaoru Mitoma may all be heading for the door, but Brighton’s future remains bright.
7. Bruno Fernandes (new entry)
Manchester United didn’t have the easiest of days out against Aston Villa but they did what they needed to do – and in style. Unai Emery’s men had gone 10 games unbeaten and were set to crash the top-six party and strong-arm their way into Europe. They still could, but Bruno Fernandes might prove the fly in the ointment.
The Portugal ace may not have sufficiently quietened critics of his captaincy, which has been chaotic and at times actively unhelpful for the Red Devils but so often, Fernandes levels up Erik ten Hag’s side.
Bruno Fernandes’ breakneck speed and on-target shot spoiled Aston Villa’s fun at Old Trafford
The Portugal star is a leader within Erik ten Hag’s squad and frequently levels up United
His sneak-attack came from the clever mopping-up of Marcus Rashford’s initial strike, which Emiliano Martinez was quick to block out. He turned on the after-burners to streak into the box but there was no lack of composure to his quickly-taken shot.
After the final whistle, Ten Hag said it was ‘crazy’ to doubt Fernandes’ capitaincy, because he is a ‘big leader’. Both things can be true at the same time. Whilst Fernandes might not always have the icy core to stay level-headed in command of the armband, United’s No 8 is undoubtedly a leader on the pitch, capable of energising the side when things are flagging.
‘He leads by example, gives so much energy to the team, so much desire and determination. If you want to win games and trophies, you need such players,’ Ten Hag continued.
United have already found it to be true in their clinching of the Carabao Cup, and could yet rely on Fernandes at Wembley in June.
Erling Haaland’s record-breaking season shows no sign of stopping as City hunt for the treble
6. Erling Haaland (down three)
LAST WEEK’S TOP 10 RANKINGS
10. Ruben Diaz
9. Lucas Paqueta
8. Callum Wilson
7. Trent Alexander-Arnold
6. Jadon Sancho
5. John Stones
4. Jacob Murphy
3. Erling Haaland
2. Alexander Isak
1. Kevin De Bruyne
34 Premier League goals. 50 goals across all competitions this season. It’s tempting to think that moving into next season, Haaland might become more commonplace, that there might be fewer records to break, because he will have broken them all. That’s unlikely.
With Alan Shearer’s record top-flight season now in his sights, and a half-century that sees him break a 92-year English record, Haaland certainly had a good day out in west London.
City were tested by flighty Fulham, keen to show off their guarantee of Premier League football next season – earned the week before – against the champions, and the Norwegian’s only goal came from the spot, but his quality still shone.
Most impressive was his link-up play, which has been developing at pace. The idea that Haaland could only play in a tailored system has been blown out of the water, and so too could the idea that he and Alvarez don’t do their best work in tandem with Kevin De Bruyne.
Haaland needs just 13 more goals to break the big one: Dixie Dean’s mammoth 63-goal haul in 1928, the most ever scored in a single English season. City will play nine, and they could play ten. Nothing feels impossible anymore.
5. Trent Alexander-Arnold (up two)
Whilst inches have been dedicated to Klopp’s proposed summer midfield rebuild in the upcoming transfer window, the German manager has pulled a fast one and begun to work on it with a run-up.
His tweaks to Alexander-Arnold’s role in the midst of a run of bad form for both the defender and the club have been encouraging and as Liverpool edge up the table, could yet prove the difference in pursuit of European competition next season.
The Reds’ performance against Tottenham was far from perfect but above it, it had the much-discussed mentality that Klopp has seen go missing amongst his players this season.
The much-maligned right back has had a checkered season but is finding new life as Jurgen Klopp made tweaks to his role
His silky link-up play looked like vintage Liverpool and had Ryan Mason’s Spurs outfoxed
In the opening twenty minutes – which saw Spurs, in newly-familiar fashion, go three-nil behind – Alexander-Arnold was a vital cog in Liverpool’s buzzy press, and his reward in the opening seven minutes was a cool hand in Curtis Jones’ opening goal.
His role in Liverpool’s midfield link-up as the side flooded up the pitch, again and again, felt vintage and Tottenham were entirely overwhelmed. The win moved Klopp’s men up into fifth in the table, once again in contention for Europe. But more than that, there’s fresh optimism around Anfield after a string of impressive showings.
Whilst the problems aren’t entirely solved, Alexander-Arnold’s ability to adapt has reaped invaluable benefits in the short-term.
4. Callum Wilson (up four)
Eddie Howe’s barometer for his players’ fitness must be extremely finely tuned. Not quite set for the starting line-up, Callum Wilson started Newcastle’s tie against Southampton on the bench.
But a goal down and heading into the second half, it was time for the player to step up. The cameo that followed swept the Saints up into a hurricane and only served to heighten concerns that next season the side is set to feature in the Championship.
Buoyed up by the elegantly dangerous play of fellow striker Alexander Isak in a slightly modified position, Wilson was the sharp edge needed to jog the Magpies’ memory: they can be a Champions League side, and they are extremely close to confirming it.
Callum Wilson netted his 14th and 15th of the season against a starstruck Southampton team
Club legend Alan Shearer stated that Wilson’s half-time substitution ‘changed the game’ and the remark is no understatement.
‘He gave them exactly what they needed and they didn’t have that in the first half, they didn’t have the threat,’ Shearer added.
Wilson has been in blinding form for swathes of the season, scoring 15 in black and white, and his two at St Mary’s are his fourth and fifth in three games. After Sunday’s performance, Arsenal’s title hopes could rest on his inclusion when the sides meet one another this weekend.
3. Julian Alvarez (new entry)
There has been very few opportunities for Julian Alvarez to bask in the limelight of a strong debut season with a team-mate like Haaland. Debut seasons like Alvarez’s Norwegian team-mate have been enjoying do not come around often – and that’s an understatement.
But there is a reason that City signed the World Cup winner and almost every time that Alvarez does get the opportunity to show it off, he does. Against Fulham, the Argentine was electric and once again made Guardiola’s ability to pair him with Haaland feel like a Premier League cheat code.
Almost responsible for City’s first before he was felled by Tim Ream, Alvarez instead snatched the match winner with a barely-believable long-range strike that saw him stop time to find the perfect weight to bullet the ball past Bernd Leno.
Julian Alvarez has lacked headlines compared to his eye-catching team-mate but his performances thrill again and again
His sweetly-struck long-range effort helped keep City in the fight after Fulham equalised
Like two sharks circling, Alvarez just behind his goal-hungry team-mate, City can provide a constant threat. That he doesn’t start ever match is a testament to City’s quality in depth – above and beyond one of the most important factors in their treble challenge.
The standout on the day, Guardiola claimed that the performance had the power to reshape his thinking tactically when the currently undroppable Kevin De Bruyne is fit enough to return to the starting XI.
‘In tight games, where we play against defences with five at the back, this will be so so important,’ said the Catalan manager.
‘It’s not just the goal and the penalty. It’s the intensity in the pressure, keeping the ball, and the vision because he is an incredible, exceptional player.’
That City snagged him for £14m will only feel increasingly unbelievable.
2. Alexander Isak (non-mover)
Isak’s sensational showing against Everton – capped by his incredible run to set up Jacob Murphy for the side’s fourth goal – cemented his status as one of the signings of the season, and there’s been no drop in quality as Newcastle continues to scythe through their remaining opponents.
Southampton were not expected to prove a challenge to the Magpies, who are all but shoo-ins for a spot in the Champions League draw next season, but after the Saints drew first blood, Newcastle began playing ferociously.
The Swedish ace featured alongside his team-mate Wilson to dramatic effect, which will give their manager ample food for thought (as the players are yet to start next to one another) and strike appropriate fear in the hearts of teams they are yet to face.
The £60million Sweden international has grown in stature in his first season in Tyneside
Shifting to the left to accomodate Callum Wilson, Isak was once again in deadly form
As well as playing a crucial role in Wilson’s first, Isak set up a number of chances for the visitors, with Southampton scarcely able to lay a glove on the £60m-man after Howe shifted his striker onto the left to accomodate the England international.
Isak missed large chunks of the season due to injury and has only been at full fitness since after the international break: the thought of a fit-and-firing Isak available throughout next season is an enticing prospect.
1. Martin Odegaard (new entry)
After a shaking few gameweeks, Arsenal are back on terra firm after rebounding from their 4-1 midweek defeat against league rivals City with a 3-1 thumping of Chelsea at the Emirates which could – and should – have flattered the home side much more.
Despite the visitors providing little resistance, the Arsenal captain’s performance was undoubtedly a cut above, and an important statement as the Gunners look to reinvigorate their title charge.
The Arsenal captain’s performance against Chelsea showed how the Norwegian has fueled the Gunners’ title hopes this season
Netting two against their inspirationless London rivals, Martin Odegaard was at his best
His opening goal struck the crossbar first to leave Kepa Arrizabalaga flummoxed on the turf
Not content with terrorising in the midfield, Odegaard sharpened Arsenal’s attacking threat and the result was two extremely good-looking goals to put the now-league leaders ahead.
Even a Chelsea fan would – through gritted teeth – applaud his audacious opener, taken from a neatly-passed ball from Granit Xhaka and struck sweetly to kiss the crossbar and fall, satsifyingly, across the line. His second caught the cluttered defenders in blue asleep in the box and duly punished them.
Odegaard’s gift for controlling Arsenal’s tempo and leading their exhaustive press, particularly in the first half, left Chelsea floundering. His excellent reading of the game was on display too, something the visitors would have liked even the smallest slice of as their north London rivals tricked them into mistake after mistake.
Arsenal are visibly poorer without their captain, and should Mikel Arteta’s side fail to snatch the title from the slavering jaws of City, his 80th-substitution of the Norwegian at Anfield – shortly before Liverpool claimed their last-gasp equaliser – could loom large in the manager’s mind.