Thursday, February 22, 2024

Premier League takeaways: Darwin Nunez makes wrong kind of history, Julian Alvarez shines

It’s tight at the upper reaches of the Premier League as the title race and Champions League races in the league were on display on Wednesday. Julian Alvarez’s brace in Manchester City’s 3-0 victory over Burnley wasn’t enough to gain pace on league leaders Liverpool who dispatched Chelsea 4-1 but a new team has entered the top four, Ange Postecoglou’s Tottenham. Level on points with Aston Villa, Spurs are now in the Champions League hunt by virtue of goals scored as only Liverpool and Manchester City have scored more than the North London side. 

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Wednesday’s Premier League scores
Manchester City 3, Burnley 0
Tottenham 3, Brentford 2
Liverpool 4, Chelsea 1

Let’s take a look at some takeaways from Wedsday’s action

Not a great day for Darwin

A missed penalty, four posts hit, 11 shots, five of which were on target and one assist was Darwin Nunez’s day for Liverpool. It has been a season where Nunez has done everything possible for Liverpool but put the ball into the back of the net and it continued to an agonizing degree against Chelsea. The Reds still went five points clear atop the Premier League scoring four goals against Chelsea but they could’ve had so many more if Nunez’s shots were a millimeter in the opposite direction. He kept Chelsea’s keeper Djordje Petrovic busy in net as the Serbian had to make nine saves despite conceding four goals but for Liverpool’s attack to hit top gear, something needs to give with Nunez’s finishing. Only scoring seven goals from an expected goals total of 10.79 would suggest that Nunez has been unlucky but with how he can finish the tough chances with ease, it’s time to just keep it simple.

Bradley impresses for the Reds

Why Liverpool were able to score four goals is due to young Conor Bradley scoring his first while assisting two more. Only 20, the young right back will give Jurgen Klopp options when it comes to resting Trent Alexander-Arnold. Bradley now has five assists in his last four starts as a run of five consecutive starts in all competitions has seen him grow in confidence. With Alexander-Arnold’s passing ability, could this be a time to see what the Englishman can do in midfield depending on the matchup?

Quite a birthday for Julian Alvarez

On the day that Erling Haaland made his return from injury for Manchester City, it was another forward that shined as Julian Alvarez scored a brace in the first half of play against Vincent Kompany’s Burnley. Turning 24, Alvarez was able to collect his seventh and eighth league goals for City this season to go alongside six assists. After only scoring nine goals in the entire league campaign last season, that goes to show how Alvarez’s role has expanded as he’s become a key man in Pep Guardiola’s attack alongside Haaland.

It was expected for City to defeat Burnley in the match but with the pressure of the title race on, it makes these matches even tougher as there’s no room for error due to Liverpool’s form. But City are confident in the face of nerves which could see the title race go down to the final day of play.

Timo Werner the provider shines

While the match against Brentford can be treated as a tale of two halves, it’s better to look at it as a tale of two Timo Werners. In the first half, without space to operate, he took two shots, not particularly challenging Brentford but everything changed in the second half after Postecoglou’s adjustments bringing on Brennan Johnson and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg for Oliver Skipp and Rodrigo Bentancur. With a top-four spot within reach, Postecoglou played four forwards and was awarded immediately as Spurs scored three goals in eight minutes with Werner assisting two of them.

It’s a sign of things changing at Tottenham as Postecoglou isn’t content with a draw or playing conservatively. For better or worse, they’re going to go for matches and with Werner in the side now, it allows playing Heung-min Son at striker upon his return from the AFC Asian Cup. Spurs now are building depth, and after it was expected to be a season where they finished midtable after selling Harry Kane to Bayern Munich, they’re in the thick of the hunt for Europe.

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