Premier League: 10 talking points from the weekend’s action | Football

1) Shaw’s uncertain form is a thing of the past

The rehabilitation of Luke Shaw has been a success of Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s reign. A player given harsh treatment by José Mourinho may never turn into the first-choice England left-back he looked set to be as a teenager at Southampton but his recent repurposing as a left-sided centre-back has revealed extra dimensions to his game. It is a highly specialised position, one only really suited to those games where Solskjær sets his team up to soak up pressure, but since Shaw was deployed there at Liverpool in January, 3-5-2 has been the default formation for United’s more testing fixtures. Shaw’s presence also gave Brandon Williams licence to overlap, though both were put through plenty of defensive work by Manchester City. At 24, Shaw has become a senior figure guiding young blood through matches, something inconceivable under Mourinho. John Brewin

Match report: Manchester United 2-0 Manchester City

2) Foden graces the big stage with a disappearing act

As City badly lost their bearings towards the end of the first half at Old Trafford, Phil Foden looked especially disorientated, having been put out on the flank by a manager who for all his effusive praise of the teenager is yet to grant him the role of creative director. With neither David Silva nor Kevin De Bruyne in the team and Pep Guardiola fielding an under-amped lineup, including the lesser spotted £60m full-back João Cancelo, this appeared a chance to showcase Foden’s talents. Yet he started the game out on the wing and City went into the dressing room at half-time lucky to be only a goal down. Eventually ushered into the centre once Riyad Mahrez came on, Foden grew in influence and he tested David de Gea with a stinging shot but it was not an occasion to announce his candidacy as heir apparent to his midfield elders. John Brewin

Barney Ronay: United turning a corner with Fernandes at the wheel

Phil Foden suffered from being positioned on the wing against United.

Phil Foden suffered from being positioned on the wing against United. Photograph: Javier García/BPI/Shutterstock

3) Moyes is redefining the West Ham way

David Moyes may not yet have had a radical impact on West Ham’s results, but stylistically the changes from his predecessor, Manuel Pellegrini, have been stark. This is borne out in two metrics that illustrate the team’s new defensive approach: opposition deep completed passes, which measures how easily opponents can play their way into dangerous areas, and passes allowed per defensive action, a measure of aggressive pressing. Under Pellegrini, West Ham were 15th and 11th respectively. Under Moyes, they are dead last in both. There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with this: the 1-0 defeat to Arsenal, in which they sat deep, ceded possession and probably should have won on the break, was a good example. If it keeps West Ham up, even the club’s famously demanding fans will keep their powder dry. But West Ham’s leadership have a decision to make: is Moyes-ball simply a short-term fix? Or is this their new identity? Jonathan Liew

Match report: Arsenal 1-0 West Ham

4) Mourinho turns his sights to Leipzig

José Mourinho had harsh words for Spurs’ record signing, Tanguy Ndombele, but exonerated the inexperienced Oliver Skipp from criticism over what he described as a nonexistent midfield showing in the first half at Turf Moor. Naturally he praised Eric Dier, who fully justified his manager’s faith with an excellent all-round performance, but mostly Mourinho expressed concern that his tired players do themselves justice in Leipzig. “The plan was to keep the fresh players on the field for 90 minutes but I had to change that at half‑time,” he Spurs manager said. “I only wanted Steven Bergwijn to play for an hour but he had to play the whole game and on top of that he is injured. It might be something minor but I hope he can make the effort on Tuesday because I want only two options in Leipzig – either we win or we lose but leave everything we have out there.” Paul Wilson

Match report: Burnley 1-1 Tottenham

5) There’s life in Chelsea’s old guard yet

While the focus lingered on Chelsea’s kids during the over Everton, it was worth remembering that there were vital contributions from some of the veterans. “The younger players have injected energy to the club and the fans,” Frank Lampard said. “But also look at the experienced players: Pedro running from virtually inside his own half for the second goal, or Willian today all over the pitch.” The kids have been shown the way forward. Goalscorers Pedro (aged 32), Olivier Giroud (33) and Willian (31) have all been out in the cold at times this season, but their professionalism has never dipped. “That’s what we need,” Lampard said. “That is football, whether you’re four months from the end of your contract or out of the team for a month.” Jacob Steinberg

Match report: Chelsea 4-0 Everton

Willian celebrates scoring for Chelsea.

Willian celebrates scoring for Chelsea. Photograph: Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

6) Ayew being served by Hodgson’s faith

Tim Sherwood described Jordan Ayew as “perfectly suited to the Premier League” when he brought him to Aston Villa from France. It’s only taken five years but Sherwood’s perspicacity has been proven once more. Ayew, now 28, scored his second consecutive winner for Crystal Palace on Saturday, a right-footed pearler bent beyond Ben Foster to seal a 1-0 victory over Watford. It was his eighth league goal this season, the same total the Ghanaian managed in the previous two seasons combined and just one fewer than in his two years at Villa. “He’s got stronger, but we saw signs of that player in him last year when he wasn’t succeeding quite so well”, says Roy Hodgson now. Hodgson knows Ayew’s athleticism is a key quality, as is his persistence. That he is now also proving decisive in front of goal makes him a valuable asset. Paul MacInnes

Match report: Crystal Palace 1-0 Watford

7) Milner offers a timely reminder of his class

The celebration that greeted James Milner’s spectacular goalline clearance from Ryan Fraser on Saturday was not far short of Anfield’s reaction to Mohamed Salah’s and Sadio Mané’s goals against Bournemouth. In terms of restoring momentum ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League meeting with Atlético Madrid, Milner’s contribution was again invaluable. The veteran’s return to fitness, along with that of Jordan Henderson, who resumed training on Sunday after a hamstring injury, is as well-timed as the clearance was for Jürgen Klopp. “He wouldn’t like if we spoke just about what he’s doing off the pitch, but on Saturday he showed why he’s so important on it,” the Liverpool manager said of Milner, who filled in impressively for Andy Robertson at left-back. “Why would we extend the contract of a 34-year-old by two years if he’s not incredibly important to everything that we do?” Andy Hunter

Match report: Liverpool 2-1 Bournemouth

8) Is Henderson England’s best keeper?

Dean Henderson showed off razor-sharp reactions to make an incredible, victory-preserving double-save and is surely now a credible challenger to Jordan Pickford as England goalkeeper. The Manchester United loanee has kept 10 clean sheets in the Premier League and is a key reason why Chris Wilder’s side are seventh. “I’m certain Deano will be England’s No 1 soon; I know he wants to be,” said Billy Sharp, scorer of the winning goal and, at 34, in possession of pretty good reflexes himself. Sharp hopes Henderson’s loan will be extended next season. “Deano’s not going to lie, he wants to be Manchester United’s first choice,” he said. “But if that can’t happen yet, he wants to play here.” And possibly in Europe. “We’re giving it our best shot,” said Sharp. “The lads are relishing and embracing it. Why shouldn’t we dream? That’s what we’re here to do.” Louise Taylor

Match report: Sheffield United 1-0 Norwich

Dean Henderson, left, battles to keep the ball out in Sheffield United’s win over Norwich.

Dean Henderson, left, battles to keep the ball out in Sheffield United’s win over Norwich. Photograph: Dylan Martinez/Reuters

9) Saint-Maximin’s star continues to rise

“Yeah, yeah, whatever youse wanna write,” said Steve Bruce, indifferent as a journalist suggested there are shades of Adama Traoré about Allan Saint-Maximin following the jet-heeled Newcastle winger’s latest star turn. It took Traoré time to tap into his talent at Wolves after underwhelming spells at Aston Villa and Middlesbrough and, as much as Saint-Maximin remains a rough diamond, it is difficult to escape the sense that the sky’s the limit for the 22-year-old. His progress at Newcastle has been a slow-burner but Saint-Maximin’s searing pace is proving increasingly difficult for defences to combat. Bruce, who grew up idolising Jimmy Smith and Malcolm Macdonald, acknowledged Saint-Maximin offers an X-factor sorely lacking at St James’ Park in recent years. “If you haven’t seen him, I suggest you buy a ticket to come and watch him.” Ben Fisher

Match report: Southampton 0-1 Newcastle

10) Stalemate shows Seagulls’ grit

After dominating Crystal Palace last week but failing to put them away, Brighton responded with one of their most defensively solid performances of the season. Their goalless draw with Wolves marked their first clean sheet since December and Graham Potter was quick to underline the credit he felt his team deserved for allowing top opposition only one shot on target throughout. “We didn’t come and park the bus or sit back,” the manager said. “We took part in the game and had a good understanding of what we had to do. We tried to play, so it was a really positive performance away from home.” He was not wrong, but with a tough run of games to come, still no wins in 2020 and the relegation zone calling Brighton’s name, his team needs even better performances in order to survive. Tumaini Carayol

Match report: Wolves 0-0 Burnley

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