Fri. May 24th, 2024

Three talking points from the Premier League weekend | World News

By marianna May 24, 2024

Liverpool restored a five-point lead at the top of the Premier League while Arsenal breathed new life into their title bid as both returned from a winter break in style this weekend.

At the other end of the table, Ivan Toney’s goalscoring return eased Brentford’s fears of being dragged into a relegation battle as they beat Nottingham Forest 3-2.

AFP Sports looks at three talking points from the Premier League weekend.

No Salah, no problem for Liverpool

Mohamed Salah’s departure for the Africa Cup of Nations at a crucial juncture of the season threatened to derail Liverpool’s bid for just a second league title in 34 years.

The Egyptian has been the one reliable source of goals for Jurgen Klopp this season, while Diogo Jota, Darwin Nunez, Luis Diaz and Cody Gakpo have shone in flashes.

But Jota and Nunez both stood up to be counted by scoring twice in an impressive 4-0 win at the in-form Bournemouth on Sunday.

In doing so the much-maligned Nunez became the first Premier League player to score 10 goals and provide 10 assists in all competitions this season.

Jota has had to overcome injury troubles, but the Portuguese international has now netted 11 goals in just 22 appearances this season.

Refreshed Arsenal find their form

Bukayo Saka joked that the Arsenal squad would like another trip to Dubai this week after bouncing back to winning ways in style with a 5-0 demolition of Crystal Palace.

A warm weather training camp in the Gulf during a two-week winter break seems to have done the Gunners the world of good, even if the Eagles were very obliging visitors at the Emirates.

After a run of just one win in seven games, Mikel Arteta’s men cruised to victory thanks in large part to their prowess from set-pieces.

Centre back Gabriel scored one and forced another that went down as a Dean Henderson own goal from first-half corners.

Arsenal have now scored 13 times from set plays in the Premier League this season – the most in the league – with 10 coming from corners.

“Credit to all the coaches, to Nico (Jover, set-piece coach) for the amount of time and belief we put in,” said Arteta.

“It’s got a huge impact – we’ve seen that as well in recent games that we’ve lost when we’ve conceded set-pieces, so the outcome is very different when you don’t concede and score.”

Fairytale return for Toney

After eight months out of the game for hundreds of breaches of betting rules, Ivan Toney took just 19 minutes to mark his return for Brentford with a trademark free-kick.

Forest complained about the legality of Toney’s strike after he moved the ball slightly to the right before taking the free-kick to make it easier to bend around the wall into the bottom corner.

But the break and the comeback of their talisman was just what the Bees needed after a seven-game winless run had seen them slip into a relegation battle.

“It was a long time coming,” said Toney. “I manifested this win when I was at home during the time I was out, I am here now and buzzing to be back scoring goals and winning with the team.”

Victory lifts Brentford above Forest into 14th and six points clear of the relegation zone.

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