PL hits and misses: Elliott excels as Spurs start looking over their shoulders

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PL hits and misses: Elliott excels as Spurs start looking over their shoulders

Elliott outshines Salah in Liverpool rout

Mohamed Salah was back in Liverpool’s starting line-up following his touchline spat with Jurgen Klopp against West Ham but Harvey Elliott stole the show in their 4-2 win over Tottenham, clinching the player of the match award at a buoyant Anfield.

The 21-year-old dovetailed beautifully with the Egyptian, drifting to the right to help his team-mate outnumber the hapless Emerson Royal and creating a succession of chances.

Only one of them was converted, Cody Gakpo heading in his teasing cross for the third goal after half-time. But Elliott’s best was yet to come. His stunning strike for the fourth goal, curled into the top corner from long range, was as about as good as it gets.

This was only his ninth Premier League start of the season. The vast majority of his 32 appearances have come from the bench. But it’s now three goals and four assists in only 1,183 minutes of action, most of which have come from midfield.

Elliott featured more prominently last season, starting twice as many Premier League games. But it has been another year of progress nonetheless. This performance was proof of that. Liverpool’s next manager, like Klopp, will relish shaping his talent.
Nick Wright

Spurs need to halt slump with chasing pack closing in

Spurs manager Ange Postecoglou during the 4-2 defeat at Anfield

Image: Spurs manager Ange Postecoglou during the 4-2 defeat at Anfield

Tottenham will have been full of hope at 4.30pm on Sunday. Brighton had clung on for victory against Aston Villa lifting Spurs’ hopes of securing Champions League football for next season.

Stuttering spurs…

Tottenham have lost each of their last four games in the Premier League, their longest losing run since November 2004 (a run of six). Indeed, the only manager to suffer more consecutive defeats in charge of Spurs in the Premier League than Ange Postecoglou is Ossie Ardiles (seven games between January and February 1994).

However, fast forward to Sunday evening and after a 4-2 defeat at Anfield – their fourth league defeat on the bounce – Ange Postecoglou’s side’s Champions league chances are hanging by a thread with Villa needing just three more points from their final two games to guarantee a place in Europe’s premier club competition.

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Ange Postecoglou explains away Emerson and Cristian Romero’s half-time argument as a good thing in their defeat at Anfield to Liverpool

More concerning for Spurs is the fact the chasing pack below them are now closing in after their slump, which has also featured defeats to Newcastle, Arsenal and Chelsea.

With three games to play, Newcastle are now just four points behind, Chelsea six points behind, while Man Utd can move within three points of Spurs with a win at Crystal Palace on Monday Night Football. Spurs fans could be forgiven for fretting about qualifying for Europe full stop.

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Gary Neville thinks Tottenham should invest in Ange Postecoglou long term as he’s bought them style and confidence to the club this season

As it stands, Tottenham still need to win two of their remaining games to be sure of finishing in Europe. They need to halt this slump quickly or the positives from their early season form under Postecoglou could quickly disappear.
Oliver Yew

Moyes heading for another tough exit – but it didn’t have to be this way

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Chelsea’s win against West Ham in the Premier League

The writing increasingly looks to be on the London Stadium wall for David Moyes. Out of contract in barely six weeks, a new manager seemingly circling by the week for his job and now his players downing tools in front of his very eyes.

It’s hard to see a way now that he doesn’t make a second ignominious exit from East London, having been ditched unceremoniously by the Hammers for Manuel Pellegrini six years ago despite saving them from relegation.

That exit was harsh, and this one would be too, only a year since he led the club to their first European trophy in almost 60 years. But while that one was out of his hands, this is more of his own making.

Moyes spoke earlier in the season in relaxed tones about his future, and there was a general understanding the club had offered him a new contract. At that point, West Ham were in the European spots, embarking on another impressive Europa League campaign, and all was rosy in Stratford.

Well, it isn’t now. Three league wins from 17 in 2024 have soured the mood around the club considerably to the point Moyes has banned technical director Tim Steidten from the first-team dressing room, and after a second five-goal hammering in three weeks, inevitable recency bias is in real danger of tarnishing his legacy.

After the dismal defeat at Chelsea on Sunday, his tone had unsurprisingly sharpened. Asked again about his contract, he snapped: “I’ll talk to the board at the end of the season. We’ll do that then.”

Moyes deserves some sympathy with how his players have clearly downed tools in recent weeks. He has made his name as a defensive-first manager – this side shows no interest in defending.

But he had his destiny in his own hands, and let it slip away. And he has been in football far too long not to see it coming.
Ron Walker

If Poch’s Chelsea really have matured, they could be back

Chelsea's Noni Madueke celebrates after scoring his side's third goal

Image: Chelsea’s Noni Madueke was singled out for praise after a selfless performance against West Ham

It’s dangerous to make judgements too quickly ever in football, least around Chelsea, amid a season more akin to riding a rollercoaster in the dark.

But perhaps the tide is changing at Stamford Bridge. Seven points and two-and-a-half impressive performances against Aston Villa, Tottenham and West Ham are a small sample size.

Further back though, the Blues would be fourth in the Premier League if it started on Christmas Day. They have lost only one of their last 12 league games, and only once at home since November.

The narrative around the club remains largely negative – Mauricio Pochettino’s job is still on the line, if newspaper reports are to be believed.

But it does feel like something has clicked. Poch himself both warned against putting pressure on his young side while also saying they would improve “quickly” after “maturing” in recent weeks, though that contradiction does go along with what we can all see on the pitch.

Nicolas Jackson suddenly looks a rounded forward. Moises Caicedo is playing like Brighton’s best player again. And Noni Madueke was singled out for praise after unselfishly laying on the fourth of their 5-0 win over West Ham, only weeks after selfishly attempting to take a penalty away from designated taker Cole Palmer.

Beyond those three, the whole team appears to be playing as a unit. When Chelsea lose the ball, they defend as a team. When they attack, their blistering counter-attacks now have more finesse. They know how to dig in during games when things are going against them – one of their biggest failings in the earlier parts of the season.

If this is a sign of things to come, then the technical players Chelsea have at their disposal, especially when all fit, puts them in a position to challenge the likes of Tottenham and Aston Villa further up the table.

We won’t truly know if a corner has been turned until next season with so few games left until the end of this one. But the signs are encouraging. It’s not so much the results – it’s the way they’re being earned.
Ron Walker

Olsen gains confidence in Villa defeat

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Brighton’s win against Aston Villa in the Premier League

Robin Olsen emerged as the only positive for Aston Villa from their deserved defeat at Brighton.

The goalkeeper was thrown into the spotlight after Emi Martinez’s injury last weekend and had endured a difficult run in the team.

Olsen, 34, conceded twice as Villa threw away a two-goal lead against Chelsea and then shipped four in their damaging loss to Olympiakos on Thursday evening.

But he responded with seven saves on Sunday, keeping Villa in the game, and even denying Joao Pedro from the penalty spot, only for the rebound to be turned past him.

Should Martinez not have recovered by Thursday’s second leg, Olsen has dusted the cobwebs off just in time.
David Richardson

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