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Premier League review: What we learned from Saturday's matches

27 Feb 2023
Leandro Trossard, Arsenal

From Trossard's central role to the importance of Foden, see key talking points from MW25

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As title contenders Arsenal and Manchester City both claimed maximum points and wins for Leeds United and West Ham United took them out of the relegation zone, we look at the key lessons learned from the most recent fixtures. 

Trossard's new role pays off

Mikel Arteta said Eddie Nketiah was unable to start because of “a knock” but the selection of Leandro Trossard through the middle for the first time was the most intriguing tactic on display.  

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Certainly, the Belgian roamed the width of the pitch more than Nketiah does and in a similar way to Gabriel Jesus, who is not far from a return to action after a knee injury.  

This gave Gabriel Martinelli the licence to come inside from the left wing more than when Nketiah starts down the middle.  

The touch maps below from Arsenal’s trip to Everton and Saturday’s match at Leicester City showed how Martinelli had more action inside, with one example being the winner at King Power Stadium, where Trossard slipped the ball through for Martinelli to strike. 

Martinelli touch map EVEARS
Martinelli touch map v Everton
Martinelli touch map LEIARS
Martinelli touch map v Leicester
Trossard's assist for Martinelli 

Arteta is certainly happy with the flexibility that Trossard provides across the forward line.  

“We had the option to play Gabi [Martinelli] as a nine and Leo on the left, we had to see how the game developed and what Leicester wanted to do,” he told arsenal.com“I wanted to have that option from midfield to make that change if necessary, and it was great because I think his contribution was really good.” 

Man City back in goalscoring groove

After seeing their title rivals extend their lead to five points, Man City finally rediscovered their groove as they scored four away from home for the first time this season.  

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Central to that was Phil Foden, who was making his 200th appearance for his boyhood club in all competitions, having watched the UEFA Champions League draw with RB Leipzig from the bench in midweek.  

Foden created seven chances at Vitality Stadium, the most a City player has done in a Premier League match in almost two years, and provided a goal and an assist in the same match for the third time this season, the most by a player.

Foden's milestone goal 

With eight league goals this season, Foden is City’s second-highest scorer in 2022/23, behind Erling Haaland’s astonishing 27 goals, a club record that overtook Sergio Aguero.  

Foden’s presence has been stop-start recently, partly due to illness and injury but Pep Guardiola seems to be counting on the player for the business end of the season.

“We need Phil [Foden] - his work ethic, his goals, his assists,” Guardiola said. “Step by step he will be back." 

Gracia's calmer Leeds?

He did not have much time to prepare his team, having received a work permit late in the week, but Javi Gracia seemed to have brought some change to the approach by Leeds as they enjoyed a first win in 11 league matches.  

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Gracia's players certainly appeared less gung-ho than under Jesse Marsch or Marcelo Bielsa, being less willing to commit forward, more measured.

It paid off with a clean sheet, albeit against a shot-shy Southampton. It was Leeds’ first win without conceding in the competition since when they beat Chelsea, their next opponents, 3-0 in August 

“It was a tough game, a very close game, but we found a good balance,” Gracia said.

“I like offensive play, I would like to create a lot of chances but when I came here, when I saw not only the games but the statistics as well, I thought it would be better to find a good balance between defending and attacking today. 

“We kept a clean sheet. I think that’s the best way to grow.” 

Leeds also appeared to show more width than under Marsch and it was from a wide position that the winner was scored.

Crysencio Summerville passed inside to Jack Harrison, whose clever backheel found Junior Firpo, who was only starting at left-back because of the absence of Pascal Struijk. 

Firpo's winner v Southampton

"I'm very optimistic," Gracia added. "If with one day we play like that, next week we are going to play better.”  

Back four boosts Moyes 

After disappointment at Spurs last week, David Moyes was under pressure, and so tweaked his line-up to four at the back.

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Following a goalless first half, it paid off in the second as the Hammers recorded their biggest victory of the season against a Nottingham Forest defence who had conceded only five goals in their past seven matches.  

“We’ve had a really good record playing with three or five at the back, but today I just felt I wanted to try to get more midfield players in the team and more people who might create,” Moyes told whufc.com.  

“Let’s be fair, in lots of the games this season we’ve really struggled to score and for 45 minutes it looked that way as well, but I actually thought we played quite well in the first half.” 

Danny Ings set West Ham on their way with two goals inside three minutes, for his first goals for the club in six matches since signing.  

The second, a bundled effort from close range, pleased Moyes more than the first. 

Ings' double 

“Those are the goals we want to see from centre-forwards sometimes,” Moyes said. “We needed somebody who knows the art.” 

Ings’ impact seemed to be infectious as it helped to inspire Michail Antonio to his first goal since October.  

Next up, West Ham face a tough trip to Brighton & Hove Albion as they look to extend the optimism from this victory.  

Emery enjoys clean sheet

Having watch his team let in 11 goals in their last three matches, Unai Emery was probably pleased most by the clean sheet at Goodison Park.  

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“After the last three matches, where we’ve conceded a lot of goals, we were worried about it and we spoke about how much we wanted to win today,” Emery told avfc.co.uk“Through a clean sheet we can try to win.” 

Emery had Emiliano Martinez to thank for not conceding. Martinez produced a great first-half save from Amadou Onana's header to redeem himself after his own goal in stoppage time put Arsenal on course for victory last week.

Martinez's save from Onana

After a fourth win in five away matches, Emery is keen to replicate this form at Villa Park against Crystal Palace on Saturday.

“I want to share with them at home against Crystal Palace the same performances [as away from home], and find out what the difference is between us playing away and at home,” he said.

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