The Premier League weekend will have a lot of teams going to the international break with more hope than they had heading into Week 12.
Heck, three of the bottom-four sides put forth efforts worthy of safety while seeing Fulham — and maybe Forest — drift towards them.
Let’s relive Week 12 with our writers Joe Prince-Wright, Nick Mendola, and Andy Edwards supplying analysis on the 10 games played before the international break hits the Premier League's 20 clubs.
10 things we learned from Week 12 of the 2023-24 Premier League season
Salah unstoppable as Liverpool roll back the years
Mohamed Salah has 10 Premier League goals for the season and few have really mentioned his name much this campaign. He is the heartbeat of this Liverpool side and is bringing the best out of Darwin Nunez, Diogo Jota, and Dominik Szoboszlai as the quartet are ripping teams apart. This forward line will probably never get to the levels of Salah, Sadio Mane, and Roberto Firmino at their peak but their drubbing of Brentford felt like Liverpool had rolled back the years as they were relentless in hunting down the ball, creating chances, and causing chaos with their runs and pressing. Wataru Endo in midfield gave the Reds a solid defensive base and although they were caught out on the counter a few times by Brentford, there is a sense that Liverpool are improving defensively too and the balance of the team is better. Plus, when you have Salah in this kind of form it papers over any growing pains from Klopp ushering in a new-look midfield. Whisper it: It has been a few years bur Liverpool are in the title race once again. - Joe Prince-Wright
Players deliver spectacle as Guardiola, Pochettino draw up beauty
Everybody played their part on Sunday, from the tacticians to the stars, as Manchester City and Chelsea produced a rain-soaked feast for all in this eight-goal split in London. Mauricio Pochettino’s game plan had Pep Guardiola’s men looking uneasy at the start, but the Catalan wizard had answers throughout the game as changes in tactics and personnel swung the flow back-and-forth. That’s not to say there wasn’t a superior team, as Manchester City had more superior passages of play, but that was expected and will only encourage Pochettino and the Chelsea set given this project is still so new to the manager. You had Erling Haaland dueling with Thiago Silva, Conor Gallagher trying to out-run Manuel Akanji and Rodri, and Raheem Sterling daring Kyle Walker to lose sight of him on the Blues’ left side. Chelsea captain Reece James helped the hosts have so much love on the other side of the pitch. And the rain made the game an aesthetic wonder. More, please. - Nicholas Mendola
Rasmus Hojlund getting great chances, but finishing touch (or luck) eludes him
In total, Rasmus Hojlund took three shots agains Luton — all from inside the six-yard box — totaling 1.08 xG, but came away without a goal yet again. On the season, Hojlund has attempted 14 shots and put five on target, including just two out of five attempts from inside the six. Total xG on his 14 shots: 2.43. With nearly 0.2 xG per attempt, the goal gods won’t be able to keep a good striker down for long. In further defense of Holjlund, he already has five goals in four UEFA Champions League appearances this season. - Andy Edwards
Tottenham punished for being anti-Ange
Missing Micky van de Ven, Cristian Romero, Destiny Udogie, and James Maddison from the starting lineup against Chelsea a few days ago, this was always going to be very tough for Tottenham. But they started the game so well, scored early and then stopped playing. They didn’t really have any attacking rhythm whatsoever and were content to sit deeper and deeper and try to soak up Wolves’ pressure. That is anti Ange-ball to the extreme and the Australian coach look dejected on the sideline for most of this game as he probably understood why his team played the way they did but he didn’t like it. Eric Dier, Emerson Royal, Ben Davies, and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg all struggled and showed the reasons why they have been left out of Postecoglou’s brave new era at Tottenham. Dier and Davies did their best to hold things together at center back and it was more about the lack of poise in front of them and lack of adventure from Spurs’ full backs to push them higher up the pitch. Let us make this clear: Wolves were excellent and deserved to win this match as Pablo Sarabia’s quality was the difference. Tottenham deserved to lose but the way they lost was cruel and put a bow on what has been a terrible week. - Joe Prince-Wright
Arsenal ride set-piece dominance to victory
The Gunners made their set pieces and crosses into the box count against Burnley as all three goals came via that route. Oleksandr Zinchenko’s cross right on half time was nodded across goal by Bukayo Saka for Leandro Trossard to finish, William Saliba headed home from a corner, and then another corner fell to Zinchenko to volley home. Arsenal are proving to be a workmanlike team this season as they’re a very different side to the swashbuckling style which propelled them to the top of the Premier League table for most of last season. But that was the next step they needed to take. They needed to find different ways to win games when they aren’t at their free-flowing best and they did that against Burnley. With Martin Odegaard, Ben White, Thomas Partey, and Gabriel Jesus all out injured, this Arsenal side are showing their strength in depth and have a much tougher exterior this season. Over the course of the nine-month slog, picking up goals from set pieces and becoming more resolute and almost boring at times is the kind of thing that makes the difference in the title race. - Joe Prince-Wright
Ward-Prowse wizardry gives Hammers familiar feeling
When David Moyes needed a win most, West Ham went back to chaos and it worked a treat. They scored early, let in two goals either side of half time, then scored twice late-on to win 3-2. It feels like the kind of game West Ham have had about 75 times during Moyes’ time in charge. James Ward-Prowse was the x-factor in this game as his two second half corners were on the money for Jarrod Bowen and Tomas Soucek to turn the game on its head by using theirs. Ward-Prowse now has nine assists in his first three months as a West Ham player in all competitions and sometimes recruitment can be simple. Ward-Prowse is good at set-piece delivery. West Ham are good at getting on the end of set pieces. Sign him. He whips it in. West Ham score goals. Sometimes it is so simple. - Joe Prince-Wright
Everton win the product of belief, can be the source of more
First of all, Everton supporter, we understand how difficult it is to believe positive things about your beleaguered club, but let’s be real; All of the recent signs say Sean Dyche has your Toffees operating like a real, working football club. This is a mid-table team with top-half potential, sitting inside the top 10 in expected goals, created chances, and a number of defensive metrics. They still aren’t possessing the ball but they’ll foul the heck out of you when there’s danger in sight, and now they are showing more and more belief in what Dyche is preaching will lead to success. A first-minute away lead blown within five minutes might’ve spelled doom for any number of iterations of Everton, but this team reclaimed the lead twice on the day. The Toffees are unlikely to be part of the relegation fight this season. That that matters speaks volumes to how far the club had fallen, but there’s real relief there. And when you’re not in a relegation race, you can build each week instead of worrying how badly a failure will set you back. Advantage: Dyche. - Nicholas Mendola
Bournemouth feasts on cherry of an opportunity
Bruno Guimaraes, Sandro Tonali. Callum Wilson, Alexander Isak, Harvey Barnes, Elliot Anderson, Sven Botman, Matt Targett, Javi Manquillo, Dan Burn, and Jacob Murphy. Those 11 players are a huge miss when a team’s rested, but Newcastle entered this match having faces Arsenal and Borussia Dortmund inside of eight days. It was an incredible chance for Bournemouth to take three points that few of their rivals will this season, and Andoni Iraola’s men followed the blood in the water to a true meal. It’s difficult to find a passenger on Bournemouth’s list of participants, and the Cherries will be relieved to head into the break with their heads above that dreaded line. As they weather months without Alex Scott and Tyler Adams, three points like these are gifts that must be taken before the holiday season. For Newcastle, Eddie Howe tried to talk up his team’s young prospects and depth before the match but the proof was in the pudding. This was always going to be a slog, absent his two most regular finishers in Wilson and Isak. It never looked like anything but hit and hope from the visitors. - Nicholas Mendola
Villa lays bare gulf in class over workmanlike Fulham
Marco Silva’s Fulham works hard, fouls harder, and doesn’t quit on games, but there’s a massive difference between the side built in Birmingham and the one constructed in London. That’s probably down to Fulham’s yo-yo past few seasons while Villa’s stayed in the top flight, but the Villans have difference makes at every level from Emiliano Martinez’s goal to Ollie Watkins and Moussa Diaby up top. Fulham have fighters like Tim Ream, Alex Iwobi, Bobby Decordova Reid, Antonee Robinson, and — for now — Joao Palhinha, but there’s ‘next big thing’ on the roster and it’s showing right now. Villa had more work to do all week and still looked fresher. Fulham’s going to have to grind out nearly every result it gets this season. The good news is that the players look willing to do it. - Nicholas Mendola
Seagulls feel the workload as Blades hang in there
A bright start saw Brighton take a lead and force several saves out of Wes Foderingham, but the hosts’ legs looked tired as the game wore on, taxed by a midweek win over Ajax. It’s looking increasingly like a European return will hinge on whether the Seagulls can win the Europa League. Roberto De Zerbi’s men might’ve been down a man for more than 20 minutes but still held the ball for 62% of the game. The problem was the cutting edge with the ball. The zip so emblematic of Brighton’s rise was rarely on display. Blades knew exactly what to do once Dahoud was sent off for a bladed challenge, and Paul Heckingbottom’s men pretty much went with the flow of the game. An early open affair became something different up a man, and the point is well-earned. The duty now seems to be this: Get to January within sight of safety, then buy players who can make positive results more realistic. - Nicholas Mendola