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10 things we learned from Week 23 of the 2023-24 Premier League season

This was a heck of a week for the Premier League table, and it's not even over yet (Watch Brentford vs Man City on USA Network and online via NBC.com on Monday).

The way that Arsenal versus Liverpool unfolded alone, with two living legends of the game involved in a game-defining gaffe, was enough to launch 1000 conversations, but there was so much more to take in over the past 36 hours or so.

[ MORE: Premier League table — Standings from 2023-24 season ]

Erik ten Hag's Manchester United looked good at both ends in claiming back-to-back Premier League wins for the first time since November. Tottenham couldn't handle set pieces and fumbled a chance to advance its season goals. Chelsea's a mess.

That's all without mentioning the 8-goal thriller between a Champions League entrant and a team that may buck the odds and get a second PL season. And more. So much more.

Let’s relive Week 23 with our writers Joe Prince-Wright, Nick Mendola, and Andy Edwards supplying analysis on the nine games played in England’s top flight.


Shocking errors from Liverpool legends give Arsenal just desserts

Arsenal 3-1 Liverpool

[ MORE: JPW’s player ratings Arteta reaction | Saka injury update ]

Here's what the story could've been, and it would've written itself so so so easily — Liverpool had overcome home dominance to keep its Premier League lead at five points by finding a way past the Gunners via champions’ savvy at the Emirates Stadium, a 1-1 score fine for the Reds but nothing for the Gunners. This Arsenal’s paucity of silverware versus this Liverpool’s cluttered trophy room. That’s when two of the greatest players of the generation, perhaps the two best at their positions in the world, conspired to gift the hosts a win. Virgil van Dijk misread the pace on a long, hopeful Arsenal pass, choosing to let his goalkeeper Alisson Becker deal with the ball outside the 18 rather than hoof it sideways as both felt the heat from pressing Gabriel Martinelli. The Brazilian couldn’t believe his luck, slotting home into a gaping goal and giving Mikel Arteta a massive win. This was the opposite of narrative. The wise former champions puked in a big spot while the team that might wilt did not such thing. Alisson underlined the point by making a mess of Leandro Trossard’s late goal. Make no mistake — Arsenal was superior to Liverpool in a big way on the day andt deserved every bit of this win. And Virgil van Dijk had gotten away with some iffy decisions around his area the past few weeks. But it was still a mistake so unexpected that it leaves us rubbing our eyes. VVD and Alisson going Three Stooges on the same play in a huge game? - Nicholas Mendola


Finally the end of false dawns for Ten Hag at Man Utd?

Man Utd 3-0 West Ham

[ MORE: Ten Hag reaction to win | Lisandro Martinez injury update ]

West Ham had some joy in this game, but Manchester United answering its back-and-forth win over Wolves with a decisive win is very encouraging for Erik ten Hag and his Red Devils. They haven’t stacked Premier League wins since November and haven’t beaten many decent teams this season. West Ham aren’t a powerhouse, nor are they in great form, but David Moyes’ men beat Man United last month and the Red Devils’ last three wins are good — Villa, Wolves, and now West Ham. Throw in Rasmus Hojlund scoring again — a fine goal at that — and Alejandro Garnacho finally delivering consistency to reward Erik ten Hag. Sprinkle in a Bruno Fernandes assist and Casemiro performing well again. Now underline the whole performance by crediting the back line of Luke Shaw, Harry Maguire, Lisandro Martinez, and Diogo Dalot for each delivering at least one key intervention on the day. Few are saying Man United are back, but perhaps — just perhaps — they’ve at least started the journey. — Nicholas Mendola


Pedro Neto, Matheus Cunha rip sloppy Chelsea apart

Chelsea 2-4 Wolves

Wolves set traps and Chelsea fell right into them. Time and time again. In the first half the tone was set as Chelsea took the lead against the run of play but Wolves put pressure on Moises Caicedo and Enzo Fernandez and the star midfield duo crumbled. Chelsea gave the ball away so often and the duo of Matheus Cunha and Pedro Neto had a field day. Cunha bagged a hat trick and Neto ran riot with his powerful surging runs and clever passes and creativity in the final third. Chelsea have now conceded eight goals over their last two Premier League games and Pochettino is under pressure. Big time. Their top four dreams are basically that, a dream, and their season hinges on winning the League Cup final against red-hot Liverpool in a few weeks’ time at Wembley. Pochettino should get until the end of the season, at least, to turn things around but on this showing Chelsea are regressing at a rate which may make that tough. Is this Poch’s fault? Partly. But this is more down to the scattergun transfer policy of Chelsea’s hierarchy. — Joe Prince-Wright


Set piece chaos costs Tottenham dear

Everton 2-2 Tottenham Hotspur

Everton had clearly targeted Vicario and their plan to whip in crosses on top of the Tottenham goalkeeper worked a treat in the first half. In the second half they stopped doing that from corners for some bizarre reason but their delivery for the late equalizer was spot on and Tottenham were punished for defending set pieces badly all game long. Ange Postecoglou will be fuming because these are basics of the game which can be taught. Yes the delivery was fantastic by Everton (who are only behind Arsenal in terms of set piece goals this season) but Tottenham shot themselves in the foot by switching off and they were bullied. Spurs surely were expecting this from Everton but they looked underprepared for the threat the Toffees have from set pieces and looked dishevelled whenever defending crosses. That fragility cost them a big three points which would have put them right in the title conversation. Cleaning up mistakes like this are vital for Tottenham if they want to finish in the top four. — Joe Prince-Wright


Another Michael Olise injury to haunt beaten Eagles

Brighton 4-1 Crystal Palace

Michael Olise, alongside Eberechi Eze, was sensational in Palace’s 3-2 victory over Sheffield United on Tuesday, but the duo was forced off with matching hamstring injuries late in the second half. Eze was deemed unfit to play on Saturday, but Olise was named to the bench. With his side down 3-0 at halftime, Roy Hodgson summoned Olise for a creative spark, but the 22-year-old lasted less than 10 minutes after an apparent (re-)re-aggravation of the injury. The Eagles were beyond woeful without their two star men on the field, which could very well become the new normal for a while, pending scan results. — Andy Edwards


A bad day to have a bad day (against Arteta’s good plan)

Arsenal 3-1 Liverpool

[ MORE: JPW’s player ratings Klopp, Van Dijk reaction ]

Liverpool had lost just once in the Premier League this season and had healthy Thiago Alcantara and Andy Robertson on the bench. They’ll soon get Mohamed Salah back, too, and Jurgen Klopp’s final season at Anfield was started to feel fateful. But Dominik Szoboszlai, an x-factor this season, was sick. And that put onus on old hats like Virgil van Dijk and Alisson Becker. As we detailed above, that did not turn out well. Liverpool is a very good team but they were caught off-guard by the Gunners’ Kai Havertz-led press and Gabriel Martinelli focus. If the German was sharper with the ball, this could’ve been 3-0 at the break. It took an Arsenal error to put the Reds back in it, and Liverpool only managed to put a single shot on David Raya. Say it again: Just a bad day to have a bad day. — Nicholas Mendola


Bournemouth solid with Neto boost

Bournemouth 1-1 Nottingham Forest

Bournemouth are a good team, full stop. If they get more showings from their goalkeepers like Neto’s five-save game on Sunday, there’s zero chance the Cherries aren’t comfortably midtable by the end of the season. The Cherries have only allowed more than 1.5 xG in a game thrice since the start of November and they were against big boys — Man City, Spurs, and Liverpool. Andoni Iraola’s men are solid in open play and are actually performing better in both xG and xA than G and A. Dominic Solanke’s 13 goals have helped make sure Bournemouth stay above the bottom three, but more days like this from Neto when the Cherries aren’t at their best will allow them to enter the summer with bigger ideas under their promising Basque boss. — Nicholas Mendola


A long, uphill battle remains for Burnley to stay up

Burnley 2-2 Fulham

All credit to Burnley and head coach Vincent Kompany for staying staunchly committed to their philosophy and style of football, as it served them well on Saturday. Unfortunately for the Clarets, that hasn’t been the case on nearly enough occasions this season. They managed to avoid defeat for just the seventh time on Saturday (their 16 defeats are matched only by last-place Sheffield United). With Liverpool and Arsenal next on the fixture list, things won’t get any easier in the short term. — Andy Edwards


Newcastle and Luton TownThat’s entertainment

Newcastle 4-4 Luton Town

Forget for a moment that Newcastle should be wildly disappointed in its defense and Luton would’ve snapped your hand off for a positive result before the game. Because this was an advertisement for our sport. Eight goals between one of world football’s nouveau riche and a side that had to delay its Premier League season in order to get its stadium ready for the big time. This was Rob Edwards, himself in the model of mid-2010s Eddie Howe, asking every question of his managerial counterpart by constantly threatening the hosts out wide. And it was Newcastle, instilled with system confidence by Howe, never feeling like they’d do anything but come back. Fun. The neutrals will take it. — Nicholas Mendola


Blades’ hopes cut deeply

Sheffield United 0-5 Aston Villa

Chris Wilder retook the reins of Sheffield United earlier this season and it would’ve been tempting for Blades supporters to believe their longtime hero could save a substandard squad from relegation, but most from the outside said Paul Heckingbottom was hard done-by at best and scapegoated at worst. No one’s looking like a scapegoat now, as even new signings didn’t inject life into a Blades side that is nowhere near the level at the back. Mason Holgate was the best of a bad back five that had no clue how to keep Villa off the scoreboard. Villa’s good, true, but Sheffield United has to find a lot of points from a daunting run of fixtures. Can you get them to 30 — 20 more points — off of the following list? How about 35? Luton (A), Brighton (H), Wolves (A), Arsenal (H), Bournemouth (A), Man Utd (A), Fulham (H), Liverpool (A), Chelsea (H), Brentford (A), Burnley (H), Newcastle (A), Forest (H), Everton (A), Tottenham (H). Maybe, but not on the evidence of this back line and goalkeeper, which have been huge parts of conceding nearly 60 goals through 23 matches. — Nicholas Mendola