Premier League: 10 talking points from the weekend’s action

Sarri is heading into Chelsea danger zone, Martial is showing up Mourinho’s poor judgment and is Mee ready for England?

1) Sarri state of Chelsea spells trouble for manager

Maurizio Sarri is heading into the shark-infested waters that did for Luiz Felipe Scolari and André Villas-Boas, who were sacked midway through their first seasons in charge of Chelsea. They were removed by Roman Abramovich once his team’s place in the following season’s Champions League was endangered and this weekend ended with Manchester United in fourth spot. Villas-Boas lost his job on 4 March 2012 while Scolari departed on 9 February 2009. At least Sarri has now lasted longer than the Brazilian, but ‘Sarriball’ has lately looked as poor a fit for Chelsea as his laissez-faire attitude and Villas-Boas’s overly methodical stratagems. Sarri’s displacement of N’Golo Kanté to play everything through Jorginho and the cold shoulders given to youngsters such as Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ruben Loftus-Cheek may end up being his deepest Chelsea legacies. John Brewin

• Match report: Manchester City 6-0 Chelsea
Sarri admits concern over Chelsea but sidesteps query on future

2) Electric Martial shows Mourinho was wrong to doubt

Just a reminder for any remaining José Mourinho loyalists: your man never had much time for Anthony Martial. The former Manchester United manager fell out with the forward last summer and often gave the impression he wanted him out of Old Trafford. It was a ridiculous position for Mourinho to take with one of the best youngsters in Europe and it looks even sillier now. The Frenchman is a player transformed under Ole Gunnar Solskjær and United must be relieved not to have let Mourinho turn the 22-year‑old into another Mohamed Salah or Kevin De Bruyne. Martial was outstanding at Fulham, creating Paul Pogba’s opener and scoring a sensational solo goal, and he will be determined to make another strong impression against Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday. “He is electric,” Solskjær said. “You don’t want him running at you.” Jacob Steinberg

• Match report: Fulham 0-3 Manchester United

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3) Signs of Liverpool’s verve return with Alexander-Arnold

Trent Alexander-Arnold’s first appearance in almost a month was a bonus for Liverpool as they returned not only to winning ways but to the high-octane football that has underpinned their title challenge. Bournemouth were obliging opponents as they suffered a ninth straight away defeat in all competitions, but even the lifelong Liverpool fan was struck by the convincing reaction from everyone at Anfield. “It was one of the best performances from us this season,” Alexander-Arnold said. “We hardly put a foot wrong. They never had too many chances and we created a lot. We kept the ball well and the fans helped us. I said to Hendo [Jordan Henderson] that I had never seen a 3pm game at Anfield on Saturday like that before. The scarves, the flags, the banners: it was something new for me and hopefully the support will continue.” Andy Hunter

• Match report: Liverpool 3-0 Bournemouth

4) Pochettino dismayed by Dortmund’s 24-hour advantage

After Son Heung-min scored to clinch Tottenham’s energy-sapping win over Leicester, Mauricio Pochettino hoofed the ball – Peter Kay-style – into the stands. The relief was palpable but the manager was in the mood to vent after the game. He raged about Michael Oliver’s decision to book Son for a dive at 0-0 but a more lengthy monologue took in why the game had been played on Sunday rather than Saturday – with an eye on Wednesday’s Champions League last-16 first leg against Borussia Dortmund at Wembley. Dortmund faced Hoffenheim on Saturday and, as Pochettino pointed out, it is a disadvantage to have 24 hours less to prepare. He was disappointed and upset. What made the scheduling more difficult to take was that Spurs, for once, had enjoyed a midweek with no match commitments. David Hytner

• Match report: Tottenham 3-1 Leicester

The two-way gallop to the line

Liverpool 

3 Mar Everton (a)
10 Mar Burnley (h)
17 Mar Fulham (a)
31 Mar Tottenham (h)
6 Apr Southampton (a)
13 Apr Chelsea (h)
20 Apr Cardiff (a)
27 Apr Huddersfield (h)
4 May Newcastle (a)
12 May Wolves (h)

Manchester City 

2 Mar Bournemouth (a) 
9 Mar Watford (h) 
16 Mar Man Utd (a)
30 Mar Fulham (a) 
6 Apr Cardiff (h) 
13 Apr Crystal Palace (a) 
20 Apr Tottenham (h) 
27 Apr Burnley (a) 
4 May Leicester (h) 
12 May Brighton (a)

5) De Bruyne getting back to his best, and so are City

The strength of Manchester City’s hand was shown by a team sheet in which Leroy Sané and David Silva were on the substitutes’ bench. And Liverpool supporters ought to be concerned that Kevin De Bruyne is still to recover his best form. The goals are yet to come – he has scored once in the Premier League this season – but slowly his influence is rising, even if the passing was a little awry at times against Chelsea. With Bernardo Silva an executive-class worker bee, Ilkay Gündogan having one of his better days for City and Fernandinho as quietly effective as ever, Chelsea’s ragged midfield came apart at the seams as the bullets were supplied for Sergio Agüero to become City’s highest scorer in league matches. Goal difference may yet prove decisive in the title race and City have located the scoring rate of last season. JB

Kevin De Bruyne runs with the ball at the Chelsea defence.
Kevin De Bruyne runs with the ball at the Chelsea defence. Photograph: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

6) Mee time for England?

The defences and goalkeepers made the difference as the fine margins of the Premier League were exposed at the Amex. Brighton ensured their own downfall with Lewis Dunk’s slip and Mat Ryan’s misjudgments, which were further shown up by the resolute and focused nature of the Burnley defence. Since Tom Heaton has returned in goal the back five look more secure, with James Tarkowski and Ben Mee the heroes in front of their captain on Saturday. Gareth Southgate has already given Tarkowski his chance at international level but it may be time his partner was called up. Mee is not the tallest, the quickest or the most cultured but he has offered consistency for years at Burnley in the Premier League. He produces the sort of performances that rarely get recognised but his team’s success shows he must be doing something right. Will Unwin

• Match report: Brighton 1-3 Burnley

7) Iwobi ticks all the boxes for Emery

With the help of some bad goalkeeping by Huddersfield’s Ben Hamer, Alex Iwobi scored his third league goal of the season on Saturday – the same tally as Mesut Özil, and with less game time. But Unai Emery evidently believes the 22-year-old Iwobi has plenty of scope for improving, an opinion he does not appear to have about the German. “He’s young, he has big commitment and very good condition physically,” said Emery of Iwobi. “He needs to improve tactically maybe and, above all, he needs to be more calm with the ball in the attacking third, to find better assists and the possibility to score with calmness, [to know when] the best option is to shoot or dribble. He missed other chances but this match, starting with his attitude, was a very big performance.” Paul Doyle

• Match report: Huddersfield 1-2 Arsenal

8) Watford’s jukebox jury offer Silva harsh verdict

“Watford prepared the music?” asked Marco Silva, with eyebrows raised. They say time is usually a great healer but the memories of their former manager’s acrimonious departure last year clearly still rankles with Watford fans, who were asked to request tribute songs for Silva to be played before Saturday’s win over Everton. Al Wilson’s The Snake and Since U Been Gone by Kelly Clarkson were among those chosen as the hosts created a hostile reception for the Portuguese on his return to Vicarage Road. It had the desired effect as Andre Gray’s winner condemned Silva’s side to defeat despite their striking the crossbar on two occasions. “It was lack of confidence in some moments,” Silva said. “But if we put the ball in the net we can achieve the results and the confidence will change in the team.” Ed Aarons

• Match report: Watford 1-0 Everton

Andre Gray celebrates scoring Watford’s winner against Everton.
Andre Gray celebrates scoring Watford’s winner against Everton. Photograph: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

9) Zaha has been punished enough, says Hodgson

Roy Hodgson believes Crystal Palace have a very good case as they appeal against the additional one-match ban, and £10,000 fine, imposed on Wilfried Zaha for sarcastically applauding the referee after his dismissal at Southampton. An appeals committee could be convened this week by the Football Association when the club will outline their arguments as to why Zaha, who has served a one-match suspension for the red card and was excellent on Saturday, should not be punished further. Burnley’s Ashley Barnes escaped punishment for a far more aggressive reaction to an official’s decision in the period since, and Hodgson said: “The case was not cut and dried. Yes, he did wrong and he shouldn’t have applauded the referee, but he accepts that. He’s apologised and we believe [the original ban] is sufficient punishment.” The likelihood is that, if the punishment is upheld, Zaha will miss the FA Cup fifth-round tie at Doncaster on Sunday. Dominic Fifield

• Match report: Crystal Palace 1-1 West Ham

10) Saints face hard road but Fulham offer important respite

The anger emanating from Ralph Hasenhüttl was all the more understandable given what lies ahead. The glow surrounding Southampton has quickly diminished after two wins in 10 matches since Christmas. When the squad return from a five-day training camp in Tenerife on Friday they will continue preparation for testing run of games, with Arsenal, Manchester United and Spurs to play in three of their next four matches. The other, at home to Fulham, feels like a huge game if the Saints are to scarper clear of the relegation zone they find themselves back in. Southampton have scored in their past seven matches but they are too predictable in attack, especially without the injured Danny Ings. “We have a big potential but we still have to put it into excellence,” said the captain, Pierre‑Emile Højbjerg. Ben Fisher

• Match report: Southampton 1-2 Cardiff

Pos Team P GD Pts
1 Man City 27 54 65
2 Liverpool 26 44 65
3 Tottenham Hotspur 26 29 60
4 Man Utd 26 17 51
5 Arsenal 26 16 50
6 Chelsea 26 16 50
7 Wolverhampton 25 1 38
8 Watford 26 0 37
9 Everton 27 -3 33
10 West Ham 26 -7 33
11 AFC Bournemouth 26 -10 33
12 Leicester 26 -3 32
13 Crystal Palace 26 -7 27
14 Brighton 26 -11 27
15 Burnley 26 -18 27
16 Cardiff 26 -23 25
17 Newcastle 25 -12 24
18 Southampton 26 -16 24
19 Fulham 26 -33 17
20 Huddersfield 26 -34 11