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Man City show why they are champions; Arsenal's road woes in a class of their own

With only a month of Premier League football to go, Nick Miller looks back at all the highs and lows in the Premier League this weekend.

Goal of the weekend

This season Mohamed Salah been that priceless old combination of a great goalscorer and a scorer of great goals. His latest effort, his 40th of the season -- over all competitions -- making him the first Liverpool player to reach that mark since Ian Rush, was a piece of brilliant ingenuity, an improvised looping header against Bournemouth from Trent Alexander-Arnold's superb long pass.

It also showed the mind of a true goalscorer, one able to process in the briefest of moments the quickest and most efficient way of getting the ball in the net. What a player. What a season.

Riposte of the Weekend 

Champions, then. Not in the way we expected, and not in the way they might have liked, but one of the most inevitable crownings of the season came when Manchester United lost to West Brom, allowing Manchester City to win the Premier League for the third time.

But they wouldn't have been confirmed as champions had they not swept Tottenham aside on Saturday evening. It wasn't just that City beat Spurs, they demolished one of the best teams in the league, away from home, after a week in which their mental fortitude looked very shaky after two spirit-crushing defeats to Man United and Liverpool.

This was a rampant performance, and Spurs were fortunate to have the remotest sniff of delaying their celebrations further. It would have been great for them to win it against United, but when they sit back in a few weeks and reflect on the season as a whole, they will look back on nine months of dazzling brilliance.

Mood swing of the weekend

Rather than demanding millions are spent on his team, Jose Mourinho's main summer priority must be figuring out where the hole in Manchester United mentality is. So desperate were they against West Brom, it was difficult to imagine they were the same team that bullied the Premier League champions just last weekend.

Their two worst results of the season have come after big wins: this following the defeat of City, and their exit from the Champions League against Sevilla was a few days after they beat Liverpool at Old Trafford. Is it a problem of excessive confidence? Are these United players taking things for granted? Is that Mourinho's fault?

The only other time United have lost to the Premier League's bottom team was against Blackburn in 2011, the famous game in which Alex Ferguson played Park Ji-sung and Rafael in midfield ahead of Paul Pogba, which the Frenchman cited as the moment he decided to end his first spell at Old Trafford. Given the talent on the pitch in the respective games, this was a much worse result.

Statistic of the weekend

There was a time when Arsenal losing at Newcastle would have been a shock. Not these days, though. So frequent an occurrence are these insipid defeats that it would barely be worth a mention, but it is worth noting that Arsenal are yet to win an away point in 2018. Every other team in the Football League -- that's 91 of them, even Sunderland -- have managed at least one.

Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang reacts to Matt Ritchie's winning goal for Newcastle
Arsenal are the only Football League team to not have a road point in 2018.

Worst referee decision of the weekend 

It's odd how contentious refereeing decisions are often viewed through the prism of the result. Plenty was made of Mike Dean's failure to send Chelsea's Marcos Alonso off for his foul on Shane Long, but at least some argument could be made that he was attempting a legitimate challenge. And one suspects that Mark Hughes would not have been so annoyed had Southampton held onto their lead.

Arguably worse though, was Ben Davies planting his studs into Vincent Kompany's shin, simply because he had to change the direction of his right leg in order to pointlessly foul his opponent. What possessed him is unclear, but relatively little fuss was made because Manchester City beat Tottenham anyway.

Worrying mistake of the weekend

Another error for Hugo Lloris. By now we're probably all aware that the Frenchman is not the safest goalkeeper in the Premier League, and is perilously close to earning that faintest of praise for a custodian: a "good shot-stopper". His suicidal charge to take out Raheem Sterling and concede a penalty was his fifth error leading directly to a goal in 37 games this season. Only Petr Cech has made more.

A corollary of these errors is that it seems to be introducing doubt to his general play: after giving a goal away in that fashion, later on in the game he stayed on his line when Sterling took a heavy touch while clean through, when Lloris could have advanced and narrowed the angle. Luckily for him Davinson Sanchez saved the day that time, but if Lloris is second-guessing himself then it's another problem for Spurs to deal with.

Too little, too late of the weekend

Two points separate 13th and 17th place, theoretically a recipe for an exciting relegation tussle. But all of those teams will probably be safe, if only because the bottom three have been so feeble. Well, before Sunday, anyway.

West Brom's win over Manchester United very much fell into the "never knew they had it in them" category, but while their fans will presumably be delighted at such an unexpected victory, they might also wonder why it took them this long to pull out that sort of performance: West Brom are still almost certainly doomed, nine points from safety with just four games to play.

Still, these last few fixtures under Darren Moore were less about realistically trying to survive, more to preserve some dignity in the hope that will flow into next season. They, at least, have managed that.

Pointed barb of the weekend

"It obviously helps when you go out on the pitch knowing what you're doing -- as individuals and as a team," said West Brom's James McClean, after the win at Old Trafford. Somewhere, Alan Pardew just winced.

Nick Miller is a writer for ESPN FC, covering Premier League and European football. Follow him on Twitter @NickMiller79.


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