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Roy Hodgson , Manuel Lanzini above Lucas Paqueta and Keylor Navas
Roy Hodgson of Crystal Palace, West Ham’s Manuel Lanzini above teammate Lucas Paquetá, and on-loan Nottingham Forest goalkeeper Keylor Navas. Composite: Reuters/PA/Getty

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

Roy Hodgson of Crystal Palace, West Ham’s Manuel Lanzini above teammate Lucas Paquetá, and on-loan Nottingham Forest goalkeeper Keylor Navas. Composite: Reuters/PA/Getty

Pep Guardiola has two finals to plan for after City clinched the title while Unai Emery’s experience has lifted Villa

1) Guardiola’s mind turns to differing finals

It barely mattered what happened on the pitch on Sunday, but another league win for City, their 12th in a row, maintained another ludicrous title-snaffling run. Now, though, Pep Guardiola needs to plot tactics for two very different finals – in the FA Cup against Manchester United, the local rivals whose treble they’re trying to emulate, and in the Champions League against Internazionale, who won’t leave them the kind of spaces Real Madrid did – while keeping his players fresh but in rhythm. This is not an exact science, as different personalities and different body types need different conditions to keep ticking along at their maximum – and the fear of missing out on history through injury will surely be present in the minds of some. So with Premier League games at Brighton and Brentford to come, expect to see those players who’ve not been starting regularly, with cameo appearances for regulars. Don’t be surprised if they then start slowly in either final … and be even less surprised if they blow away both opponents early. Daniel Harris

'What we have done is something extraordinary': Man City lift Premier League trophy – video

2) Cooper can begin to build at Forest

There’s a theory – an entirely reasonable one given how Nottingham Forest’s results have gone in waves this season – that the seven signings made in January destabilised the squad. Perhaps survival would have been secured a few weeks ago had it not been for that disruption to a squad only just getting to know each other after being bought en masse in the summer. But a number of the players who arrived in January have played key roles in keeping Forest up. Danilo, bought from Palmeiras for £17.4m, has added directness on the right. Felipe, brought in from Atlético Madrid for £2m, has been an authoritative presence at the back. Keylor Navas, on loan from Paris Saint-Germain, has been inspirational. Somehow Steve Cooper has fostered a team spirit within a disparate group. If there is any logic to football, he may be able to forge something even better with a more measured approach in the market this summer. Jonathan Wilson

3) Villa thrive on Emery attention to detail

There will be “hours and hours” of Brighton analysis for Aston Villa’s players this week, according to John McGinn, and no complaints. Having risen from 14th place, three points above the relegation zone in October, to within one win of qualifying for Europe on the final day under Unai Emery, faith in the manager’s methods is absolute. “We will have plenty of meetings, plenty of detail, but if you ask any player who has worked with him this year he has been an absolute pleasure,” said McGinn. “He’s made myself better, he’s made other players better.” That was again evident at Anfield where, considering Liverpool’s recent form and the stakes for Jürgen Klopp’s side, Villa earned an impressive point. A place in the Europa Conference League will be on the line at Villa Park on Sunday. “Players will want to sign and will want to improve under him, players will see where the club is going,” McGinn added. “It’s a passionate club, a kind of sleeping giant and hopefully next week we can start to waken up a wee bit.” Andy Hunter

4) Frank’s four reflects poorly on Spurs

Brentford’s victory at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium was hardly a surprise – they have beaten Manchester City and Chelsea this season, and drawn against Arsenal (when they were good), all away from home. In all of those games (plus fixtures against Manchester United, Newcastle and Liverpool) Thomas Frank started with a back three, for extra defensive security. Meanwhile against the division’s less fearsome teams, especially at home, he prefers a back four. It was a reflection of Spurs’ current standing that here he started with four defenders, and maintained that shape until Tottenham started flinging on extra forwards. “I felt we had an opportunity to go with a shape that gave us the best possibility to win the game,” Frank explained. Perhaps Brentford’s team selection could be summarised thus: “Lads, it’s Tottenham.” Simon Burnton

Yoane Wissa of Brentford celebrates scoring their third goal against Tottenham
Yoane Wissa of Brentford celebrates scoring their third goal against Tottenham. Photograph: Ian Stephen/ProSports/Shutterstock

5) Plenty more to come from Paquetá

Lucas Paquetá is a lot of fun when he is in the mood. The Brazilian took a while to settle after joining West Ham from Lyon last summer and there is still a sense of more to come from him. David Moyes wants more end product from Paquetá, who has scored only five goals in all competitions this season. Yet he is is a delight to watch when he purrs. His technique is wonderfully pure and he has a lovely way of gliding past opponents. Take the moment when he dribbled beyond Leeds’s Rasmus Kristensen and set up Manuel Lanzini’s goal as West Ham eased to a 3-1 win over Sam Allardyce’s side. The control was beautiful from Paquetá, as was the imagination. It seemed he had no room but his footwork was too good for his opponent. West Ham will hope Paquetá is just as inspired against Fiorentina in the Europa Conference League final. Jacob Steinberg

6) City highlight Chelsea’s wasted wealth

Watching Manchester City mark their latest title win with a seemingly scripted victory against Chelsea was to take in two visions of extreme wealth. In the sky blue corner: hard-edged ruthlessness, machine-like efficiency, a sort of cold, AI-generated beauty with an underlying hint of cruelty. In the royal blue corner: spectacular excess, grotesque waste, and a chastening reminder of what it means to have more money than sense. Pep Guardiola’s process is so refined that he could afford to field an unfamiliar lineup featuring five players aged 23 or under, and give a first league start to Kalvin Phillips, without ceding much control. Frank Lampard, meanwhile, brought on five substitutes, signed for a combined £227m, without ever really indicating what he hoped to achieve. Where City have made the most of their vast resources, Chelsea have done the exact opposite, and it is hard to imagine such an incoherent team challenging the champions any time soon. Will Magee

7) Dyche seeks to dial down noise

Three years ago Bournemouth were relegated at Goodison Park on the final day of the season. Everton hope to avoid the same fate when the teams meet on Merseyside on Sunday. After rescuing a draw at Wolves, Sean Dyche repeatedly alluded to the off-field noise that stalks his team and he knows the importance of shutting it out if they are to avoid dropping into the second tier for the first time since 1951. But pressing mute is easier said than done. “It is not very easy nowadays because there’s media everywhere,” Dyche said. “Everyone’s a journo now. Everyone with their phone, everyone who wanders around the Trafford Centre. You can’t control all the opinion out there. We can change it and mould it by winning and playing well, but when we get out on the pitch that’s the freedom for us.” Ben Fisher

8) Ferguson shows a touch of Haaland

Sometimes it’s good to laugh, and the procession of quality that has emerged at Brighton this season is so ridiculous, it’s funny. There is something about Evan Ferguson that makes you think he could be the best of the bunch. His two goals against Saints were not just expertly taken but without a hint of hesitation. His build is outrageous, his power intense, his technique on point and his attitude, judging by the fierce growl he gave his teammates after scoring his second, seems spot-on, too. Not quite as fleet of foot as Erling Haaland, Ferguson has many of the Norwegian’s other attributes, and some years yet to develop his game to the level of the current destroyer of leagues. The young Irishman might not make it, of course, and there would be no shame in that. But there is enough to suggest that watching him try will be fun. Paul MacInnes

Evan Ferguson of Brighton celebrates scoring
Evan Ferguson of Brighton (centre) celebrates scoring one of his two goals against Southampton. Photograph: James Marsh/Shutterstock

9) Ten Hag thankful for Casemiro’s impact

Any concerns Manchester United supporters may have had about finishing off the season with Champions League qualification in the bag were put to bed by Saturday’s performance in the win at Bournemouth that came thanks to Casemiro’s early goal. But as well as his instinctive acrobatic finish, it was the Brazilian who set the tone for what Erik ten Hag described as one of his side’s best performances of the season with an all-action display. The former Real Madrid man has proved that he can also provide creativity and is building a good understanding with Christian Eriksen. “Absolutely, by far,” Ten Hag said when asked if Casemiro has exceeded expectations since his arrival in August. “We needed a player in the midfield – we searched for a strategist. It was not easy because there are not that many in the profile who fit our standards. So we are happy we found him and his contribution is massive.” Ed Aarons

10) Hodgson staying on makes sense

When Roy Hodgson took over at Crystal Palace, they were three points above the relegation zone with 22 goals from 28 league games and without a win in 13. Now, with one match remaining, they’re 13 above the bottom three having scored 17 in nine, of which five have been won and two drawn. So what happens next? Hodgson, the league’s oldest manager, is nearly 76 and was recruited on a short-term contract to do a particular job. On the other hand, his impact – liberating Palace’s coterie of exciting attackers – has been significant. The suggestion is that the club will extend his contract by another year – cue Hodgson’s inevitable “Sheila will be happy to have me out the house” deadpan – with his assistant, Paddy McCarthy, eventually taking over in a move that makes sense. Palace’s young stars have momentum – hard to get and easy to lose – so it would be silly to let go the man who coaxed it out of them, just because he’s old. DH

Pos Team P GD Pts
1 Man City 36 62 88
2 Arsenal 37 40 81
3 Newcastle 36 35 69
4 Man Utd 36 11 69
5 Liverpool 37 28 66
6 Brighton 36 20 61
7 Aston Villa 37 4 58
8 Tottenham Hotspur 37 4 57
9 Brentford 37 11 56
10 Fulham 37 3 52
11 Crystal Palace 37 -9 44
12 Chelsea 36 -6 43
13 Wolverhampton 37 -22 41
14 West Ham 37 -12 40
15 AFC Bournemouth 37 -33 39
16 Nottm Forest 37 -30 37
17 Everton 37 -24 33
18 Leeds 37 -27 31
19 Leicester 36 -18 30
20 Southampton 37 -37 24

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