Premier League hits and misses: Joao Cancelo inspires Man City as Arsenal revival continues

Plus: West Ham for Europe? Elsewhere, Leeds show familiar flashes but no case for West Brom defence; re-live Tuesday's Premier League action by watching free match highlights

Cancelo's creative masterclass

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Manchester City's win at West Brom in the Premier League.

Is there a better full-back in the Premier League in terms of playing the right ball at the right time?

Joao Cancelo's development under Pep Guardiola has been pretty astonishing this season, revelling in a tucked-in position off the right.

With the ball, he's a central midfielder and without it, he's a full-back. It's become the Cancelo position.

It's proving a difficult role for opposition players to stop. Coming into their meeting with West Brom, Cancelo only had one assist to his name in the league but had recorded an 'expected assist' return of nearly four, highlighting his chance creation powers.

Cancelo made a huge difference off the bench on Saturday in the FA Cup, taking just four minutes to find Phil Foden with an important equaliser to keep a giant-killing at bay.

This time around, a teammate was on hand to put his fine pass into the net with Ilkay Gundogan doing the business. Cancelo has created 30 chances this season - the most of any defender in the Premier League, twice as many as Trent Alexander-Arnold.

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It was a shame his first goal for the club was clouded in such controversy - his performance merited a moment in the sun instead of the underwhelming award of the goal via VAR. He is fast-becoming Guardiola's most important player.
Lewis Jones

Arsenal win shows encouraging variety

Bukayo Saka celebrates his goal
Image: Bukayo Saka celebrates his goal

Arsenal have taken 16 points from their last 18 available - including five wins - but this was the most defining victory of their recent resurgence.

It showed the full spectrum of their new-found quality; fighting back from an early goal down, defensive solidity, an effective high press and class from both their young guns and elder statesmen.

Alexandre Lacazette recovered from a big miss in the opening seconds to set up one and score another as he further solidified a regular starting spot. Granit Xhaka looked forward first with his passing, albeit helped by Southampton's dangerously high line.

Emile Smith Rowe ran the show, and Bukayo Saka was man of the match; his finish for Arsenal's second and cross for the third showed an intelligence and maturity beyond his tender age.

All of a sudden, Arsenal look to have depth and vitality.

The Gunners have gone from crisis club to one of the most in-form - only Man City have won more points and conceded fewer goals than the Gunners in the Premier League since Boxing Day.

And such is the brittle nature of the league table in this bizarre season, they now have the European places in their sights, and can't be ruled out of at least a battle for the top four.
Gerard Brand

European dream continues Moyes redemption

It's been a tough old time for David Moyes since he hung up his tie at Goodison Park for the bright lights of Old Trafford.

But having been deemed too unfashionable for West Ham two and a half years ago, the Moyes revolution is gathering pace in his second spell at the London Stadium.

Moyes repeats how others before him have overpromised and underdelivered every time he is asked about their points tally and increasingly impressive Premier League position. It probably plays its part in explaining why, on West Ham social media at least, there is still some level of apathy towards the job the Scot is doing.

But away from the London Stadium, you cannot help but be impressed. As much by the character of his side as anything. For all the money thrown at the squad in recent years, it is the one thing you cannot buy that they have missed above all else since leaving the Boleyn Ground.

They rode a tough patch against a newly confident West Brom side last week. This week it was a third-minute blow through Wilfried Zaha's opener. Said Benrahma is only getting better, Michail Antonio is looking fit and the addition of Craig Dawson is now looking a smart move.

There are probably not many West Ham fans who would take too kindly to being labelled the new Everton. But if Moyes can get them challenging for Europe and finally bring some consistency to east London, as this season is really starting to suggest, quietly it will be a very easy pill to swallow.
Ron Walker

A glimmer of hope for Newcastle?

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Steve Bruce says he saw enough from his Newcastle side in their defeat at home to Leeds to take confidence forward into their forthcoming Premier League games.

Hope is probably the last word on the minds of Newcastle fans after defeat to Leeds extended their winless run in all competitions to 11 games. But that was the overriding emotion when the full-time whistle sounded at St. James' Park on Tuesday night.

A pulsating second-half rally, which ultimately fell short, provided hope that Steve Bruce may just be able to turn this slump around.

The Magpies were played off the park in the first period and trailed at the break thanks to Raphinha's opener. You'd have been forgiven for thinking the worst, that Newcastle's fragile and floundering squad would have nothing in response, but they did.

Newcastle produced a display beleaguered boss Bruce described as their "best performance for months", with Miguel Almiron restoring parity with a clinical finish at the end of a precise attack.

Leeds quickly regained the lead through Jack Harrison, but Newcastle, spearheaded by returning talisman Allan Saint-Maximin, were hungry, their pressing game was intense, and their application was as good as it was bad in the first half as they hunted a second equaliser.

Had Newcastle possessed an ounce more confidence, the equaliser would have come, but the harsh reality of the run they find themselves on left them chewing over another defeat.

The positives from the defeat to Leeds certainly outweighed the negatives, Newcastle have the quality needed to get out of this hole and, whisper it, rosier times may be ahead.
Jack Wilkinson

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Leeds' win against Newcastle in the Premier League.

Leeds look like themselves again

Leeds have dazzled and disappointed in equal measure throughout a topsy-turvy return to the top flight, but whenever things haven't quite worked out for Marcelo Bielsa's side, a positive performance hasn't been too far behind.

Or at least that used to be the case before the turn of the year.

Leeds arrived at St. James' Park looking to get their mojo back after three straight defeats in all competitions without scoring a goal. Another would have seen them match an unenviable record of drawing a blank in four losses for the first in 11 years, and, crucially, left the gap between themselves and Newcastle at a solitary point.

On this occasion, however, we saw the best of Leeds. Spells of brilliance were capped by goals of the highest order from Raphinha and Jack Harrison, and that gritty defensive determination, often overshadowed by their engrossing attacking play, kept Newcastle at bay.

It would be fair to say Leeds are far from the finished article but when things click, they have proven time and again a match for anyone in the division. Bielsa's next, and arguably greatest, task is ensuring this Leeds turns up every week.
Jack Wilkinson

No defence for West Brom

Sam Allardyce went with a fairly bold line-up for the visit of in-form Manchester City but by the time that he replaced centre-forward Callum Robinson with centre-back Kyle Bartley at half-time his West Brom team were in damage-limitation mode. Four down at the break - just as they had been against Leeds last month. Beaten 5-0 in the end - just as they had been against Leeds last month.

In fact, it is 21 goals without reply that the Baggies have conceded at the Hawthorns now, an extraordinary run that suggest Allardyce has much work left to do to inspire any hope of this team staying in the Premier League. The win at rivals Wolves was a welcome fillip, the point at Liverpool astonishing. But the problems endure and further improvement will be needed.

Albion cannot rely on penalties and Semi Ajayi for their goals. Not when they remain this leaky at the back, having conceded 16 more than any other side in the Premier League. But how can they hope to open up when the defence is so porous? It is an alarming situation. If there is any comfort to be had it is that their fate will surely become much clearer in the coming weeks.

Fulham at home on Saturday already feels like a must-win match and with the trip to Bramall Lane looming next week as well as a run of games that sees West Brom face Burnley, Brighton, Newcastle and Crystal Palace by mid-March, the opportunity is still there. For now. On this evidence, they are going to need to perform rather better if they are to have any chance of seizing it.
Adam Bate

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