Premier League grades: Manchester United top the class
By Sky Sports Football
Last Updated: 05/03/19 2:20pm
Which side finished top of the class? Find out as our team of football journalists pen their Premier League grades...
Manchester City edged ahead of Liverpool in the Premier League title race with victory at Bournemouth as Jurgen Klopp's men stumbled in the Merseyside derby.
Elsewhere, Manchester United maintained their remarkable form under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer by defeating Southampton in a game dripping in sensational goals while Arsenal picked up a point at Tottenham in a dramatic encounter.
So, who topped the class and which clubs have plenty of homework still to do? Read on for the lowdown from all of this week's games...
Manchester United: A
United may not have been at their free-flowing best on Saturday, but it was their never-say-die attitude that saw them over the line for what was a crucial win in their bid to finish in the top four.
The home side scored three wonderful goals in the second half to finally put an end to Southampton's brave resistance. Since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took charge in December, United have won 32 points - five more Premier League points than any other side. (Richard Morgan)
Crystal Palace: A-
In typically blustery Lancastrian conditions, Palace weathered a bright start from Burnley, and while there was an element of good fortune about their opener at Turf Moor, this was another hugely impressive away display.
This sixth league victory on the road came despite five changes to the side. Hodgson opted to drop Andros Townsend and James McArthur, while Mamadou Sakho is set for a spell out with a knee injury.
Those who were selected are clearly determined to earn a place in the starting XI to face Watford in the FA Cup quarter-finals later this month, while the additional threat of Michy Batshuayi has allowed Wilfried Zaha to return to what he does best, tormenting defences from out wide. (Ben Grounds)
It could have been more comfortable for Chelsea at Fulham if they had been more clinical in front of goal, but they got the job done to maintain their top-four challenge. Jorginho and the returning Kepa Arrizabalaga were the standout performers for Maurizio Sarri's side, who look to have made some positive strides after their damaging defeats to Manchester City and Manchester United last month. This is the first time this year that Chelsea have won back-to-back games in the Premier League and the challenge now is to show more consistency with their results. (James Walker-Roberts)
Brighton finally got their long-awaited Premier League win of 2019 and deserved the victory over Huddersfield.
Glenn Murray did not have one of his best games in a Brighton shirt, but Florin Andone has staked a claim for a first-team spot after coming on as the 35-year-old's replacement and broke the deadlock with a real poacher's goal. (James Kilpatrick)
It may not have felt that way at the full-time whistle, but Southampton's players can take great heart from their outstanding performance at Old Trafford on Saturday.
Few teams will have given Solskjaer's United so many problems at home this season, with the Saints deservedly ahead at the break thanks to Yan Valery's stunning strike.
And even after falling behind in the second half, they fully deserved to then draw level through another brilliant effort from James Ward-Prowse.
All of which bodes well for Ralph Hasenhuttl in their bid to beat the drop. (Richard Morgan)
Watford were understandably wounded after their 5-0 mauling by Liverpool in midweek and Sunday was the perfect antidote. Their fast start gave them an instant boost, thanks to the head of Troy Deeney, and the captain continued to lead from the front when he played Andre Gray through for the late winner.
It showed determination and character from Javi Gracia's side to keep pushing right until the end and they got their rewards. They are now pushing Wolves for the seventh spot with the pair level on points and just nine games of the season to go. (Charlotte Marsh)
Man City: B
Saturday's win was one of those games that may not live long in the memory, but they're the kind of determined performances that get points on the board and win you titles. City saw the better of the ball but did not create too much with it and it took an unusually scrappy goal from Riyad Mahrez to see off a well-drilled Bournemouth side.
Despite heading back to the summit, City could be without Kevin de Bruyne - who was injured again on Saturday - and Fernandinho for a few games, but they have more than enough depth and talent to keep Liverpool sweating. (Charlotte Marsh)
Nuno Espirito Santo's side had taken just four points from their clashes with the current Premier League bottom three prior to the visit of Cardiff, and after losing to Huddersfield in midweek fears were rife they could be left frustrated again.
However, after a slow start, Wolves played with the type of incisiveness which they have lacked at times this season. The opening goal was superb and the second was constructed with similar grace and class.
Though they kept Cardiff quiet at the other end, Wolves failed to cement their dominance by spurning a number of presentable opportunities - something that might worry Santo as they chase a seventh-place finish which could provide a route into Europe. (Nick Howson)
West Ham: B
On a special night at the London Stadium, where the club named their East Stand after club legend Billy Bonds, West Ham did him proud with a performance full of promise. Declan Rice epitomised everything Bonds was about as a player: tough, skilful and the difference maker. The youngster headed the opener before Mark Noble netted from the spot. Newcastle threatened in the closing stages but this was a game West Ham under full control for large parts. (Lewis Jones)
Unai Emery's team selection against Tottenham was met with surprise as he opted not to start Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Mesut Ozil, Lucas Torreira and Sead Kolasinac, but his plan almost paid off. Arsenal's approach helped them largely keep Tottenham at bay and the way that the players executed Emery's ideas showed they are adapting to his methods.
Sokratis Papastathopoulos impressed at centre-back and had Alexandre Lacazette been more clinical or Aubameyang scored his late penalty then the Gunners would have won and claimed their first away win against top-six opposition under Emery. The result might be disappointing for Arsenal, but the display should give them encouragement ahead of their clash with Manchester United on Sunday, live on Sky Sports. (James Walker-Roberts)
The new manager bounce was lacking for Leicester on Sunday and switching off late on ultimately cost them a good point. New boss Brendan Rodgers saw the positives and after such a slow start, Leicester did very well indeed to get themselves level.
But it may not have been all their own doing. Rodgers has never won his first game with each of the five English teams he has coached but he has gone on to have success at most of those clubs. It is early days for the former Celtic manager but there were signs of life after some dreary days under Claude Puel. (Charlotte Marsh)
It's tough to agree with Mauricio Pochettino's assessment that Tottenham were better than Arsenal in "all aspects" after their 1-1 draw in the north London derby. Spurs produced a flat performance in the first half and it didn't really look like they were going to get back into the game until Harry Kane was awarded a contentious penalty. Yes, Tottenham did manage to avoid a third straight defeat that would have seriously dented their top-four aspirations, but they will surely need to improve on their performances over the last week if they are going to hold off the challenges of those below them in the table. (James Walker-Roberts)
Liverpool's form on the road continues to frustrate. Following on from their stalemate with Manchester United, Jurgen Klopp's men put in a similar performance. Although they created more clear cut chances than they did at Old Trafford, areas of their game are falling short. In attack, they are lacking killer instinct and their midfield three aren't doing enough to support their front men.
This wobble has handed the initiative back to Manchester City in the title race. (Lewis Jones)
Rarely has a 0-0 draw been celebrated with such vigour at Goodison Park. They know this one hurt their great rivals. For 60 minutes Liverpool controlled proceedings but didn't find the opening goal. As their nerves grew, Everton sensed an opportunity. Roared on a by the ferocious home crowd it seemed the longer the game went on the more likely it was Everton could break their nine-year winless run against their rivals. However, Liverpool have Virgil van Dijk, whose performance thwarted the Toffees front men. (Lewis Jones)
Eddie Howe said that Bournemouth had their "respectability" back following a much-improved performance against Man City after their 5-1 thrashing by Arsenal in midweek, and he is right. Howe went five at the back and, for the most part, it worked well as Man City were unable to get into their free-flowing best and Bournemouth looked well-drilled with a good shape.
However, Bournemouth failed to have a shot on target, and Man City's possession throughout the game was a whopping 82.1 per cent.
But the Cherries' remaining nine games are mostly against teams around them and as some players start to return from injury, it is hard to see them being pulled into the relegation quagmire. (Charlotte Marsh)
Rafa Benitez saw his team register 17 shots on goal at the London Stadium, therefore it was quite an achievement not to seriously test West Ham goalkeeper Lukas Fabianski. In forward areas they lacked spark and new signing Miguel Almiron failed to build on his impressive showing against Burnley. Newcastle dropped to 14th after their first defeat in four games. (Lewis Jones)
Although Huddersfield showed fighting spirit to remain in the game for long periods, Jan Siewert's side failed to create any clear-cut goalscoring opportunities.
The visitors were defensively solid on the most part, with the exception of the goal, and Siewert admitted the build-up to Andone's decisive header was what "killed the game" as the west Yorkshire club move closer to Premier League relegation. (James Kilpatrick)
It was a mixed bag for Fulham in Scott Parker's first game in charge. Their defence was regularly exposed by Chelsea in the first half and they were fortunate to only be 2-1 behind at the break. However, Fulham did show some encouraging signs in the second half as they pressed Chelsea back. It appears unlikely that Fulham are going to stay in the Premier League this season, but Parker will be hoping for further improvements in the coming months to bring some positivity back to the club. (James Walker-Roberts)
Cardiff can be commended for their endeavour but defensive errors are slipping them deeper into the relegation mire.
Neil Warnock lamented Sol Bamba's mistake which led to the key second goal - a key moment in the match.
The one positive was the display of goalkeeper Neil Etheridge, who kept the loss from becoming embarrassing in the second half, and you fancy he will be kept very busy between now and the end of the season. (Nick Howson)
Sean Dyche said he felt "confused" by his side's home defeat to Crystal Palace, and the stats would back up that up. Burnley mustered 18 shots, their most in their last 38 Premier League games since managing 21 against Everton in March 2018.
Yet, the quality of those chances, and the manner in which Palace might have scored more after Wilfried Zaha made it 3-0, means he was clutching at straws.
While Dyche has always remained just as calm in defeat as in victory, there were signs of the old Burnley from earlier this season on Saturday as they produced a performance that fell perfectly into the hands of their opponents.
For all of the hosts' good intentions, they were well beaten and with an ominous run of fixtures at the end of the season, successive defeats have made the Tottenham triumph of last weekend already feel like a distant memory. (Ben Grounds)