Premier League grades: Liverpool and Arsenal hit five as Fulham woes continue
By Sky Sports Football
Last Updated: 28/02/19 1:11pm
Which side looked like they had brushed away the cobwebs and which team were unusually toothless? Find out in this week's Premier League grades...
Liverpool produced one of their most scintillating performances of the season to thrash Watford at Anfield and Arsenal matched them for goals scored as Bournemouth were put to the sword at the Emirates on Wednesday night.
Elsewhere, Manchester City needed a Sergio Aguero penalty to keep up the pace with leaders Liverpool, while Chelsea dropped goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga as they returned to winning ways at home to Tottenham.
There were vital wins down the bottom for Southampton and Newcastle, while Huddersfield will hope the great escape is on after a surprise late win at home to Wolves.
So, who topped the class during the midweek fixtures and which clubs have plenty of homework still to do? Read on for the lowdown from all of this week's games...
Liverpool - A+
Liverpool were back to their best against Watford. Sadio Mane starred in a central role, Trent Alexander-Arnold impressed with a hat-trick of assists and Virgil van Dijk scored two late goals to boost Liverpool's goal difference.
After a tricky run of results, Watford, who had conceded 11 goals on their previous two visits to Anfield, were the perfect opponents for Liverpool to flex their attacking muscles again.
They did so in impressive style, with Jurgen Klopp calling the display a "commercial for powerful football". It was certainly an ideal way to warm up for the Merseyside derby on Sunday, live on Sky Sports. (James Walker-Roberts)
Arsenal - A+
Unai Emery said Arsenal could not keep up their intensity over 90 minutes after Sunday's win over Southampton, but they came mighty close in their biggest home win of the season against Bournemouth.
Early goals are becoming a welcome habit and they rarely looked back, bar the odd blip, after Mesut Ozil's fourth-minute opener. Their one-touch passing, high pressing and high tempo will inevitably lead to comparisons with the Arsene Wenger sides of old, but they deserve that kind of high praise on this performance. (Ron Walker)
Newcastle - A
Newcastle were particularly impressive in the first half of their 2-0 victory over Burnley as they outplayed the visitors and took control of the game. Goalscorers Fabian Schar and Sean Longstaff were excellent while club-record signing Miguel Almiron produced another encouraging display.
Almiron's speed and creativity gives the Magpies an extra dimension and his arrival appears to have lifted the club. They have now won four league home games in a row and if they continue at this rate they should soon be clear of the relegation battle. (James Walker-Roberts)
Man Utd - A
With as many as 10 first-team injuries to contend with ahead of the trip to Selhurst Park, little was expected of Manchester United. A Palace side on the end of a six-game unbeaten run looked a tough assignment so soon after Sunday's draw with Liverpool, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer got a performance out of his threadbare squad.
Time and time again the United interim boss is able to find a solution to a problem and, with Romelu Lukaku's goalscoring touch rekindled and an influx of young talent coming through the ranks, the future is bright for United. (Jack Wilkinson)
Chelsea - A-
Much like their battling performance at Wembley on Sunday but with the added result, Chelsea's physicality and aggression separated them from Spurs on Wednesday.
They ran more (116.7km to 115.4km) and sprinted more (111 to 77) than their opponents, and with the game evenly poised going into the second half, stepped it up a few gears at a decisive time.
Pedro in particular was superb, and could be a key component to Maurizio Sarri's plans going forward, but this was a Chelsea the fans could get behind. Nothing fancy, just power and professionalism. (Gerard Brand)
Leicester - B+
Brendan Rodgers apparently liked what he saw from his new Leicester team after they produced a confident display in front of their home fans to bounce back from their 4-1 defeat to Crystal Palace at the weekend.
Englishmen Harvey Barnes, Jamie Vardy and Demarai Gray all asked plenty of questions of the Brighton defence. And although the Leicester backline did allow the visitors a couple of good opportunities to score more than one goal, they deserved to win on balance as the club prepares to move in a new direction under Rodgers. (James Kilpatrick)
Everton - B+
It took Everton a while to brush away the cobwebs and settle the nerves on the back of one win in six, but once they got their opener at Cardiff you could see the confidence slowly building.
Ahead of a big Merseyside derby for Marco Silva on Sunday, he could not have wished for a better night in south Wales, with Everton scoring three and a number of players looking back to form, namely Seamus Coleman and Bernard. (Ron Walker)
Huddersfield - B
Bogey teams do exist. Huddersfield's victory over Wolves - just their third win of the campaign - was their second over Nuno Espirito Santo's team this season. It's also their fifth straight success over Wolves, who haven't scored in any of those fixtures.
It was only three points on offer for the Terriers but it felt like more than that as Steve Mounie ended his barren run in front of goal in stoppage time to send a town wild.
As per, Huddersfield worked tirelessly and showed great endeavour but unlike previous weeks, they found the magic moment in front of goal courtesy of some quality down the right from Aaron Mooy. Is the great escape on? They are now 11 points behind Cardiff. (Lewis Jones)
Southampton - B
They did not really have to get out of second gear against a poor Fulham side, but Southampton got the job done to earn a first win in five games to move out of the relegation zone. Their home form has dipped of late, but they got into an early lead, and never looked like relinquishing it.
James Ward-Prowse was particularly impressive in midfield, while Saints looked resolute at the back. Saints must now build on the victory to ensure they remain in the division. (Pete Hall)
Manchester City - B -
City's half-time report was clear: must do better. But as we head into the home straight, there are going to be nights like these when substance over style will be needed if they are to retain their title.
Pep Guardiola's side may have been out of sight inside 10 minutes, but it was his shrewd second-half substitutions that eventually made the difference against a disciplined West Ham defence.
On a night when Liverpool clicked back into gear, it was City's turn to be unconvincing, but just three days after playing 120 minutes in the Carabao Cup final, winning was all that mattered. (Ben Grounds)
West Ham - B -
Manuel Pellegrini had eight players out injured and opted to rest a further four for the trip to face Manchester City. His selection may well have led to raised eyebrows from Jurgen Klopp, but the ensuing 90 minutes demonstrated that West Ham were at the Etihad fully intent on denting their opponent's title aspirations.
The Hammers began nervously but those feelings gradually spilled into the stands as City struggled to breach their highly organised defensive lines.
Had Andy Carroll taken his golden chance in front of goal, West Ham's ambitions of snatching a European spot will have gained extra momentum - but they will take immense heart from this performance. (Ben Grounds)
Brighton - C+
Brighton occasionally threatened from set-pieces and earned their goal when Davy Propper pulled one back in the 66th minute, but defensive lapses were ultimately what cost them with Anthony Knockaert's giveaway partially responsible for Demarai Gray's opening goal in the tenth minute.
The gaps left open at the back, with right-back Martin Montoya looking particularly vulnerable, will be a cause for concern for Chris Hughton. But the Brighton manager can take positives from the fact his side did produce goalscoring opportunities, particularly through Pascal Gross and Glenn Murray, which may have gone in on another night. (James Kilpatrick)
Crystal Palace - C
Roy Hodgson admitted after the game that Palace were inferior to Manchester United but, as inferior performances go, there were periods where the Eagles asked real questions of their opponents.
Palace responded to going two goals down in the perfect manners as Joel Ward halved the deficit with an unexpected goal, igniting a period of dominance from the hosts. But Palace gave themselves too big a task to overcome as they slipped to a first defeat in seven against a side supposedly in the midst of an injury crisis. (Jack Wilkinson)
Burnley - D
Burnley travelled to St James' Park on the back of an eight-match unbeaten Premier League run that featured a draw at Manchester United and win over Tottenham, but their display against Newcastle was largely underwhelming.
Some of that was due to Newcastle's strong performance, especially in the first half, but the Clarets also struggled to build momentum and keep the ball. Strikers Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood, both of whom have been in good form recently, were starved of service and it was no surprise to hear Sean Dyche acknowledge afterwards his side had been "a long way off". (James Walker-Roberts)
Cardiff - D
It's not often Cardiff get booed off in the Premier League but their quality was so lacking against Everton, on the back of a 5-1 hammering by Watford last week, that you could almost understand it.
The Bluebirds failed to register a shot on target against a side who had conceded 11 in their last six, and while they had the spirit and heart you would expect of a Warnock team back, their lack of quality in the final third stuck out like a sore thumb. (Ron Walker)
Tottenham - D
Mauricio Pochettino was questioned about Harry Kane's mental sharpness in front of goal after the game, batting the question off and instead nodding towards the England man's fight all over the pitch.
But Kane's lack of input in the final third was clear to see on Wednesday, along with the usually clinical Heung-Min Son, as they failed to register a shot on target for the first time under Pochettino in the Premier League.
Pochettino is calm and looked to simmer expectations after the game, but there is a familiar feeling to all of this. Will they be dragged back into a top-four race? (Gerard Brand)
Watford - E
Considering their poor record against Liverpool in recent years, it was always unlikely that Watford would spring a surprise at Anfield on Wednesday. However, considering their encouraging recent run of form it was slightly surprising that they were not able to resist Liverpool at all.
Left-back Adam Masina was constantly caught in two-on-one situations against Mohamed Salah and Trent Alexander-Arnold while the midfield was unable to gain any control of the game. Watford will be hoping for a far better display when they host Leicester on Sunday, live on Sky Sports. (James Walker-Roberts)
Bournemouth - E
Somehow Bournemouth still had a decent highlights reel of chances despite being firmly second best and defensively all at sea against Arsenal.
They showed good character to come back from the Gunners' exceptional opening 10 minutes to stay within a goal at the break, but shot themselves in the foot by conceding 78 seconds after half-time. Howe's side look woeful on the road, with nine defeats on the spin, and they're a long way from finding a solution to their dreadful form. (Ron Walker)
Wolves - E
No shots on target against a team that hadn't won for three months pretty much summed it up for Wolves, who were unusually toothless as they missed the chance to move above Watford into seventh. Huddersfield created the clearer openings and outran Wolves all over the pitch. Their late winner was reward for their belief and endeavours. And Wolves got what they deserved too, absolutely nothing. (Lewis Jones)
Fulham - E
No fight, no goals, no points. Claudio Ranieri cannot last much longer in the job if Fulham continue in this vein. Again they started well, but conceded a sloppy goal, and never looked like getting back in it. Chasing the game, Fulham were just going from side to side, and showed very little urgency.
Ranieri keeps insisting that his side will continue to fight, but they slipped to defeat with barely a whimper on the south coast. Ten points from safety with ten games to play - Fulham need nothing short of a miracle to remain in the Premier League next season. (Pete Hall)