Premier League grades: Everton impress, Manchester United woeful, Liverpool ice cool
Last Updated: 22/04/19 12:46pm
Who "should be looking up, not down"? Who was a "complete and utter failure"? And who was "phenomenal"? Read on to find out who's top of the class and who's in detention from this weekend's Premier League games.
The title race remained as close as ever with Liverpool and Manchester City both picking up important wins, but several sides also edged closer to safety with their results over the weekend.
So who impressed and who needs to buck up their ideas? Here's the view of our Sky Sports reporters who covered the weekend's action...
Everton - A+
Regardless of the fact Manchester United never turned up at Goodison Park, take nothing away from Marco Silva's side who were phenomenal throughout.
They out-fought and out-thought their opposition from the first to the last whistle and to say the margin of victory could have been greater is no understatement.
The Toffees were a far cry from the side who lost to Fulham a week ago but that typifies Everton's inconsistent season. If Silva can eradicate that issue then Everton could be a real force to be reckoned with next season. (Blake Welton)
Crystal Palace - A
It's now eight away wins for Roy Hodgson's men this season, a feat that has been the base of their achievement of avoiding relegation. But in truth, this team should be looking up rather than down, especially with Wilfried Zaha in their ranks.
Although Zaha was his usual silky self, it was the Palace centre-half duo of Martin Kelly and Scott Dann that were the shining lights. Kelly made 12 clearances inside his own box while Dann's threat from set-pieces was Palace's most potent weapon. This was a Hodgson masterclass. (Lewis Jones)
Liverpool - A-
The end of the season always has a tendency to throw up odd results, as we've seen elsewhere this weekend, and it becomes the one time in a campaign where playing a relegation-threatened team becomes a difficult task.
But bar giving away one major chance, Liverpool were relatively comfortable in south Wales and could have made life easier for themselves had they put away one of their three fine first-half chances.
Whether or not it's enough for the title, Liverpool are refusing to blink in the race for the Premier League trophy and put in a professional performance in a tricky test at Cardiff. (Ron Walker)
Newcastle - B+
Newcastle have been let off the leash by Rafael Benitez in recent weeks, and it shows. Giving Ayoze Perez and Miguel Almiron free roles wide of Salomon Rondon left the Southampton defence in a spin, and 3-1 barely flattered Benitez's re-energised side.
Perez was at his best with a fine hat-trick but Newcastle showed defensive grit to halt Southampton's comeback when the visitors pulled the scoreline back to 2-1, with Paul Dummet's recent return from injury a clear bonus.
Losing Almiron to injury late-on could be a blow for the rest of the season, but with safety mathematically assured with three games to go, the only thing that really matters to Newcastle fans is when Benitez signs on the dotted line. (Ron Walker)
Fulham - B
If only Fulham had appointed Scott Parker before it was too late. The caretaker boss had shown signs of sorting out the shambles in early games against Chelsea and Liverpool and now the results are coming too.
A victory at Everton last week was a welcome boost and now they have a first away win of the season, achieved in gritty style with a fine display from goalkeeper Sergio Rico and a clinical penalty from Aleksandar Mitrovic. (Dave Tindall)
Cardiff - B
This is not the time of the season where performance means much to Cardiff, it's all about results - but to their credit, they don't look like a side willing to go down without a fight even if they are effectively four points from safety with as many games to go.
Nathaniel Mendez-Laing was an especially impressive performer for Neil Warnock's men, who rode their luck at times against Liverpool but also were cursing their own when Sean Morrison somehow headed wide in front of an open goal against the league leaders. If they were as good against the teams around them as they are against the big six, things might have been different this season. (Ron Walker)
Brighton - B
Brighton's attack was virtually non-existent at Wolves, and from the outset it was clear what manager Chris Hughton was seeking to achieve.
Nuno Espirito Santo's side have often struggled to break down teams reluctant to pose a threat going forward, but on an afternoon where the hosts were decidedly out of sorts, this may in time prove a missed opportunity to seal only a fourth away league win of the season.
As it was, Glenn Murray was an isolated bystander as the visitors failed to register a shot on target for the third time this season - more than any other side.
But their defensive resolve was rightfully lauded by Hughton after a match that will only be cherished by supporters of the relegation-threatened Seagulls. (Ben Grounds)
Watford - B
Well-organised, tough in the tackle and possessing quality in the final third: this performance was Watford in a nutshell. From the moment Gerard Deulofeu silkily stroked them in front on four minutes, there was never really a sniff of a toothless Huddersfield troubling them.
They briefly led the way in the race to be the 'best of the rest' and with a FA Cup final on the horizon too, it's a fantastic time to be a Hornet. Javi Gracia has built a team the fans can be proud of. (Lewis Jones)
Tottenham - B
Despite losing their fifth successive Premier League away game for the first time since May 2004, Spurs still produced an impressive display against Man City on Saturday.
The visitors created numerous openings at the Etihad, especially in the first half, only for Heung-Min Son to leave his shooting boots in north London.
As a result, Spurs' top-four hopes are now hanging in the balance after an 11th league defeat of the season - as many as they had in their previous two campaigns combined. However, with Mauricio Pochettino's side having three of their remaining top-flight fixtures at their new stadium, the odds are still in their favour in their bid to play in next season's Champions League. (Richard Morgan)
Manchester City - B-
This was far from vintage City, but at this stage of the season, who cares? The champions were boosted by Phil Foden's early strike, but far from settling home nerves, Pep Guardiola's side became tense after that.
However, thanks to a combination of brilliant last-ditch defending and poor Spurs finishing, they held on to get over the line and move to within just four wins of retaining their title.
And with City having now won their last league 10 games in a row, few would bet against them achieving that… (Richard Morgan)
West Ham - B-
It was another good performance from West Ham that they were not able to see out. They impressed up front but injuries to creative players such as Andriy Yarmolenko and another for Manuel Lanzini last week started to show as the game wore on, although the two goals they did score were of good quality.
But they need to shore things up at the back. Granted, they suffered some more bad luck when Lucas Perez had his second goal ruled out incorrectly for offside, but at home, they should be seeing the game out a 2-1 for a much-needed win. The Hammers have only won once in their last six Premier League outings and are heading towards ending the season with a whimper. (Charlotte Marsh)
Leicester - B-
There was little to separate Leicester and West Ham in the end and as Brendan Rodgers said in his post-match interview with Sky Sports, his team did show plenty of spirit to come back twice for a draw. 21-year-old Harvey Barnes took his goal superbly well and there is not doubting that he deserved his first Premier League goal after bursting into the first team in 2019.
But for 67 minutes of the game, they didn't look like creating anything and what they did manage either went straight into the hands of goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski or wide. They once again relied on the poaching talents of Jamie Vardy to spark them into life, and must look to other areas of the squad for goals if they truly have ambitions of reaching the Europa League in the next few seasons. (Charlotte Marsh)
Wolves - C
Nuno Espirito Santo had warned his side to be wary of wounded Brighton at Molineux after a disastrous week for Chris Hughton's side, but come the end of this forgettable stalemate, he was left to rue another two dropped points against teams in the bottom five.
Wolves entered Saturday's contest having been beaten in five of their previous nine games against teams embroiled in a relegation scrap, and that curious anomaly to their season continued on a frustrating afternoon for the hosts in their quest to finish seventh.
Twenty-two shots and 68 per cent possession spoke of Wolves' dominance, but Espirito Santo admitted afterwards that Brighton's defensive organisation left his side faced with a familiar conundrum they were unable to solve. (Ben Grounds)
Southampton - D
Southampton were given a lesson in finishing by Newcastle on Saturday, failing to register a single shot on target before the break despite having plenty of play in the final third, and Ralph Hasenhuttl's double switch at the break didn't surprise too many people.
There were signs of life after Mario Lemina's comeback goal but when Maya Yoshida is your best chance of a point, you know you've not been great. His awful miss at 2-1 aside, Southampton were generally woeful, at odds with their recent form, but they should still easily have enough to stay up. (Ron Walker)
Arsenal - D
Arsenal may have thought their addiction to calamitous defensive showings were a thing of the past but like any recovering addict, relapses are possible. This one happened at the wrong time and Crystal Palace were on hand to punish them.
Unai Emery's side had conceded just one goal in their previous six games but forgot all the basics during an afternoon which may cost them a place in the top four. Two of Palace's goals came via set-pieces and Mustafi's error - not his first in an Arsenal shirt - left him the top worldwide trend on Twitter. (Lewis Jones)
Huddersfield - D
This performance was very Huddersfield. It would have been easy to copy and paste the words from their previous seven defeats but we're better than that.
There was plenty of endeavour but a clear lack of Premier League quality in the final third. Jan Siewert pointed to the fact they had 14 shots on goal but they hardly made Ben Foster sweat in a game that Watford were in full control of throughout.
His team have now lost 14 home Premier League games this season, a joint-record in the competition's history. Huddersfield are going down with a whimper, but their fans remain loyal - they just don't stop backing their team despite the dismal results. (Lewis Jones)
Bournemouth - E
Losing to the Premier League's worst away team is not a good look.
Eddie Howe's side had momentum after crushing Brighton 5-0 last week but it all came to a juddering halt as they became the first side this season to lose at home to Fulham.
The Cherries had early chances but were indecisive in front of goal and just didn't create enough opportunities after a clumsy foul had gifted Fulham a second-half penalty.
It's just as well they banked so many points before Christmas. (Dave Tindall)
Manchester United - F
This was a complete and utter failure from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side and Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville was right to call their performance 'rancid' after the game.
Solskjaer also alluded to the fact that 'talent is not enough' in his post-match assessment and he was 100-per-cent correct.
Too many of his big stars never showed up for a contest essential for their Top 4 aspirations and Champions League aspirations and it suggests the problems his predecessor Jose Mourinho struggled with hasn't really gone away. (Blake Welton)