Premier League grades: Liverpool impress again, Man City get job done, Arsenal woeful
By Sky Sports Football
Last Updated: 29/04/19 1:33pm
Who "dominated from the first whistle to the last"? Who produced a "pretty limp performance"? And who was "credit in the bank"? 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 crucial wins, while the race for the top-four remains wide open after defeats for Tottenham and Arsenal and Manchester United's 1-1 draw with Chelsea.
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...
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Liverpool - A
The Reds dominated from the first whistle to the last, putting to bed any questions of being complacent against already-relegated Huddersfield at Anfield by scoring their fastest-ever Premier League goal after only 15 seconds.
While Manchester City hold the possibility of retaining the title in their own hands, Liverpool maintained the pressure with a confident and convincing victory, scoring four sublime goals to add to a defensive error they capitalised on in the opening moments of the match. (Kalika Mehta)
Leicester - A
Brendan Rodgers' side turned in a very impressive performance in dismantling Arsenal.
Leicester were too good for the Gunners in all departments and Rodgers was thrilled with his young side's performance.
"It was very enjoyable seeing the team play in that manner, I think we had a lot of young players playing against some very good players," he said. "We showed a really good level today, our defensive organisation, our pressing was good. I'm very pleased we got our reward for our hard work."
It's still early days in Rodgers' reign at the King Power but this kind of performance can only raise expectation levels at the club ahead of next season. (Oliver Yew)
West Ham - A
With more or less their full-strength side out, this was a West Ham performance full of guts, intelligence and in the end, a clinical edge.
Manuel Pellegrini's side defended superbly throughout, with young Issa Diop the star man, while Mark Noble was Mr Consistent again in midfield.
Pellegrini deserves credit for a half-time tactical switch which brought Marko Arnautovic into the game more after a lifeless first 45 minutes from the Austrian. He set up the winner for Michail Antonio in sublime fashion, and West Ham fans had a huge London derby win to celebrate at the end of a relatively uneventful season. (Gerard Brand)
Wolves - A-
Wolves ended a run of five league away matches without a win to gain an element of revenge for their painful FA Cup semi-final defeat to the same opponents three weeks ago.
Not only that, but the team that were only promoted to the top flight this season now look like finishing the campaign in seventh place after this deserved victory, which would be quite some achievement.
And that may be enough to earn Nuno's men a place in next season's Europa League qualifying round if Man City were to beat Watford in next month's FA Cup final. (Richard Morgan)
Manchester City - B+
Man City's performance wasn't really worthy of a high mark, but the fact they dug in, got the job done and put themselves within inches of the Premier League title is the important thing at this stage in the season.
They weren't at their fluid best before half-time, something which is becoming a habit in recent weeks, but after the break they should really have scored more; only a goal-line clearance denied Gabriel Jesus doubling the lead.
Liverpool's biggest hope of a City falter has now been overcome, and you have to think Pe Guardiola's side will win the league, and that with results at tricky grounds like this, they richly deserve it. (Ron Walker)
Southampton - B+
In a thrilling game that swung back and forth, Southampton just about had the better of it over 90 minutes against Bournemouth.
Saints boss Ralph Hasenhuttl played a part as, just as he did in Southampton's last home game - a 3-1 win over Wolves - he changed things up to affect proceedings. Having seen Bournemouth turn the game around by switching from a back three to a back four in the first half, Saints did the reverse at half-time as they changed to three at the back.
The move saw Ryan Bertrand play in the unfamiliar role of centre-back, and it paid off as Saints regained control of the game and got the result they needed to secure their Premier League status.
There will be plenty of work ahead over the summer to ensure they are not in another relegation battle next season, but there are positive signs under Hasenhuttl. (James Walker-Roberts)
Chelsea - B
Chelsea did enough against Manchester United.
They were on the back foot at the start of the match but, having equalised following an error from David de Gea, improved in the second half, having 53 per cent of the possession and restricting United to few clear sights of goal.
Chelsea are still far from a perfect team, with question marks in particular over Gonzalo Higuain's suitability and future, but they have only lost once in their last eight games and are fighting hard to finish in the top four. If they make it then surely the season should be seen as a success. (James Walker-Roberts)
Everton - B
It was always going to be difficult for Everton to follow up their 4-0 thrashing of Manchester United and like their opponents Crystal Palace, the free-scoring football appeared to have been left at Goodison Park on Saturday.
That isn't to say they didn't have their chances. Everton had 22 shots - their most in an away Premier League game since May 2017 - and kept a seventh clean sheet in nine games, which is no mean feat. However, they needed a bit more in front of goal and perhaps a touch more luck, twice hitting the post in the second half.
But as manager Marco Silva said after the game, Everton are still improving and fans will surely be happier with their performance at Selhurst Park compared to earlier in the season. The next campaign could be an exciting one. (Charlotte Marsh)
Burnley - B
Burnley gave their all against Manchester City and were very close to getting a draw. The one time their resistance broke, the fact it was only achieved by the narrowest of margins, with Matt Lowton clearing Sergio Aguero's goal from just behind the line, summed up their commitment to every challenge all afternoon.
Sean Dyche said after the game that Burnley had never set out to play City at their own game, preferring to "make things as awkward as possible" for the league leaders, and that's exactly what they did. It wasn't quite enough, but Dyche has his Burnley back and if they keep doing what they do best, they will remain a very difficult team to visit. (Ron Walker)
Fulham - B
Fulham were better than Cardiff at Craven Cottage on Saturday but weren't especially impressive themselves, struggling to create a great deal against an organised but limited Bluebirds side.
It took a moment of magic from Ryan Babel to settle the game 11 minutes from time, but aside from his performance, and that of Tom Cairney's, they flattered to deceive.
Huge credit to the job Scott Parker has done that they still wrapped up a third win in a row to end the season on a high, but this was not the finest of the trio. (Ron Walker)
Watford - B
Perhaps minds were on their upcoming FA Cup final with Manchester City, or maybe it was just an off day. But either way, Watford were just not at the races in their 2-1 loss to Wolves at Vicarage Road on Saturday.
Which is a shame for Javi Gracia and his players, who missed out on a great chance to move above their opponents into seventh in the Premier League after a third home defeat in their last nine league games.
Instead, it now looks as though the Hornets must beat City at Wembley next month in order to qualify for next season's Europa League. (Richard Morgan)
Newcastle - B
Newcastle's top-flight status for next season is already confirmed and they are finishing the season strongly. They have now won four points from their last two Premier League away games (W1 D1), one more than they'd mustered in their previous eight combined (W0 D3 L5).
Another bright spot is the partnership that is developing between Ayoze Perez and Salomon Rondon. The pair have combined for seven Premier League goals this season - the most by a Newcastle duo in a season since Alan Shearer and Nolberto Solano (eight goals) in the 1999-2000 season.
Perez has now scored seven goals in his last seven Premier League games, as many as he had in his previous 33 in the competition, and the only negative for Rafael Benitez is the injury the striker picked up against Brighton.
Meanwhile, Rondon has now been directly involved in 44 per cent of Newcastle's Premier League goals this season (16/36); only Eden Hazard (49 per cent) has recorded a higher share for his side in 2018-19. (Oliver Yew)
Crystal Palace - C+
It looked like Crystal Palace used all their energy up against Arsenal last weekend. While you cannot quite describe their performance as lacklusture and there were good attacking movements, it was the final finish that was absent as Christian Benteke continues to make his return from a long-term injury.
Roy Hodgson's side had no shots on target - conceding 22 from Everton - but the manager said he was pleased with Crystal Palace's results over their last four games despite being hit by injuries. What is most important for the Eagles is that they will be a Premier League side again next season and it was ultimately a good point against a resurgent Everton team. (Charlotte Marsh)
Man Utd - C
A match of two halves for United; their intensity, tempo and quality all dropped after Chelsea's equaliser late in the first half, something Ole Gunnar Solskjaer put down to tiredness.
United, who looked the best bet to finish alongside Tottenham in the top four just over a month ago, have struggled to get near the quality they were showing in Solskjaer's early period, and the inconsistency of United's performance on Sunday summed up the last six months.
David de Gea's error did cost them against Chelsea, but his quality has won them so many points over the years, he has credit in the bank. But will United keep him, among their other stars? Without Champions League football, Solskjaer's task is made infinitely harder. (Gerard Brand)
Brighton - C
Brighton had a fantastic chance to all-but secure their Premier League survival against Newcastle but they turned in a truly awful first-half performance.
Trailing to Ayoze Perez's strike, they did manage to turn things around in the second half and they got what could prove to be a crucial equaliser through Pascal Gross to move four points clear of the relegation zone with two games to play.
However, Brighton, who have won just two of their last 16 Premier League matches (W2 D4 L10) and are winless in their last seven, have a trip to Arsenal and the visit of Manchester City to come, so Chris Hughton and his side will still be looking over their shoulders as we head into the final two weeks of the season.
"[It's] a step, but probably my responsibility is really not to feel too much until we know that, mathematically, we are safe," Hughton said. "We have two games left. The cautious part of me has to think that anything can happen." (Oliver Yew)
Bournemouth - C-
As with Southampton, it's somewhat difficult to assess Bournemouth given there were so many momentum swings in the game at St Mary's.
Eddie Howe certainly deserves credit for making an early change after seeing his side struggle to get out of their own half in the opening 20 minutes. Howe took off Chris Mepham and switched to four at the back, which saw Bournemouth then have the better of the rest of the first half.
However, they could not maintain their level after the break and allowed Southampton to control proceedings.
An injury to Dan Gosling didn't help proceedings, but Bournemouth were also too open in defence, which is an area that Howe will surely hope to improve considering they have conceded more goals than any side outside the bottom three. (James Walker-Roberts)
Tottenham - D
Ahead of Tuesday's clash with Ajax, the biggest game in the last decade for Spurs, Mauricio Pochettino didn't get the morale-boosting preparation he'd have hoped for.
Yes, Spurs rested their best defender in Jan Vertonghen, but this was a performance lacking in energy, something Pochettino noted after the game. Tiredness will be a concern as their game count reaches the mid-50s for the season.
West Ham had Spurs' number, and the goal was not undeserved, but with bigger fish to fry in midweek, Pochettino will be seeking to push the narrative that this was a blip rather than a sign of things to come. (Gerard Brand)
Huddersfield - D
It's hard to be too critical of Huddersfield for their showing at Anfield on Friday Night Football. They were fancied to be on the end of a thrashing, but managed to keep the score reasonably respectable until the final 20 minutes and also had spells in the game when they were on top.
The problem, as it has been for most of the season for the Terriers, was the gulf in quality between the players on the pitch.
Jan Siewert's side simply could not keep Liverpool out and didn't have enough of a cutting edge to take any of their openings at the other end. The frustration might be that they never really gave themselves a chance of pulling off a shock by conceding just 15 seconds into the match. (James Walker-Roberts)
Cardiff - D
One thing you expect from any Neil Warnock is fight, desire and intensity. Especially a Cardiff side fighting for their lives under his tutelage. What transpired at Craven Cottage was a pretty limp performance, where Cardiff failed to test Fulham goalkeeper Sergio Rico until the last 10 minutes, and rarely got in the faces of their opposition - and on the odd occasion they did, it was no surprise they looked dangerous. (Ron Walker)
Arsenal - E
Things are going from bad to worse for Arsenal at the moment as their chances of a top-four finish fade fast.
Defeat at Leicester means the Gunners, who turned in a truly woeful performance, have lost three consecutive league games, while conceding at least three goals each time for the first time since May 1966.
Arsenal have lost four of their last five Premier League games, as many as they had in their previous 29 in the competition. The Gunners have also lost three in a row for the first time under Unai Emery.
They are now two points behind fourth-placed Chelsea with only two games remaining so Champions League qualification through the league is out of their hands. But they are still in the Europa league and they will have to pick themselves up quickly for the visit of Valencia in their semi-final first leg on Thursday. (Oliver Yew)