5 key points as Erling Haaland equals record and top-four spots look locked in
Another pulsating weekend of action in the Premier League saw some of the main issues take more clarity as the season draws to a close.
Here, the PA news agency takes a look at the key issues in the games from Saturday and Sunday.
Haaland’s half-century as City return to the summit
Making 𝐇𝐈𝐒𝐓𝐎𝐑𝐘! 🌟
A half century for @ErlingHaaland 👊 pic.twitter.com/goQGcM3u0S
— Manchester City (@ManCity) April 30, 2023
Erling Haaland scored his 50th goal of the season as Manchester City returned to the top of the Premier League table for the first time in 10 weeks with a 2-1 win at Fulham. The Norwegian star equalled Alan Shearer and Andrew Cole’s record for the most league goals in a season as his early penalty at Craven Cottage was his 34th of a brilliant campaign with more surely to follow. Carlos Vinicius had levelled for Fulham before Julian Alvarez’s goal earned an eighth successive win for City, which saw them go above Arsenal and to the top of the table. It feels slightly ominous and, even though the Gunners can reclaim their place at the summit on Tuesday, few would back against City winning the title from here.
Top four looking locked in
It was a big afternoon for Newcastle and Manchester United in their quest to secure Champions League football as both recorded important wins. Newcastle’s brilliant campaign shows absolutely no sign of hitting the rocks as they produced a comeback 3-1 victory over Southampton. It was their eighth win in nine games since their Carabao Cup final defeat to Manchester United, but they could now finish above Erik ten Hag’s side in the table. United, who are battling a gruelling schedule, overcame in-form Aston Villa to almost certainly book Champions League football next season.
Kane goes level with Rooney in Anfield classic
Despite his Tottenham team-mates again collapsing around him, Harry Kane continues on a one-man mission to break Alan Shearer’s Premier League scoring record. His goal for Spurs against Liverpool at Anfield was his 208th league strike, taking him joint second in the all-time list with Wayne Rooney. Kane can be forgiven for wondering whether he really wants to go for Shearer’s record in a Tottenham shirt after another gutless opening to a game. A week after Spurs found themselves 5-0 down after 20 minutes at Newcastle, they were at it again, this time conceding three in the first 15 minutes in an embarrassing showing. They looked like they had put that right with Kane’s goal starting a remarkable comeback that saw Richarlison level in stoppage time. However, seconds after the restart, Diogo Jota made it 4-3 and strengthened Liverpool’s Europa League hopes.
Brighton’s European tour?
Sit back, relax and enjoy all SIX goals! 🍿 pic.twitter.com/GiNYT0IbrS
— Brighton & Hove Albion (@OfficialBHAFC) April 30, 2023
After a poor defeat at Nottingham Forest on Wednesday, it would have been easy to think that Brighton might run out of steam in their quest for a first European qualification. But they showed they are very much still in the race after posting their biggest Premier League win, thumping Wolves 6-0. Doubles from Deniz Undav, Pascal Gross and Danny Welbeck helped the rampant Seagulls put them firmly in the race for Europa League qualification and on this evidence – with games in hand – they could be favourites to finish in fifth position. Brentford could also consider themselves in the mix after they followed up their midweek win at Chelsea with a late turnaround victory over Nottingham Forest.
Saints marching towards the Championship and Leeds could follow
For the first 50 minutes of their visit to Newcastle, things were looking good as Southampton led and were just three points off safety in the live table. But a second-half capitulation now leaves Saints staring relegation in the face as they are six points adrift with four games to play. The next one is against Forest and defeat could be the final nail in the coffin. It was a damaging weekend for Leeds, who lost 4-1 to Bournemouth and, with tough fixtures between now and the end of the season, look favourites to return to the Championship. Forest’s late defeat at Brentford keeps them firmly in the mix while there is a huge game between Leicester and Everton on Monday.