One step closer. We may not fully know how this Premier League season will end, as we have said for several weeks now, but Matchweek 36 gave us some of the clearest indications yet as to what the final outcomes will be. That was largely down to Liverpool’s hotly anticipated clash with Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield, with the 1-1 draw damaging both teams’ ambitions, Liverpool now sitting three points off the top and Tottenham four points off fourth.
At the tail end of the Premier League table, Everton capitalised on the shortcomings of their relegation rivals Burnley and Leeds United by securing a vital 2-1 win at Leicester City, a result that puts the Toffees a point above both of the aforementioned teams with a game in hand.
But perhaps the biggest talking point of the weekend came when Brighton and Hove Albion, already enjoying their best Premier League season, dismantled Manchester United 4-0, piling more gloom on top of a relentlessly miserable campaign for the Red Devils.
10 games, 33 goals. Read on to find out our latest quintet of Premier League Stars of the Week.
Premier League – Stars of the Week in Matchweek 36
Goalkeeper: Jordan Pickford (Everton)
We all wondered if Everton’s incredible victory over Chelsea last week would prove to be the turning point in their relegation battle or just a flash in the pan, a question that the Toffees answered emphatically with a 2-1 triumph over Leicester to secure their first away victory since August.
Much like last week, it was Pickford who once again came to the rescue for Everton and got them over the finish line. Although he was unable to secure back-to-back clean sheets following a poor error from the defenders in front of him, the England goalkeeper nonetheless made seven saves, including terrific reaction stops from both Nampalys Mendy and Harvey Barnes.
A match-winning display from Pickford, no less.
Defender: Kristoffer Ajer (Brentford)
An excellent debut Premier League season for Brentford gained another highlight on Saturday afternoon, when the Bees stung Southampton with a thumping 3-0 victory to move up to 43 points.
Centre-back Kristoffer Ajer was one of many who stood out for the home side with a magnificent performance. The Norwegian defended stoutly against the Saints, making four interceptions, four clearances, and winning all of his duels. Ajer topped it off with a sensational goal to seal the victory, showing the agility of a fleet-footed centre forward before finishing clinically to notch his first goal for the club.
A fine personal moment in a steady debut season for the defender in West London.
Midfielder: Jarrod Bowen (West Ham United)
West Ham’s Europa League dream may have come to a disappointing end against Eintracht Frankfurt in midweek, but The Hammers managed to take out their frustrations on an already-relegated Norwich City on Sunday, winning 4-0 at Carrow Road.
Unsurprisingly, it was Jarrod Bowen who spearheaded the victory. The architect of so much of West Ham’s attacking potency this season, Bowen was at it again here with a hat-trick of assists. The midfielder was off to a quick start with a ball out wide to Said Benrahma, whose shot was too hot for Tim Krul to handle and gave the Hammers the lead. Bowen then set up Michail Antonio with a through-ball that was finished off via a rebound off Krul, and bagged his third assist before half time with another great cutback to Benrahma.
What a season it has been for Bowen, who will surely be in contention for a place in the upcoming PFA Team of the Year.
Forward: Leandro Trossard (Brighton and Hove Albion)
A strong few weeks for Brighton and Hove Albion reached its zenith on Saturday evening, when a second-half blitz saw the Seagulls demolish Manchester United 4-0.
The hosts had previously been quite goal-shy at the Amex Stadium this season, their expected goals (xG) struggles often highlighted, but against United it was forward Leandro Trossard who inspired a performance of ruthless finishing. The Belgian’s cutback was smashed home emphatically by Marc Cucurella early in the second half, and soon afterwards his pass inside was finished masterfully by Pascal Gross.
Just minutes later Trossard got the goal that his performance deserved, blocking Diogo Dalot’s goal line clearance to score his side’s fourth.
Incredibly, the three goal contributions came in the space of just over ten minutes, driving Brighton towards what must rank as their greatest ever Premier League victory.
Manager: Graham Potter (Brighton and Hove Albion)
We’ve spoken about the clinical efficiency of some of the Brighton players, but what about this for a tactical masterclass from Graham Potter in the dugout?
United were no doubt a wounded animal going into this game, but regardless of that Potter lead his team to a truly stunning victory, playing with much of the attacking verve and intensity that has been there throughout the season but this time with the finishing to match it. The fact that Brighton could easily have had more goals speaks volumes of the extent to which they dominated this game from start to finish.
With 47 points now to their name, you wouldn’t bet against Potter leading them to the half-century for the very first time.
Manchester City and England fan. Writer of opinion and features on all things Premier League and beyond.