Kai Havertz and Kevin De Bruyne star as Arsenal and Man City keep up title momentum – hits and misses | Football News

Is Havertz the missing piece of Arsenal’s title puzzle?

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from the Premier League match between Brighton and Arsenal

The Arsenal defence is rightly earning plenty of plaudits but Kai Havertz has been quietly playing himself into a starring role – and can be the missing piece in their title puzzle.

“Havertz had his best game in an Arsenal shirt,” purred Sky Sports’ Alan Smith after the forward’s goal and assist against Brighton.

It was Havertz’s ninth Premier League strike of the season and his fourth since being moved up front in February. He created four chances, the most of any player on the pitch.

“He looks so at home in that role he has been asked to play,” added Smith while boss Mikel Arteta also lauded Havertz’s performance.

“Havertz was tremendous again today. His overall performance has been superb and now his goal contribution is higher than anyone else in the league in the last few months,” he said.

Kai Havertz doubles Arsenal's lead at the Amex Stadium
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Kai Havertz doubles Arsenal’s lead at the Amex Stadium

“His work-rate too – he was chasing back 70 metres here. This heart and this determination, that’s why everybody loves him.”

The 24-year-old’s clever movement and craft in possession – different to the chaos of Gabriel Jesus – has made Arsenal’s attack click.
David Richardson

City’s top trio revved up for Real Madrid

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Manchester City

Goals for Kevin De Bruyne and Erling Haaland and an afternoon off for Phil Foden after his hat-trick against Aston Villa on Wednesday. Man City’s performance in the 4-2 win at Crystal Palace was far from faultless but there are positive signs from their key players as they go into their huge Tuesday night Champions League quarter-final first leg away to Real Madrid.

The priority on Saturday lunchtime was to maintain their Premier League title push but Foden’s absence – following De Bruyne and Haaland being unused against Villa – was a further indication of how Pep Guardiola is managing the load of his players right now to battle across different competitions. Expect all three to be unleashed in Madrid.

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Sky Sports Gary Cotterill and Peter Smith discuss how important it is for Manchester United that Kevin De Bruyne finds form at this stage of the season

It is now 25 games unbeaten for Man City in all competitions. The rotation policy is working and once again they are revving up for a big finish. If they are to achieve success on one, two or – incredibly – three fronts they will need their key men to be fresh and at their best. It’s looking good right now…
Peter Smith

Luiz suspension deals Villa another blow

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Highlights from Aston Villa’s match against Brentford in the Premier League

Villa shot themselves in the foot against Brentford – and it wasn’t all about the result.

Emery was understandably disappointed in his post-match interview as he claimed he ‘could not understand’ the end result, given the performance from his side in the first half and after Ollie Watkins equalised to make it 3-3.

Despite his side squandering a two-goal lead and only walking away with a point, this wasn’t the only negative he will be forced to deal with in the days that follow.


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As the game approached the final seconds of added-time, and with frustration already bubbling over in the home crowd, the Villa faithful witnessed Douglas Luiz pull an opponent back before being shown his 10th yellow of the season.

Villa – who are already without the injured Boubacar Kamara in midfield – will now be forced to face title-challenging Arsenal without Luiz in the centre of the park next Sunday, live on Sky Sports.
Patrick Rowe

Bruno underlines importance to Toon amid PSG speculation

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Highlights from Fulham’s match against Newcastle in the Premier League

In the week Bruno Guimaraes was heavily linked with a summer move to Paris Saint-Germain, the Newcastle midfielder showed why he is just so important to Eddie Howe’s side.

The Brazilian marked his 100th appearance for the club with a vital late winner at Fulham that has kept Newcastle in the hunt for European football, although it will not be Champions League qualification – the competition the 26-year-old deserves to be playing in.

The Magpies will desperately hope Guimaraes will not push for a move this summer because, quite simply, they do not win without him.

Newcastle have not won any of the seven Premier League games he has missed since his debut in February 2022.

Asked about Guimaraes’ influence, Howe said in his post-match press conference: “I wax lyrical all the time and that’s because I genuinely feel it. He’s an incredible personality.

“You see today that between Faby (Fabian Schar), Dan Burn, Bruno and Martin (Dubravka) kept us in the game early in the match.

“That was off the ball, but then he also had the quality on the ball to help us win the game and I thought it was a really good performance from him and he capped it off with the goal.”

Guimaraes’ enthusiastic celebrations at the end with the travelling Toon army showed his love for the club, and Howe will be hoping this bond will help to prevent him from leaving Tyneside this summer.
Declan Olley

West Ham show their sides ahead of Leverkusen showdown

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from the Premier League match between Wolves and West Ham

As we head into the penultimate month of the season, every game counts, especially in the battle for a European place – and in European competitions themselves.

West Ham find themselves in both positions and a comeback win against Wolves – despite the late controversy – will stand them in good stead heading into Thursday’s Europa League quarter-final against Xabi Alonso’s Bayer Leverkusen.

The Hammers showed the best and worst of their game at Molineux. The first half looked slow, sluggish and a beat behind Wolves. Despite having Lucas Paqueta, Jarrod Bowen and Mohammed Kudus on the pitch, they registered no shots on targets.

But the second half was far better. Moyes made two half-time substitutions, bringing on Michail Antonio and Ben Johnson who made a keen impact, while Aaron Cresswell also did well after replacing the injured Bowen.

This too can be attributed to changes in the Wolves team, but a comeback win will do wonders for West Ham’s confidence heading into a season-defining run of games.

“We’re going to do everything we can [against Leverkusen],” David Moyes told Sky Sports. “We’re up against a huge team, but we’ve done pretty well in Europe so I’ve got good feelings we can try and do it again.”

However, the Hammers have to be sharp from the beginning if they are to keep a treble-chasing Leverkusen at bay – a team that are just one win away from the Bundesliga title.
Charlotte Marsh

Palace boosted by Olise return

Michael Olise’s long-awaited return from a hamstring injury provided a boost for Crystal Palace even in defeat against Manchester City. The 22-year-old’s cameo showed just how much he gives them.

After replacing Jordan Ayew in the 74th minute at Selhurst Park, to the sound of warm applause from the home fans, Olise subjected City left-back Manuel Akanji to a torrid finale, his impact on Palace’s right helping to ensure it was a nervy finale for the champions.

Olise’s first eye-catching contribution was to create a golden chance for Odsonne Edouard, teeing up his fellow substitute for what looked an easy opportunity after pouncing on Akanji’s error.

Soon after that, he could be seen jinking inside his marker in trademark fashion before whipping over a teasing cross, again towards Edouard, which was begging to be converted.

How different this season might have been for Palace if only he had been available more often. In just 12 Premier League appearances, he has contributed six goals and three assists. The hope now is that, free of injury at last, he will help them finish the campaign strongly. The Premier League’s elite sides, City included, will be watching.
Nick Wright

Branthwaite proves his worth whilst others freeze

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from the Premier League match between Everton and Burnley

Out of the bleakness that was Everton vs Burnley, thank the stars for Jarrad Branthwaite.

He sparkled at the heart of Sean Dyche’s defence. While his partner at the back, James Tarkowski, was being caught out of position and making silly fouls across the pitch, Branthwaite was coolness personified when those around him were overcome with nerves on a big occasion down at the bottom. Burnley had their moments with their zippy front players causing problems but it was Branthwaite that was there to shut them down before entering his house.

Burnley had 54 entries into Everton’s final third and made 110 passes in that particular area of the pitch.

Yet, they only had six shots in the match and just one on target. Jordan Pickford was a bystander as Branthwaite swatted Burnley attackers aside making some crucial interventions at key moments. He reads the game like a special footballer. Everton have a gem on their hands.
Lewis Jones

Brainless Burnley stoop to new levels of stupidity

Talk about self-sabotage.

Arijanet Muric. What were you doing?

Just moments before half-time in a game Burnley were doing a cracking job of containing Everton in, he decided playing out under an aggressive press from Dominic Calvert-Lewin was a good idea. All of Burnley’s good work undone by one key moment. It’s been the story of their season.

Even then, at 1-0 down, they still looked capable of a result. Until Dara O’Shea caught the stupid decision-making bug.

His touch let him down, he then panicked and was sent off for bringing down Dwight McNeil.

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Vincent Kompany says Dwight McNeil needed control of the ball for Dara O’Shea to be correctly sent off for denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity

This wasn’t the first time this has happened this season. Cast your minds back to James Trafford’s horrendous pass to Josh Brownhill, who was dismissed in similar fashion to O’Shea against Crystal Palace.

It’s now seven red cards for the season for Vincent Kompany’s men. No team have been shown more.

“We are where we are for a reason,” Kompany admitted.

Burnley truly are the architects of their own downfall.
Lewis Jones

Luton show they up for the fight

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from the Premier League match between Luton and Bournemouth

“It’s been a tough period,” Rob Edwards admitted after Luton’s brilliant’ comeback win. You could sense the relief for Edwards and his team after they secured their first Premier League win since January.

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Luton manager Rob Edwards reflects on a positive game for his side after they beat Bournemouth 2-1

For any team, as is being proved up and down the country with injuries hurting a lot of clubs at the moment, being without at least 10 key players would be tough. For Luton, it’s tougher as they look to beat all the odds and stay in the Premier League.

But that’s where their character comes in. After difficult defeats at Spurs and Arsenal, and going a goal down to Bournemouth, heads could have dropped. However, backed by the tremendous Kenilworth Road home fans, Luton, who are still in the bottom three but level on points with Nottingham Forest, never gave up hope.

Just because we’ve won the game today, we’re not out of it, clearly. There’s a long, long way to go, but we’re still in the fight.

Luton boss Rob Edwards

Ahead of the game, Edwards spoke about belief and how you usually need results, and specifically wins, to build it. He sensed that Luton still had belief despite not having a league win in 11 games and he was right.

Now they have that win and, with seven games remaining, they have given themselves a fighting chance to complete a remarkable season by staying in the top flight.
Oliver Yew

Brentford can’t stop throwing away points

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Highlights from Aston Villa’s match against Brentford in the Premier League

Brentford just couldn’t get over the line at Aston Villa. Thomas Frank says “it is just one of those seasons”. He’s not wrong. His side have lost 30 points from winning positions in the Premier League this season. That’s more than any other team.

Those extra 30 points would put Brentford in the frame for Champions League football. Instead, they are four points above the relegation zone with six games remaining in the season.

It wouldn’t be fair to say Brentford should be battling for Europe, but this habit of undoing their hard work shows that it is not down to a lack of quality that they find themselves in this predicament.

Brentford have quality in spades, their issue is maintaining those levels. And there is only really one factor that explains this trend: injuries.

For many, this is just an excuse. But how could injuries to an entire backline and the absence of a star striker for the first half of a season not deeply affect a side operating with the resources at Brentford’s disposal?

Brentford are fortunate that this is one of the more forgiving relegation battles otherwise their status in the Premier League would be in serious jeopardy. Frank still can’t relax just yet but his side are showing enough fight for him to be confident ahead of the run-in.
Zinny Boswell

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