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10 talking points from Premier League weekend as Manchester United's shock defeat confirms City as champions

Irish Mirror logoIrish Mirror 16/04/2018 Mirror Football
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Well that was unexpected, wasn't it?

Manchester City are the champions of the Premier League after an almighty blunder from their local rivals against the division's basement club.

West Brom's 1-0 win at Manchester United was the surprise result of the season and it outlined all of the reasons why Jose Mourinho' side have not challenged closely for the title this season.

By winning, the Baggies also gave themselves the slimmest of chances of remaining in the league - but they still have work to do.

City had played 24 hours earlier, ending their three-match losing run in all competitions by sweeping aside Tottenhanm at Wembley.

a group of football players on a field: Credits: EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock

Credits: EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock
© Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc

Elsewhere, Arsenal's sixth place is under threat from Burnley (and the two still have to play each other) after their games against Newcastle and Leicester respectively.

Liverpool beat Bournemouth 3-0, Chelsea came from behind to get past Southampton and Crystal Palace won a 3-2 thriller with Brighton.

Huddersfield got past Watford with the aid of a last minute goal, Swansea and Everton shared the spoils, while West Ham and Stoke face off on Monday night.

Here are the key talking points from the weekend's top flight football...

1. We have our champions!

After three defeats in a row - twice by Liverpool in the Champions League and once in the Manchester derby - Pep Guardiola and Manchester City were on the back foot for the first time in the entire campaign.

The soul-searching was banished after 90 highly impressive minutes against Tottenham at Wembley and the title was wrapped up as Jose Mourinho's Red Devils were stunned by rock-bottom West Brom on Sunday evening.

Make no mistake, a 16-point lead at this stage of the season is no accident: City are the country's dominant force and everyone else is playing catch-up.

Credits: EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock a group of men playing a game of football: Credits: Getty Images Europe © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: Getty Images Europe

2. Another bad day for Pogba

After Paul Pogba's two-goal match-winning heroics in United's thrilling comeback derby win at local rivals Manchester City the previous weekend, the spotlight was once again on the club's record £89million signing to see if he could produce more of the same.

But here he reverted to type, losing the ball cheaply and failing to impose himself on the game, and was duly subbed just before the hour.

Getting the best out of Pogba on a regular basis is something Mourinho has yet to master.

a man with a football ball on a field: Credits: Laurence Griffiths © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: Laurence Griffiths

3. West Brom's slim survival hopes remain

Their fate in being consigned to the Championship may be still be a formality, despite this stunning win which has given them feint hope, but West Brom had two chance to go ahead inside the first 15 minutes and made an impressive start that belied their status as the Premier League's basement club.

Jake Livermore should have done better with a tame effort palmed away with ease by David De Gea, ditto Salomon Rondon, who was unable to direct a free header on target, before Jay Rodriguez struck late on to seal the unlikeliest of wins and hand Manchester City the title.

a group of people in uniform: Credits: Getty Images Europe © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: Getty Images Europe

4. Shko's time to go?

Shkodran Mustafi has a World Cup winners’ medal in his trophy cabinet back at home, but the £35million defender has now been found culpable two Sunday’s running.

It’s no secret that the Gunners were ready to cash in on the German last summer, but the 25-year-old remained and has once more been a key member of the Arsenal defence this season.

But not only did he fail to keep his defensive line for the equaliser, he was then too slow to react to DeAndre Yedlin’s cross, allowing Ayoze Perez to nip in front and flick past Petr Cech.

a man holding a football ball: Credits: AFP © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: AFP

And for the Toon’s second, Mustafi was completely unaware of Islam Slimani’s positioning as the ball looped in the air - Slimani then finding Ritchie to score.

With Laurent Koscielny turning 33 in September and increasingly feeling the strain of carrying a defence that has been sub-par for too long, Mustafi’s future may come under question once more this summer.

One centre-half of quality is a necessity, but they almost certainly need a new central defensive double act if they are to get back where their support demands.

a man wearing a suit and tie talking on a cell phone: Credits: Getty Images Europe © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: Getty Images Europe

5. Perez peaking at right time for Rafa

In his opening 28 Premier League games this season, the Spanish forward notched just twice - at an average of a goal every 900 minutes.

But in the last three matches, the Spaniard has suddenly taken centre stage, scoring winners against Leicester and Huddersfield, plus the equaliser here - a rate of a goal every 86 minutes.

Just as Benitez's side looked deep in the relegation mire, the talented forward has hit top form, playing a key vital role in the Toon Army's rise to mid table and safety.

Benitez has shown a lot of faith in Perez over the last two and a bit years, and is now seeing that faith justified.

a group of men playing a game of football: Credits: PA © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: PA

6. Burnley sneak up on Arsenal

Seventh place seemed to be the height of Burnley's ambitions for much of what has been a superb season, but with five games to go Arsenal have hovered tantalisingly into view.

After defeat to Newcastle the Gunners lie just two points clear while manager-of-the-year candidate Sean Dyche has steered his side to five successive wins.

The pair meet on May 6 in what may yet be a decider.

a group of young men playing a game of football: Credits: REUTERS © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: REUTERS

7. It was a good weekend for Salah...

For much of the Liverpool-Bournemouth game it didn’t look as though it was going to be Mo Salah’s day.

The Egyptian was snatching at shots and looked to be slightly off his game, perhaps still suffering with a slight injury or thinking about the pressure put on him by Golden Boot rival Harry Kane this week.

And then he did what he always does, and scored.

You’ve got to go back to Boxing Day for the last time Liverpool's Egyptian King started a game at Anfield and didn’t find the net, which is frankly ridiculous.

Your move, Harry.

Credits: PA Wire © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: PA Wire

8. ...and a bad one for Kane

This was a bad weekend for Harry Kane and his pursuit of the golden boot.

Salah moved five clear of Kane as the Spurs striker took to the pitch at Wembley on Saturday night.

Having successfully appealed Christian Eriksen's goal against Stoke had in fact touched him last, he failed to add to his haul here.

And, to make matters worse, James Milner took the proverbial with this absolute zinger of a tweet.

Chin up, Harry.

a close up of Giorgio Chiellini: Credits: Reuters © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: Reuters

9. New names bidding for World Cup berths

Gareth Southgate has cast his net far and wide since becoming England manager, but hinted after March's international break that he was unlikely to consider any new faces for this summer's tournament.

That conviction may gradually be shaking given the form of Newcastle midfielder Jonjo Shelvey - who earned the last of his six caps in 2015 - and uncapped Liverpool right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Both have done enough in recent weeks to gatecrash the conversation.

a group of football players on a field: Credits: REUTERS © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: REUTERS

10. Allardyce and Everton growing further apart?

Sam Allardyce confidently declared his season's work at Goodison Park a success after this weekend's draw at Swansea, which it is when measured against the chaos and confusion of the early campaign.

But the disgruntled fans who flood the phone-in shows and the persistent rumours of owner Farhad Moshiri looking past the former England boss offer a different perspective.

Clarity is needed one way or the other if the Toffees are to grow next term.

Sam Allardyce in a blue shirt: Credits: AFP/Getty © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: AFP/Getty

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