The pressure intensified on Steve Bruce after Newcastle’s heavy defeat at Brighton although the Magpies remain outside the Premier League relegation zone after Fulham slipped up at home to Leeds.
Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham bounced back from their shock Europa League exit to defeat Aston Villa while there was a six-goal thriller at the London Stadium as Arsenal rallied from three goals down to draw 3-3 at West Ham.
Here, the PA news agency looks at what has been learned this weekend.
Bruce or bust
Newcastle’s 3-0 loss at the Amex Stadium was particularly ill-timed for Bruce. Discontent among supporters has been growing for a while and a display labelled “abysmal” by Alan Shearer on Twitter only strengthened the voices of those who wish to see the back of the Newcastle head coach. However, even though the club have won just two of their last 18 matches, a streak that has left them just two points above the relegation zone, a defiant Bruce insisted he has no plans to walk away from his boyhood club. It is understood he retains the full support of owner Mike Ashley ahead of the international break and so it seems their best hopes of avoiding the drop rest with Bruce.
Seagulls take flight
While Newcastle seem to be in a tailspin, Brighton have collected maximum points from their last two matches to immeasurably boost their own hopes of staying up. It is a timely return to some sort of form as they moved six points clear of 18th-placed Fulham, with Leandro Trossard coming to the fore. Trossard bagged the winner against neighbours Southampton last week and then, with Brighton on top against Newcastle but struggling to find a way through, the Belgian produced a sublime curled effort to open the scoring on Saturday night. Brighton are not out of the woods yet but the last couple of weeks have given them reason to believe they can stay in the top-flight.
Leeds on the verge of safety
Fulham were unable to move out of the relegation zone for the first time since December, losing 2-1 to Leeds, who now stand on the precipice of guaranteeing their own safety. The win in London – their first in 16 matches under head coach Marcelo Bielsa – moved them on to 39 points, just one short of the watermark which has recently come to signify top-flight survival. Leeds have rarely looked like being sucked into the battle at the bottom although Bielsa insists he is taking nothing for granted as, with nine games to go, he said: “These are speculations that will confirm themselves mathematically. And with 27 points left to play (for) the safety is not confirmed.”
Lively Lingard hammers home his worth
Disappointed not to take the 3 points, alot to take away from the game. This team have come along way and im proud to be apart of it. Onwards and upwards 🙏🏾 #coyi⚒ #JL11NGZpic.twitter.com/EHxXWqPf9k— Jesse Lingard (@JesseLingard) March 21, 2021
Arsenal hogged the headlines by coming from 3-0 down to snatch a point in a 3-3 draw at the London Stadium but Jesse Lingard continued his rich vein of form in a West Ham shirt. There were plenty of interested observers when the midfielder temporarily moved south in January after failing to get a look-in this season at Manchester United. But he is at the forefront of West Ham’s improbable bid for a top-four finish, celebrating his England recall with his fifth goal in seven games since joining the Hammers before then teeing up Jarrod Bowen for good measure. If he can maintain his performance level then he may soon find himself back in favour at Old Trafford.
Tottenham’s top-four challenge still burns bright
Tottenham’s stunning Europa League elimination – letting slip a two-goal advantage as they were beaten 3-0 by Dinamo Zagreb on Thursday – was branded a “disgrace” by captain Hugo Lloris. Champions League qualification therefore rests on whether they can finish in the top four this season and they remain firmly in the hunt, with a 2-0 win at Aston Villa on Sunday evening moving Spurs to within three points of fourth-placed Chelsea. Mourinho’s position came under the microscope after what unfolded a few days ago, so this win is sure to be a welcome relief.
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