10 things we learned from the Premier League and Carabao Cup final


The first domestic trophy of the season was handed out on Sunday as Liverpool beat Chelsea on penalties to win the Carabao Cup. 

It capped off a captivating weekend of Premier League football which saw significant results at both end of the table. 

The Reds have a trophy to their name but would have been frustrated with Manchester City’s narrow 1-0 win over Everton – just as it looked like they would drop points for the second week in a row and hand advantage in the title race over to Jurgen Klopp’s sides.

Liverpool beat Chelsea to claim the Carabao Cup in the biggest game of the weekend

The Reds edged out Chelsea with an 11-10 penalty shootout victory at Wembley on Sunday

The Reds edged out Chelsea with an 11-10 penalty shootout victory at Wembley on Sunday

There was a big result for Newcastle who are now 14th in the standings, while the six teams below them all dropped costly points in the fight to avoid the drop.

The Champions League race also continues to hot up with no team seeming to find any level of consistency to pull away for that final fourth spot.

Here, Sportsmail takes you through 10 things we learned from the latest round of fixtures.

Luis Diaz can be the man to take Liverpool over the line

Over recent years, the question for Liverpool has been how can they replace Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino.

Diogo Jota was the first solution, while in Luis Diaz, Jurgen Klopp’s side have another gem on their hands,

The 25-year-old has a little bit of everything in his locker and he was a constant menace down the left-side of Liverpool’s attack – giving Chelsea’s Trevoh Chalobah a very difficult afternoon.

His movement off the ball was phenomenal, he was constantly darting in behind the Chelsea defence who couldn’t cope with his rapid burst of pace and dazzling skills.

Luis Diaz was a constant menace for Liverpool throughout the Carabao Cup final

Luis Diaz was a constant menace for Liverpool throughout the Carabao Cup final

There was one moment where he produced a brilliant flick over the head of Reece James and played a no look pass to Mane which he was begging for the ball to be played back to him, only for the Senegal international to waste the attack with a poor cross.

Less than a month after joining the club from Porto he already has a trophy to his name, and he could play a big part in helping the Reds to further success this season.

His performance against Chelsea showed he can perform on the big stage and while he might not start every game, having the Colombian to bring off the bench will be a frightening sight for any side. 

Diaz has won his first trophy as a Liverpool player less than a month after joining the xlub

Diaz has won his first trophy as a Liverpool player less than a month after joining the xlub

Lack of a prolific scorer could hurt Chelsea’s trophy chances

It would be easy to blame Chelsea’s defeat on Kepa Arrizabalaga’s missed penalty but the Blues squandered a number of huge chances during the game.

Mason Mount missed two glorious chances, while Christian Pulisic and Kai Havertz also squandered golden opportunities when Chelsea were in the ascendancy during the early stages of the match.

Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner were brought on but the pair struggled to stay onside – though the Belgian’s disallowed goal was debatable, as it looked as though Virgil van Dijk might have been playing him onside.

But the game showed that it’s the lack of a prolific forward that could hamper Chelsea’s prospects of success this season. 

Mason Mount missed two glorious opportunities against Liverpool but he wasn't the only Chelsea player to do so

Mason Mount missed two glorious opportunities against Liverpool but he wasn’t the only Chelsea player to do so

With Edouard Mendy, Thiago Silva and Antonio Rudiger, Chelsea have a brick wall which is tough to break down as Liverpool have discovered on numerous occasions this season.

But comparing the forward lines before kick-off, Mount, Pulisic and and Havertz have scored no more than seven goals individually this season. Lukaku meanwhile was not signed for £97.5m to start major games such as this on the bench and he has not reached the heights expected of him this season.   

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Meanwhile, Salah, Mane, Jota and Diaz are all in double figures for the season – albeit the latter has scored all but one of his goals at Porto.

There’s not much between Liverpool and Chelsea, but the Reds have one clear advantage and that’s in their forward players which is why they are mounting a challenge for the title and are ten points ahead of Chelsea. 

Thomas Tuchel opted to start £97.5m summer signing Romelu Lukaku on the bench

Thomas Tuchel opted to start £97.5m summer signing Romelu Lukaku on the bench

New Leeds boss needs to shore up shaky defence quickly   

Marcelo Bielsa was sacked by Leeds in the aftermath of their crushing 4-0 defeat at Elland Road to Tottenham on Saturday.

The majority of Leeds fans were disappointed with the news, but it came as no surprise with the amount of goals they have shipped in recent defeats and with the club now in a fierce scrap to avoid relegation.

The positives far outweigh the negatives for the job Bielsa did in his three and a half years at Leeds, though their shaky defence has always been a problem.

Marcelo Bielsa was sacked by Leeds after their 4-0 defeat to Tottenham at the weekend

Marcelo Bielsa was sacked by Leeds after their 4-0 defeat to Tottenham at the weekend

It hasn’t helped this season with the club suffering injuries to key players, topped with Bielsa’s reluctance to expand what is a small squad for Premier League standards.

Former RB Leipzig boss Jesse Marsch has replaced him and he will have a big job at hand to turn around Leeds’ fortunes and keep them in the Premier League.

They are just two points above the drop-zone, with Everton and Burnley behind them also having two games in hand.

Leeds have shipped more goals than any other Premier League team this season with 60 in 26 games (20 in the last five games alone), and if Marsch can’t sort out their defensive mess quickly they could be playing Championship football next season. 

Jesse Marsch will have to quickly sort out their defensive issues from Bielsa's time in charge

Jesse Marsch will have to quickly sort out their defensive issues from Bielsa’s time in charge

Ralf Rangnick losing patience with misfiring forwards 

Manchester United had 22 chances to put Watford to bed on Saturday but they didn’t take their opportunities and were held to a frustrating goalless draw.

Bruno Fernandes, given the captain’s armband with Harry Maguire left out, missed three openings and youngster Anthony Elanga fired wide from close range in the second half. Cristiano Ronaldo struck the post and has scored only once in 10 games.

Interim manager Ralf Rangnick showed signs that he is losing patience with United’s misfiring forwards in his interview after the game. 

Cristiano Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes missed big chances in the goalless draw with Watford

Cristiano Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes missed big chances in the goalless draw with Watford

‘Our job as coaches is to help the team to create enough chances,’ he said. ‘If we’d only had two or three against Watford, we could ask ourselves why.

‘But the number of chances we had, they have to be enough to win the game. We need to be sharper in front of goal. If you miss that many, it’s difficult to win.’

United have scored just six goals in their last seven games at Old Trafford which is almost unthinkable when you think of the attacking talent that they possess.

Teams around them in the fight for the top-four are also lacking consistency, but United need to become more ruthless in front of goal if they are to ensure Champions League qualification for next season. 

Ralf Rangnick is losing patience with his misfiring forwards with just six goals in their last seven games at Old Trafford

Ralf Rangnick is losing patience with his misfiring forwards with just six goals in their last seven games at Old Trafford

Manchester City get lucky in title fight

At the 80 minute mark of Manchester City’s trip to Goodison Park to play Everton, there would have been a lot of excited Liverpool fans.

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A goalless draw would have put Liverpool in the driving seat for the title race – if they were to win their two games in hand.

Manchester City couldn’t afford to drop points again after their 3-2 loss to Tottenham and they were able to bounce back with a win, thanks to Phil Foden’s 81st minute goal.

Phil Foden scored a late goal for Manchester City in their narrow 1-0 win against Everton

Phil Foden scored a late goal for Manchester City in their narrow 1-0 win against Everton

However, they got a huge slice of luck as a penalty was not given Everton’s way despite a blatant handball from Rodri.

The Premier League announced that there was ‘not clear enough evidence to show conclusively that it was handball,’ but images suggest Man City got away lucky.

Everton would still have needed to score the penalty and all teams will have their moments of luck throughout a season.

But the two points at Goodison Park could play a crucial factor in the destination of the Premier League title this season if the fight goes down to the wire. 

City went unpunished for a handball by Rodri with many believing Everton should have had a penalty

City went unpunished for a handball by Rodri with many believing Everton should have had a penalty

Positive signs for Everton despite relegation scrap 

It has been one of the worst seasons for Everton in many years, with the club just one point above the relegation zone, having not finished lower than 11th in any season since the 2003-04 campaign.

Rafael Benitez’s helm at the club was a disaster and Frank Lampard has quickly discovered the task at hand since he returned to management.

Though Everton have now lost three of their first four league games under Lampard’s helm, there was plenty of positives to take out of the defeat to Pep Guardiola’s league leaders. 

Everton created the better chances in the first-half and then showed plenty of endeavour and fight after the break – something which has been lacking for the most part of this season.

Abdoulaye Doucoure's return is a boost for Everton as they look to pull away from the relegation zone

Abdoulaye Doucoure’s return is a boost for Everton as they look to pull away from the relegation zone

Foden’s goal from a Michael Keane mistake and the controversial decision to not award the Toffees a penalty for Rodri’s handball denied the Blues any reward. 

Abdoulaye Doucoure made a welcome return after five weeks out with a groin injury and a midfield three of him, Allan and Donny van de Beek showed plenty of promise for the rest of the season. 

Despite their perilous position in the league, Everton have two games in hand over some of the teams above them in the fight to avoid the drop and their team should be strong enough to survive.

Spurs need to solve their wild inconsistency 

There are not many more teams in world football that play with the emotions of their supporters more than Tottenham.

Spurs fans would have been on a massive high after their 3-2 victory over Manchester City just over a week ago.

Then mid-week it was all doom and gloom after their 1-0 defeat to Burnley, with Antonio Conte throwing out quotes which sounded like he was considering his future at the club.

Harry Kane and Son Heung-min were both on the scoresheet for Tottenham against Leeds

Harry Kane and Son Heung-min were both on the scoresheet for Tottenham against Leeds

Now the good vibe is back after Tottenham put four goals past Leeds on Saturday afternoon.

At their best, Tottenham look like a side that should finish in the top four, though they have squandered a number of their games in hand and their wild inconsistency means they are still only seventh.

There are positives in the form of Harry Kane’s incredible form as of late and the impact Dejan Kulusevski has made since his arrival from Juventus.

Conte’s frustrations though may quickly return if Tottenham can’t sort out their consistency and put a good run of results together. 

Antonio Conte will be frustrated by Tottenham's inconsistent performances in recent weeks

Antonio Conte will be frustrated by Tottenham’s inconsistent performances in recent weeks

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Brentford playing themselves towards the relegation zone 

Brentford, similar to Leeds, are starting to look in serious danger of losing their Premier League status.

The Bees were like a breath of fresh air as they started the season, playing brilliant football, with the brilliant atmosphere they create at home and picking up some big results at the beginning of the campaign.

It looked like they wouldn’t be dragged into a relegation fight, though since Boxing Day, they have lost ten of their last 12 league matches.

They are now just three points above the relegation zone, with the five teams below them all having games in hand over Thomas Frank’s side.

Brentford threw away any chance of a win just 11 minutes into their contest with in-form Newcastle, after Josh Dasilva was sent off for a challenge on Matt Targett.

They can hardly afford to shoot themselves in the foot like that again given their current form and the fact that they have scored just six goals in their last 12 games will be a massive worry for Frank.

Josh Dasilva's early red card shot Brentford in the foot in their 2-0 defeat against Newcastle

Josh Dasilva’s early red card shot Brentford in the foot in their 2-0 defeat against Newcastle

Champions League talk too soon for Wolves 

In recent weeks there has quietly been talk that Wolves could mount a challenge for the Champions League places.

With ten minutes to against Arsenal on Thursday, it looked Wolves were going to pick up a massive 1-0 victory against the Gunners which would have put them just three points behind fourth-place Manchester United with a game in hand.

Arsenal turned around the match though to claim the three points in the fifth minute of stoppage time in a 2-1 turnaround.

Wolves then suffered a 1-0 defeat to one of the other contenders for a top-four spot in West Ham on Sunday after Tomas Soucek’s goal decided a very close game.

Bruno Lage’s side have exceeded all expectations this season and it is a huge credit to him and the players that they have put themselves in a place where people are considering their European chances.

The last week though has showed that the top-four is a step too far for Wolves at this moment, though they still can’t be ruled out of making the Europa League or Europa Conference League.  

Wolves have suffered back-to-back defeats against contenders for the Champions League

Wolves have suffered back-to-back defeats against contenders for the Champions League

Impressive Southampton looking up 

Southampton’s 2-0 victory over Norwich was their third win in their last four outings and Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side are quietly having a very impressive season. 

The Saints started December just four points above the relegation zone but they are now well clear of that battle and starting to solidify what would be a brilliant top-ten finish.

In March, Southampton face Newcastle, Watford and Burnley, three teams all below them trying to avoid the drop in what is a huge chance for the Saints to pick up big points.

If they can continue their current form over the next month, they could just close the gap with the teams ahead of them who are eyeing up European places.

Hasenhuttl is getting the maximum out of his players and is proving his qualities as manager, despite Southampton constantly losing their best players.

Southampton are one of the most in-form sides in the Premier League at present

Southampton are one of the most in-form sides in the Premier League at present



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