1) Dropping Aubameyang pays off in the end

Mikel Arteta’s benching of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for lateness was hardly draconian. Gone are the days when Sir Alex Ferguson made David Beckham sit in the Elland Road stands after missing training to attend to a sick Brooklyn or Roy Keane commanded the Sunderland team bus to leave three players behind because they were a minute late. But as Tottenham’s rope-a-dope tactics looked to be working in the first half, the tardy captain’s demotion appeared a case of principles overriding pragmatism. When Alexandre Lacazette chose to step over rather than to shoot in the moments following Érik Lamela’s goal, Aubameyang’s incisiveness appeared an avoidable loss. So too when Lacazette swung at fresh air when Nicolas Pépé had cued him up. All parties will be thankful for Davinson Sánchez’s clattering follow-through giving Lacazette chance to score from the spot. Discipline established, a derby win, all good for Arteta. John Brewin

Match report: Arsenal 2-1 Tottenham

2) Eagles are safe but face tough end to season

What now for Crystal Palace? Even if Roy Hodgson and his players are still preaching caution over whether they have already secured their Premier League status for next season after beating West Brom on Saturday, no team has been relegated with 37 points since Newcastle in 2015-16 and Palace still have nine games to play. A three-week break until they play Everton could give Hodgson a real crack at reaching 50 points, which would surpass Palace’s highest tally in the top flight since being promoted in 2013. Yet with all but two of their remaining matches against opposition who are above them in the table, Gary Cahill admitted it won’t necessarily be easy. “When we come back from the international break it’s about the desire to try and push on up the league now with a very difficult run-in,” he said. Ed Aarons

Match report: Crystal Palace 1-0 West Brom

3) McNeil using Clarets as stepping stone

Sean Dyche believes Dwight McNeil will ultimately play for what the Burnley manager likes to describe as one of the Premier League’s “superpower” clubs. His view was certainly supported by the winger’s sublime winner at Everton and overall contribution. Almost as striking, however, was the fact it was only McNeil’s second goal of the campaign and equalled his return for last season, too. Seven goals in 87 league appearances is an obvious area of improvement for the 21-year-old. “He spends a lot of time working for the team,” offered Dyche as a defence. “If you think there are six or seven ‘superpower clubs’ in this league who dominate the ball home and away, that’s 14 games a season where you’re likely to have less of the ball and you have to work diligently with it. Dwight does that. Learning to play on the counter or how to stretch teams comes with experience, and he’s getting loads of experience at a very young age.” Andy Hunter

Match report: Everton 1-2 Burnley

4) Agüero shows he can provide glorious farewell

Pep Guardiola’s starting XI against Fulham raised memories of the autumn of 2017: three at the back and Sergio Agüero alongside Gabriel Jesus up front. Yet while that approach was enough to secure a 3-0 win over Scott Parker’s lowly side, it is unlikely that Guardiola will start two strikers in City’s biggest games. City often play without a recognised striker and, although Agüero scored his first league goal in 14 months against Fulham, the Argentinian is no longer the force of old. The 32-year-old has made 13 appearances this season and is unlikely to extend his contract before it runs out this summer. But while Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Braut Haaland is potentially one for the club’s future, Agüero can still help City make history this season. An elite finisher will help the quadruple bid. City will be involved in tight games during the run-in. If Agüero stays fit he could have a glorious farewell. Jacob Steinberg

Match report: Fulham 0-3 Manchester City. Continue reading

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