After Premier League and FA Cup drama, 10 things we learned from the weekend

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Another weekend of football drama has been and gone. We saw yet more twists and turns in the Premier League, chaos in the two FA Cup semi-finals and supporters taking to the streets at Manchester United once again in a mass protest.

At this stage of the season, every kick matters. It is no exaggeration to say that the tiny seconds that make up a game are enough to settle the races at the top and bottom. Teams can be forgiven for feeling nervous, but still they continue to enthral.

That was much evident when Manchester City and Liverpool faced each other at Wembley, with a spot in another major final on the line. In stunning fashion, the Reds swept themselves into a three-goal lead and hung on to get over the line.

There was also relegation drama in the top-flight, with Burnley settling for a point at West Ham and Norwich pushing United all the way in a thriller at Old Trafford.

So, with all these stories in mind, here is what Sportsmail has learned… 

Manchester City crashed out of the FA Cup in the semi-finals after their 3-2 defeat by Liverpool

Manchester City crashed out of the FA Cup in the semi-finals after their 3-2 defeat by Liverpool

United need to unveil Ten Hag

They may have beaten Norwich to keep their Champions League qualification hopes alive, but their victory was marred by protests against their ownership. Thousands of supporters even boycotted the first 17 minutes of the game because of the Glazers.

Clouds of red flare smoke filled the air around Old Trafford, accompanied by the occasional distasteful chant directed at the family at the helm of the club. The pressure cooker environment engulfing them is threatening to boil over again.

And that is why United, their players and the fanbase, need some good news. They need the appointment of Erik ten Hag as their new manager officially announced, and soon. Then, and only then, can they plan for the future with clear minds.

It has already been established that this is a matter of when, not if, and it is in Ajax’s best interest to clear up the confusion soon as they scrap for the Eredivisie title. It may assuage a restless United crowd, provided the positive changes continue. 

Manchester United could lift the doom and gloom by officially appointing Erik ten Hag

Manchester United could lift the doom and gloom by officially appointing Erik ten Hag

Arsenal may not be ready for the top four

What has happened to Arsenal? This has been some collapse, and it may well end their hopes of finishing in the top four despite them having been in pole position.

They went into the international break last month with a four-point cushion in fourth and a game in hand over Manchester United. Everything pointed towards them finally returning to the Champions League after five years away.

However, the character and mentality of Mikel Arteta’s side – and indeed the manager himself – have been criticised after their collapse this month. Their defeat at Southampton was their third loss in a row, and they now sit in sixth.

Coming up soon are Chelsea and rivals United, and they now have little choice but to take a good points haul from these fixtures if they are to have any chance of earning a spot at the top table again. Supporters are concerned they simply aren’t ready. 

Arsenal's defeat at Southampton was their third in a row, dealing their top four hopes a blow

Arsenal’s defeat at Southampton was their third in a row, dealing their top four hopes a blow

Confusion over ruthless Dyche axing

Clubs facing up to relegation sacking their manager is no surprise. Burnley, though, shocked everyone, including their own players, when showing Sean Dyche the door. The architect of their long-term Premier League survival was made to walk.

Interim boss Mike Jackson was keen for the squad to not dwell on the situation, and they displayed at least some fight in their draw at West Ham. The loss of their esteemed former coach looms large, though, and looks a crazy decision.

Yes, Burnley are three points adrift of safety. Yes, they have endured a poor season. Yes, they have been unimaginative at times and leaky at the back.

But the one man seemingly capable of fixing it has instead been kicked out, and no caretaker option is likely to save them. Everton are their only hope now.

As of now, there have been no emotional farewells or thank you messages for Dyche. After almost a decade of service, he deserves better. The situation stinks.

Sean Dyche was ruthlessly sacked by Burnley and the side now look destined for relegation

Sean Dyche was ruthlessly sacked by Burnley and the side now look destined for relegation

City can wilt under pressure

Time and time again, Liverpool carved through Manchester City in their FA Cup semi-final showdown. These two heavyweights have battered each other when they have met this season, but this game was a different proposition altogether.

It was a one-sided, full-throttle encounter for 45 minutes. In that period, the Reds scored three goals, each one smashing their opponents brutally from pillar to post. They deserved it, too, such was the quality of their attacks in the Wembley sunshine.

Any semblance of organisation from City went straight out of the window after Ibrahima Konate’s opening goal, a towering header from a good cross, and they were unable to steady the ship until they re-emerged for the start of the second half.

Judging solely of their display, that type of chaotic defending does not bode well for their title chances in the league. For once, they were made to look human and far from the super-team they actually are. It turns out they can crumble under pressure. 

Pep Guardiola was unable to inspire his heavily-rotated City team to a victory at Wembley

Pep Guardiola was unable to inspire his heavily-rotated City team to a victory at Wembley

Ederson unmatched in the crazy stakes

Sorry, Zack Steffen. You are no Ederson. From technique to composure, it was a disastrous rare game for the former in Manchester City’s defeat by Liverpool – and the second goal he conceded, the potentially killer blow, was a difficult watch.

Just a few minutes after shipping the first, he found the ball at his feet after John Stones played a routine back-pass to him. There was power on the knock back, making a first-time clearance tricky, but his hesitation quickly led to calamity.

Sadio Mane, to his credit, hurtled forwards to make up the space between them and Steffen, perhaps not aware of what was unfolding in front of him, killed the pace of the ball with his first touch. That was his first error.

The goalkeeper then tried to clear away but Mane, who had by that point raced in front of him, slid in perfectly and scored. That left City with a mountain to climb.

Cast your minds back to the league clash between these two sides, and Ederson’s moment of calmness in the heat of danger. He let the ball come across him and passed across goal, meaning he reigns supreme between the two stoppers. 

Ederson was cool on the ball but his understudy Zach Steffen later made a horror mistake

Ederson was cool on the ball but his understudy Zach Steffen later made a horror mistake 

Topsy-turvy Brighton strike again

After a winless run of seven matches, Brighton have now won two on the bounce. Against who, you ask? Arsenal and Tottenham, both top-four contenders. 

Graham Potter will be delighted with the response from his squad who, for at least a couple of months, destined to free-fall down the table and fail to deliver on their early promise. Now, though, their six-point haul has pushed them into 10th place.

If there is one accusation that can be levelled at them, it is consistency. Their top-flight campaigns have typically been marked by good and bad patches, although their style of football and evidently top-tier coaching are easy on the eye.

Provided they can string together longer runs, there is no reason they cannot push for the European spots next season. Investment is needed, of course, but the quality of their manager and a squad hungry to learn make for a formidable combination.

Burnley picked up a second memorable win in a row after beating Tottenham with a late goal

Burnley picked up a second memorable win in a row after beating Tottenham with a late goal

Chelsea academy graduates step up

The manner in which Chelsea sealed their spot in the FA Cup final was a poignant one – with the club’s academy stepping up at the very end of their current era. Soon, Roman Abramovich will have departed with new owners braced to take over.

Mason Mount and Ruben Loftus-Cheek scored the all-important goals at Wembley to help their side take another leap forward on their trophy trail. 

The latter, a Cobham graduate, has never quite reached the heights he promised, while Mount is showing the world how it is done. Both put in the hard yards to break through at Stamford Bridge, but it is only Mount who has truly flourished.

This season, Loftus-Cheek has taken on a surprising role for Thomas Tuchel, having been handed more starts than even he may have initially expected. Mount, on the other hand, is in red-hot form and has quite rightly become indispensable.

He is providing the perfect example for Conor Gallagher, who is enjoying a stellar campaign on loan for Crystal Palace but was ruled out of the final-four clash. 

Mason Mount scored again to help Chelsea beat Crystal Palace and reach the FA Cup final

Mason Mount scored again to help Chelsea beat Crystal Palace and reach the FA Cup final

Pep Roulette strikes again

Pep Guardiola is the nemesis of many Fantasy Football users because of his tendency to spring surprise team selections on them, and the FA Cup semi-final was no surprise. This time, however, it was less of a shock.

Of the outfielders that started in the draw with Atletico Madrid, Kevin de Bruyne, Ilkay Gundogan, Rodri, Aymeric Laporte and Riyad Mahrez all dropped to the bench. Missing out entirely was Kyle Walker, following his grizzly ankle twist.

The City manager made seven changes in all, and his side were disjointed at Wembley. The end result was them crashing out of the competition, ending their hopes of a Treble, despite their improved performance in the second half. 

‘We had a terrible… in terms of fixtures, travel and a lot of important games so that’s why we need the fresh legs,’ Guardiola said post-match. He was criticised for the call in some quarters, but this was a necessary move. It may well see them win the title.

Guardiola changed up his City team with his side's run of fixtures taking a toll on his players

Guardiola changed up his City team with his side’s run of fixtures taking a toll on his players

Bruno Guimaraes is a gem 

Fresh from scoring his sensational brace in Newcastle’s 2-1 victory over Leicester, Bruno Guimaraes admitted he wants to become a ‘legend’ at the club. It’s very early days, of course, but the classy midfielder may already be on his way there.

At the end of the game, he lay face down on the pitch, having given absolutely everything in his tank to help his side pick up the three points which has surely wrapped up their Premier League status for another season.

Deep inside added time, just before his winner, he roared into the air in anger after chasing down a lost ball but failing to take it in his stride. That said everything about his attitude and desire, and it is no wonder that his club scrambled to sign him. 

He was clearly tired but kept battling away, and earned the greatest reward of them all after racing unmarked into the penalty to steer a header into the net.

Bruno Guimaraes scored twice for Newcastle and delivered a tireless, superb performance

Bruno Guimaraes scored twice for Newcastle and delivered a tireless, superb performance

Another Chelsea twist after Ricketts bid drops out

It’s been far from plain sailing at Chelsea, and that includes off the pitch. Behind the scenes, and in the headlines, the sale of the club continues.

In recent days, the Ricketts-led consortium withdrew its bid. The Chicago Cubs owners and their partners chose not to submit a final bid for control of the Blues, with members unable to agree the final composition of their offer. 

Controversy had dogged the bid because of past comments made by the family patriarch Joe, and supporters also held protests outside Stamford Bridge before their loss by Brentford. They are unlikely to be saddened by this development.

Now, there are three parties left in the race, with a preferred bidder expected to be unveiled to the Government and the Premier League in the coming days.

There are three parties left in the race to buy Chelsea with a preferred bidder to be announced

There are three parties left in the race to buy Chelsea with a preferred bidder to be announced

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