Kevin De Bruyne and Son Heung-min have joined Liverpool duo Mohamed Salah and Trent Alexander-Arnold in being nominated for the Premier League's Player of the Season award.

De Bruyne, who won the award in 2019-20 despite Manchester City missing out on the title to Liverpool that season, is enjoying his best goalscoring campaign for the club.

He netted four goals in a 5-1 thrashing of Wolves on Wednesday, taking him to 19 in all competitions.

Salah is the only other past winner to be up for the award, having scored 22 goals and provided 13 assists (both league-high tallies) in another outstanding campaign as Liverpool battle City for the title.

Fellow Reds star Alexander-Arnold is also on the shortlist after racking up 12 assists in 31 appearances, as is Tottenham forward Son, who scored his 21st league goal of the campaign in Spurs' 3-0 win over Arsenal on Thursday.

Despite hitting 18 and 15 league goals respectively this season, Manchester United and Spurs strikers Cristiano Ronaldo and Harry Kane are among the highest-profile players to miss out being nominated.

The other players on the eight-man shortlist are City defender Joao Cancelo, Arsenal winger Bukayo Saka, Southampton captain James Ward-Prowse, and West Ham's Jarrod Bowen.

Bowen is one of just three Premier League players to record double figures for goals and assists this season (both 10, along with Salah and Chelsea's Mason Mount).

Meanwhile, both Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp are in contention to be named Manager of the Season at the end of another enthralling title race between their teams.

Guardiola has already won the award on three occasions (in 2017-18, 2018-19, and 2020-21), the same amount as Jose Mourinho and Arsene Wenger. Only Alex Ferguson, with 11, has won it more often.

Klopp won the award when he led Liverpool to their first Premier League title in 2019-20, while the other three nominees all manage sides currently in the bottom half of the table.

Brentford's Thomas Frank is among them after leading the Bees to safety in their first top-flight season since 1946-47, as is Patrick Viera after an impressive first campaign with Crystal Palace.

Newcastle United's Eddie Howe is the final boss on the five-man shortlist, after the Magpies became the first side to go winless through their first 14 games in a Premier League campaign and avoid relegation (three had done so and gone down - Swindon Town in 1993-94, QPR in 2012-13, and Sheffield United in 2020-21).

Public votes will contribute towards deciding the winner of each award, with Premier League club captains also getting a vote on the players' award and a "panel of football experts" helping to choose the winning manager.

Barcelona are reportedly open to "big-money" offers for Manchester United target Frenkie de Jong.

De Jong, who has 40 caps for the Netherlands, arrived at Barcelona from Ajax for a €75million fee in 2019, accumulating 137 appearances for the club in all competitions.

The midfielder has been a key pillar in Barcelona's line-up this season, appearing 44 times, but the Catalan giants may be ready to move on as the interest from United intensifies.

TOP STORY – BARCA ARE CONSIDERING OFFERS FOR DE JONG

The Blaugrana are open-minded about potentially parting ways with De Jong, who is being closely linked with his former Ajax coach Erik ten Hag for his new venture at United.

He is one of the main players on the Red Devils' wish-list, which Fichajes reports also includes Southampton's James Ward-Prowse, Feyenoord left-back Tyrell Malacia and West Ham's Jarrod Bowen.

The Telegraph adds that Ten Hag has identified eight players "he can trust" at the club, while being on the fence about Marcus Rashford's future.

ROUND-UP

– L'Equipe is reporting RB Leipzig's Christopher Nkunku would like to leave the club after this season, with a desire to head to Manchester City, United, Paris Saint-Germain or Milan

Newcastle United have met with the agent of Watford's Ismaila Sarr but will have to match the club's £40million asking price, per FootballTransfers.

Bayer Leverkusen are planning a move for PSG youngster Eric-Junior Dina Ebimbe after failing to secure the deal during the January transfer window, according to RMC Sport.

– Sport is reporting Samuel Umtiti will leave Barcelona in the next transfer window and wants to return to Lyon, who will be competing for his services with Rennes, Montpellier and Nice

– Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha is unlikely to sign an extension with the club and could be sold in the next transfer window with his contract set to expire in 2023, according to The Times.

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel told reporters he is not interested in Liverpool's hunt for a quadruple this season, and also gave credit to Timo Werner for finding form after the Blues' 2-0 FA Cup win against Crystal Palace.

Against Crystal Palace, Chelsea controlled throughout, with 67 per cent possession and double the amount of shots, but did not break the deadlock until the 65th minute through Ruben Loftus-Cheek, before Mason Mount doubled the advantage in the 76th minute.

With the win, they earned a spot in the FA Cup final against Liverpool at Wembley on May 14. It is Chelsea's third consecutive season making the final, losing 2-1 to Arsenal in 2020, and losing 1-0 against Leicester City in 2021.

Liverpool is still alive in the Premier League and Champions League, and beat Chelsea on penalties in the Carabao Cup, but Tuchel was not interested in discussing their potentially history-making season.

"I don’t care about [Liverpool's] other titles," he said.

"Of course, we lost a [Carabao Cup] final [to Liverpool]. We gave everything in that final, as you know, until the very last penalty. 

"We were unlucky and lost. We want to turn things around, but it will not give us the Carabao Cup title back.

"We were in the FA Cup final last season and we’re here again, it means unbelievably a lot to us.

"We will be well-prepared against one of the strongest teams in the world, who are in outstanding form given their results… it will be a tough one, [but] we will try to make life hard for them."

Tuchel also touched on the improving form of his striker after a slow start to the season, and his Chelsea career in general.

"We had a bit of a change in formation up front, so he played against Southampton, and [Werner] played alongside Kai [Havertz], with Mason [Mount] and Mateo Kovacic around him," he said.

"He likes that a lot, and has a good connection with them, so that was maybe the turnaround point for him. 

"He scored and had big chances. He was decisive in Madrid, and could have been the hero with the third goal, but unfortunately not. But he was involved; he scored, was involved, created chances and spaces, and did again today. 

"It was very hard to find spaces today and be decisive, but he assisted the second goal. Timo at the moment is a huge part [and deserves his place] in the team."

Chelsea star Mason Mount believes it is time for the Blues to win a final at Wembley.

Thomas Tuchel's side recovered from Champions League extra-time heartbreak against Real Madrid by coasting past Crystal Palace to reach a third successive FA Cup final on Sunday.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek struck with 25 minutes remaining as he slammed in his first Chelsea goal since May 2019, while Mount made sure of victory with a second nine minutes later.

The pair became the first English duo to score in a club game at Wembley for the Blues since Peter Houseman and Ian Hutchinson netted in the 1970 FA Cup final against Leeds United.

However, Mount does not have too many fond memories of England's national stadium, where he has lost an EFL Cup and two FA Cup finals, along with the Euro 2020 showpiece with England.

The 23-year-old was also a part of Derby County's Championship play-off final side that lost to Aston Villa in 2018-19, taking his tally at Wembley to five losses – a record he wants to overturn.

"It is a game we used to bounce back. It was a very, very tough game. They made it very difficult for us. They have some top players. It wasn't easy," he told ITV Sport after the game.

"The way we came through it we showed character.

"I am buzzing for Rubes [Loftus-Cheek]. He is a top, top player. He comes on in a difficult game and steps up. He is dominant and the way he drives the ball forward helps us. He was brilliant today.

"Timo Werner is brilliant, he has done so well the last couple of games. He had a chance in the second half that he missed but then ran all the way back to win the ball and that shows the player he is.

"It is time for us to win a final at Wembley. It is five finals I have lost, so we have to put the pressure on us to step up."

Chelsea now have to overcome Liverpool, who defeated the Blues on penalties in the EFL Cup final in February.

Indeed, it will be just the second time two sides will contest both the EFL Cup and FA Cup final in the same campaign after 1992-93, when Arsenal and Sheffield Wednesday did so, with the Gunners winning both trophies that year.

Thomas Tuchel expressed his delight with a "controlled and serious" performance that guided Chelsea into the FA Cup final.

Chelsea reached a third successive FA Cup final, matching the feat achieved by Arsenal between 2000-01 and 2002-03, with a 2-0 triumph over Patrick Vieira's Crystal Palace at Wembley.

Substitute Ruben Loftus-Cheek opened the scoring in the 65th minute with his first goal in any competition since November 2020, before Mason Mount sealed semi-final success with 14 minutes remaining.

The 2021-22 campaign now marks Mount's new-best scoring season, with his 12th strike this term surpassing his 11-goal haul for Championship side Derby County in 2018-19.

Tuchel, who has progressed from each of the 11 semi-final ties in his managerial career, congratulated his players for their efforts amid a hectic schedule, with Chelsea having slipped out of the Champions League after going to extra-time against Real Madrid on Tuesday.

"It was not easy because we played three games in three different competitions," Tuchel told ITV Sport. 

"It is not always easy, very challenging physically, we are the team with the most minutes in Europe I think, it is also challenging mentally.

"I thought the performance was very controlled and very serious, we took care of their counter-attacks. It was hard, the opponent changed system twice, you cannot lose focus for a minute."

Tuchel also reserved special praise for Loftus-Cheek, who scored his first Chelsea goal since May 2019, when he netted in a Europa League semi-final against Eintracht Frankfurt.

"He [Ruben Loftus-Cheek] was very, very strong in matches against Southampton and Real Madrid, he would have deserved to start," said Tuchel.

"We knew Ruben would have a big impact off the bench. I am very happy.

"He hid his talent and potential for a long time in his career. He is capable of producing performances that everyone sees on the pitch. For him, it is step by step that he continues to grow in his confidence."

 

Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool stand in the way of Chelsea in the final, and it will be the second time the same two sides have competed in the EFL Cup and FA Cup showpiece events in the same season, after Arsenal and Sheffield Wednesday met in both competitions in 1992-93.

Tuchel, though, cannot wait to renew his battle with the quadruple-hunting Liverpool, who ran out penalty shoot-out victors in the EFL Cup in late February and defeated Premier League title rivals Manchester City in Saturday's semi-final.

"I am happy to be part of it again, I cannot be more excited and more proud because it is a huge competition. We will be ready," he added.

Chelsea secured their place in a third successive FA Cup final after second-half goals from Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Mason Mount clinched the 2-0 defeat of Crystal Palace at Wembley on Sunday.

The Blues have made something of a habit of reaching the FA Cup showpiece in recent years, contesting four of the past five, and while this semi-final win was by means vintage, Thomas Tuchel's side looked comfortable once they found the breakthrough.

Neither side showed much inspiration in attack during a cagey opening 45 minutes and there were few signs of improvement initially after the interval.

But a couple of kind deflections helped substitute Loftus-Cheek break the deadlock just past the hour for his first Chelsea goal since May 2019, and Mount's finish soon after ensured the Blues will face Liverpool for the trophy.

It took 35 minutes for a dull first half to come to life as Edouard Mendy did brilliantly to save a goal-bound volley from his Senegal team-mate Cheikhou Kouyate down to his left.

Kai Havertz attempted to win a penalty with a dive at the other end a few moments later, but referee Anthony Taylor saw through his deception and brandished a yellow card.

Kouyate went close again early in the second half when a header flew agonisingly off target and Chelsea capitalised in the 65th minute.

Havertz's cutback was diverted into Loftus-Cheek's path and another touch off a Palace defender took the midfielder's powerful strike out of Jack Butland's reach.

Mount wrapped things up 14 minutes from time, tucking a neat finish into the bottom-right corner after good work from Timo Werner, with Romelu Lukaku's dreadful late miss proving irrelevant.

Romelu Lukaku should look at Timo Werner for inspiration if he plays any part in Chelsea's FA Cup semi-final against Crystal Palace on Sunday, according to Blues boss Thomas Tuchel.

Werner has endured a largely difficult time at Stamford Bridge since arriving from RB Leipzig in June 2020, but he has shone in the past week.

He followed up a brace in the 6-0 Premier League win over Southampton last weekend with another goal in the Champions League quarter-final second-leg win at Real Madrid in midweek.

Like Werner, Lukaku has had difficulties since joining the club from Inter ahead of the 2021-22 campaign.

He has scored just five goals and registered zero assists in his 12 Premier League starts, while he has created only 16 opportunities and converted 17.2 per cent of his 29 shots, just 11 of which have been on target.

Lukaku's 12 goals in all competitions only marginally exceeds his expected goals (xG) of 11.8, however, showing he is at least scoring at a rate that reflects the quality of chances that have come his way.

But the fact his xG is not higher suggests a lack of cohesion between Lukaku and his team-mates.

The Belgium international has missed Chelsea's last two games through injury, although he returned to training this week and is expected to play some part in Sunday's last-four clash at Wembley.

 

Asked if the 28-year-old needs to emulate Werner if he is selected against Palace, Tuchel told a media conference: "For sure. He had a huge chance against Real Madrid [at home] and things can go so fast.

"Nobody knows what this goal would have done for us if he had taken his chance with the late header in the first leg.

"It is exactly what he needs to do. Wait, be patient, work hard and put the team first, be ready to help the team, because as a striker you can help within seconds.

"Especially for strikers, things can be turned around in minutes, in moments. Whole careers can be upside down and in any direction but always as a striker you can have a chance to put things into your favour, as a substitute or if you have the chance to perform from the beginning."

Chelsea have won each of their last nine fixtures with Palace, all coming in the Premier League.

In the club's history, they have enjoyed five separate instances of 10 or more successive wins against an opponent, most recently a run of 11 versus Brighton and Hove Albion between 1967 and 2019.

Thomas Tuchel has revealed he explained to Conor Gallagher in person why Chelsea could not allow the on-loan Crystal Palace midfielder to play in their FA Cup semi-final.

Chelsea meet Palace in the last four of the competition at Wembley on Sunday, but breakout star Gallagher will be merely a spectator.

The England international belongs to Chelsea but is yet to make a senior appearance for the club, instead establishing himself as a top Premier League midfielder for Palace this season.

Gallagher has scored eight goals and provided five assists in all competitions in 2021-22, including two assists in four FA Cup matches prior to the semis.

That sort of form shows why Chelsea could not accommodate Palace's request to allow him to play this weekend. The Blues have won both matches against Palace in his absence this season, extending a winning run in the fixture to nine games.

"I had the chance to speak to Conor and I could also see his frustration," Tuchel said ahead of the match. "We met some weeks ago, after the international break, by coincidence in a restaurant.

"We had a chat, and the subject came up. I apologised, because I know how competitive he is, and I like him a lot. I know his character very well, and it was a pleasure to have him here in pre-season.

"This is the way it is. We play to win the game. The rules were clear when we made the loan.

"I can totally understand Patrick Vieira and the disappointment of Conor, but these were the rules when we made the loan, and we don't want to suffer from our rules."

 

Chelsea must still take on an England international brought through their academy, however, with Marc Guehi a permanent Palace signing last year.

Guehi, like Gallagher, has impressed at Palace, while Tino Livramento has been one of Southampton's star performers this season, but Tuchel explained their sales could not be reassessed with hindsight.

"It's a decision we took together. We are happy about these decisions," he said. "We cannot go back and reflect, because at the point where we took the decision it was the right thing to do, given the circumstances.

"It's very individual decisions. For Tino Livramento, for example, we had a plan and we preferred a loan, but he saw his future to go, and the situation was then better to agree to the sale.

"For Marc, it is a fantastic development. It's very hard or maybe even impossible to say if we had kept him he would be better or worse or the same. Maybe he needed exactly that, maybe he needed a change of environment, maybe he needed a different club, maybe he needed a bigger role, more minutes to develop your full potential.

"It just tells you over and over again that if you trust younger players and if you have a role for them, they can on a very regular level match your expectations or even over-perform.

"It's nice to see there are so many Chelsea players out there in every league. We are very well aware of it, and it's also nice to play against them and see them develop."

Chelsea still have academy graduates in their first team, with Mason Mount leading the way in terms of goal involvements (25 – 11 goals, 14 assists) this term.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek (31), Reece James (30), Callum Hudson-Odoi (28) and Trevoh Chalobah (26) have each made more than 25 appearances for the Blues in 2021-22.

"We will always use as many academy players as possible," Tuchel said.

"Like I said many times before, it makes the club very special and makes every team in the world very special if you have the mix between world-class players, between big personalities from abroad, from outside the club, with the academy boys.

"I think it's very important also with the academy boys to match the level, to realise the level of commitment, of professionalism of players who come from other clubs, who bring the best of their cultures.

"It's very, very important for our youngsters to accept that mix and accept that challenge. Then it can be very special. This is what makes teams special, that there are players from the academy."

Thomas Tuchel is relieved Chelsea have the opportunity to quickly get back on track in their FA Cup semi-final against Crystal Palace, for which Romelu Lukaku may be available.

A huge week for Chelsea has been a difficult one so far, as their outstanding performance away to Real Madrid in a Champions League quarter-final was not enough to advance.

Trailing 3-1 from the home leg, the defending European champions were heading through when Timo Werner put them three up, only for Madrid to respond with goals from Rodrygo in normal time and Karim Benzema in extra time.

With Chelsea relatively secure in third place in the Premier League, their main focus now is on the FA Cup.

The Blues at least came through the Madrid second leg unscathed, with Tuchel's only update before the Palace game on the potential return of record signing Lukaku.

"Romelu was back in training yesterday [Thursday]. Let's see if he has any reaction or not," Tuchel told a pre-match news conference. "Then everybody should be okay."

The Chelsea coach will be looking to preserve his fine semi-final record, having won 11 and drawn one of his 12 previous such matches.

And Tuchel believes Chelsea will benefit from being thrust straight into another big match – this their first FA Cup tie against London rivals Palace since 1975-76, with the two teams each winning two of the four prior meetings.

"I think we are all a bit in between," Tuchel said. "Confidence wise, I think it's a huge boost, but still it's a disappointment to go out of the Champions League in the quarter-final.

"It's not a big drama, not in this kind of way, but still it's a big disappointment, because we feel like we could be one of the four teams in the semi-final.

"It's a weird feeling, because we had a huge task to go to Madrid, needing to win with a minimum of two goals to make it to extra time. We were three goals ahead.

"In a knockout game in the Bernabeu, it's a fantastic performance and stays like this. But it tastes bitter, because we're out of the Champions League.

"In both legs, we did too many individual mistakes, too many mistakes that were punished by individual quality.

"It's still a little bit in between for me, but we bounced back from the two results and the two performances against Brentford and Madrid at home.

"We won both games after that and there's a big knockout game coming at Wembley, which is, in my opinion, a good thing. There's a huge reward coming with it, so it's not a normal game in the Premier League to collect points, but it's straight away another knockout match."

Chelsea have plenty of experience of matches of this magnitude, too. Having lost the EFL Cup final to Liverpool earlier this season, they are playing multiple games at Wembley in a sixth consecutive campaign, with this their 40th appearance at the national stadium when used as a neutral venue.

Indeed, only Arsenal and Manchester United (both 30) have more FA Cup semi-final appearances than Chelsea (26).

The Blues have lost their past two FA Cup London derbies, although both were to Arsenal. Their past six FA Cup defeats to teams from the capital were against Arsenal.

Manchester City and Liverpool produced a pulsating top-of-the-table clash on another enthralling day of Premier League action on Sunday.

The top two played out a hugely entertaining 2-2 draw at the Etihad Stadium to ensure the title race remains delicately poised with seven games remaining, City's one-point lead intact for now.

Elsewhere, Brentford beat London rivals West Ham, while there were wins for Leicester City and Norwich City over Crystal Palace and Burnley respectively.

Stats Perform takes a look at some key Opta facts from the day's games.
 

Manchester City 2-2 Liverpool: Guardiola's men miss chance to pull clear of rivals

The hosts started at a breathless pace and went ahead early on thanks to Kevin De Bruyne's 11th Premier League goal of the season. The Belgium international has only once scored more in a single top-flight campaign (13 in 2019-20).

Diogo Jota pulled Liverpool level before Gabriel Jesus restored City's advantage, and both players maintained their records of never losing in a Premier League game when they have scored. Jota is unbeaten in 33 matches (W27 D6) and Jesus in 45 (W42 D3), with only James Milner (54 games) and Darius Vassell (46) scoring in more without losing in Premier League history.

Sadio Mane scored just 46 seconds into the second half to secure a point for the Reds. It was the first time they had scored in the opening minute of the second half in a league game since January 2019 (Mohamed Salah vs Crystal Palace) and the first time City had conceded in the 46th minute in a Premier League game since November 2004 vs Norwich City.

The result means Liverpool are now winless in their last five Premier League matches against City (D3 L2), their joint-longest run without a victory against them along with a five-game run between November 2011 and December 2013.

Brentford 2-0 West Ham: Hammers stung by Bees

This win means Brentford have recorded a league double over West Ham for only the second time, last doing so in 1953-54 when both sides were in the second tier.

Bryan Mbeumo opened the scoring and the forward has now found the net in both Premier League games against West Ham this season. He is only the second Brentford player ever to score both home and away against the Hammers in the same league campaign, after Jack Holliday in 1933-34.

Ivan Toney added a second to take his tally to eight goals from 32 shots in the Premier League in 2022, after netting just four times from 36 attempts prior to the new year. Indeed, only Son Heung-min (nine) has scored more top-flight goals since the turn of the new year than the Brentford striker.

West Ham, meanwhile, have lost seven of their last 11 away Premier League games (W2 D2), which is one more away defeat than they suffered last season.

The Hammers have suffered three consecutive away defeats for the first time since a seven-game run between December 2019 and June 2020.

Leicester City 2-1 Crystal Palace: Foxes too strong for Vieira's men

Leicester remain unbeaten in their last six Premier League games against Palace (W4 D2), having lost four on the bounce against the Eagles in the top-flight before this run.

Ademola Lookman got them on their way with his fifth league goal of the season, equalling his best tally in a domestic campaign for a side in Europe's big five leagues (also five in 2017-18 with RB Leipzig).

Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall then doubled their advantage with a superb strike after being teed up by James Maddison.

England international Maddison, who has been involved in more Premier League goals than any other Leicester player this season (eight goals, five assists), became just the fourth player to register 20-plus goals and 20-plus assists for the Foxes in the Premier League, after Muzzy Izzet, Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy.

Patrick Vieira's Palace got one back through Wilfried Zaha, who has scored more Premier League goals against Leicester than he has versus any other side in the competition (seven), yet they were unable to find an equaliser.

Norwich City 2-0 Burnley: Canaries boost survival hopes

Norwich injected life into their Premier League survival bid with a comfortable win over fellow strugglers Burnley.

Pierre Lees-Melou opened the scoring with his first Premier League goal for the Canaries in his 26th appearance in the competition, becoming the first French player to score for the club in the English top flight.

Teemu Pukki made sure of the three points with his 20th Premier League goal, moving him ahead of Mark Robins (19) as the club's third top scorer in the competition after Chris Sutton (33) and Grant Holt (23).

The result meant Dean Smith's side have gone unbeaten home and away against a Premier League opponent for just the second time this season (D1 W1).

Burnley, meanwhile, are winless in their last four Premier League games against teams starting the day bottom of the table (D1 L3).

Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira bemoaned Chelsea's decision to not allow loanee Conor Gallagher to feature in the FA Cup semi-final, claiming the midfielder will be "the only one who will lose".

Gallagher moved on a season-long loan from Chelsea to Selhurst Park at the start of the season and the midfielder has starred for the Eagles, who made the last four of the FA Cup with a 4-0 win over Everton.

The 22-year-old's performances also earned him his England debut in November and have led to suggestions he could fill a midfield void for Thomas Tuchel's side next campaign with N'Golo Kante, Mateo Kovacic and Jorginho not getting any younger.

But Chelsea have refused Palace's request for special dispensation to allow Gallagher to play against his parent club in the FA Cup on April 17, with FA rules preventing loanees from featuring against the side they are contracted to.

Vieira was left bemused by the decision as he insisted Gallagher would be the only player punished by the refusal.

"It's not the best rule because the only one who will lose is Conor," the Frenchman said.

"There's a semi-final, it's a really exciting game about how you will manage yourself and prepare yourself to play that game, then there's playing that kind of game and the importance of it.

"It's an experience the player is missing and I'm disappointed for him. He has played all the games so far and if there's somebody who deserves to be in the semi-final, it's him because of his performances, so I'm disappointed he won't be able to play.

"The decision for Chelsea to send him on loan is to play these kinds of games. We have as a group an opportunity to play an important game and that game would have given him more confidence and belief. We could lose but for him to have been on the field is what he needs to keep developing himself.

"Since he has been with us, he has been fantastic and for him not to have a chance to get involved in that game, it is something frustrating for his development.

"I feel for him because he wanted to play in that game –every player would want to play in that game."

Vieira also believes the impact of the FA Cup last-four draw has been clear to see on Gallagher in training.

"The next day in training he was affected by that," he continued. "He knew straight away that it was a game that he would not have the chance to get involved in. We feel for him.

"He put his head back into training straight away. It will be more difficult when we enter the week of the game.

"It will be challenging for him, looking at the team, preparing himself and him not getting involved. That will be challenging for him."

It's matchday 32. No midweek games and precious points to pick up in the run home.

It's that time of the year when the unconventional pick can define one's season. Who dares wins, in other words.

With that in mind, let Stats Perform lead you by the hand with Opta data as we pick four players who might just give you those precious extra points in the latest Premier League gameweek.

VICENTE GUAITA (Leicester City v Crystal Palace)

The last time Leicester were kept scoreless at home by Crystal Palace in the Premier League was in December 2017, when Claude Puel was still manager of the Foxes.

In 2022, however, only Alisson and Ederson have kept more clean sheets than Vicente Guaita in the Premiership, with Guaita's four coming in his last five appearances.

Of the seven highest rankings in the Premier League for clean sheets in the new year, Guaita also has the third-highest percentage of shots saved at 75.86 per cent.

REECE JAMES (Southampton v Chelsea)

Despite the nature of their Champions League defeat to Real Madrid, against Southampton this weekend, it is almost a certainty that Chelsea will have the bulk of possession.

As a consequence of how Thomas Tuchel's side plays, Chelsea's wingbacks are very prominent in and around the penalty area.

Among Premier League defenders this season, no player has scored more goals than Reece James this season, while Antonio Rudiger is also second.

CHRISTIAN ERIKSEN (Brentford v West Ham)

Needing to back up from Thursday's tussle in the Europa League against Lyon, West Ham could be vulnerable.

Brentford's Christian Eriksen has either scored or assisted in his last two Premier League games for the Bees, while the Dane last did so in three consecutive Premier League appearances in April 2019. 

In three Premier League starts for Brentford this season, they have won all three games, and Eriksen has completed the most passes (111) in those games, played the most passes into the penalty area (26) and created the most chances (five).

HARRY KANE (Aston Villa v Tottenham)

Tottenham are starting to find their rhythm under Antonio Conte, even despite March's 3-2 defeat to Manchester United, and Harry Kane remains as pivotal as ever.

No player in the Premier League has contributed to more goals in 2022 than Kane, with eight goals and five assists over that period.

Kane has also been involved in a goal in each of his last six Premier League appearances, and only between July and November 2020 (eight games) has he been on a longer streak.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has said that Kieran Tierney's knee injury "does not look good", with the defender set to see a specialist, while Thomas Partey's fitness is also a concern.

Tierney played twice for Scotland across the international break, but did not feature for the Gunners as they slumped to a 3-0 loss at Crystal Palace on Monday.

Following the defeat at Selhurst Park, Arteta confirmed that the left-back had felt a problem that will be further assessed in the week, though the initial prognosis is not positive.

"He came back from international duty and felt something wrong in his knee," Arteta told BBC Sport.

"There is some damage there. We will hopefully know more on Tuesday but it's not looking good.

"He is seeing the specialist on Tuesday and we will know more about the extent of the injury but the feeling that he had wasn't really positive and what the scan showed either. We have to wait and see what happens."

Arsenal potentially lost another key player to injury as they head into the run-in, with Partey going off with an apparent hamstring injury.

"I don't know but he felt something in the same area that he got injured previously so that's a big concern," Arteta told his post-match news conference.

Arsenal's defeat leaves them in fifth on goal difference, though they do have a game in hand on fourth-placed Tottenham.

Mikel Arteta acknowledged Arsenal have to accept criticism and apologise after they were thumped 3-0 by Crystal Palace in a demoralising London derby defeat.

Arsenal saw their hopes of finishing in the Premier League top four damaged on Monday as their run of five straight top-flight away wins ended in emphatic fashion.

Jean-Philippe Mateta and Jordan Ayew had Palace two goals up inside 24 minutes and a second-half penalty from Wilfried Zaha ended any hopes of a Gunners comeback.

The defeat leaves Arsenal fifth in the table, behind rivals Tottenham on goal difference, though they still do have a game in hand.

"From the beginning we were not at the races," Arsenal boss Arteta said to Sky Sports.

"When you come here you have to compete. You have to win duels and second balls and be aggressive – we were none of those.

"On top of that we were really poor on the ball. We were really inconsistent on the ball and that is unacceptable.

"It is time to accept the criticism, put your hand up and apologise because this performance was not good enough for this club and then react. 

"Congratulations to Palace because they deserved to win for the game they played. They always play like this.

"We are humble enough to accept the criticism. You don't feel sorry for yourself because we lost players and a football match.

"We made it impossible for ourselves with the way we competed. You have to be physical and run and then you earn the right to play. 

"We were poor, especially in the first half. I apologise to our supporters. We didn't have the presence or the composure to dominate the situation so that is what I'm most annoyed with."

Arsenal had 12 shots compared to Palace's six, yet the hosts got five of their attempts on target with the Gunners only testing Vicente Guaita three times.

Arteta added: "When we had the big chances we didn't score to give ourselves the best chance to get back in the game. 

"We tried in the second half, we had three or four big chances but the only half chance they had they got a penalty.

"First of all we need to put our hands up and get the criticism we deserve. Then we accept it, look ourselves in the mirror and look to the next game.

"This was not good enough. Some days you are not there and you are late all the time. They got on top of it and had a good atmosphere and we could not get out.

"We have to face the challenge and the opportunity is in our hands. We have to be honest with ourselves and support each other."

The loss was the first time Arsenal had been beaten by three or more goals in a Premier League London derby since suffering a defeat by the same scoreline to Palace in 2017, while the Eagles have now scored seven goals across their last two games in all competitions without conceding in return.

Arsenal have won just one of their last eight Premier League clashes with Palace (D5 L2), after winning nine of the 11 before that (D1 L1).

Arteta's side will look to bounce back when they host Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday.

Arsenal's top-four hopes were dented by a 3-0 defeat to an impressive Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Monday. 

The Gunners were unable to reclaim their spot in the Premier League top four having been leapfrogged by arch-rivals Tottenham, who defeated Newcastle United 5-1 on Sunday. 

They struggled to cope with the intensity of Palace – coached by former Arsenal captain Patrick Vieira – and shipped goals to Jean-Philippe Mateta and Jordan Ayew in quick succession in the first half. 

After failing to take the chances that came their way, Arsenal were punished by a 74th-minute spot-kick from Wilfried Zaha that ended their hopes of mounting a late comeback. 

Arsenal had the lion's share of possession in the opening quarter of an hour but they fell behind when Mateta nodded Joachim Andersen's cushioned header into the back of the net. 

Palace doubled their lead eight minutes later when Gabriel Magalhaes failed to cut out Andersen's throughball to Ayew, who curled a fine finish into the bottom-left corner from the edge of the box. 

Arteta replaced Nuno Tavares with Gabriel Martinelli at half-time and shifted Granit Xhaka to left-back but the Gunners still looked ponderous when attacking. 

They were found wanting when chances did come their way too. Emile Smith Rowe produced a tame effort when presented with a decent opportunity and in the 67th minute Martin Odegaard failed to hit the target from 12 yards out. 

Those misses proved costly when, after a long delay, referee Paul Tierney pointed to the spot following Odegaard's tackle on Zaha in the box and the Ivory Coast winger dispatched the resulting penalty. 

Eddie Nketiah struck the upright with a swirling attempt in the closing stages but Palace continued to frustrate the Gunners until the final whistle.
 

What does it mean? Gunners' grip weakens 

Arsenal saw a run of five straight away wins in the Premier League come to an end in south London. 

They sit below Spurs on goal difference but can take solace in the fact they still have a game in hand.

Palace, meanwhile, moved up to ninth and are now unbeaten in seven straight games in all competitions – a run that has also seen them reach the FA Cup semi-finals. 

Zaha shines 

The relentless running of Zaha made Palace a significant threat on the break but also played a part in them keeping a clean sheet. His efforts were rewarded with a goal from the 18th penalty he has won in his Premier League career – only Raheem Sterling (23) and Jamie Vardy (21) have won more. 

Nuno no good 

After failing to even challenge Andersen on the assist for the opening goal, Tavares did not track the run of Ayew on the second. He was deservedly hooked by Arteta at half-time. 

What's next? 

Arsenal entertain Brighton and Hove Albion at Emirates Stadium on Saturday, while Palace travel to Leicester City the following day. 

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