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TALKING TACTICS: Koscielny huge loss for Arsenal; Chelsea don't need Lukaku; Trippier can replace Walker at Spurs

The final weekend of the 2016/17 Premier League season had little riding on it, but at least we saw plenty of goals on a day that encapsulated the division's deep divide. The top six scored 25 between them while each of the bottom five lost, and despite Everton falling to defeat against Arsenal the gap between 7th and 8th remained 15 points.

Arsene Wenger finally failed to qualify for the Champions League in the only notable story of a weekend in which we learnt more about individuals than any team as a whole.

Here are three things we learnt from the weekend action:


1) Arsenal won't be able to cope against Chelsea without Koscielny in defence

Laurent Koscielny's red card, along with Gabriel's injury, has put Arsenal in an extremely precarious position before this weekend's FA Cup final. Arsene Wenger will be desperate to play his new 3-4-2-1 against Chelsea – who have struggled on several occasions against this formation – but his defence is notably more disorganised without the Frenchman.

The champions' 5-1 win on Sunday showed that confidence breeds creativity, with Pedro, Willian, Cesc Fabregas, and Eden Hazard all easily cutting through the Sunderland defence. It seems unlikely that Arsenal's back three will cope against the Blues' narrow, through-ball-focused attacks on the large Wembley pitch.

Everton recorded 22 shots on goal at the Emirates and could easily have scored more goals. It is notable that the full-backs Leighton Baines and Mason Holgate created six chances between them; when crosses were put into the box, Arsenal's Koscielny-less defence could not cope. Chelsea should easily pick them off next weekend.


2) Chelsea don't need Lukaku: Batshuayi can fill the Costa gap this summer

Michy Batshuayi's brace against Sunderland brought him up to 1.9 goals per 90 minutes this season, which is twice the amount of any other player in the Premier League. His smart finishing and clever runs off the last man showed why he was worth the £33 million paid to Marseille last summer.

Before moving to London, the 23-year-old was one of the most exciting young talents in Europe after netting 17 goals in Ligue 1 in 2015/16. Antonio Conte's decision to rarely rotate (something he will have to change when Chelsea have Champions League football next season) has seen Batshuayi's reputation diminish, but he should be set for a revival next year.

Diego Costa is widely expected to leave and Conte is said to be chasing Romelu Lukaku, although he does not actually need a new first-choice striker. Batshuayi's clever movement on Sunday showed that he could link up superbly with Cesc Fabregas and Chelsea's litany of nimble playmakers. His agility and speed make him far more suitable to the aesthetic of Conte's counter-attacks than either of the less-mobile Costa or Lukaku.


3) Trippier won't just replace Walker at Spurs – he might challenge his England place as well

Ex-Burnley right-back Kieran Trippier has deputised superbly for Kyle Walker, who is slipping down the pecking order as rumours of a move to Manchester City build. Trippier recorded two assist at Hull City on a day in which the Spurs full-backs were given the freedom of the KCOM.

Ben Davies and Trippier had more touches of the ball than any other player on the pitch (187 between them) thanks to Marco Silva's surprise use of a 3-4-2-1 formation. Not familiar with the system and hardly in the mood to learn new things, Hull were far too narrow to cope adequately with either Spurs full-back.

Trippier in particular excelled, which should come as a great relief to Spurs fans. He is an adequate replacement for Walker – for Spurs and England.


Best of the Week - Georginio Wijnaldum

After a nervous 45 minutes at Anfield it began to look as though Liverpool wouldn't find the breakthrough they needed, before Wijnaldum scored a brilliant goal to seal their place in the Champions league. His composure in the penalty area summed up a calmly efficient first season at Anfield, in which his positional play has improved dramatically under the tutelage of Jurgen Klopp.

Wijnaldum's lapses in concentration made him a liability for Newcastle United last season, but he has flourished in a more agile and intelligent team. Klopp has taken the Dutchman's raw talent and transformed him into a very useful box-to-box midfielder; his reward was Wijnaldum's crucial goal on Sunday.


Worst of the Week - Watford

Watford's six consecutive Premier League defeats has turned a potentially excellent season into a pretty dreadful one. They finished the 2016/17 campaign 17th and on 40 points, with Walter Mazzarri forced to move on.

Their 5-0 defeat to Manchester City showed all the hallmarks of a team that simply didn't care, which is to be expected at a club that changes manager at least once a season. Once the magic 40 points mark is reached, the players have no motivation to maintain momentum; you cannot build anything when you know each new manager is simply treading water. The Pozzo family's system may be successful, but Watford will never move up the ladder without stability.

Alex Keble
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Alex Keble

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