Talking points: Ceballos to fill Partey void; Bale’s glimmer of hope

Granit Xhaka and Partey have formed a good midfield partnership in recent weeks and breaking them up felt like it would cause issues. Ceballos, however, stepped up to the plate and – alongside Bukayo Saka and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – was one of Arsenal’s best players on Sunday. He will need to be at it again when Arsenal face Benfica and City this week, but at least now he looks up for the task. Simon Collings

There were precious few positives from Tottenham’s 3-0 defeat at Man City on Saturday – their heaviest reverse under Jose Mourinho in the League – but Gareth Bale’s cameo offered hope he could still play a productive part in the season and make a success of his so-far frustrating homecoming.

Bale, a 72nd-minute substitute, rolled back the years by slaloming between three City defenders and testing Ederson with a fierce drive. It was one of only two highlights for Spurs, along with Harry Kane’s free-kick, and should be enough to earn Bale a start in Thursday’s Europa League match against Austrian side Wolfsberger.

Jose Mourinho was afterwards cautious on Bale’s fitness but opened the door for the Welshman and Dele Alli to play a bigger part in the second half of the campaign. Dan Kilpatrick

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Decision time looming for Palace

Crystal Palace are safe but stalling. The Eagles are 11 points clear of the bottom three, which looks a comfortable enough margin given the form of those below them, but are treading water under Roy Hodgson and look lost without Wilfried Zaha. Any side would miss a player of Zaha’s quality but their run of 18 defeats in 20 games without the forward is alarming.

With a manager and a host of players out of contract come the end of the season, Palace face a decision over what they want to be. Hodgson assures safety each season – an achievement that for a club like Palace cannot be underestimated – but little more beyond that. With so much upheaval expected this summer, do Palace dare roll the dice and shoot for the stars by appointing a new manager the end of this season? Jack Rosser

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Fulham finally find a finishing touch

Scott Parker must have been wondering what more he could do in recent weeks. Fulham have been putting in impressive performances this season but all have largely been undermined by dreadful finishing in the final third. Aleksandar Mitrovic has been a shadow of the player who won the Championship golden boot last season while Ivan Cavaliero, who has been played through the middle, is not a striker.

Parker had accepted that a new striker in the January window was unlikely before they made the surprise late signing of Josh Maja on deadline day. The 22-year-old scored twice at Everton as Fulham won just a third game this season. The former Sunderland man could be the missing piece for Parker and prove to be the key to survival. Jack Rosser


Brentford’s long unbeaten run ended

Brentford missed the chance to go top of the Championship as they lost for the first time since October against Barnsley. A 2-0 defeat brought an end to a run of 21 games without loss for the Bees as they struggled to get going and create chances.

Thomas Frank’s side have been in fierce form this season and had scored 17 goals in four wins before this weekend. Frank knows this season will go to the wire and will not get carried away with one result with so long to go in the race for promotion. Jack Rosser

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