Friday 26 December 2014

Seven things we learnt from the Premier League this weekend

Published 28/04/2014 | 13:07

Manchester City's Yaya Toure celebrates after scoring his team's second goal
Manchester City's Yaya Toure celebrates after scoring his team's second goal

Everton were bound to lose; Jose Mourinho tactics won't matter at end of the season; Yaya Toure sparks Manchester City into life and other things we gleaned from the third last weekend of the season.

1. After seeing off Moyes, Everton were bound to lose

After a defeat, Sir Alex Ferguson consoled himself by saying the opposition would pay for it in their next match.

The teams that beat David Moyes’s Manchester United did not enjoy their moment for long either.

Eight clubs have engineered 11 league wins over United this season but only two have gone to win their next league game – Liverpool and Tottenham.

And after a 2-1 win at Old Trafford, Spurs lost to Arsenal in the FA Cup before beating Crystal Palace. In that context, Everton’s 2-0 defeat at Southampton might have been expected. The thrill of pushing Moyes over the brink at Goodison on Easter Sunday was destined not to linger.

 

2. Come the end of the season, the champions will be champions, regardless of their tactics

Brendan Rodgers blasted Chelsea for brining 'two buses' to Anfield as Jose Mourinho's defensive tactics saw the Blues emerge with a smash-and-grab 2-0 victory. 

The result means that if Manchester City win their game in hand against Aston Villa, they will return to the Premier League summit on goal difference, and should Rodgers' side miss out on the title due to a lesser goal difference, he will no doubt look to the Reds' leaking defence this season. How ironic.

 

3. City are a different side when Yaya Toure is fit

The Ivorian midfielder transforms the City midfield when he is available, and his impact was no clearer than in the 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace.

Toure laid on the opening goal for Edin Dzeko to convert before doubling the lead with his 19th league goal of the season.

With signs that Sergio Aguero is nearing match sharpness, and a fit Toure sparking the side into life, Manuel Pellegrini could still see a Blue Moon rising come the end of the season.

 

4. Struggling sides take Hull City lightly at their peril

The theory was that if Fulham were to stay up, Felix Magath’s side would have to beat Hull City at Craven Cottage and, frankly, it didn’t seem such a big ask.

Steve Bruce’s side were unlikely to overstretch themselves in the run-up to their forthcoming FA Cup final appearance.

This ignored the fact that, for a struggling team, coming across Hull is equivalent to skipping down a dark alley wearing a Rolex while holding a wad of £50 notes. It is likely to cost you.

In their eight games against the bottom four, including Saturday’s 2-2 draw, Hull have now taken 20 points; they will have contributed significantly to three relegations.

 

5. Fans turning on Lambert as Villa’s losing run goes on

It is not a surprise that there were chants at the Liberty Stadium demanding Paul Lambert’s sacking.

The 4-1 debacle at Swansea was Aston Villa’s fifth defeat in six matches. Villa are averaging a point a game, less than they managed under Lambert in his first season in Birmingham and the same as Alex McLeish achieved in his single tortured season at the biggest club between London and Manchester.

This will be the fourth season, under three different managers, that Villa have failed to muster 50 points which may be why the owner, Randy Lerner, has had enough of this stagnation.

 

6. Booing the victims of red card offences shames fans

Tottenham Hotspur’s fourth win in five visits to the Britannia Stadium – a record that stands comparison with any other club – was marred by the booing of Danny Rose.

The full-back’s crime was to be tackled by Ryan Shawcross, in a challenge that led to the Stoke City centre-half being dismissed.

These are the same Stoke fans who, whenever Aaron Ramsey returned to the Potteries after having his leg broken by Shawcross, howled down the young Arsenal midfielder.

 

7. Mel’s private tribute to his late friend Vilanova

At venues as different as Munich’s Allianz Arena, Rome’s Olympic Stadium and The Hawthorns they paid tribute to the late former Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova.

The most private was Pepe Mel’s donning of a black armband before managing West Bromwich Albion to a 1-0 win over West Ham. Bayern and Roma also won, which in itself was a fitting farewell.

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