5 things we learned from the Premier League this weekend
Published 22/11/2015 | 18:31
It was time for domestic focus once again following the international break, in what was a memorable return to top-flight action.
Here, Press Association Sport assesses five things we learned in the Premier League this weekend.
1. JOSE'S THE HAPPY ONE AGAIN, FOR NOW...
The label has been more the Grumpy One than the Special One for Jose Mourinho this season with the champions struggling and his position under intense media spotlight. After returning to winning ways with a workmanlike if unspectacular 1-0 home win over Norwich, Mourinho was all smiles as he addressed the media. No short, curt answers this time, nor indeed any suggestions of a conspiracy. Chances of the top four Jose? "Is not an impossible mission." So how about the title? "I would say impossible mission. Maybe Tom Cruise can do it, but it's complicated." Perhaps, but given the box office viewing at Chelsea this season, could there yet be a Hollywood ending?
2. KLOPP EVOLUTION IS GATHERING PACE
Whisper it quietly, but Liverpool could just have finally found the right man to awaken their sleeping giant. The Reds have a new zip about them under the German coach, whose side's 'gegenpressing' was just too much for Manchester City to handle. Despite the obvious shortcomings of Manuel Pellegrini's men on the day, there was no doubt Liverpool look a completely different outfit under Klopp. Only time will tell how far he can take them, but back up into the Champions League places would be a welcome start before anyone gets carried away by talk of a long, long overdue championship trophy back at Anfield. Oh, go on then.
3. JAMIE'S STILL HOT
It took around 45 minutes for Jamie Vardy to answer the question of whether he could come up with the goods again after a fortnight off. The impact of England's hottest striker is quite remarkable. Having levelled Ruud van Nistelrooy's record of scoring in 10 consecutive Premier League games, you can probably forgive Vardy for being a bit greedy when racing clear on goal in the second half, the match against Newcastle already won, only to stumble in the box. However, should he waste a similar golden chance next week against Manchester United at the King Power Stadium, you doubt he would be able to be so compassionate on himself.
4. SAME OLD ARSENAL? MAYBE NOT...
It must seem like deja vu for Gunners fans this season. No sooner had Arsene Wenger's team looked like they were set for a sustained title assault than they go off the boil and are hit by a string of injuries. True, most squads would struggle if deprived of players like Danny Welbeck, Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott for weeks on end. However, on another day, Arsenal - injury-hit or not and regardless of any penalty-spot bobbles - would have comfortably beaten a West Brom side who remarkably won the match with just one shot on target and conceding some 73 per cent possession at home. The test of champions is, of course, how you respond - Dynamo Zagreb and Norwich beware.
5. A LONG, HARD WINTER AHEAD FOR VILLA FANS
Whatever way you read Aston Villa's statistics, they are not good. No win in 12 games since the opening day of the season; five points after 13 matches the worst return in any of their top-flight campaigns; five from safety. Villa are a shadow of the sides which regularly battled in the top six. In the Premier League era, no team has beaten the drop with five points or less at this stage of the season. Even with a bumper harvest from the January sales, Remi Garde may well be left wondering just what he has let himself in for.