Monday 5 December 2016

5 Things we learned from the Premier League this weekend

Published 24/04/2016 | 19:11

Leicester took a step closer to the title without top scorer Jamie Vardy by beating Swansea 4-0
Leicester took a step closer to the title without top scorer Jamie Vardy by beating Swansea 4-0

There was drama at the top and bottom of the Barclays Premier League this weekend with so much at stake.

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Here, Press Association Sport takes a look at five key talking points from the fixtures:

1. NO VARDY, LEICESTER PARTY

All week the doom-mongers led everyone to believe that Leicester were toothless without Jamie Vardy's penetrating runs and ruthless finishing. Vardy had to sit out his first league game of the season after being sent off against West Ham and Leicester turned to Leonardo Ulloa. The big Argentinian would be nowhere near Vardy in a foot race, but he was in the right place twice as Swansea provided the most amenable opposition in the Foxes' 4-0 win. With five points enough from their final three games to guarantee the title, Leicester are within sight of the most incredible fairytale - even if Vardy receives an extended ban this week.

2. WILSHERE ON COURSE FOR EUROS

It might have been little more than 10 minutes and barely enough time to influence Arsenal's goalless draw at Sunderland, but Jack Wilshere made his first Premier League appearance for 11 months after breaking his leg in a pre-season friendly. One clever turn and sprint away from his midfield marker showed that Wilshere has lost none of the trickery and sharpness which singles him out when he is at the top of his game. Providing he stays fit between now and the end of the season, it seems inevitable that he will have a big part to play for Roy Hodgson's England at the European Championship in France this summer.

3. RAFA'S TURNING NEWCASTLE AROUND

How Newcastle must wish they had ended Steve McClaren's tortuous Tyneside stay earlier and given Rafael Benitez more time to save them from the drop. Having picked up just one point from his four matches, Benitez has finally got his methods across to Newcastle's under-achieving group of players. Four points from games against Swansea and Manchester City was followed up by a courageous comeback on his old Anfield stamping ground. Two down at half-time was 2-2 by the end, but Newcastle are still in the relegation zone and, with just three games left, has the Rafa revival come too late?

4. SUNDERLAND UP FOR FIGHT AGAIN

Newcastle's fears that they might be running out of time will not be eased when they study the league table as Sunderland step up their annual attempt to beat the drop. Having mounted successful battles under Paolo Di Canio, Gus Poyet and Dick Advocaat in recent seasons, the Black Cats are fighting for their lives again - and this time have survival expert Sam Allardyce at the helm. A first win in seven games against relegation rivals Norwich last week gave them hope and now they are out of the bottom three after denting Arsenal's top-four ambitions with a 0-0 draw. Norwich and Newcastle know they have a real battle on their hands to finish above them.

5. IHEANACHO'S THE REAL DEAL

For shots to goals ratio there's no better striker than Manchester City's teenage prodigy Kelechi Iheanacho. Marcus Rashford might have grabbed the headlines across town at Old Trafford over the last couple of months, but Nigerian forward Iheanacho has a record to envy. In a 4-0 stroll over Stoke, where he exhibited his pace and power, he won a penalty and scored twice, making it 11 goals from 15 shots on target in all competitions this season. Next season he should blossom further under incoming City boss Pep Guardiola. On Tuesday he might have a role to play from the bench as City go in search of Champions League glory against Real Madrid.

Press Association

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