Thursday 22 February 2018

Eight things we learnt from the Premier League this weekend

Arsenal's Aaron Ramsey applauds the fans after the the Barclays Premier League match at The KC Stadium
Arsenal's Aaron Ramsey applauds the fans after the the Barclays Premier League match at The KC Stadium

Aaron Ramsey should have been among player of the year nominees; Raheem Sterling could shine at the World Cup; David Moyes has little stock and more.

1. Aaron Ramsey should have been among the PFA Players' Player of the Year award nominees

In his first Premier League start since spending a long spell on the sidelines, Aaron Ramsey showed why he's been so badly missed by Arsenal. Scoring a goal and playing a part in all of Arsenal's best work in the 3-0 win over Hull, the Welshman looked like the player that took Arsenal clear at the top of the Premier League table. That spell at the start of the season seems to have been forgotten judging by his omission from the PFA Players' Player of the Year nominees. He should have been included, despite missing much of the season.

2. Raheem Sterling might just take England further than most expect

Brendan Rodgers declared Raheem Sterling the best young player in Europe after his two goals against Norwich kept Liverpool on course for the title. It's difficult to argue with the Reds manager, the 19-year-old looks unplayable at the moment and is exuding confidence. If Roy Hodgson plays him at the World Cup, and manages to get that same level out of him, England might just escape the group of death.

3. David Moyes has little stock

After Manchester United put up a serious fight against Bayern Munich in the Champions League, David Moyes appeared to be given a little more credit. Despite a woeful season by the Red Devil's high standards, some saw signs that he might just be the man to take Manchester United forward. However, defeat to his old club Everton has seen all those doubts return and in just one game talk of him being axed in the summer has returned.

4. Hugo Rodallega’s a good sport

Such is the cynicism that cloaks the Premier League it is easy to forget there is still sportsmanship about. The moment when Hugo Rodallega embraced Hugo Lloris after the Tottenham keeper had saved wonderfully from him was a case in point.

Fulham desperately required something from White Hart Lane and this was their chance. They did, however, play well enough in a 3-1 defeat to suggest Felix Magath’s side may get enough from their remaining games against Hull, Stoke and Crystal Palace to survive.

5. Shola Ameobi’s timing was right

There were not many lights shining on the Tyne as Newcastle slipped to their fifth straight defeat with a 2-1 loss to Swansea City. However, as the World Cup grows ever nearer it was a good time for Shola Ameobi to find the net.

The Newcastle striker, who came to Tyneside as a five-year-old, spent years hoping to be picked by England before throwing in his lot with Nigeria, the country of his birth, and helping Stephen Keshi’s side qualify for Brazil via a play-off with Ethiopia. It was, however, Ameobi’s first league goal in nearly 24 hours of football since December 2012, when he scored the winner against Queen’s Park Rangers.

6. Tony Pulis has changed his spots

What is remarkable about Tony Pulis’s salvaging of Crystal Palace, emphasised at West Ham by a fifth straight win, is that it has been done contrary to the principles that brought him such success at Stoke. There has been no sign of what Arsène Wenger lampooned as “rugby tactics” and the pattern of results has been very different. Stoke under Pulis became notorious as a side that faded after the new year. Since the turn of the year, Palace have taken 27 points from 16 games – a rate of return that over a full campaign would guarantee European football.

7. Nice guys don’t come first

Cardiff may be going down screaming about leaked team sheets but they are hardly going down kicking. Their encounter with Stoke was a contest between the team with the best disciplinary record in the Premier League and the one with the worst – evidence that Mark Hughes has not changed everything about Stoke’s approach. Fittingly, it was a 1-1 draw decided by two penalties. The one converted by Peter Whittingham was the first Cardiff have been awarded this season, proof that the nice guys don’t get the breaks.

8. Draw fits the Villa pattern

When the League Managers Association holds its annual awards bash, Paul Lambert might like to seek out Gus Poyet and compare notes. Aston Villa and Sunderland have managed to screw up the simple things while playing astonishingly well against teams in the upper reaches of the Premier League. Saturday’s goalless draw with Southampton was a real achievement, given the chaos surrounding Villa Park. It fits a pattern in which Lambert’s team have overcome Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal, and outplayed Liverpool at Anfield, but faltered against almost everyone else.

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