Friday 23 February 2018

Five things to ponder after the midweek Premier League fixtures

David Moyes is refusing to give up on a title challenge
David Moyes is refusing to give up on a title challenge
Cormac Byrne

Cormac Byrne

The first midweek round of games in the Premier League was full of drama and quality. We look at the ramifications from last night's games.

1. David Moyes finally sees Everton win at Old Trafford and now stand in their way for Top Four finish

Manchester United’s title challenge looks all but over after Everton last night bridged a 21-year gap for a victory at Old Trafford but the Toffees might not end there in their torment of the Red Devils.

While their squad lacks the depth of others, Roberto Martinez has added to the formidable unit Moyes had created and the Merseysiders look like genuine Top Four contenders.

The Red Devils look lifeless at the moment and the fortress-feel that Old Trafford held under Fergie has evaporated.

All the talk has been of the gap to Arsenal this morning, the gap to the Top Four will soon may become the main source of anxiety soon.


2. Suarez fast-becoming the Premier League’s answer to Ronaldo and Messi

Since returning from his bite-related ban, the Uruguayan has been peerless and 13 goals in nine Premier League games this season is very special.

More than a goal a game is form on a par with the exploits of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi based solely on scoring stats but it’s the nature of the goals and his contribution that has everyone purring.

His incredible four goals against a hapless Norwich side last night were astounding, to produce such a concentrated level of quality now has him as the best player in the Premier League by a country mile.

Suarez is carrying Liverpool at the minute and lat Sunday’s performance at Hull was testament to the fact that they are not title contenders yet but the gap is narrowing.


3. Lack of a regularly scoring striker will bite Chelsea long term

Another away game and another blank for recognised Chelsea strikers but another three points.

On a night when Eden Hazard, Juan Mata and Willian were rampant, it is remarkable that Fernando Torres and substitute Demba Ba could not get among the goals.

The Spaniard skied over a glorious chance after a Hazard shot was parried into his path. Last month’s exploits suggested a return to form for El Nino but last night’s performance shows that he is unreliable.

Eto’o, Torres and Ba are being subsidised by Hazard, Lampard and Mata. Goalscoring midfielders are pivotal for success but 20-goals a season strikers are a necessity.

Chelsea have one but he’s wearing blue at Goodison Park.


4. Spurs ability to score from outside the area has Bale-d them out again

Another smashing left-foot effort rescued three points for Spurs but unlike last season the ball didn’t travel from the boot of a Welsh wizard.

Late goals typified the Londoners last year and Lewis Holtby’s smashing winner at Fulham gave us another reminder of what Spurs are missing and what Real have gained.

A worryingly high proportion of Spurs goals this season have come from outside the area or from the spot.

Bale could do it for fun last season but he no longer resides at the Lane and if AVB’s side are to maintain a serious challenge, the goals must come for Soldado and Defoe.


5. Can Man City’s away form stop their drive for the title?

Seven points from a possible 21 away from home is not good enough for a team with title aspirations.

No other team has the quality and positive age profile that Man City squad possesses but their ability to slug it out in the trenches remains in doubt.

Aguero and Toure were the matchwinners last night and although they were by far the better team they only won by the odd goal in five.

On the road, their defence looks suspect. Unreliable keepers with the likes of Clichy, Nastasic, Lescott, Kolarov and Demichelis in front of them will mean that City will have to hope that they score more than they concede away from home and that’s a risky tactic.

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