Friday 15 December 2017

Seven things we learnt from the Premier League this weekend

Liverpool's Phillippe Coutinho celebrates after he scores his teams winner
Liverpool's Phillippe Coutinho celebrates after he scores his teams winner

A look at what the latest round of Premier League action revealed.

1. Norwich show quick-fix plans do not always work

Norwich City’s run-in is so ferocious that the club staked everything, including the job of manager, Chris Hughton, on beating Fulham.

The theory was Hughton’s dismissal and his replacement by the youth-team coach, Neil Adams, would spark a sudden reaction that would take them to 35 points, which might be enough to survive.

2. Liverpool are beatable, but City took too long to realise

An emotionally charged Anfield started to believe they could be watching another Premier League demolition in their charge for the title, with Raheem Sterling inspiring a two-goal lead in the first half against Manchester City.

But when City took the attack to Brendan Rodgers' side unlike the opening 45 minutes, they quickly found success and the inspired introduction of James Milner helped them draw level.

Yes, the Reds upped their performance once more in the hunt of the eventual winner from Philippe Coutinho, but they were on the ropes before and Chelsea will need to have taken notice of how to beat the Reds at their own game.

3. Jose Mourinho had a striker all along

When Andre Schurrle started as a lone striker in the Champions League first leg defeat in Paris, Mourinho clearly felt he was out of options with his misfiring forward Fernando Torres, Samuel Eto'o and Demba Ba.

One substitute performance and one start later, and Ba looks a born-again talent, netting the winning goal against Swansea and the crucial second goal against PSG.

Prior to last week, Ba had made just three starts all season - two in the league - but Mourinho may have made a rare mistake in leaving the Senegalese star on the fringes this season.

4. Newcastle need Pardew to reconvene in the dugout

As he sat in the Britannia Stadium’s posh sheets surveying another Newcastle defeat, Alan Pardew had a good view of the banners calling for his dismissal.

Yet if Newcastle’s manager wanted to make a case for his being kept on, he should look at the results since he was banished for his head-butt on David Meyler.

The 1-0 defeat at Stoke was Pardew’s sixth match since he was forced to watch away from the dugout. Newcastle have lost five of them. They may need more of Pardew.

5. Villa’s Lambert will regret talking down the FA Cup

Before an FA Cup defeat by Sheffield United, Paul Lambert made one of those quotes that, taken out of context, will haunt him until he leaves Aston Villa.

Most Premier League managers, he said, could do without the distraction of the FA Cup. As United coped with the distraction of a semi-final, Villa registered their fourth straight defeat, at Crystal Palace.

6. Fans offer no guarantees

The great backing Sunderland receive from their fans has not helped them win many points. Their 1-0 defeat by Everton was their 10th at the Stadium of Light this season.

7. Mel can still save Albion

Under Pepe Mel, West Bromwich Albion have become the team that will concede late on. What has not been mentioned is that against Chelsea, Fulham and Swansea, West Bromwich have taken five points under Mel with late goals.

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