Wednesday 22 November 2017

Five things we learned about the Premier League this weekend

John Terry netted a dramatic stoppage-time equaliser to earn Chelsea a 3-3 draw with Everton on Saturday
John Terry netted a dramatic stoppage-time equaliser to earn Chelsea a 3-3 draw with Everton on Saturday

Jim van Wijk

Leicester went top of the table on Saturday night, only to be edged out by Arsenal 24 hours later, while Manchester United nicked a 1-0 win at Liverpool on Sunday and Chelsea snatched a dramatic 3-3 draw deep into stoppage time against Everton at Stamford Bridge.

Here, Jim van Wijk takes a look at what was learned over the weekend in the Barclays Premier League.

1. It ain't over until it is over....

As the saying goes, play to the whistle. Perhaps there was a tad more than the 'minimum' of the allocated seven minutes played when John Terry flicked in an offside equaliser for Chelsea. But whether you want to blame Everton for over-egging their celebrations following what should have been a winner in the last of the regulation 90, credit to the Blues for battling on until the referee says time is finally up.

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John Terry celebrates scoring the third goal for Chelsea Reuters / Stefan Wermuth

2. It is easy to see referees, and their assistants, need a little bit of help

For some, video technology cannot come soon enough. Certainly referee Mike Jones and assistant Peter Kirkup could have done with a quick glance at an instant replay, beamed instantaneously straight to their smart watch, when Terry tucked the ball away despite having sneaked a couple of yards ahead of the last Everton defender. If the Premier League is to hold itself as the greatest sports entertainment on the globe, then it has to get these game-changing moments right. Embracing such vital new technology sooner rather than later must be the way forwards, just as the goal decision system has proven.

3. The Premier League is a whole new ball game for Jan

"Hopefully he'll learn quickly" was the blunt assessment of Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce as Belgian defender Jan Kirchhoff endured a Premier League debut to forget when coming on at Tottenham. After being dragged all over White Hart Lane chasing Harry Kane before tripping Danny Rose, the former Bayern Munich man will probably have been glad when the full-time whistle went. A tough first 31 minutes in English football it might have been, but one which will make Kirchhoff stronger for the battles ahead to help keep the Black Cats up.

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LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 16: (L to R) Wes Brown, Jan Kirchhoff and Billy Jones of Sunderland applaud the supporters after their 1-4 defeat in the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Sunderland at White Hart Lane on January 16, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

4. Manchester United against Liverpool isn't really a big game any more

Despite Wayne Rooney wheeling away after scoring the goal which secured United a 1-0 smash-and-grab raid at Anfield, the one-time clash of the Premier League titans was hardly vintage stuff. Forget the pre-match rhetoric of rival bosses Jurgen Klopp and Louis van Gaal, the truth is both these teams are a long way from mounting a sustained challenge on the title. Battling for a place in the top six or, at a push, the top four is a more realistic goal - and one which shows just how far down the pecking order these two great clubs now find themselves.

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Football Soccer - Liverpool v Manchester United - Barclays Premier League - Anfield - 17/1/16 Liverpool's Emre Can looks dejected after Wayne Rooney (2nd R) scored the first goal for Manchester United Reuters / Phil Noble Livepic EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 45 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.

5. Someone needs to get a grip at the top of the table

The longer the campaign goes on, the less we appear to learn about where the final destination of the Premier League trophy will be come May. Leicester came away from bottom club Aston Villa with a point, but will feel it should have been three after missing a penalty. Arsenal also failed to pick up an away victory, but will probably be just about happy enough with a draw at Stoke, where they have so often come unstuck in the past. The big winners of the weekend were Manchester City, who demolished a fading Crystal Palace side 4-0 at the Ethiad Stadium. Expect the lead to change hands again, before maybe in February when one side will actually lay down a marker for the run-in.

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Sergio Aguero scored twice as Manchester City beat Crystal Palace 4-0

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