Matchday 16 of the Barclays Premier League bore witness to some breath taking football, huge wins, drab draws and two managerial casualties which showed the unpredictable nature of English football.
Matchday 16 of the Barclays Premier League was quite a spectacle as the two famous North London sides took a battering which would have surely dented their confidence. Arsenal were outclassed 6-3 by a clinical Manchester City side at the Etihad Stadium whereas Tottenham were made to look like boys versus men against an impressive Liverpool side as they were thrashed 5-0 at White Hart Lane. Manchester United got back to winning ways by defeating Aston Villa 3-0 at Villa Park and Chelsea edged out Crystal Palace 2-1 at Stamford Bridge with an edgy performance against a dogged Tony Pulis’ side. Everton once again showed everyone, the aura of invincibility at Goodison park with a bright performance at home by beating Fulham 4-1. Cardiff City were the only side in the bottom half to come away with a win this weekend, where they saw off West Brom with a 1-0 win which ultimately saw Steve Clarke lose his job.
Here are some of the talking points from the weekend where we saw as many as 30 goals scored and also the open nature of the Premier League where the results are very unpredictable.
Luis Suarez – Liverpool’s stand-in captain fantastic
Football fans and Liverpool supporters in particular, are so used to seeing a Scouser from Whiston single-handedly winning games for the Reds and helping Liverpool through tough situations. The sands of time have slightly changed now and Liverpool is dependent on the Uruguayan from Salto for that much needed inspiration.
Luis Suarez was given the captain`s armband on Sunday (in the absence of regular skipper Steven Gerrard and vice-captain Daniel Agger) and he made sure that his regular skipper wasn’t missed through his impressive leadership qualities which was instrumental for the Reds in their stunning win at White Hart Lane. Suarez scored two goals and made two assists on Sunday night which compounded Tottenham`s woes and cost Andre Villas Boas` job as Tottenham manager.
Brendan Rodgers, on the other hand would be a very happy man with his captain’s performance, and also proved his doubters wrong with his selection. It is safe to say that Liverpool are right up there in challenging for the coveted Premier League crown and if they continue to play like they did at White Hart Lane, then there are many teams which would be wary of facing Liverpool.
Manuel Pellegrini’s Manchester City are the team to beat this season
Something had to give at the Etihad stadium after the Premier League’s most successful home side faced the most successful away side on Saturday. Manchester City emphatically saw off Arsenal`s challenge at home, in what was an open game. Both the sides were guilty of defensive blunders which saw the game end 6-3 to City. Pellegrini would’ve once again been very pleased with his burgeoning centre-forward partnership in Aguero and Negredo tormenting opposition teams upfront. Fernandinho showed his class with two well taken goals and the City midfield of Toure, Nasri and Silva oozed confidence with their one-touch passing and quick movement.
The only down-side in that impressive win was the injury to Aguero and Pantilimon’s nervy outing in the City goal. Arsenal could have scored more goals on the day and Giroud in particular was the culprit as he could`ve tucked away at least two scoring opportunities. Arsene Wenger would be proud of the fact that his team showed character till the end and would be looking to get a prolific centre-forward in January to complement the fatigued Olivier Giroud and boost the North London side`s Premier League title hopes.
Renaissance for the red half of Manchester?
After two disappointing results at Old Trafford against Everton and Newcastle United, David Moyes’ men gave a good account of themselves with a 3-0 win at Villa park over Paul Lambert’s inconsistent side. Danny Welbeck, much derided for his lack of goals this season, showed his predatory instincts with two well taken goals and Tom Cleverley got on the score sheet as well. David Moyes would be pleased with Wayne Rooney`s performance as the England striker influenced the game in almost all areas of the pitch. Rooney looks determined to stop United`s season from getting into a rut, and if there is one player who can carry the team through this period of transition, then it is Wayne Rooney.
Moyes would have been impressed with Welbeck upfront and will hope he carries his form from Villa Park through to other games during the Premier League’s hectic festive period, especially in the absence of Robin Van Persie. Darren Fletcher`s return to the United line-up must have lifted the morale of the United squad and experienced players like him will be hoping to transform this disappointing season till now into something more memorable.
Steve Clarke’s sacking: A calculated risk or a horrendous mistake?
West Bromwich Albion was given a new identity when Steve Clarke arrived at the Midlands club at the start of last season. The former assistant coach to Kenny Dalglish at Liverpool (and Jose Mourinho at Chelsea) was a breath of fresh air at West Brom as they played an attacking, bullish brand of football which caught everyone’s eyes last season. Clarke`s record in 2013 as West Brom manager was not that impressive as the Baggies have won just seven of their 34 league games this calendar year. Having said that, West Brom have been very unlucky this season despite playing some quality football and coming away with something at Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge. It is a brave move by the Baggies hierarchy to sack Clarke, and the fans would be hoping that they find a quality manager to keep them in the Premier League.
Chelsea get back to winning ways
Chelsea huffed and puffed to a win against Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge on Saturday. It was not the typical Chelsea performance one would have expected. Jose Mourinho’s side usually maul teams in the lower half of the Premier League table when they visit the Bridge but Saturday`s performance was lackluster by Chelsea. Mourinho would be expecting much more from his plethora of talented midfielders and Saturday was one such day where they were off color. The disappointment at the Britannia Stadium might have been forgotten after the home win but Chelsea will be hoping for their misfiring strikers to contribute even more if they are to sustain their tag as one of the favorites for the premiership this season.
The current Premier League season has lived up to its billing as one of the most exciting and topsy-turvy since its inception, and going by this game week, the fans are in store for a cracker of a December.
- Manchester City have a goal difference of +30 at home in the 2013-14 Premier League, as against -1 away from the Etihad Stadium.
- Liverpool (5) have scored more goals in open play at White Hart Lane than Tottenham Hotspur (4) have the entire season thus far, in the Premier League.
- Marouane Chamakh has scored 4 goals from his last 5 shots on target in the league.
- Fulham have lost 7 of their last 8 games in the Premier League.
- With the sacking of Steve Clarke and Andre Villas-Boas, 5 managers out of 20 have lost their jobs before the halfway point of the 2013-14 Barclays Premier League.