Premier League: five lessons we have learnt from the weekend

With almost two thirds of the season gone, the Premier League remains incredibly open at both ends, while Manchester United’s problems seem endless and City just can’t stop scoring.

Here’s five things we’ve learnt from the weekend.

1) Moyes has been badly let down

For 15 minutes yesterday Manchester United looked like a side with a plan and determination in spades to see that plan through, but as soon as Samuel Eto’o scored his first, United evaporated.

David Moyes will be under even more intense pressure after another defeat, but the way his men reacted to going behind and to Eto’o's second goal spoke volume for the resignation that seems to have insinuated within the camp.

Losing to Chelsea away from home without Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie isn’t a tragedy by any stretch of imagination, but the lack of fight and desire showed by some of United’s elder players was unexpected and extremely worrying as far as Moyes is concerned.

Moyes will take the blame, but his players have let him down.

2) Same old Liverpool?

Earlier in the season, when his side were being hailed as potential title challengers, Brendan Rodgers warned that his men needed to develop a cutting edge that they had at times lacked against smaller clubs last season.

After Saturday’s draw against Villa, Rodgers’ words rang truer than he would have wished, for Liverpool were outplayed for 45 minutes and struggled to get back into a game they were widely expected to win.

Liverpool have come a long way this season, but scraping three points against smaller sides when not playing well – or when Luis Suarez doesn’t produce his usual moment of brilliance – is what separates serious title challengers from the rest and Rodgers’ men are still some way off.

3) Sherwood proving critics wrong

Tim Sherwood’s appointment received a rather lukewarm reception, with the Spurs manager doing little to prove the critics wrong as his side were torn apart by Arsenal earlier this month.

Things, however, have gradually changed for Sherwood and his side and what a positive change it’s been.

Tactically a world away from Andre’ Villas-Boas, Sherwood’s direct approach (some would say archaic) has delivered its results, with Spurs winning five of the last six games – a record matched by Arsenal and Chelsea and bettered only by Manchester City – and are outside the top four just only on goal difference.

Having spent a huge amount of money on players, Sherwood’s appointment was an uncharacteristically understated move from Daniel Levy, but it might just prove to be what Spurs needed.

4) Tight at the bottom

If the race to avoid relegation was tight on Friday, it got a whole lot tighter after this weekend, with Crystal Palace and Norwich the only sides in the bottom 10 to pick up three points.

Under Tony Pulis Palace look a completely revitalised side, while Norwich’s late winner against Hull gave Chris Hughton some much needed breathing space, a luxury that is quickly running out for Sam Allardyce.

The Hammers’ abject performance was a step back from last week’s win at Cardiff and leaves West Ham bottom on the table, level on points with Sunderland and Cardiff but with a better goal difference.

Things aren’t rosy in Wales either, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer still to pick up a Premier League point, while Swansea’s rollercoaster season has now put them perilously closed to the bottom three.

With six teams within three points – possibly seven, if West Brom lose at home tonight – we could be set for one of the tightest finishes in Premier League’s history.

5) Can Arsenal go all the way?

The more people extend them to falter, the more momentum Arsenal seem to gain and while over the last few seasons games against Villa and Fulham could have been banana skins for the Gunners, Arsene Wenger’s men have negotiated them with ease this year.

The Gunners’ defensive solidity is a welcome change for a side that had too often looked shaky at the back, but the lack of an alternative to Olivier Giroud could prove detrimental and doubts remain over whether Arsenal will manage to cope with three competitions between now and May.

With City’s free-scoring machine showing no sign of stopping, Arsenal might have to turn to the past if they’re to land a first Premier League title in 10 years.

After all, “1-0 to the Arsenal” did the job. 

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