Premier League: five things we have learnt from the weekend

The only reason many of us this morning didn’t discuss football is because we were too busy keeping an eye on the storm that affected the South of the country – well, some parts anyway – but the weekend offered many talking points.

Fernando Torres returning to form, Palace struggling and Joe Hart dropping another clanger, here’s what we’ve learnt from the weekend.

1) Torres is back

Well, sort of. British football’s most expensive player condensed his first two years in a Chelsea shirt in 90 minutes yesterday, ranging from the tragically poor to the utterly brilliant.

The Spaniard atoned for a comical first half miss by setting up Andre Schurrle for Chelsea’s opener, before seizing the moment to make the most of Joe Hart’s blunder and gift his side three points.

While he’s not the same striker who terrorised defences across the country in a Liverpool shirt, Torres has appeared more confident under Jose Mourinho and his performances could prove the difference between success and failure for Chelsea.

2) Time to drop Joe Hart?

It’s easy to highlight a goalkeeper’s mistake, particularly considering the amount of cameras covering the game in the modern age and the number of replays at our disposal.

Joe Hart, however, has been given a free ride for the large part of the last 18 months, with pundits and fans alike still marvelling at the performances the Manchester City stopper delivered in the 2011-12 season.

In truth, Hart was largely average in the second half last season and had made high profile mistakes against Cardiff, Aston Villa and Bayern Munich before yesterday’s blunder.

Only Hart himself will know why he came rushing off his line yesterday, thus allowing Fernando Torres to inflict City their third league defeat of the season away from home, and the feeling is that he remains number one choice for both club and country purely due to a lack of credible replacements.

3) Poyet’s big job starts now

As welcome and as important as the last-gasp win against Newcastle was, the hard job for Gustavo Poyet starts now.

Paolo Di Canio also enjoyed a seemingly cathartical success in the North East derby, but what many thought would be a start turned out to be one of the few positives about the Italian’s tenure on Wearside.

Poyet’s tactical decisions – Jack Colback restored to his traditional midfield spot, Steven Fletcher deployed up-front – have paid off against Newcastle but the former Brighton manager must now shape the euphoria deriving from the result into a catalyst to propel Sunderland up the table

4) Palace look doomed

Winning against league leaders Arsenal was hardly going to be an easy task, but after the Gunners were reduced to 10-man Palace twice squandered the sort of chance a side fighting to avoid relegation can not afford to miss.

With Ian Holloway gone, Tony Pulis looks set to be installed at Selhurst Park, but the feeling is that Palace’s problems lay on the pitch, rather than in the dugout as a poor recruitment policy could cost them the Premier League status they regained last May.

Three of Palace’s next four games are away, against West Brom, Hull and Norwich, with a home fixture against Everton sandwiched in between. Failure to pick up at least a win and a draw from those four games could be the final nail in the coffin.

5) Winter is here

Last night’s storm might have announced autumn’s arrival in spectacular and dangerous fashion, but football fans across the country needn’t reminder that winter is approaching as the Premier League introduced its high visibility over the weekend.

With temperatures set to drop even further over the next couple of months and floodlights on even for some of the 3pm matches, winter is definitely on its way and what a crucial time of the season it could prove to be.

Arsenal host Liverpool next week, before traveling to Manchester United eight days later, while the third week of November sees Everton hosting Liverpool and Spurs facing Manchester City at the Etihad. 

A winter wonderland indeed.

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