Premier League: five things we have learnt from the weekend

With a top of the table clash in store at the Emirates and the first ever Welsh derby in the top-flight, the weekend just gone was always going to provide plenty of talking points and while it might not have been as revealing as many expected, there was plenty to digest.

Here’s five things we have learnt…

1) Arsenal are edging closer to be the real deal

Having only won at home against Spurs, Saturday’s clash with Liverpool had been billed as Arsenal’s first serious test in the Premier League this season.

The general feeling was that the Gunners had made the most of a relatively easy start but couldn’t be considered serious title challengers, given they had lost on home turf against Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League and Chelsea in the Capital One Cup.

However, the Gunners passed the test with flying colours, and are now a much more credible proposition than they were until two days ago. Things could get even better, were Arsene Wenger’s men to secure positive results in Dortmund and at Old Trafford next Sunday.

2) West Ham need a striker

Sam Allardyce opted yet again for a 4-6-0 line-up which is borne out of necessity, rather than choice. The Hammers have won only once in their last five Premier League games and, more worryingly, have scored only four goals in the process, with three of them coming in the 3-0 win at White Hart Lane.

With Andy Carroll still nursing an injury, West Ham’s lack of goalscoring options could become a heavy burden for Allardyce’s men, who are only two points clear of the relegation zone.

The Hammers must address the problem in January, with Demba Ba being touted as a possible option. 

3) Spurs have a striker but lack goals

Unlike their neighbours, Spurs have a reasonable amount of attacking options, none of which seems to be working at the moment. Well, not in the league anyway.

Spurs’ 0-0 draw at Goodison Park moved them in the much-coveted Champions League spot, but could not masquerade the fact that Andre’ Villas-Boas’ side have a problem in the final third of the pitch.

A point away at Everton isn’t necessarily a bad result, but pressure is growing on Roberto Soldado and Spurs’ other expensive signings to start finding the net, given that, 12 months ago, at this stage of the season AVB’s men had already found the net 17 times in the league compared to the nine goals they’ve scored in the current campaign.

4) Lee Cattermole is a liability

A week ago, Lee Cattermole produced an outstanding performance as Sunderland picked up a much-needed win against Newcastle to lift themselves off the bottom of the table.

On Saturday, with his team 1-0 down against Hull, the former Wigan midfielder received his seventh red card of his Premier League after a late and foolish studs-up challenge on Ahmed Elmohamady.

Andrea Dossena also received a straight red, but Cattermole’s lack of discipline and woeful track record are exactly the sort of burden Gus Poyet can’t afford to be dealing with as he tries to steer his side clear of the relegation zone.

Cattermole’s poor disciplinary record is all the more appalling considering he’s one of the senior players in the squad and expected to be an example for his team-mates.

5) Anything can happen in the Premier League

For years the Premier League has prided itself for being one of the most unpredictable leagues in Europe, a concept that was far-fetched at the best of times, given the regularity with which the big clubs secured wins against the bottom sides.

This season, however, the league has been increasingly difficult to predict. Chelsea and Manchester City have both suffered unexpected set backs, while Manchester United struggles have been well documented.

The Premier League could be set for its more entertaining title race in years, but whether Newcastle win against Chelsea are due to an overall improvement in the league’s level, rather than to the big clubs allowing their standards to drop remains to be seen.

 

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