There were plenty of shocks this weekend as Bournemouth and Newcastle beat Chelsea and Liverpool respectively, while Stoke stunned Manchester City. Well, this is certainly turning out to be one of the most interesting Premier League seasons for some time.
Going into this weekend’s games already there had been some crazy results this season, but we got a whole bunch of them at once. Stoke kicked off the action by beating Manchester City 2-0 and that was the theme of the weekend set as Bournemouth went on to stun Chelsea 1-0 at Stamford Bridge. And on Sunday, struggling Newcastle beat in-form Liverpool to hand Jurgen Klopp his second defeat since arriving.
Phew! Here’s what else we learned from weekend’s action.
1. Chelsea’s brief revival has been a false dawn
Yes, they turned up the heat by halftime but the pattern of the game would have been very different had Bournemouth scored with the chances they had had during the first half. At times you couldn’t believe your eyes as Harry After, Dan Gosling, Junior Stanislas and Josh King cut the Blues apart during that first period with moves to fashion shooting opportunities. Yes, the first 45 minutes ended with the stats showing Chelsea had had 10 attempts to Bournemouth’s nine with four on target for the home side and three for the visitors. But the manner of the way in which Bournemouth took the game to the ailing Champions – then finished them off – will have worried the home fans and Jose Mourinho.
2. Diego Costa continues to offer Chelsea nothing
He came on as a second half sub. He got himself booked. He argued with the ref and he missed the chance to score from Ivanovic’s ball into the box. What does Remy have to do to get in?
3. Confidence is everything for Arsenal
Arsenal’s season is on a knife edge. They’ve been on a bad run, have looked flat and are definitely jaded. They’ve also got injuries, but go through the Arsenal team. Yes, they’ve got injuries. But the starting XI was decent. Very offensive, but decent. They were sluggish and rather lethargic at times had quite a few things missing but the biggest was confidence. Arsenal must have looked at West Brom, Norwich, Sunderland and Aston Villa and thought they were four games they should win to strengthen their title hopes. It’s been a struggle and they were hardly convincing against Sunderland. But the lift that Giroud’s goal gave them was huge. Get some belief back and Arsenal can yet have a decent title push…
4. Manchester United DO need Rooney
Louis van Gaal needed Wayne Rooney on the pitch rather than sharing a bag of sweets with his son Kai in the directors box. Van Gaal rested Rooney against West Ham, claiming he has an ankle injury, and United badly missed his energy as they laboured up front.
5. City are badly missing Kompany
Without their skipper Vincent Kompany, City can’t defend. At all. It is a long held truth, but remains so, even after they have invested almost £80m in finding a replacement at centre half. They don’t have one, and until they do, they’ll always be vulnerable.
6. Mahrez is worth his weight in gold to Leicester
Leicester should be doing their all to keep Riyad Mahrez as well as Jamie Vardy. The Algerian is one of the league’s most exciting players and an absolute nightmare for defenders, as Swansea’s will testify. He has all the attributes to be a star winger – quick, tricky and is a huge goal threat. His brilliant hat-trick made it 10 goals this season, an excellent return from a wide man, and made him joint second top scorer in the league.
7. Roy Hodgson would have been impressed with Dele Alli
New England attacking midfielder Alli was arguably Spurs’ man of the match against West Brom. He opened the scoring with a clinical finish and produced a series of clever flicks and passes to underline his promise and impress the on-looking Hodgson. Albion even had to resort to ripping Alli’s shirt to try to stop him.
8. Deeney and Ighalo are the dream ticket for Watford
What would Watford’s twin strikers be worth if big clubs and their oligarchs came calling in next month’s transfer window? They needn’t bother wasting their broadband width or fax paper Hornets owner Gino Pozzo wouldn’t cash in on top scorer Odion Ighalo or skipper Troy Deeney for all the tea in China and oil in Abu Dhabi. Individually, Deeney and Ighalo are not the best players in the Premier League, but they are arguably the best partnership and both scored against Norwich in a 2-0 win .
9. Villa fans have a great black humour. And they need it
Every week, home and away, Villa fans continued to turn up and cheer on their team and did just that during the 1-1 draw at Southampton. They know they are rubbish – “You must be **** if you haven’t scored against us” – but still managed to see the funny side of yet another season-long relegation fight.
10. Liverpool can’t just turn up and expect to win
Klopp’s men lacked edge in their 2-0 defeat at Newcastle. The sparkle wasn’t there. Jordon Ibe was the liveliest on show, but the ruthless cutting edge of recent weeks was missing. Their best chances came when Daniel Sturridge was brought on late in the game. But he ended up scuffing his best opening wide. Moreno saw his sweet strike chalked off by the linesman’s flag before Wijnaldum sealed victory for the home side.