A breathless weekend of football came to an end after a bumper Sunday crammed with great action. Here’s a look at five things we learned from this weekend’s dosage of Premier League madness.
Newcastle back down to earth with a bump
Any Newcastle fan would have taken their current league position a few weeks ago. Three straight wins by Benitez’s men had done much to lift the spirits at Newcastle.
However, their comprehensive home defeat by West Ham is a real jarring moment for them. The Hammers were excellent and showed they had the right quality to stave off any real danger this season, Newcastle couldn’t get anywhere near them.
In a game with two former Real Madrid coaches on the touchline it was a real polarising match up, which shows Newcastle are still some way from safety. Despite their recent upturn in form, they are in need of serious investment to really pull away from the danger zone this season.
Burnley are a mess
Last season’s best of the rest, Burnley, have been really out sorts so far this season. Their performance away at Palace in a 2-0 defeat was perhaps their worst under Sean Dyce in the Premier League.
Their popular manager stressed the need for his side to rediscover some of the basics, after the game, however, with just eight points from their opening fourteen, they look in critical condition. They need points and fast over this busy Christmas period, the worry will be though, is their leaky back four, which is nowhere near the level it was at last season. Dyche has his work cut out in Lancashire.
Two good, two bad from United
It was another night of frustration for Manchester United as they toiled for a point down at Southampton. Mourinho had bullishly predicted his side would be back in the top four after this Christmas period. While it’s not mathematically impossible, they must now make up eight points and hope for an unlikely capitulation above them in the table.
Results like an away draw at Southampton aren’t going to help either, nor will yet another sluggish performance. Yes they showed real determination to drag themselves back into the game at St Mary’s, but it was yet another tale of slow starts and half baked performances by some of their star men. They are yet to put together any convincing form this season and risk giving themselves far too much to do, in their quest for a top four finish. A point from 2-0 down is not a disaster, but they need so much more from their talented squad.
Arsenal show no signs of slowing down
In the best game of the weekend by far, Arsenal put down a real statement piece with their victory over Spurs in the North London Derby. A feisty game saw Arsenal come from behind to win against a shell shocked spurs, with a real easy on the eye performance. Emery’s men were already brimming with confidence thanks to their early season exploits. This result should provide yet another big boost going into a crucial phase of the campaign.
More than just bragging rights though, this result proved Arsenal are not just here to make up the numbers, they are a top four contender, and at this particular moment, fourth looks the least they are capable of under their talented Spanish coach. Aubameyang also deserves special praise for this second goal of the day, which is a goal of the season contender if ever there was one.
Liverpool made to dig very, very deep over impressive Everton
Before the 232nd Merseyside derby, Jurgen Klopp stated that this was the best Everton side that he had faced as Liverpool manager. The performance by The Toffees at Anfield did much to validate that statement. For a significant chunk of the game they were not just in the contest, but making Liverpool work. Silva’s men moved the ball cleverly and with menace. Andre Gomes was the best player on the pitch by far and they came mightily close to snatching the first goal, being first denied by Alisson and the Joe Gomez on the line.
Liverpool did eventually get on top though and for the last twenty minutes, Everton shrank further and further back. The late howler by Jordan Pickford to allow Divock Origi in for a 96th minute winner will sting and hurt, but the fact they made Liverpool work so hard for their win should give Silva a lot of encouragement. The red half of Merseyside will be buzzing though and reflecting on their side finding a way to win yet again and stay right on City’s tail at the top.