Another action-packed weekend of Premier League football has been and gone. There were massive games at the top and bottom of the league as teams fight tooth and nail for their causes.
Here’s a look at five things we learned from the best of the action.
Stuttering Spurs lose vital ground in title race
Spurs have always been rank outsiders for the title, that is if people ever even included them in the race before this weekend. A 2-1 defeat to Burnley at Turf Moor on Saturday will suck the remaining life out of those title aspirations though, as they crashed backed down to the Lancashire earth following their Champions League heroics.
Mauricio Pochettino was left to fume at the officials following their controversial decision to give a corner which lead to Chris Wood’s opening goal. If the Argentine is to be truly honest with himself though, he’ll know his side simply wasn’t at the races and were ambushed by a Burnley team that is bang in form. They are not mathematically out of it by any means, but they face a big gap to claw back on the top two as things stand.
Manchester United v Liverpool fails to deliver
The neutrals were purring over this one going into the weekend. With Ole Gunnar Solskjaer taking the handbrake off this wonderfully talented Manchester United team, the hope was they would play a high flying Liverpool in an open, attractive game. They were wrong. It was a cagey match in which Liverpool enjoyed more possession but lacked the top class cutting edge they needed to win a game of this importance.
United for their part, recovered well from a first half nightmare of injuries which saw; Juan Mata, Ander Herrera, and Jesse Lingard all withdrawn, whilst Marcus Rashford was left on despite clearly not being at full capacity. Both sides desperately wanted to win this one, but ultimately cancelled each other out, which has happened quite often in the recent history between these two giants of the game.
Time up for Puel as Foxes hunted down by the Eagles
The King Power Stadium was left to ring out to the chorus of boos and jeers from the home supporters as their side was roundly thumped 1-4 by Crystal Palace on Saturday evening. Claude Puel’s nightmare 2019 continued as his side where flayed on the counter by an impressive Palace side who had their tails up in the second half.
The Frenchman cut an exasperated figure on the sidelines as his team failed all over the park. The defeat leaves the Foxes in 12th place and was their fifth in the last six games. His senior players deserve their share of flack for this dire run, but ultimately the board made the call to close the book on Puel’s tenure at Leicester City after just 16 months in charge.
Watford continue to confound the doubters
It’s very much a case of the Hornets flying below the radar this season, as Javi Garcia’s men have elbowed their way up the table. Their thumping 1-5 win away at Cardiff on Friday night, gave them an 11th league victory so far and leaves them eight in the table with 40 points.
They have invested in some wonderfully skillful and capable footballers like; Gerard Deulofeu, Roberto Pereyra and Abdoulaye Doucoure in recent windows as they flexed their top-flight financial muscle. This gradual improvement has seen them avoid the pitfalls of constantly churning managers and the quality of football on display at Vicarage Road this season has been excellent. They simply took a stunned Cardiff City apart with quick, aggressive play and now look right at home in the Premier League’s top eight as things stand.
Newcastle reap the January transfer window rewards
For the first time in almost 14 years, Newcastle United fans were treated to the home debut of a club record signing. On Saturday their fans finally caught a glimpse of their new £20 million man Miguel Almiron and they were not left disappointed.
The Magpies were revitalized and played with real hunger, albeit against the depleted ranks of a ten man Huddersfield Town. Their fans will not care though as they watched the Paraguay international star in the centre of everything positive that Newcastle did.
The forward hit the post after a rapid counter in the early exchanges and was firing shots off from almost every angle throughout the game. He failed to score in their dominant 2-0 win, but an assist and a wonderfully encouraging display will leave the St James’s Park faithful feeling all the more positive about their survival chances. A tip of the cap to Sean Longstaff as well, who was outstanding in the middle of the park for Rafa Benitez’s men, as they look to turn a corner and pull away from the drop zone this season.