Four of the top five teams claimed victory in the Premier League this weekend, whilst it was also all change at the bottom after a weekend that featured Manchester City reaching 100 goals this season and Liverpool’s Luis Suarez being the topic front of yet another diving debate.
On Saturday, City carried on their 100% home record in the league this season as they beat Cardiff City 4-2, whilst fellow title contenders Arsenal were 2-0 winners over Fulham thanks to a Santi Cazorla brace in the space of five minutes.
Liverpool however fell off the pace as they drew 2-2 at Aston Villa, whilst the day’s early kick-off featuring Sunderland and Southampton finished with the same scoreline.
Also at the bottom, Crystal Palace moved out of the drop zone by beating Stoke City 1-0 but West Ham United slipped into it, losing 3-1 to Newcastle United. Norwich City moved further to safety by beating Hull City 1-0.
On Sunday, we saw Chelsea keep up the pace at the top by beating Manchester United 3-1 thanks to Samuel Eto’o’s first hat trick in England.
Tottenham Hotspur also continued their good start under Tim Sherwood by beating Swansea City by the same scoreline. As I write, Everton and West Bromwich Albion’s encounter is yet to take place.
After that round-up, read below to find out five things I learned from the Premier League this weekend.
1. Manchester United are no longer title contenders
Before this weekend, although they sat in seventh 11 points off top, you felt that Manchester United could possibly push for the title, but they had to beat Chelsea on Sunday to stay in contention.
However, they were 2-0 down at half-time at Stamford Bridge, and despite playing fairly well, it wasn’t looking good.
But Samuel Eto’o’s third goal of the game early on the second half was pretty much the nail in the coffin for the Red Devils in the game and their title hopes.
There is now a 14 point gap between them and leaders Arsenal, and although they have reduced deficits, this one seems too big for David Moyes to handle, especially with games against Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool still to come. Even club captain Nemanja Vidic has admitted that they are out of the race.
Pushing for a place in the top four at this point seems a realistic target, for now at least.
2. The Hawk-Eye System works
As Edin Dzeko met David Silva’s cut back with a scuffed shot against Cardiff on Saturday, it was quickly hacked clear by the Bluebirds’ Kevin McNaughton, with the linesman not flagging for a goal as the ball was kicked away.
However, within seconds referee Neil Swarbrick gave the goal after Hawk-Eye informed him that the ball had in fact crossed the line, and City celebrated their 100th goal in all competitions this season.
It was the first time that the goal line technology had given a goal this season, and the efficiency it did so in with no delay shows that the system works perfectly.
It also added an extra excitement and confusion at the Etihad Stadium as fans were unsure what the decision was, with the celebrations coming in instalments.
3. Newcastle will struggle to hold on to Yohan Cabaye
Yohan Cabaye put himself firmly in the shop window this weekend after he put in another man of the match performance to help Newcastle beat West Ham 3-1.
The Frenchman scored two goals, one of which was a goal of the month contender, to take his tally up to seven this season, beating his haul for the whole of 2012-13.
His celebrations showed that he has won back the hearts of the Toon fans and players after declaring he wanted to join Arsenal in the summer.
But his performance has brought the speculation back, with Paris Saint-Germain rumoured to be set to bid £21 million for his services this week.
I’m sad to say that I wouldn’t be surprised if this deal came true, with money and Champions League football likely to draw Cabaye away from St. James’ Park.
4. Norwich City’s results are easy to predict
This may or may not be a good thing for Chris Hughton’s men, but you can usually judge by Norwich’s opponents before the game whether they will get a result or not.
If the Canaries are facing a side in the top ten, they are most likely to lose; with the last time they got a point from those teams being in August against Southampton, who were ninth at the time.
Yet against any of the bottom 10, they will usually earn something, like on Saturday when they beat Hull 1-0. Aside from a December defeat to Fulham, you have to go back to August, when they lost 1-0 at Hull for when they last did not.
The fact that they usually win games against teams around them could be vital in their survival hopes, but their results against these teams may have to be wins rather than draws, as they face Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal in their final four games.
5. Manchester United have lost their comeback spirit
Two years ago, Chelsea went 3-0 up early in the second half against Manchester United at Stamford Bridge, almost exactly what happened on Sunday when the two teams met.
However unlike on Sunday, in 2012, United came back from a seemingly impossible situation to draw 3-3 at the final whistle.
This of course was not the case yesterday and even when Javier Hernandez, who bagged the Red Devils’ equaliser in two years ago, scored in the 78th minute, it only felt like a useless consolation and not the start of a comeback.
Eight of the players who started for United in 2012 started on Sunday, so it clearly isn’t the squad, but the change of manager.
With Sir Alex Ferguson in charge, the Red Devils always seemed to believe that they could score at any time and had faith and courage which helped their many comebacks.
This mentality appears to have been lost since the appointment of David Moyes as Fergie’s successor.
This article is also being published on Touchline Talk, the website I write for. You can look at previous pieces of mine here: