Five things I learned from the Premier League this weekend

eden hazard

Chelsea moved to the top of the Premier League with a 3-0 win against Fulham after taking advantage of Manchester City and Arsenal dropping points.

Whilst Eden Hazard’s hat trick helped the Blues to victory, the Gunners had just suffered an embarrassing 5-1 defeat to Liverpool and the City failed to hit their usual prolific form as they drew 0-0 at Norwich City.

Elsewhere on Saturday, Swansea City ran out 3-0 winners over Cardiff City in the South Wales derby, whilst West Bromwich Albion dropped into the drop zone after a 3-1 defeat at Crystal Palace.

West Ham United and Hull City were 2-0 away winners at Aston Villa and Sunderland respectively, whilst Southampton and Stoke City played out a 2-2 draw at St. Mary’s.

On Sunday, Tottenham Hotspur beat Everton 1-0 in a crucial game in the race for a European spot, whilst Manchester United’s season went from bad to worse as they dropped more points at home to bottom club Fulham in a 2-2 draw.

With the no games on Monday, the table at the end of the weekend sees Chelsea at the top, with Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool taking up the remaining Champions League places. At the bottom, the relegation zone is made up of West Brom, Cardiff and Fulham.

Find out five things we learned from last weekend’s action by clicking on the ‘next’ button below.

1. January signings could be crucial come the end of the season

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Well, certainly at the bottom. When Crystal Palace beat West Brom 3-1 on Saturday, three of the four goals were scored by January signings.

Tom Ince, one of Palace’s signings, was particulary impressive and it seems that it could be Tony Pulis’ January business that keeps the Eagles in the Premier League come May.

It took the England under 21 winger just 15 minutes to hit the back of the net, and if he continues to put in impressive performances, there will plenty of offers from big clubs when he returns to Blackpool from his loan in the summer.

Fellow Palace debutant Joe Ledley also scored, whilst West Brom new boy Thievy Bifouma got the Baggies’ only goal at Selhurst Park.

Elsewhere in the bottom half of the table, Shane Long and Nikica Jelavic scored Hull’s winning goals against Sunderland and Peter Odemwingie got off the mark for Stoke against Southampton.

2. Manchester City can be kept out

man city 0-0

Think back to the beginning of November and you’ll remember Manchester City hitting seven goals past Norwich City at the Etihad Stadium.

Against the same opposition on Saturday afternoon, they only managed two shots on target as they drew 0-0 and fell to third in the table. Oh how things can change.

After losing 1-0 to Chelsea last Monday, the result at Carrow Road ensured that the Citizens failed to score in consecutive Premier League games for the first time since January 1 2012 and meant they surrendered the chance to move to the top of the Premier League.

The stubborn Canaries were rarely troubled by Manuel Pellegrini’s side, with the absence of Sergio Aguero proving a key factor.

It isn’t to say that City can’t score when the Argentine isn’t in the side, but a lot of firepower is lost when he is out so his return will be a welcome sight for Pellegrini.

3. Liverpool are still in the title race

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Despite what Brendan Rodgers says, Liverpool are still in contention to lift the Premier League crown come May.

Just last month the Reds boss stated that his side “would never give up the fight” but in the week after watching Chelsea beat Manchester City at the Etihad, the Irishman said “…I wouldn’t say for us this year, no. We wouldn’t be challengers for it.”

However, I don’t see how after beating Arsenal, who led the table at start of the weekend, so convincingly, you can rule the Reds out.

Their four goals in the opening 20 minutes shows that anything is possible and with the partnership of Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez, they will always be a danger going forward.

The win takes the Reds to within five points off the Gunners in second and six off Chelsea in first. It’s obviously a big ask, but with City and the Blues still to visit Anfield, who knows?

4. Is this Manchester United’s worst season of modern times?

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David Moyes and his Manchester United players have endured what is likely to be one of the tougher seasons in their careers.

After romping to the title in style just last season, the Premier League champions have struggled all campaign, were ruled out of the title race early on and are now left desperately fighting for a top-four spot.

However, when bottom club Fulham visited Old Trafford on Sunday, it was seen as an opportunity to raise the spirits at the club, especially after teams around had dropped points 24 hours earlier.

Things started poorly for the hosts as Steve Sidwell shocked the home crowd as he put the Cottagers a goal to the good. United did show resilience and spirit, however, grabbing two goals in as many minutes through Michael Carrick and Robin van Persie as order looked to be restored.

But a tense finale saw the hosts crack under pressure and concede a 90th-minute Darren Bent leveller, piling more misery on their manager.

5. Garry Monk has the makings of being a good manager

garry monk

Of course a manager’s career isn’t based on just one result, but Garry Monk got off to the best possible start as Michael Laudrup’s replacement at Swansea by beating Cardiff 3-0 in the South Wales derby on Saturday.

First off, Monk had the sense to make up with Chico Flores, who may have threatened him with a brick in training but is a key member of the Swansea defence. The Spaniard was picked from the start by Monk.

Moreover, following a non-event of a first half at the Liberty Stadium, the 34 year old boss displayed initiative in replacing the energetic but limited Marvin Emnes with the more composed Pablo Hernandez at half-time.

The result was immediate, as Hernandez sent Wayne Routledge clear for the opening goal of the game on 47 minutes, with the further strikes from Nathan Dyer and Wilfried Bony only adding to Swansea’s perfect day.

If he can get the Swans safe from relegation as soon as possible, he will certainly make a huge claim to get the job permanently in the summer.

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This article is also being published on Touchline Talk, the website I write for. You can look at previous pieces of mine here:

http://www.touchlinetalk.com/author/olly-allen/

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