5 Things We Learned from Premier League Weekend

Neri SteinFeatured ColumnistJanuary 2, 2012

5 Things We Learned from Premier League Weekend

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    The English Premier League rang in the New Year with a few too many draws, but the shocking defeats were certainly enough to excite football fans everywhere. 

    Chelsea finally stopped drawing and lost 3-1 to Aston Villa at home, and Manchester United and Manchester City each lost as well to Blackburn and Sunderland, respectively. 

    But January always bring with it hope, in the form of the winter transfer window that is. 

    Let's see what we learned from the final games of 2011 and the first of 2012. 

Sir Alex Ferguson Had a Very Bad Birthday

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    In the shock of the season, so far, Manchester United lost to Blackburn 3-2 at Old Trafford on Saturday, which really must've spoiled Sir Alex Ferguson's 70th birthday celebrations. 

    Blackburn were up 2-0 thanks to Yakubu before a recently resurgent Dimitar Berbatov drew United level. Then in the 80th minute, Grant Hanley headed in the winner to give the Premier League's then-bottom club a stunning victory and a precious three points. 

    Ferguson was without many of his usual charges, including Wayne Rooney, who was dropped for injury reasons, not disciplinary ones, according to the club. 

    United had been on a hot streak of late, having posted back-to-back 5-0 wins and having won all five of their league games in December. 

    The Red Devils are still level on points with Manchester City at the top of the table, but it's clear the January transfer window couldn't have come soon enough for Sir Alex.

    With Nemanja Vidic out for the season, a centre-back is a must for the defending champions, and Welsey Sneijder wouldn't hurt, either. 

Andre Villas-Boas Not the Only One in Trouble at Chelsea

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    Chelsea had drawn three straight matches before they lost 3-1 to Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, and manager Andre Villas-Boas shouldn't be the only one feeling the heat. 

    If results don't pick up in the next month, AVB will almost certainly be out, but to save his job, he needs to attempt as much of a rebuild as he can in the January transfer window.

    Frank Lampard should get used to more time on the bench, as the Blues simply need to move in a younger direction. And like Manchester United, Chelsea's defense has been their weakest link this season and clearly needs reinforcement in January. 

    It's also time to say goodbye to Fernando Torres. Roman Abramovich's dream just isn't going to come true, and with Euro 2012 just months away, the Spaniard knows he needs playing time to have any hopes at making the team. That won't happen at Chelsea. 

    Torres' situation, however, will depend on what happens with Didier Drogba. Chelsea probably doesn't want to sell the Ivorian, but it's clear they've already seen his best years. 

    Several other Chelsea players have rumors swirling around them, so look for the Blues to be one of the busiest clubs this month. 

Newly Promoted Sides Are Here to Stay

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    All three promoted sides have not stayed up the following year since Bolton, Blackburn and Fulham all did it in 2002, the only time it has been achieved since the start of the Premier League. 

    Norwich City, Swansea City and Queen's Park Rangers are looking to make it happen again. 

    The clubs sit in the 11th, 15th and 17th positions, respectively, with a long way to go, but they are all certainly looking better than Wigan, Blackburn and Bolton, the clubs that have been in the relegation zone almost all season long. 

    QPR is only two points and one spot clear of the drop zone, so they are in danger, but they certainly won't give up without a fight. 

What's Wrong with Manchester City?

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    Manchester United and Chelsea have had injury problems, so some of their performances this season have not been incredibly surprising. Manchester City, on the other hand, has a loaded squad and really no excuses whatsoever for their recent slump.

    A loss to Chelsea for their first loss of the season on Dec. 12 and a 0-0 draw at West Brom last weekend followed by Sunday's last-gasp 1-0 loss at Sunderland has left City level on points with United and not looking like the surefire league champions who started the season and even won at Old Trafford 6-1. 

    If City are the same City they've been in recent years, they'll surely buy a couple more players in the January transfer window, but will that be enough to finish out the season with the Premier League trophy? 

    It's still City's trophy to lose, and right now they certainly look capable of doing just that. 

Get Ready for Transfer Window Fun!

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    The 2011 January transfer window was wild and crazy right up to the very end, and chances are 2012 will best it. 

    All the top sides will be making deals (even if Harry Redknapp says Tottenham has no deals to make, they'll be involved somehow), and plenty of them will be fighting over the same player. 

    Gary Cahill is being linked to Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool, while Chelsea and Manchester United should both be gunning for Inter Milan's Wesley Sneijder, unless the Blues go after Real Madrid's Kaka instead.

    Misfiring strikers Andy Carroll and Fernando Torres were much hotter purchases when they made deadline-day moves last year, but both could be on the way out again. 

    And there's sure to be much more as the month goes on. The winter transfer window is definitely a great time to be a fan of Premier League football!