EPL Winners and Losers: Patrice Evra, Luis Suarez, Thierry Henry and More
It's been another exciting weekend in English football with a whopping 36 goals scored total and the table really starting to shape up.
This game week had an unusual amount of crucial fixtures with two relegation clashes in Blackburn vs. QPR and Bolton vs. Wigan as well as two top of the table matchups in Tottenham vs. Newcastle and of course, Manchester United vs. Liverpool.
Believe it or not, there are more talking points from this weekend then just Luis Suarez snubbing Patrice Evra's handshake, so let's get right to the action.
Winner: Patrice Evra
Alright, so even though this isn't the only talking point, it's still surely the biggest.
After displaying his anger at Luis Suarez snubbing his handshake, Patrice Evra clearly had a bigger incentive to win this classic English rivalry, showing it with his animated celebrations after the final whistle.
After all this race row fuss, it would be nice to not hear anything about Evra, Suarez or handshakes the next time Manchester United and Liverpool face off, and to just focus on the football.
Nonetheless—Patrice Evra 1, Luis Suarez 0.
Winner: Wayne Rooney and Manchester United
Manchester United kept their pressure on league leaders Manchester City with a comprehensive 2-1 win over rivals Liverpool at Old Trafford.
It was one of those "scoreline didn't tell the whole story" wins where Manchester United took advantage of Liverpool's schoolboy defending to boss the play and create chance after chance, two of which a certain Wayne Rooney was on the right end of. The Red Devils seem to be back on the up, grabbing seven out of the last nine points from three crucial matches against Arsenal, Chelsea and now Liverpool.
Never count Fergie's men out of the title race—consistency late on in the season could end up giving them the push to steal the title from their noisy neighbors' hands.
Winner: Thierry Henry
I think Arsene Wenger said it perfectly—Thierry finished the story of a legend.
Thierry Henry is easily the best player in Arsenal history, now scoring a prolific 229 goals for the club as well as winning an abundance of silverware and being a member of the Invincibles. As this was his last performance in the Premier League in an Arsenal shirt, it couldn't be said more perfectly that his 90th-minute winner for the Gunners "finished the story of a legend."
Everton thumped Chelsea 2-0 at Goodison Park to extend their undefeated run to five matches and possibly spark the good run of form that David Moyes' side usually tend to have in the latter part of the season.
Although the win may have been down to Chelsea's awfulness—and we'll get to that later—Everton are proving that they're a force to be reckoned with at home and that they really are resilient enough to beat any side.
If the Toffees keep these sort of results up, they can surely expect a Top Eight finish.
Winner: Wigan Athletic
Wigan faced a do or die relegation clash at the Reebok Stadium this weekend against Bolton, where a loss would have deepened their hole at the bottom of the table, being a remote 4 points from anyone else.
But they didn't lose. Roberto Martinez's men rose to the occasion with a 2-1 win over the Rovers, keeping their hopes of staying in the Premier League alive but at the same time still remaining at rock bottom in the table.
Will they be able to pull off another Houdini and escape relegation? We'll see.
Winner: Blackburn Rovers
Believe it or not, Blackburn are actually out of the relegation zone.
In my opinion, Steve Kean's side have been the worst in the Premier League this season, but the table says it all, and the Rovers are currently sitting at 17th after their crucial 3-2 win over QPR.
These are the kinds of matches you absolutely have to win as a relegation contender if you want to stay up, and fortunately for Blackburn, they grabbed the vital three points, propelling themselves out of the drop zone. Nonetheless, the season isn't nearly over yet, so Steve Kean's men must push on and keep winning these sorts of matches.
Spurs smashed Newcastle 5-0 at White Hart Lane in what was supposed to be a relatively close match between third place and (at the time) fifth place.
A number of players shined on the day, including new boy Louis Saha, who bagged a brace, but in particular Emmanuel Adebayor, with the on-loan forward bagging four assists and a goal in a Man of the Match performance.
Spurs have been one of the surprises of the season, and not many people would've expected them to be Top Four finishers, but 25 Premier League game weeks have come and gone, and Harry Redknapp's side seem to have cemented their Champions League spot, 10 points clear of fifth place.
There seems to be a unanimous opinion that Spurs still won't win the title, but Champions League football is surely an achievement for the North London outfit.
Loser: Luis Suarez
Like I said before, it's Patrice Evra 1, Luis Suarez 0.
After snubbing Patrice Evra's handshake, it became apparent that Luis Suarez may never learn his lesson. The Liverpool forward is a troublemaker, a misfit—it's as simple as that.
I can't even remember how many controversies he's been involved with so far this season, and honestly, he just doesn't seem to be worth the trouble for Kenny Dalglish. The Reds would be better off just cashing in on the Uruguayan this summer.
No matter what happens to him, Luis Suarez will definitely be an interesting story to follow.
People who watched Liverpool lose to Manchester United on Saturday know that the 2-1 scoreline humbled the Reds.
Liverpool were, quite frankly, awful. They showed no creative spark on attack whatsoever, and by the end of the match they seemed to just be booting the ball up to Andy Carroll, hoping he'd get on the right end of it. Well, he didn't—because he's Andy Carroll.
And then there was the defense. For the second best defense in the Premier League with just 23 goals conceded, Liverpool really didn't show it. They practically let United walk the ball into their own 18-yard box and were very lucky not to have conceded at least three or four.
The race for a Top Four spot certainly isn't over, but with a few more performances like this, Liverpool will surely be out of contention for Champions League football.
Chelsea's season could very well be headed for a train wreck.
After the Blues' 2-0 loss to Everton on Saturday, Andre Villas-Boas stated that this was his side's worst performance of the season. Spot on, Andre.
The problem is, Chelsea have endured quite a lot of bad performances this season with the defense looking rusty and the attack looking toothless at times without a clinical forward. The London outfit will certainly be in the race for a Top Four spot, but at the same time we all know that Abramovich's ambition is to win the Champions League—not just to play it.
I'm a person who gives a lot of credit and respect to football managers, but frankly Andre Villas-Boas just doesn't seem to know what he's doing.
Well, so much for a revival.
Bolton is now officially fighting relegation and failing that fight too, as they showed with a 2-1 home loss to Wigan on Saturday. Like I keep reiterating, those are the types of matches relegation contenders have to win, and if you can't win at home to the team at rock bottom in the league, how can there be much hope of picking up points anywhere else?
Bolton were projected by many to be a mid-table club this season, but clearly something's just not ticking at the Reebok Stadium.
Loser: Queens Park Rangers
Despite all of his transfer dealings in the January window, Mark Hughes simply can't seem to get Queens Park Rangers up and running to prevent relegation for the West London outfit.
Losing 3-2 to Blackburn at Ewood Park certainly means that QPR are in the heat of the relegation battle, and Hughes will be hoping that his transfers start to gel in order to get some points on the board and stay in England's top tier. QPR have three crucial fixtures coming up with a West London derby at Loftus Road next, followed by a home match against Everton and then a relegation clash with Bolton at the Reebok.
It's crunch time for QPR.
Loser: Mick McCarthy
After a devastating 5-1 derby loss to West Brom at home, Mick McCarthy's time at Wolves is over.
It seemed like the ex-Wolves boss was doing a good job for awhile, keeping his side alive for a few seasons and doing the best possible job considering his limited resources. But this season has taken a turn for the worst, and apparently the crushing derby loss was the last straw for the Englishman.
Farewell Mick, and we hope to see you again in English football someday.
Loser: The Fight Against Racism
As entertaining as this Premier League season has been, it's also seemed to have taken a step back in terms of progression in the fight against racism in football.
There's been not one, but two racism rows, and it seems like every other week there's some racist tweet or a racist jibe by a fan. There are plenty of aspects of football that can be viewed with hate or disgust (cough...cough...diving), but racism is one that's just completely unacceptable.
It simply shouldn't be a part of the game, period.