5 Things We Learned from Premier League Weekend

Neri Stein@neristeinFeatured ColumnistMarch 12, 2012

5 Things We Learned from Premier League Weekend

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    For the first time since October, Manchester City have lost their grip on the top spot in the Premier League. 

    City led the league for more than four months, but a 1-0 loss at newly promoted Swansea City on Sunday saw Manchester United take the top spot from their noisy neighbors.

    Meanwhile, Chelsea eked out a 1-0 win at home opposite Stoke in their first match under new interim manager Roberto Di Matteo, and Liverpool continued to baffle and disappoint with an uninspiring 1-0 loss at Sunderland. 

    Tottenham lost their third Premier League match in row for the first time since Harry Redknapp took over in late 2008, and the cries for goal-line technology got even louder with a missed call in Bolton's 2-1 win over Queens Park Rangers. 

    Arsenal and Newcastle have yet to kick off at Emirates, but there was plenty more to take away from this weekend in England. 

Liverpool Need an Implosion

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    Liverpool suffered an embarrassing performance, culminating in a 1-0 loss at Sunderland Saturday, which is starting to become expected from the once-mighty Reds. 

    Kenny Dalglish's side may have won the Carling Cup this season for their first trophy in almost six years, but a club of Liverpool's stature—one that has also spent an obscene amount of money in the last year—should not be sitting in seventh place with just 39 points in March.

    Fourth place is a very long way off, and the Reds will need a very strong push just to get to fifth place, which would ensure the Reds don't have to begin the Europa League season early in August. 

    "Implosion" and "rebuilding" are terms you hear more in the NBA and NFL, but that's where the Reds find themselves. None of the recent transfers have worked out.

    Charlie Adam didn't cost much, but he isn't pulling his weight. Stewart Downing has been anonymous in most of his appearances. Andy Carroll has been largely useless. 

    Jordan Henderson is too young to judge, but he certainly is not a starter for a side looking to be in the Champions League every year. 

    Luis Suarez, who recently hinted that he is interested in Paris Saint-Germain, has often been one of Liverpool's best performers since arriving last January, but he's been way more trouble than he's worth. His performances haven't yielded goals, after all.

    Aside from the recent transfers, Liverpool's bench is not up to par with other top sides. An oft-injured Steven Gerrard would hurt any team, but Liverpool have not been able to make up for losing Lucas Leiva. 

    Kenny Dalglish is one of the club's all-time greatest players and managers, but for whatever reason, it hasn't worked out the second time around. 

    No matter where Liverpool finish the season, this summer needs to bring with it some huge changes around Anfield. 

Chelsea Always Get Lucky

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    Roberto Di Matteo and Chelsea desperately needed a win over Stoke on Saturday, but it looked like another 0-0 draw in the early goings as Chelsea struggled to create or even string passes together and the Stoke defense held firm.

    Then, Ricardo Fuller stupidly stamped on Branislav Ivanovic and was duly sent off in the 25th minute. 

    Why is it always Chelsea who get the benefit of a stupid opponent when they desperately need one?

    Playing against 10 men didn't make much of a difference, though, as Chelsea were still uninspiring. In the end, an excellent pass from Juan Mata and a moment of brilliance from Didier Drogba in the 68th was enough for Chelsea to secure the 1-0 victory, keeping them in fifth place. 

    Drogba's 100th league goal wasn't enough, however, to mask Chelsea's many deficiencies.

    Even with 10 men, Stoke were able to get behind Chelsea's back line, and plenty of times the Chelsea side looked as though they'd never played together before. 

    The fact that the new manager chose not to put on the struggling Fernando Torres, especially against 10 men, could signal that Torres' Chelsea "career" will not last much longer. 

    For what it's worth, Liverpool have struggled to score almost as much as Torres since the two parted ways last January. 

    Just sayin'. 

This Is When Manchester City Need to Prove Themselves

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    Manchester City have the better, deeper side than Manchester United.

    City also have arguably the best keeper in the league, and finding a weakness in the squad is not an easy thing to do.

    What don't they have? Experience.

    United have been here before, and more often than not, they've finished on top. 

    City will need more than their talent to see the season out and capture the Premier League title. The loss to Swansea City Sunday was the perfect example of a team unaccustomed to the late-season push for the title.

    It was a bland performance from the Blues, and they should consider themselves lucky not to have lost by more than one goal.

    Roberto Mancini's side still have to play Chelsea and Arsenal before welcoming the Red Devils to Etihad Stadium on April 30. They can't let the gap grow to more than one point before then.  

    Sir Alex Ferguson-led Manchester United sides are known for finishing the season strong, and City will need to be very wary of that fact. 

Harry Redknapp Managing His Way out of "Manager of the Season" Race

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    Harry Redknapp did a fantastic job with Tottenham in the beginning of the season.

    He managed to hold onto Gareth Bale and Luka Modric, his side rebounded from their horrendous first two games to soar up the table and they have sat in third for much of the season. 

    Spurs were even in the title race—sort of—not long ago, but things are much different now after three consecutive losses. 

    Ever since Fabio Capello left the England job, Tottenham have struggled mightily amidst talk that Redknapp will be the one to take his place before the European Championship this summer.

    Redknapp denied that the speculation has affected the team's performance, but that's clearly not the case. 

    Whatever the reason for the slump, Harry needs to figure it out quickly, because Arsenal are quickly gaining ground on Spurs in that third spot. 

Goal-Line Technology Must Be Too Sensible for FIFA

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    Everyone in England has been crying out for goal-line technology since Frank Lampard's non-goal against Germany in the 2010 World Cup, and those cries were only reinforced in Bolton's 2-1 win over Queens Park Rangers Saturday. 

    With the game still scoreless, QPR's Clint Hill headed in what should've been the breakthrough goal from a corner in the 19th minute.

    Bolton keeper Adam Bogdan swatted the ball away about two feet inside his net, and referee Martin Atkinson, who was not in a great position, waved play on. 

    Atkinson may not have had a great angle, but the linesman is there for a reason and should not have missed this call. It was the second mistake in quick succession for the officiating crew, as replays showed the ball had come off QPR's Djibril Cisse and should've been a goal kick, not a corner. 

    Alas, the Football Association reiterated its desire for goal-line technology, but unfortunately, FIFA just doesn't care about what the FA wants.

    Goal-line technology would certainly help make the game more efficient, but instances like this, or this, aren't going to get it done.

    These moments highlight poor officiating much more than the need for goal-line technology.