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5 Things We Learned from Premier League and FA Cup Weekend

Neri SteinFeatured Columnist IIDecember 23, 2014

5 Things We Learned from Premier League and FA Cup Weekend

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    The Fernando Torres goal drought is over. Well, this one is at least. 

    The £50 million Chelsea striker ended his almost 26-hour goal drought, which stretched over five months and 24 games, with two goals over Leicester City Sunday to help the Blues secure passage to the FA Cup semifinals for the fourth time in the past six years. 

    Elsewhere, Manchester United put on a clinic over 10-man Wolverhampton, giving Manchester City just a little more to think about in the last couple months of the season, and Newcastle kept up their hopes for European football next season. 

    It was a great weekend of Premiership and FA Cup football, but all thoughts are with Fabrice Muamba as the Bolton midfielder is stable but remains in critical condition after collapsing just before halftime in his side's FA Cup quarterfinal at Tottenham.

    All that and more from an eventful weekend in England. 

Manchester City Will Need Carlos Tevez

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    We thought we'd gotten rid of Carlos Tevez, but apparently it's not as easy as him refusing to come on as a substitute, being told he'd never play for the club again by manager Roberto Mancini, being placed on gardening leave, being shopped around but finding no takers and finally being welcomed back when everyone realizes they actually need him. 

    The Argentine striker may return to the Manchester City first team for the first time since September when City welcome Chelsea on Wednesday.

    Mancini is probably disgusted with the decision he is almost being forced to make.

    City have been underwhelming in recent months, and it's led to Manchester United opening up a four-point gap at the top of the table and closing in on City's goal difference, with the Citizens now having just a three-goal advantage. City does have a game in hand headed into the clash with Chelsea, however. 

    The Italian boss would probably rather his current stable of strikers—Edin Dzeko, Mario Balotelli and Sergio Aguero—step up and score the buckets of goals we all expect them to, but that just isn't happening.

    If Mancini wants to lead his side to the Premier League title, the only trophy still available to the free-spending City, he needs a player of Tevez's quality and experience.

    Right now, the only reason United are ahead of their neighbors is because they have players used to the late-season push for the title. Tevez made some of those pushes with the Red Devils, and now he'll be needed to do the same for the side he claimed to love not so long ago.

    Oh right, he's said that about every club he's played for.  

A Lesser Man Than David Moyes Would've Left Everton by Now

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    David Moyes must be the most frustrated man in the world. After 10 years as Everton manager, the Scot has no trophies to show for himself, but it's pretty amazing that he's also never seen his side relegated. 

    Everton have made a habit of starting the season very, very poorly, hovering in and around the drop zone, then going on a strong run in the second half to finish mid-table. 

    Outside of the 2004-05 season, when the Toffees finished fourth ahead of Merseyside rivals Liverpool, and the 2008-09 season, when they reached the FA Cup final and lost to Chelsea, Moyes' time at Everton has not been successful at all. 

    But it's a testament to Moyes' skills as a manager that he's kept Everton competitive for so long with so little at his disposal and that he's stayed with his club for so long when a lesser man would've left for greener pastures. 

    Moyes has never had much money to spend in the transfer window, and he's always had injury problems to deal with, but he's handled those problems better than anyone else in the Premier League.

    Everton are facing an FA Cup quarterfinal replay at Sunderland after a 1-1 draw at Goodison on Saturday, and in his 10th season at the helm, Moyes definitely deserves a trip to Wembley.

    The fact that he'd be up against Liverpool in the semis would likely add to his frustration, however. 

How Many Goals Does Fernando Torres Need to Score to Stay at Chelsea?

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    Fernando Torres went his first 14 appearances for Chelsea until he finally scored his first goal. His second goal drought was much longer.

    It took him almost five full months and 26 hours of football, but Torres finally got back on the score sheet against Championship side Leicester City Sunday at Stamford Bridge. 

    The two goals give him a total of seven in 52 appearances since his transfer last January. Until then, he and defender David Luiz each had five Chelsea goals. To be fair, Torres does have a handful of assists as well. 

    The majority of Chelsea fans have been very patient with Torres, and who wouldn't be given how the Spaniard set the Premier League on fire during his time at Liverpool? Torres says the support of the fans and his club has helped him, but he cannot have another goal drought if he expects to keep that support. 

    Torres would've been Man of the Match Sunday without the two goals, but one performance and two goals will not be enough for Chelsea, especially considering their opponent.

    A Premier League team would've (hopefully) had much better marking for both of Torres' goals and an EPL keeper would've saved at least his first tame shot. 

    Chelsea have won all three matches under interim manager Roberto Di Matteo and progressed to the quarterfinals and semifinals of the Champions League and FA Cup, respectively.

    But none of these victories mask the Blues' deficiencies. The defense is still very suspect, the midfield and attack slow and Torres needs to be scoring regularly if he hopes to stay in London after this season. 

    Chelsea look to be finishing the season strong. They'll need a free-scoring Torres if they hope to get anything out of it. 

A Coach Has Got to Defend His Players...I Guess

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    Kenny Dalglish has defended his underperforming Liverpool side all season long, except for after that 3-1 defeat at Bolton when he decided to use some tough love, and he's gone so far as to accuse the club's critics.

    Despite being seventh in the Premier League table, Dalglish's side won the League Cup in February and booked their return ticket to Wembley with a 2-1 win over Stoke at Anfield Sunday. The Reds will face the winner of the Everton-Sunderland replay in the FA Cup semifinals. 

    To Dalglish, this constitutes a successful season for Liverpool, even though Champions League football is all but out of reach for another season.

    Most Liverpool fans are happy to see the Reds add to the club's illustrious trophy history, but the fact that Liverpool are not really considered one of the big four anymore has got to hurt. 

    Dalglish is one of the greatest British footballers ever, and he played and managed during Liverpool's most successful years, so he has to know his side's league form has simply not been good enough. The Premier League trophy and Champions League football are simply much bigger than the cup competitions. 

    So, apparently this season has so far been enough of a step forward for King Kenny Dalglish. Has it been enough for his charges and the Liverpool fans? 

Football Family Comes Together

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    Fabrice Muamba collapsed in the middle of the pitch during the first half of Bolton's FA Cup quarterfinal match against Tottenham at White Hart Lane. Over 24 hours later, the 23-year-old midfielder is still in critical condition.

    The outpouring of support came from fans and footballers of all teams, and it has really been wonderful to see everyone join together in support for Muamba. 

    Recently, football has not been the nicest game. El Clasico has been marred by cheap fouls, absurd diving antics and horrible tackles. This Premier League season has seen two ugly racism rows, and fans' chants have occasionally been downright cruel. 

    But it is clear that Muamba's condition has struck very close to home for everyone associated with football, and everyone is wishing him a speedy recovery.

    Former teammate Gary Cahill, like Real Madrid players, showed his support on his shirt. Luis Suarez dedicated his goal on Sunday to Muamba. Manchester United players and fans had a round of applause for Muamba before their match against Wolves, and Tottenham striker Jermain Defoe, who was visibly distraught Saturday before the match was abandoned, visited Muamba at the hospital. 

    It was a horrible moment in football, but one that hopefully Muamba will recover from quickly and that will only lead to more health screenings for athletes at every level. 

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