5 Things We Learned from Premier League Weekend

Neri Stein@neristeinFeatured ColumnistMarch 26, 2012

5 Things We Learned from Premier League Weekend

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    With just eight games left to be played, the English Premier League title and that fourth Champions League spot are still there for the taking, if only certain teams would actually fight for them. 

    Manchester City could only muster a draw at Stoke, while Chelsea and Tottenham looked thoroughly uninterested in football on Saturday. 

    Liverpool continued their slide into mediocrity as Kenny Dalglish's side suffered their fifth defeat in six Premier League games. 

    Arsenal on the other hand took control of third place with an easy win over Aston Villa, and Newcastle ensured no one above forgot about them in the fight for European places.

    Before Clint Dempsey and Fulham take on Manchester United tonight, let's take a look at what else happened in England this weekend. 

Manchester City Can't Handle the Pressure

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    A wonder goal from Peter Crouch—that's right, it wasn't a set piece header or tap-in—resulted in another two dropped points for Manchester City at Stoke on Saturday. The point was enough for City to reclaim top spot but only on goal difference over Manchester United. 

    With United likely to secure all three points at home to Fulham, this was yet another two points Roberto Mancini's side could not afford to lose. United can only open the gap to three points and they still have to play at the Etihad stadium, so the title is not lost yet, but City are not playing like champions. 

    City secured a much-needed, comeback victory over Chelsea last week, but the fight from that side was completely lacking against Stoke. 

    If the Citizens want to end their long wait for the Premier League title—and more importantly see that their owners' money is put to good use—they'll need to step it up and play with a bit more heart in their final eight games. 

Chelsea and Tottenham Are Happy to Battle for Fourth

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    If the Arsenal players were watching this match Saturday before theirs kicked off, they must've been positively giddy. 

    With the exception of a few great defensive plays, Chelsea and Tottenham played out an extremely boring match Saturday afternoon. The most shocking part? These are supposed to be two sides fighting for one Champions League spot, and it's like they couldn't care less. 

    Tottenham have easily surrendered the third spot they held for so much of the season to arch-rivals Arsenal, and Spurs looked plenty content with a five-point gap over Chelsea for a fourth-place finish. 

    Chelsea meanwhile could very well finish the season in the Europa League, which would not go down well at all with owner Roman Abramovich. 

    Tottenham could still sneak back into third place, but they'll need to pick up their form a lot in the run in. 

Arsenal Is More Than Robin Van Persie

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    A stunning free kick from Mikel Arteta in stoppage time topped off a 3-0 win for Arsenal over Aston Villa on Saturday, and in fact, it was a lot easier than it looked. 

    Villa were never a match for the Gunners at the Emirates, and Arsenal captain and talisman Robin van Persie was largely a non-factor for much of the match. 

    Van Persie has been in terrific form all season and is the primary reason Arsenal has been able to pull itself back into third place, but on Saturday, he was rarely needed. 

    Goals from Kieran Gibbs (with some help from Shay Given), Theo Walcott and Arteta brought much more encouragement to the Arsenal faithful than just the three points. For too long, the Gunners have been over-reliant on one or two players, but that certainly hasn't been the case lately. 

    It will be another season without a trophy for Arsenal though, so Arsene Wenger needs to make sure he gives his star player enough support. He can't afford to lose this one.  

Letting Go of Kenny Dalglish Would Only Set Liverpool Back Further

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    Kenny Dalglish is still the man to lead Liverpool, but barely. He needs to change his philosophy quickly if he hopes to stay in charge. The 2-1 loss to Wigan at Anfield only highlighted that fact more.

    It was Liverpool's fifth league defeat in six games and came just after the Reds embarrassingly surrendered a late two-goal lead at relegation-threatened Queen's Park Rangers last Wednesday.

    Despite winning the Carling Cup and securing a second trip to Wembley in the FA Cup semifinals, Liverpool's league form has been woeful, and Dalglish has had excuses more often than answers.

    Most recently, the man Liverpool fans call the King said tiredness led to the loss to Wigan, but at this point in the season, every squad is tired. Moreover, Liverpool's form has been a problem all season long. 

    Liverpool's biggest problems have been their extremely disappointing and expensive transfers and the players' mentality overall. There was no fightback in the Reds players on Saturday, and the fans at Anfield knew it.

    Dalglish needs to stop coming up with excuses, stop barking at officials and the press and just be a manager. He did a fantastic job in his first stint with Liverpool and with Blackburn, and the game hasn't changed that much. 

Newcastle Getting Back to the Newcastle of Old

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    Though Newcastle haven't won many trophies in the last half decade, they were still one of the top Premier League sides in the '90s and have boasted some of the league's best ever players. 

    In the two years since being promoted, the Toon Army have looked like getting back to where they once were. 

    Newcastle were fighting for a Champions League spot for much of the season, and they look certain to secure Europa League football at the least. 

    Though England didn't perform well in European competitions this year, domestically the league has been getting more and more exciting with each year, and having Newcastle back in fighting form only adds to that.