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5 Things We Learned from Premier League Weekend

Neri SteinFeatured Columnist IIDecember 22, 2014

5 Things We Learned from Premier League Weekend

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    Unless Wayne Rooney, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes are all involved in some freak accident causing them to miss Manchester United's six remaining games, it's safe to say the Red Devils have won their 20th league title. 

    Sir Alex Ferguson's side sits atop the table with 79 points, eight ahead of United's noisy neighbors Manchester City, thanks to a late, stunning game-winner from Arsenal's Mikel Arteta at the Emirates Sunday. 

    City had an eight-point lead of their own a few months ago, but the second half of the season has not been kind to Roberto Mancini's men, and the inexperience of his side has proven too much an obstacle to overcome. 

    Elsewhere, American Clint Dempsey continued his assault on the Premier League, Chelsea got really, really lucky, officials showed us they're just getting worse and worse and so much more. 

Liverpool Fans, Just Stop Watching League Games

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    Liverpool won the Caring Cup in February, and they did the double over their arch-rivals Everton.

    That's about it in terms of good news for Liverpool fans this season. 

    Liverpool at least stopped the bleeding Saturday, earning a draw at home to Aston Villa to stop a run a three successive league defeats, the second such stretch this season for the Reds. 

    The result leaves Kenny Dalglish's side in eighth place, which only matters because Everton are in seventh. 

    Players and fans may have a few hard feelings with a couple strong penalty appeals being turned down and a shot from Dirk Kuyt appearing to cross the line before Shay Given batted it away, but the problem has everything to do with Liverpool, not the officials. 

    In losses to Manchester United and Arsenal, Liverpool played with heart and just came out on the losing end. That hasn't been the case in recent weeks. 

    The Liverpool players have looked tired and uninterested, while Dalglish's tactics have failed to make any mark at all. 

    The Reds haven't given their fans much to cheer about or even take heart in of late, so those fans may just want to turn their attention to the upcoming FA Cup semifinal against Everton and the summer transfer window.

Clint Dempsey Must Leave Fulham This Summer

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    Clint Dempsey has been a man possessed this season.

    The American has scored 21 goals this season for Fulham, a club-record 15 in the league, including a stunning free kick against Bolton on Saturday. 

    Dempsey's two goals helped Fulham to a 3-0 win over Bolton, and the Cottagers should end the season firmly in the middle of the table. 

    But that's not good enough for Dempsey anymore. He needs to be playing for one of England's top sides, and all of them should be vying for his services this summer.

    Arsenal will surely be interested, but with Dempsey having just turned 29, Arsene Wenger may not want to shell out the big bucks Dempsey is going to demand.

    Chelsea have little need for Dempsey, with Juan Mata being their best player this season, but need has never been Roman Abramovich's driving force when it comes to the transfer window.

    Manchester United could always show interest just in an attempt to drive the price up for their competitors, because Sir Alex Ferguson really doesn't have room for Dempsey. Although, who wouldn't want to join United right now?

    You can never count Manchester City out, even though they've proven in recent months that money clearly doesn't always buy a title. 

    That leaves Liverpool, whose American owners surely won't be content with their club's form this season and won't be giving up on their new business project that easily. 

    I'd put my money on Chelsea, Dempsey's opponents Monday night. With how poorly the Blues have played much of this season, they are still in the semifinals of the FA Cup and Champions League and are just three points off of a Champions League spot for next season. 

Manchester City Aren't a Team

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    Manchester City looked completely lost and uninspired in Sunday's loss at Arsenal, and the result all but ended their title hopes.

    Despite the hundreds of millions of pounds the owners have spent on players in recent years, it appears they still haven't managed to buy a team. 

    Sure, City have some great players.

    Joe Hart is one of the best young keepers in the world, David Silva is a world-class midfielder, Vincent Kompany would walk into the back line of almost any team and Sergio Aguero was one of the most sought-after strikers on the market last summer. 

    But with all that talent and more, City have looked like strangers out on the pitch. The passing is off, their game lacks creativity and players frequently take the selfish option. 

    None more so than Mario Balotelli, but he's a different story all together. 

    Manchester City has the better team than Manchester United. They're quicker, younger, have more flair and have a much more solid defense.

    But United is a team. They play together, the team comes first and they have belief in one another.

    They also have leaders who been there and seen it all before in Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes. City really could've used a strong, experienced leader in the second half of this season.

Can You Believe Roberto Mancini Is Really the Man on the Hottest Seat?

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    Wigan have barely been out of the relegation zone in the past two years under Roberto Martinez.

    Liverpool have looked downright dreadful at times, and Kenny Dalglish has had nothing but excuses. 

    Blackburn fans have been pleading for Steve Kean's dismissal since before he was hired, and Alex McLeish has only helped Aston Villa down the table. 

    Yet the manager most likely to lose his job first is Roberto Mancini, and his side sits firmly in second place and won the FA Cup last season, their first in 35 years. 

    The loss to Arsenal Sunday finished City's title chase and spelled the end of Mancini's reign over the Citizens. 

    Though much of City's problems have not been Mancini's fault, as the manager he'll take the blame. The attitudes of Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli did the most harm to City's season, but Mancini was unable to guide the rest of his star players past these problems. 

    The previous four managers will likely last to the end of the season with their clubs. If City lose to United on April 30, Mancini will be ousted before he even gets to the locker room, if he makes it that far. 

Technology Won't Make Any Difference...

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    ...if the officials can't at least get the basics right. 

    This weekend's football, once again, was overshadowed by poor refereeing. 

    Branislav Invanovic gave Chelsea the breakthrough against Wigan despite being at least a yard offside.

    Queen's Park Rangers weren't even given a chance at Old Trafford Sunday when Ashley Young sullied the word diving with a horrendous flop, when he was coming from an offside position to begin with.

    Replays showed that QPR defender Shaun Derry barely touched the United winger, who was clearly just looking for a penalty, and that is exactly what he got in addition to a red card for Derry. 

    Arsenal had a clear penalty in the first half against Manchester City when Robin van Persie was bundled over, but the real miss was when Mario Balotelli's straight-leg, studs-up tackle on Alex Song went completely unpunished, even though it was in plain view. 

    Dirk Kuyt's header may have crossed the line before Shay Given was able to get it away, and video technology would've helped with that, but those moments are few and far between. 

    Football needs referees and linesmen who are paying attention the game more than it needs goal-line technology.  

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