5 Things We Learned from Premier League and FA Cup Weekend

Neri Stein@neristeinFeatured ColumnistMay 7, 2012

5 Things We Learned from Premier League and FA Cup Weekend

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    Yaya Toure is the hero who sent Manchester City to the FA Cup final last season, and he may have won them the Premier League title this season. 

    Toure's two second-half goals at Newcastle Sunday gave City the win they needed in their penultimate match of the season. All they need to do is defeat relegation-threatened Queens Park Rangers at the Etihad next week, and the four-decade wait for a title will be over for the blue half of Manchester. 

    Chelsea defeated Liverpool 2-1 at Wembley to claim the FA Cup, which will make it that much more difficult for Roman Abramovich to choose someone besides Roberto Di Matteo as his next manager. 

    Going into the last week of the season, the title, Champions League and relegation spots are all yet to be decided, so what did this weekend teach us about the world's most exciting league?

Arsenal's Depth Is Their Downfall, Again

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    Arsenal had a sizable lead in third place just a few weeks ago, but the Gunners have stumbled lately and now hold just a one-point advantage over fourth-place Tottenham and are just three points from Europa League qualification. 

    Arsenal have gone winless since losing Mikel Arteta, and the 3-3 draw with Norwich Saturday doesn't inspire much confidence going into West Brom next weekend. 

    The Gunners have one of the best starting XI's in England, but losing just one player is often too much to overcome for the team. 

    Arsene Wenger has already signed Lukas Podolski to partner Robin van Persie up front, but he's not going to be nearly enough. Arsenal's weakest areas are the defense and midfield, but Wenger can't leave it until transfer deadline day this summer to make the changes. 

    Arsenal's strong fight back this season and RvP's spectacular performances should be enough to woo some of the top transfer targets to the Emirates this summer, but a Champions League spot would certainly make it much more enticing. 

FA Cup Loss Doesn't Change Liverpool's Season

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    A Cup Double would've been a nice way to finish out the season for Liverpool and their fans, but the FA Cup wouldn't have been enough to mask Liverpool's extremely poor league performances this season. 

    The Reds lost 2-1 to Chelsea at Wembley on Saturday in an extremely dull match, and it would've been even worse had it not been for a spectacular 30-minute shift from Andy Carroll. 

    At the end of the season though, Liverpool have not progressed with or without the FA Cup trophy. 

    The Reds are in ninth place and have been absolutely miserable in the league, and Kenny Dalglish will need to make some serious adjustments going into next season. 

    Much like Arsenal, there are good takeaways from this season for Liverpool, but they're not enough.

    Liverpool's strong Cup performances could persuade some big targets to Merseyside this summer, but Dalglish can't afford many more transfer fails like this year. 

Roberto Di Matteo Shouldn't Get the Chelsea Job, for All Our Sakes

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    Roberto Di Matteo has completely turned Chelsea around since he took over the reins a few months ago and even if the Blues don't bring home the Champions League trophy in a couple weeks, it will be hard to deny Di Matteo the full-time job. 

    But for non-Chelsea fans everywhere, I sincerely hope that doesn't happen. Chelsea are a bore to watch these days, and the FA Cup final was no different. 

    Against Liverpool, Chelsea took advantage of two mistakes and rode their luck the rest of the time. Is this the kind of Chelsea we want to see next season?

    Sure, they've turned it on against the likes of QPR and Aston Villa, but against any mid-level or higher side, the Blues have struggled, sat back and failed to get the win. 

    With a very depleted side to field in the Champions League final, expect Chelsea to rely on their defending for much of the game. Just what we like to see in the biggest match of the year. 

Can Manchester City Succeed Where United Failed?

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    All Manchester United had to do on May 14, 1995 was beat West Ham and they would have been Premier League champions again. They could only muster a 1-1 draw, and the Kenny Dalglish-led Blackburn won the title. 

    This season has a similar feel to it. 

    Manchester City are ahead only on goal difference and welcome struggling QPR, while United will travel to Sunderland. All City have to do is win and they'll be champions, but a team with nothing to lose is never a team you want to face on the final day of the season. 

    United are the more level-headed, experienced side, without any pressure on them. City have a lot of egos in the side who could ruin everything for them. 

    Newcastle was the biggest test for City, and they passed it with flying colors, but they still have it all to do next Sunday. Can this inexperienced, star-packed side keep it together for just another 90 minutes?

Why We Love Football

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    With just one game left to play, each of the top five sides must win. This is what we love about football and what makes the Premier League the best in the world.

    Both Italy and Spain have wrapped up their titles and more, but in England, there is everything left to play for on the final weekend. 

    Arsenal, Tottenham and Newcastle all have a great chance of finishing third or fifth, and they each have a tricky matchup on Sunday. A depleted, struggling Arsenal travel to West Brom, Tottenham welcome Fulham and on-fire American Clint Dempsey, and Newcastle visit Everton. 

    At the other end of the table, Blackburn go to Chelsea (who will still be trying to secure Champions League football without having to win the competition outright), and Bolton have to take on Stoke City. 

    It's anyone's guess as to who will finish with Champions League football and who will be going back to the Championship, and that's what makes the EPL so exciting.