5 Things We Learned from the EPL Weekend
While it wasn't a weekend of goals galore or dramatic controversy, this weekend was certainly a turning point in the season.
The "bigger clubs" hit stumbling blocks this weekend, with a Mata-less Chelsea mustering a 1-1 draw at Swansea, Spurs losing 1-0 at home to Wigan, misfiring Manchester City drawing 0-0 at West Ham and Arsenal losing 2-1 at Manchester United. United capitalized on all of this, of course, going to the top of the table for the first time this season.
More than a few Premier League managers generally agree that the league table begins to take shape after 10 gameweeks, so has it done exactly that this week? Here are five things we learned.
There Are Only 3 Title Contenders
Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Can you guess who they are?
Going into this season, the two definite title contenders were defending champions Manchester City and Manchester United, who just lost out to the title on goal difference last season. Most people were undecided on Chelsea, who spent big during the summer, but they've been arguably the most convincing team so far this season following a flying start.
Outside contenders were Arsenal and Spurs, who, respectively, made statements earlier this season to build their title credentials. Arsenal looked like a real threat in their 2-0 win over Liverpool at Anfield and in their 1-1 draw at Manchester City, while Spurs impressed in their 3-2 win at Old Trafford.
Unfortunately, the two North London outfits have suffered some setbacks lately. Arsenal seemed to confirm that they weren't true contenders with their lackluster performance at Old Trafford this weekend in a 2-1 loss, while Spurs were embarrassingly exposed in their 1-0 loss at home to Wigan.
As of now, it looks like there won't be any surprise title contenders, with Chelsea and the Manchester clubs looking to fight it out from now until May.
Robin van Persie Is by Far the Best Striker in the Premier League
Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Sure, this isn't exactly something we learned just this week.
It was about last September when Robin van Persie began scoring goals for fun, and he's been head and shoulders above any other striker in the Premier League since. Netting 30 in the league for Arsenal last season before a controversial move to Manchester United, Robin van Persie's brilliant movement and clinical finishing make him a goal machine.
The Dutchman hasn't taken long to make a name for himself at Old Trafford, scoring eight goals in his first 10 Premier League appearances. He continued his good run of form this weekend with an impressive performance against former club Arsenal, already showing how important he is to United's title challenge.
As an Arsenal fan, I think it'll take more than not celebrating against us for van Persie to gain some respect back, but I can't deny that he's one hell of a player.
Chelsea Are Dependent on Juan Mata
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
There's no doubt that Chelsea have been the team to beat so far this season, but following their 1-1 draw at Swansea this weekend, they've been knocked off the top spot and dropped down to second place.
Juan Mata's brilliant form in recent weeks has unquestionably been the driving force for Chelsea's winning run, as the Spaniard has orchestrated the Blues' new silky style of football from his advanced midfield position.
But Mata missing the Swansea match through injury and Chelsea's disappointing draw definitely aren't a coincidence, and despite having the likes of Eden Hazard and Oscar on the pitch, the Blues without Mata seemed to lack creativity going forward and had trouble breaking down Swansea.
Following that 3-2 loss to Manchester United and the draw to Swansea this weekend, Chelsea's flying start is now on hold. Can they show that they have the character of champions and recover?
Manchester City Aren't the Same Team as Last Season
Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
This time last season, Manchester City were bulldozing their way through the Premier League, brushing aside anything in their way and beating teams by absurd margins (cough, cough, 6-1 Manchester United).
That scintillating form, of course, led to Roberto Mancini's men winning the Premier League title and establishing themselves as a domestic powerhouse, but things haven't been so straightforward so far this season.
Although Manchester City remain the only undefeated team in the league and are currently third in the table, their start to the season has been far from convincing. The defense has gotten its act together since the start of the season, but with 18 goals scored in 10 games, City's attack hasn't been half as prolific as it was this time last season.
They may have been title favourites on opening day, but Manchester City are now the third favourites to be crowned champions next May, and they have everything to prove. Next up is Spurs at home, and then Chelsea away in a few weeks. Do City have what it takes to become back-to-back champions?
Luis Suarez Is World Class
Alex Livesey/Getty Images
When I think of Luis Suarez, the first thing that comes to mind is diver. The second thing? Racist.
With all of the trouble Suarez gets in to and the criticism he gets from the media, some people can forget how brilliant of a player the Uruguayan forward is. It's moments like his goal against Newcastle this weekend which remind us that underneath that flopping, dirty-mouthed, hand-balling, bucktoothed troublemaker, there's truly a world-class player.
Although the goal wasn't a 35-yard screamer or a mazy run through defenders, Suarez made something incredibly difficult look incredibly easy. From Jose Enrique's purely speculative long ball, Suarez somehow took it in on his left shoulder, steered the ball around Tim Krul and poked it into an empty net to round off three sublime touches, each one oozing of class.
Luis Suarez has now showed us week in and week out that he's a genuine world-class talent, but can he carry Liverpool out of their slump?