5 Things We Learned from the EPL Weekend
Another exciting weekend of Premier League action has come and gone, and there's plenty that we learned as the table begins to take its shape.
Everton's quickfire comeback saw Sunderland's slump continue, Manchester United typically came back from two goals down to beat Aston Villa and Manchester City left it late to beat Spurs 2-1. Arsenal, in typical Arsenal fashion, went 2-0 up against Fulham, gave up the lead to go 3-2 down before clawing back to draw 3-3. Did I mention the Gunners' 94th-minute penalty miss? To finish the weekend off, Chelsea and Liverpool shared the points at Stamford Bridge in a 1-1 draw.
Here are five things we learned from another cracking Premier League weekend.
Olivier Giroud Is No Flop
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Although Arsenal's 3-3 draw against Fulham was filled with heartbreak and frustration for Gooners like myself, it wasn't all negative.
By far the biggest positive Arsenal supporters will take from the game was Olivier Giroud's performance. Having arrived from Montpellier in the summer as the joint top scorer of Ligue 1, critics were quick to attack Giroud for his early performances in an Arsenal shirt when he failed to finish off some goal-scoring chances and seemed low on confidence.
Now, though, the Frenchman is finally starting to show why Arsene Wenger bought him, with a brilliant brace against Fulham this weekend capping off what was surely his best performance for the Gunners yet. Added onto his diving header against Schalke 04 in midweek, that's three goals in five days for Giroud.
The big man is certainly no flop, but can he carry Arsenal out of their slump and back up the table?
Super Subs Can Win Titles
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The two Manchester clubs each have their own world-class strike pairing: Manchester United have Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie, while Manchester City have Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez.
It was the benchwarmers, though, who won the respective games for these two sides this weekend, with Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez netting a hat-trick (we'll give the Ron Vlaar own goal to him) to seal United's 3-2 comeback over Aston Villa and Edin Dzeko scoring the late winner in City's 2-1 win against Spurs.
It's not the first time these two have gotten all three points for their clubs, though. Chicharito got the winning goal against Chelsea a few weeks ago after coming on as a substitute, and Dzeko has been scoring goals from the bench for fun since the start of the season.
It's these kinds of performances that testify for the Manchester clubs' squad depth, and considering how close the title was last season, super subs can make all the difference in the race at the top of the table come next May.
Marouane Fellaini Will Be the Biggest January Transfer Target
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Marouane Fellaini has been in the form of his life so far this season, with his his tally of six league goals already better than the amount of goals he's scored in his last three seasons combined.
There's a reason behind that, though. Ever since his spectacular performance against Manchester United in the first game of the season, Fellaini has been played in a more attacking role, functioning behind the striker as opposed to the defensive midfield position he's been in for the majority of his Everton career.
This positional change and Fellaini's brilliant form is undoubtedly one of the driving forces of Everton's bright start to the season, and Everton stand a real chance at imposing themselves on the top four if the Belgian's form continues.
Unfortunately for David Moyes, developing talented players has repercussions.
Fellaini has hinted that he may look to move on to a bigger club soon, and with the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United all on the hunt for a player like Fellaini, he'll surely be at the top of managers' January Transfer wish lists.
Luis Suarez Is the Real Deal
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Despite Liverpool's poor form and struggles, Luis Suarez is currently the Premier League's joint top scorer with eight goals to his name.
If they didn't already know it, most people are beginning to realize how classy a player (player, not person) Luis Suarez is.
Whereas last season he created chances with mazy runs and smart passes but was never the out-and-out goal scorer that Liverpool desperately needed, this season he's stepped up his game and has been finding the net left and right to keep Liverpool's slim hopes of challenging for Europe alive.
Suarez has done incredibly considering the lack of service he's been getting, and the fact that he has the same number of league goals as Robin van Persie—who plays alongside Rooney, Valencia, Welbeck and more—is a testament to the Uruguayan's abilities.
If any silverware comes into Anfield this season, it'll most likely be Luis Suarez's Golden Boot award.
Chelsea Need Another Striker
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Chelsea started the season in flying form, with their dynamic attack of Eden Hazard, Juan Mata, Oscar and Fernando Torres combining exceptionally to establish the Blues as title favorites.
However, things have slowed down since then, players have fizzled out and Chelsea have slipped from their perch at the top of the table. Without a win in three games following their draw at home to Liverpool this weekend, Chelsea's weaknesses are suddenly being exposed, and their place in the title race isn't quite as comfortable.
There's no doubt that the biggest weakness in Roberto Di Matteo's squad is the forward position. Fernando Torres is on another one of his trademark goal droughts, without a league goal since early October, while Daniel Sturridge has only scored a single league goal so far this season.
The fact of the matter is, title-winning teams have at least three top-notch strikers—Manchester City had Aguero, Mario Balotelli and Dzeko last season, and Manchester United had Rooney, Chicharito and Dimitar Berbatov the season before.
In order to step up their game in the title race, Chelsea either have to sign a world-class striker in the January transfer window or they have to get Fernando Torres firing on all cylinders.