Premier League Weekend: 5 Things We Learned
Need to catch your breath?
This round of Premier League action was arguably the most exhilarating of the season, containing everything needed for a perfect weekend—rivalries, controversy and plenty of goals.
Norwich continued their good run of form with a thrilling 4-3 win at Swansea; Southampton hopped out of the relegation zone with a win over Reading; and Wigan and QPR drew 2-2 to see Harry Redknapp's men still without a win and still at rock-bottom.
The action continued further up the table, with Fernando Torres scoring two (that's not a typo) goals to see Chelsea beat Sunderland 3-1; Arsenal ending their winless streak with a controversial 2-0 win over West Brom; and Liverpool coming from behind to earn all three points at West Ham.
Oh, and did I mention the Manchester derby?
Following a jam-packed Premier League weekend, here are five things we learned.
Fernando Torres Is "Back"...or Is He?
Fernando Torres ended his Premier League-goal drought this weekend with two goals against Sunderland in Chelsea's 3-1 win—their first win since October.
Torres' brace gives him four goals in two matches, added on to his goals against Nordsjaelland in the Champions League on Wednesday, and many are beginning to claim that the man who cost Chelsea 50 million pounds in January of 2011 is "back."
The reason I keep putting the word "back" in quotation marks?
The amount of times Torres has been "back" since signing for Chelsea is astonishing.
He was "back" when he scored a few at the beginning of last season—he then went quite some time without a goal. He was "back" when he scored the decisive goal against Barcelona in the Champions League semifinal, and he was "back" when he was the top scorer of Euro 2012 with three goals (even though a handful of other players also got three goals).
It now seems that Torres is once again "back," after scoring a few goals against an unpronounceable team from Denmark and a relegation-threatened Sunderland.
If you couldn't already tell, I'm skeptical of the Spaniard.
So has Rafa Benitez got "El Niño" back in business, or is the recent form just another false alarm for Torres?
Liverpool Can Win Without Luis Suarez
I don't think I'm the only one who believes that, without Luis Suarez, Liverpool would be flirting with relegation right now.
The Uruguayan's 10 goals—nearly half of Liverpool's total 22 goals scored—have carried the Reds in what has been a somewhat disappointing season so far. With Suarez suspended for Liverpool's trip to West Ham this weekend, it was always going to be a tough match against a side that dismantled Chelsea last week in a 3-1 win.
Liverpool silenced their doubters with an impressive, hard-fought win over Sam Allardyce's men: Glen Johnson scored a stunner to open the scoring before West Ham scored twice to make it 2-1 before half time, but a second-half comeback with goals from Joe Cole and Jonjo Shelvey saw the Reds win 3-2.
Is this a turning point in Liverpool's season, or just more paper over the cracks in Brendan Rodgers' struggling side?
How Good Is Michu?
Robin Van Persie, Demba Ba, Luis Suarez, Wayne Rooney, Fernando Torres, Carlos Tevez.
Those are all players whose names you knew going into the 2012-13 season—yet they've all scored less goals than Swansea City's Michu.
After signing for Swansea from Rayo Vallecano this summer for a paltry 2 million pounds, the Spanish attacking midfielder is now the Premier League's top scorer with 12 goals, and he doesn't look like he's stopping any time soon.
Although he did score 15 times in La Liga last season, the 26-year-old was practically unknown outside of Spain before arriving in Wales and taking the Premier League by storm.
Michu's two goals against Norwich this weekend weren't enough to grab all three points as the Swans lost 4-3, but can he finish the season as the league's top scorer and help Michael Laudrup's side push for a European spot against all odds?
The Premier League Could Use a Cleaning Up
There have been plenty of controversies in the Premier League this season, but this weekend was by far the most controversial yet.
The first incident of the weekend was, of course, Santi Cazorla's dive.
Arsenal's Spanish maestro tumbled down in the box after zero contact with West Brom's Steven Reid, but referee Mike Jones pointed to the spot and Mikel Arteta converted the resulting penalty, sending Arsenal on their way to a 2-0 win. As an Arsenal supporter, it's unsettling to see our own player so blatantly cheat, even when it means we get a much-needed win.
Thankfully, the second penalty was a clear and obvious one.
It's apparent that diving is becoming a bigger part of the game, and the ways to put an end to it are incredibly easy. Video replay and retrospective punishment are things that we can only hope FIFA and the FA are working on to make sure some level of honesty in football is restored.
The second, and least talked about incident of the weekend, was the racial abuse of Sebastien Bassong in Norwich's 4-3 win at Swansea.
Apparently it's not the first time Bassong has been the subject of racist taunts, but on the positive side, the Cameroon international has been in flying form recently, scoring three goals in four games and being a key member of Norwich's good run of form.
Finally, the third incident of the weekend came in the always-intense Manchester derby. In the aftermath of Robin Van Persie netting the winning goal for Manchester United, Rio Ferdinand's celebrations were cut short after being struck in the face by a coin thrown by a fan.
Although the atmosphere at the Etihad Stadium was incredibly heated, violence like this can't be tolerated—the risk of both players and fans getting hurt is simply too high.
While this was undoubtedly one of the most exciting Premier League weekends in recent memory, it wasn't exactly one that the FA can be proud of, and it serves as a reminder that work is needed to make England's top tier a more honest and respectable league.
Manchester United Are Overwhelmingly Favorites for the Title
Thanks to a certain Sheikh, the Manchester derby has now evolved into the most important—and arguably the most exciting—match in English football.
It once again seems that the Premier League championship title will stay in Manchester, and if this season is anything like the last, the Manchester derby will be the title decider.
It was Manchester City who beat United 6-1 at Old Trafford, and then 1-0 at the Etihad in 2011-12. And, of course, it was Manchester City who won the title last season.
So, does Manchester United's 3-2 win at City mean they already have the title wrapped up?
It's probably too early to make that conclusion, but one thing is for sure: Manchester United are the only team who have played like champions this season, with a six-point lead at the top already.
Unless something changes, it seems like Sir Alex Ferguson will have an easier time regaining the title than he expected.