English Premier League Stock Watch
Showdown Sunday left the title race tighter and the North London gap wider. But for all the drama in the table's upper reaches, Saturday's slate of appetizers more than held its own.
In Liverpool, Brendan Rodgers' Reds looked like the Anfield squads of old in tearing through overmatched Norwich for the second time this season. In Manchester, Roberto Mancini's Man City narrowed the gap on their Mancunian neighbors.
And in the table's nether regions, the relegation scrap took a few more dramatic turns.
Which Premier League teams saw their stock rise or fall? Keep reading to find out in this week's B/R EPL Stock Watch.
Stock Up: Liverpool
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The weekend's most hyped storylines played out Sunday around the upper end of the table. On Saturday, though, closer to the middle of the table, Liverpool put in its most eye-catching performance.
The Reds' 5-0 rout of Norwich was notable for multiple reasons, chief among them the burgeoning understanding at the top of the formation between Uruguayan trickster Luis Suarez and new signing Daniel Sturridge.
Both scored Saturday and Sturridge set up Suarez's strike with a defense-splitting dummy that left the impression the two have spent more than mere weeks in the same squad.
Sturridge also made history, becoming the first player to score three goals in his first three Liverpool matches since 1974 (via Daily Telegraph).
“They linked very, very well," said Liverpool's first-year manager Brendan Rodgers (per The Guardian). It was a terrific performance. Luis did what he has done for us all season, gave 100 percent all game, and he combined really well with Daniel."
Concerning Sturridge, Rodgers added: "Daniel gives the opponent someone else to worry about. Luis has been incredible this season but he has now got a recognized goalscorer up there alongside him."
The early verdict is that the addition of Sturridge was a master stroke in the transfer market. And the combination of Sturridge and Suarez—along with the improving Jordan Henderson, whose searing opening goal highlighted another strong contribution—will have Liverpool supporters giddy with anticipation.
Stock Down: Arsenal
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Sunday's defeat at Chelsea doomed Arsenal to back-to-back losses against top-tier Premier League competition. At times in both matches, the Gunners were hopelessly outclassed.
In fairness, though, they also attacked well and even managed to look the part at other times in both matches. Such was the case in a dramatically improved second-half performance Sunday.
In the end, though, both results suggest Arsenal are a marquee club on past reputation only.
Once again, defeat showed how imperative transfer action is this month for the Gunners. After the second-half rally lost steam following Theo Walcott's fine finish, Arsene Wenger's only attacking option on the bench was the previously frozen-out Andrei Arshavin.
That should say everything that needs saying.
Stock Down: Arsene Wenger
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It’s one thing to be hamstrung by a thrifty board. It’s another to send out an unprepared team in a London derby.
By the time Arsenal took an active interest in Sunday’s match, Chelsea already led Arsene Wenger’s disinterested, uninspired team by two goals. Intransigent board, unfortunate injuries and controversial officiating aside, the Gunners were simply poor for the first 45 minutes.
That’s on him.
Stock Up: Manchester City
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David Silva scored two classy goals as Manchester City won an otherwise pedestrian match 2-0 against Fulham on Saturday.
Manchester United's 1-1 draw at Tottenham Hotspur thus reduced the gap atop the table to five points and made City the real winners of Showdown Sunday without even playing.
Stock Up: Aaron Lennon and Clint Dempsey
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Aaron Lennon was the most dangerous man on the pitch during Tottenham Hotspur's 1-1 home draw with Manchester United on Sunday in the North London snow.
His cross found Clint Dempsey for the goal and the draw Dempsey and Spurs so richly deserved.
For Dempsey, that makes it four goals in 2013. For Spurs, that makes it a seven-point lead over Arsenal.
Stock Up: Robin van Persie's Goalscoring Variety
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At this advanced stage, finding new ways to praise Manchester United's Robin van Persie is hardly worth the effort.
The devil, though, is in the details with the Red Devils' deadly Dutch striker.
As @OptaJoe reports:
10 - Robin van Persie is the first player in Premier League history to score 10+ away goals in three successive seasons. Peerless.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 20, 2013
2 - Robin van Persie has scored more than one headed goal for the first time in a single Premier League season. Frontman.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 20, 2013
A striker who scores consistently away from home is worth his weight in cash (as Arsenal are learning painfully this season). Van Persie only furthers his reputation when he scores without the benefit of his fabled left foot.
Stock Down: Stoke's Defense
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Stoke allowed three more goals this weekend, to Swansea in a 3-1 away loss. Once a water-tight unit, the Potters' defense has now conceded 13 times in the last four league matches.
Stock Down: Newcastle United
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Newcastle United have struggled on their travels throughout the season (the previous one as well). On Saturday, though, they lost at home to Reading after holding a first-half lead.
The Magpies controlled almost all of the 71 minutes before Adam Le Fondre scored the first goal of his decisive double. Afterwards, they had lost their 10th match in 13 tries.
Too good to go down? Not hardly.
Stock Down: Wigan Athletic
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Wigan lost again Saturday, 3-2 at home to Sunderland, in a match they led after five minutes. The result left Roberto Martinez's men in 19th place, one point adrift of safety.
The Latics have collected five points from their last 10 matches. Even Newcastle (16th, by the way, two points above the relegation zone) have done better in that time.
Stock Up: Reading
Gareth Copley/Getty Images
Reading secured another win with another comeback as Adam Le Fondre came off the bench to stun Newcastle with a six-minute, second-half double Saturday at St. James' Park.
The Royals have now won three of their last four matches and now lie just one point adrift of safety.