Winners and Losers from Premier League Week 25
Liverpool hammered Arsenal 5-1 at Anfield, Eden Hazard found time between listening to Jose Mourinho's latest comments to shine for Chelsea once again, and Manchester United and David Moyes suffered yet another setback in what has become a season of them. Week 25 of the Premier League was another one full of drama.
But who were the winners and losers of the weekend?
Take a look and find out.
The attacking play that Liverpool demonstrated during what could eventually become one of the most important 20-minute stretches of the Premier League season was exhilarating, as the Reds blew Arsenal away in the opening quarter of what had been billed as a pivotal game.
The Gunners were appalling at the back in their 5-1 loss, obviously, but it’s only the killjoys who want to focus on that. Instead look at the searing pace of Raheem Sterling, the energy of Jordan Henderson, the ingenuity of Philippe Coutinho, the finishing of Daniel Sturridge, the majesty of Luis Suarez, the drive of Steven Gerrard and yes, even the potency of Martin Skrtel.
This was glorious.
In putting up one of those little cocktail umbrellas to try to repel Hurricane Liverpool in the opening 20 minutes of the Premier League weekend, Arsenal obviously didn’t help themselves, and the worry now has to be that this performance will set a tone for the coming weeks and months of pivotal fixtures.
It doesn’t have to, though, and instead of lamenting the loss to the Reds, the Gunners should instead learn from it.
Liverpool’s pressing was almost as impressive as their attacking and creative play on Saturday, and Arsene Wenger would be wise to use that desire as a benchmark for his team to follow.
Winner: Eden Hazard
Horses, Jaguars or Player of the Month awards, whatever Jose Mourinho wants to drone on about next is up to him of course, but it would be nice if instead we could focus on the stunning performances being delivered by his team’s main man.
Eden Hazard’s hat-trick against Newcastle was just the latest in a long line of terrific performances lately, and as the pivotal weeks in the season approach, Chelsea possess the form player.
Loser: Yaya Toure
Already missing Sergio Aguero, Samir Nasri and Fernandinho—and clearly paying for it judging by the lacklustre draw at Norwich—Manchester City could now be facing a week or so without Yaya Toure following the Ivorian’s kick out at Ricky van Wolfswinkel.
It was an innocuous incident, but the FA often thrive in punishing such things, and Manuel Pellegrini might well be left cursing his key midfielder’s indiscretion.
Winner: Garry Monk
The long-term effects of Swansea’s decision to replace Michael Laudrup with a managerial novice who is still doing his coaching badges will be evident further down the road, but at least Garry Monk will always have this.
Following a non-event of a first half against rivals Cardiff, Monk displayed initiative in replacing the energetic but limited Marvin Emnes with the more composed Pablo Hernandez.
The result was immediate, as Hernandez sent Wayne Routledge clear for the opening goal of the game, with the further strikes from Nathan Dyer and Wilfried Bony only adding to Swansea’s perfect day.
Loser: Cardiff City
From seeing all of the talk and criticism over managerial uncertainty centre around Swansea in the buildup to kick-off, Cardiff were suddenly seeing it shift back onto them as they lost the South Wales derby 3-0.
Are they really in any better a position now than they were when Malky Mackay masterminded a 1-0 win over the Swans in early November? Well no, clearly not, as they were 12th back then and are just one point and one place off the foot of the table now.
Crucial weeks lie ahead for the club, and you have to wonder if Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is the best man guide them through them.
Winner: Kevin Nolan
Kevin Nolan had plenty of time to think when he trudged off the Anfield and Craven Cottage pitches after being sent off earlier this season—perhaps he was plotting the way to keep West Ham in the Premier League?
After his two goals beat Swansea last weekend, he repeated the trick with a brace at Aston Villa, which saw the Hammers climb to 15th and away from the relegation zone once more.
After being the destructive force which could have contributed to them going down, Nolan might now be West Ham’s greatest chance of staying up.
As has often been proven this season, having the ball is not more important than what you do with it, with the latest example of this coming with the fact that Arsenal had 57 percent of possession at Anfield on Saturday, as per the BBC’s match report.
Everton had more of the ball than Tottenham at White Hart Lane too, at least according to the BBC again, and whilst they could certainly be described as unlucky not to get anything out of the game, they were without a cutting edge, which made it surprising that Roberto Martinez left Lacina Traore on the bench.
The defeat could be seen as a crucial one in the challenge for the Champions League, and Martinez might rue not being a little braver.
Winner: The New Crystal Palace
There are now three points that separate Crystal Palace from the relegation zone, but there is also a lot of confidence too.
The Tony Pulis revolution was helped in the 3-1 win over West Brom thanks to the fact that both Tom Ince and Joe Ledley got themselves on the scoresheet to add to this feeling of freshness and promise about the place.
Tougher fixtures lie ahead, starting with a trip to Everton on Wednesday, but why should Palace be scared of anything right now?
Loser: Wes Brown
Wes Brown was never regarded as a particularly rough or dirty player during his time at Manchester United, and he shouldn’t be thought as one at Sunderland either. He’s just recklessly clumsy.
In becoming the first player to be sent off three times in the same Premier League season since Middlesbrough’s Franck Queudrue in 2002/03—a stat tweeted by OptaJoe—Brown lost Sunderland the game against Hull just four minutes into it.
At a time when his club need their experienced players to shine, he is doing the opposite.
Winner: Rene Meulensteen
Fulham manager Rene Meulensteen’s “plan” might have consisted of little more than getting men behind the ball and hoping for the best, but amidst the hysterical reaction to Manchester United’s latest failing on Sunday should come some praise for their former coach.
Of course, defending becomes somewhat easier when your opponents only seemingly have one way of attacking and trying to get the better of you, but Fulham stuck to their task well at Old Trafford and saw performances from the likes of defender Dan Burn which could set a young career in motion.
Fulham are still bottom of the table and face the free-scoring Liverpool on Wednesday, but they and their manager deserve credit for becoming the latest team to frustrate David Moyes.
Speaking of whom...
Loser: David Moyes
The glee with which David Moyes greeted what for all intents and purposes looked like Manchester United’s winner against Fulham told everything.
Here was the Scottish manager of United celebrating a goal against the league’s bottom club and established away doormats with all the emotion that Sir Alex Ferguson showed when league titles were won.
Moyes needed a win, obviously, but the archaic, rudimentary tactics he employed in trying to get it was almost an insult to what United should stand for.
This has gone beyond bad luck or ill fortune. United are suffering for having Moyes in charge, and if they have any ambition to get back in touch with the game’s elite then they’ll change that sooner rather than later.