8 Things We Learned from Premier League Week 25
Week 25 of the English Premier League had it all.
We were treated to goalfests, bore draws, red cards and even a hotly contested derby between two Welsh sides.
The league leaders were given a real shock, whilst Liverpool scored five goals and talismanic Luis Suarez didn't even get on the scoresheet.
We now have a new leader at the top of the league and, as always, a different three teams occupying the relegation zone.
Here are eight things we learned from the weekend's Premier League action.
United's Season Goes from Bad to Worse
David Moyes and his Manchester United players have endured what is likely to be one of the tougher seasons in their careers.
After romping to the title in style just last season, the Premier League champions have struggled all campaign, were ruled out of the title race early on and are now left desperately fighting for a top-four spot.
But there was plenty of reasons for Manchester United players and fans to be hopeful ahead of Fulham's visit to Old Trafford. In a weekend where results were about as good as they could have possibly been for United, the Red Devils welcomed the league's bottom side.
Things started poorly for the hosts as Steve Sidwell shocked the home crowd as he put the Cottagers a goal to the good. United did show resilience and spirit, however, grabbing two goals in as many minutes, as order looked to be restored.
But a tense finale saw the hosts crack under pressure and concede a 90th-minute leveller, piling more misery on their manager.
Liverpool Are Still in the Title Race
Regardless of what Brendan Rodgers says, Liverpool are still in the title race.
Just last month the Reds boss stated that his side “would never give up the fight” as they search for their first league title since the 1989/90 campaign—three years before the Premier League's inaugural season.
However, just last week, after a disappointing 1-1 draw with West Brom, the Northern Irishman told Sky Sports that his team would not win the league (via Reuters and EuroSport):
I think for us, as a team, it's too early for that ... I was at the Manchester City-Chelsea game the other night and I look at the squads they have, which they have built up over the last few years, and it's very difficult for us, even though we have competed right the way through the season.
So, I wouldn't say for us this year, no. We wouldn't be challengers for it.
However, after a 5-1 dismantling of Arsenal in which Liverpool scored four goals in the opening 20 minutes, Rodgers couldn't be more wrong.
The win takes the Reds to within five points of Arsenal and six of Chelsea. It's sure to be a big ask, but with Man. City and Chelsea still to visit Anfield, anything is possible.
“Little Horse” to Gallop to the Title
Ahead of Chelsea's clash with Manchester City last week, Jose Mourinho referred to his side as “the little horse” in the title race, per BBC Sport.
But that little horse went on to beat City and, due to Arsenal's thrashing at the hands of Liverpool, leapfrogged the two title-hopefuls into first place in the league with a 3-0 win over Newcastle.
After an extremely disciplined performance to neutralise Manuel Pellegrini's side, Chelsea were at their very best against the Magpies—producing a scintillating attacking performance that is looking likely to lead them to Premier League glory.
Monk Makes Case for Swansea Job
Much has been made of Michael Laudrup's sacking at Swansea. Despite a poor run of form, the news that the Dane had left the Liberty Stadium came as a shock.
Whilst much media attention has been focused on Laudrup's potential lawsuit against his former employers, caretaker player/manager Garry Monk was quietly going about his business.
The defender has been given the job on a temporary basis, and, amid fan furore, had the perfect chance to get the Swansea faithful on side as they hosted archrivals Cardiff.
Aside from claiming bragging rights, the Swans would have been eager to avenge the defeat to the Bluebirds earlier in the season. And that is exactly what they did.
Three second-half goals earned the Swans a huge derby win and Monk instant recognition as he embarks on his first managerial assignment.
'Goal-Shy' City Stutter Again
Manchester City scored 68 goals during their first 23 games of the season. Manuel Pellegrini's men were scoring goals for fun and looked serious candidates to claim the Premier League trophy.
City had hit Tottenham and Arsenal for six earlier in the season and had even put seven past Norwich, but a 0-0 draw with the Canaries at Carrow Road ensured that the Citizens failed to score in consecutive Premier League games for the first time since Jan. 1, 2012.
Pellegrini's men came unstuck against Chelsea during Week 24 of the campaign and were frustrated further by a stubborn Norwich side that were rarely worried by the out-of-sorts City.
In failing to beat Chris Hughton's side, City relinquished the chance to move to the top of the Premier League.
New Boys Edge Palace Closer to Safety
Debut goals from Tom Ince and Joe Ledley helped Crystal Palace to a 3-1 win over West Brom—a victory that moves the Eagles three points clear of the relegation zone.
Tony Pulis has worked wonders at the London club since taking over as manager in November, guiding them out of the drop zone and toward mid-table. The boss has seen his side pick up 16 points from a possible 21 at Selhurst Park and has become an instant hit with the Palace faithful.
And a successful transfer window, in which the Eagles acquired four solid, experienced signings as well as hot-prospect Tom Ince, seems to be paying dividends as Palace edge nearer to safety.
Bruce Gets One over Sunderland in Much-Needed Win
Hull claimed a vital three points in a comfortable 2-0 win over Sunderland at the Stadium of Light. The win was Hull's first in the league since a 6-0 defeat of Fulham on Dec. 28 and only their second away from home this term.
New signings Shane Long and Nikica Jelavic got the goals in a match of which Hull dominated from the first moment. The defeat was a tough one to take for Black Cats boss Gus Poyet, who was looking to steer his team to a fourth consecutive win in the league, as Steve Bruce returned to the Stadium of Light for the first time since his sacking in November 2011.
Villa Learn How to Keep the Ball but Forget How to Defend
Aston Villa have spent the least amount of time on the ball in the Premier League this season. Despite the worrying statistic, Villa have been quite effective—usually when away from home—as they opt for a counter-attacking style of football.
Villa boss Paul Lambert's method has seen the Claret and Blues pick up impressive wins against the likes of Arsenal and Manchester City. However, the tactic has been less successful at home when opposition are less likely to all-out attack—27 percent possession in a 1-1 draw with Swansea at Villa Park is evidence of this.
However, the Villans changed their game plan against West Ham—enjoying 68 percent possession. It's just a shame for the Villa fans that their side gifted the Hammers two goals as Sam Allardyce's men clawed their way out of the relegation zone.
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