6 Things We Learned from Midweek Premier League Action

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistFebruary 12, 2014

6 Things We Learned from Midweek Premier League Action

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    With Sunderland's trip to Manchester City and Crystal Palace's visit to Everton both postponed due to the weather, the Premier League billing was reduced to just eight fixtures this week.

    However, that didn't stop the buzz of midweek football reverberating amid the nation, with the English top flight soaking in its last plaudits before the FA Cup break.

    Tuesday and Wednesday night's action didn't fail to impress either, with a host of lessons learned from the action on display.

1. West Brom Cementing Reputation as Chelsea's Bogey Team

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    Chelsea have managed to win just one of their last five Premier League encounters with West Brom, Tuesday evening's 1-1 draw at the Hawthorns standing as the second time this season that the two teams have split the points.

    Pepe Mel and Jose Mourinho have a history against one another, the former having taken on his manager counterpart when he was Real Betis boss and Mourinho was still at Real Madrid's helm.

    While the Baggies had less of the possession and didn't impact Petr Cech's goal quite as often, the West Midlands hosts can nevertheless be proud of their recent record against the Blues, albeit not managing to keep a clean sheet against Mourinho's men since March 2012.

    Bogey teams are a superstition in football, and yet pose an issue to all teams that logic doesn't always seem to affect. Mourinho and his West London outfit will undoubtedly treat all their opponents with the same amount of respect, but form would suggest that West Brom may require that much more attention in future.

2. David Marshall Contending for Premier League's Best Stopper Right Now

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    Rui Vieira/Associated Press

    Ole Gunnar Solskjaer may not have been Cardiff City boss for long, but the Norwegian is quickly getting to grips with his squad and will certainly have taken note of how valuable his goalkeeper has been to the club recently.

    On Tuesday evening, David Marshall stood as the Bluebirds' champion come the full-time whistle, his last-minute Save of the Season contender against Andreas Weimann still fresh in the mind as the moment that preserved a point from the 0-0 stalemate.

    While the high-profile likes of Petr Cech, David De Gea and Simon Mignolet may grab the plaudits for their fine work on a regular basis, there's cause to believe Marshall is the in-form stopper of the English top flight right now.

    Squawka statistics show that the Glaswegian has made an average of two saves per goal this term, while Cech, De Gea and Mignolet boast lesser averages of 1.76, 1.83 and 1.96, respectively, showing exactly how busy he is in the Cardiff goal.

    Of course, Marshall isn't the first stopping sensation to enjoy a sparkle in form and receive plaudits that may not last a lifetime, a la John Ruddy or Ben Foster, but is deserving of his current praise nonetheless.

3. West Ham Boast Division's Fastest Rising Stock?

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    Sang Tan/Associated Press

    From basement side to top-half contenders in a matter of just 270 minutes, West Ham's 2-0 win over Norwich City on Tuesday maintained the meteoric rise of Sam Allardyce's crop.

    With three wins on the trot, the Hammers have soared from 18th to 10th, and although the relegation zone is still just four points away, Allardyce will undoubtedly take some time to revel in recent successes.

    Against the Canaries, Mohamed Diame played the role of the hero, scoring one goal and assisting another, but West Ham would seem to be improving as a collective, and at an ideal time of the campaign at that.

4. Nemanja Vidic Emphasises What a Loss He'll Be

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    Jon Super/Associated Press

    With Nemanja Vidic's recent announcement of his intentions to leave Manchester United at the end of the season, per Jamie Jackson of The Guardian, the Red Devils are a team in relative shock of late.

    Not that those at Old Trafford will be completely surprised by the defender's decision, but for it to be said aloud merely makes the sizeable impact that much more daunting.

    At the Emirates, Stadium, Vidic once again rose to the big occasion to see off a myriad of significant Arsenal threats on goal, standing with a valuable point to his team's tally as a result.

    Squawka statistics show that the Serbian made an astounding 18 clearances, maintaining an 85 percent passing accuracy and completing two of his three tackling attempts.

    Now, the dilemma intensifies as to who will step into the stalwart's place.

5. Liverpool Showing Champions League Credentials

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    Sang Tan/Associated Press

    A late 90th-minute winner from Steven Gerrard is no unique headline, and Wednesday evening's confidently struck 90th-minute penalty was just another clinical ending to save the Liverpool cause.

    Clinching decisions late in the game has always been loosely associated as the trademark of many a great team, and it was the Merseyside visitors who displayed theirs thanks to a comeback from 2-1 down at Craven Cottage.

    As a result, Brendan Rodgers' men keep Tottenham at arm's length, surviving another week among the Premier League's top four.

6. Tottenham's Goal Difference Deficit Creeping Within Reach

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    Scott Heppell/Associated Press

    For the first time this league term, Tottenham got four goals on the board in their drubbing of Newcastle United on Wednesday, showing that their hopes of reducing the goal difference afflicting their campaign aren't futile.

    As things stand, Liverpool sit three points above Time Sherwood's side, but their 30-goal superior goal difference is enough to use that old adage of being "as good as another point."

    Sherwood's evidently showing signs of integrating further within his role as manager of the club, with his side scoring two goals or more in six of their last 10 matches.

    The main benefit to Sherwood's appointment has the been the appearance of a more regular, consistent line-up, the rotation of Andre Villas-Boas' tenure simmering away.