5 Things We Learned from Premier League Week 28: Arsenal's Title Hopes Are Over
After what has been yet another incident-packed weekend of Premier League football full of captivating drama, touchline brawls, controversial decisions, shock results and some more eye-catching goals to savour, we have chosen five talking points to discuss from the past two days of top-flight action.
Read on to see the selections.
Spot-on Walters Shows He Can Make Opponents Pay the Penalty
Stoke City fans held their collective breath when they realised the identity of just who was going to take their crucial late penalty against Arsenal at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
And that is because the man taking on the responsibility, striker Jonathan Walters, had failed to convert four of his previous six spot-kicks for the struggling Potters—placing even more pressure on the Republic of Ireland international’s shoulders to break the deadlock against the Gunners.
However, the home supporters need not have worried as the 30-year-old kept his nerve to score from the spot. Walters' strike helped Mark Hughes’ side claim yet another huge Premier League scalp in the Potteries to go alongside previous victims Chelsea and Manchester United.
Jonathan Walters has a 62% penalty conversion rate - El Hadji Diouf has the worst record with 40% (of those who have taken 5 penalties)— Match of the Day (@BBCMOTD) August 18, 2013
Impossible to Keep El Pistolero Cocked for Long
The Premier League’s top scorer, Luis Suarez, finally ended his recent goal drought in Liverpool’s impressive 3-0 win over Southampton at St Mary’s on Saturday evening.
The Uruguay international had arrived on the South Coast having failed to find the back of the net in his previous five outings for Brendan Rodgers’ in-form side; however, it took the striker all of 16 minutes to record his 24th league strike of the campaign against the only team in the Premier League that he had never previously scored against.
And not only that, but Suarez’s opener against the Saints was also his 62nd goal in exactly 100 top-flight encounters since joining the Merseyside giants from Ajax in January 2011—exactly the number of strikes that Reds goalscoring hero Robbie Fowler had managed after the same number of games for the club.
That's Luis Suarez's 62nd goal in Premier League history. He's now level with Beckham, Pires and Collymore. pic.twitter.com/kknJPqlWK0— Squawka Football (@Squawka) March 1, 2014
It’s Deja Vu All over Again for Angry Alan
There was genuine shock around the Premier League on Saturday afternoon after it became known that Newcastle United boss Alan Pardew had headbutted Hull City midfielder David Meyler during the Magpies’ 4-1 win at the KC Stadium.
However, anyone who has held even just a passing interest in the coach’s 15-year managerial career will not be that surprised by Saturday’s shocking events in the North East. Pardew is a man with previous experience when it comes to the business of touchline altercations.
Whether it be the 52-year-old’s March 2006 clash with Arsenal counterpart Arsene Wenger during his time in charge of West Ham United, an on-pitch run-in with Hull players in October 2007 as head coach of Charlton Athletic, or disputes with Sunderland and Manchester City managers Martin O’Neill (March 2012) and Manuel Pellegrini (January 2014), while at the helm at St James’ Park, this is not the first time Pardew has attracted such unsavoury headlines.
And if you were to also throw in for good measure the Londoner’s push of assistant referee Peter Kirkup during a Newcastle versus Tottenham Hotspur encounter in August 2012, then one begins to get a picture of a man seemingly with anger-management problems that need facing.
£100k fine for Pardew but ban still awaits Newcastle manager over what FA chairman describes as 'serious' incident : http://t.co/0ceqhP8GWH— Richard Conway (@richard_conway) March 2, 2014
Last-Gasp Lukaku Just Loves to Leave It Late
Everton's top scorer, Romelu Lukaku, marked his first appearance back since injuring his ankle in the Merseyside derby at Anfield a month ago by scoring the only goal of the game on Saturday afternoon. It was his first strike of 2014 and came against West Ham United at Goodison Park.
There is no doubt that the Toffees are a totally different proposition when the on-loan front man from Chelsea is leading their line. This was seen again against a stubborn Hammers side, whose back four became far more anxious following the 20-year-old’s introduction as a substitute just before the hour mark.
And even though the Belgium international's late winner was only his second goal in his previous 11 matches for Everton, the youngster does tend to score at important times, with seven of his 10 league strikes for the Merseysiders arriving in the final quarter of games.
Arsenal Gunned Down Yet Again at the Britannia
Arsenal continued their miserable recent run at Stoke City on Saturday afternoon as Arsene Wenger’s men lost 1-0 to a side currently desperately fighting to remain clear of the relegation zone.
FACT: Since Arsenal last won a trophy, 23 ex-players sold for £243m, have now won a combined 58 trophies at 19 different clubs.— BBC Sporf (@BBCSporf) March 2, 2014
And that shock setback meant that the North London club have now tasted victory only once in their previous eight visits to the Potteries. Even that win four years ago was badly overshadowed by the horrific leg injury sustained by midfielder Aaron Ramsey.
As a result, this demoralising defeat for the Gunners confirmed two things: that the Britannia Stadium is now the visitors' official bogey ground, as well as many people’s long-held suspicion that Arsenal do not have the necessary strength in depth required to win this season’s Premier League title.