5 Things We Learned from Premier League Weekend

Neri Stein@neristeinFeatured ColumnistNovember 28, 2011

5 Things We Learned from Premier League Weekend

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    It was a weekend of poor decisions and draws in the Premier League, but at least they were some exciting draws. 

    Arsenal vs. Fulham, Manchester United vs. Newcastle and Liverpool vs. Manchester City all ended in 1-1 draws, meaning five of the top seven sides dropped points. 

    Chelsea and Tottenham however took advantage, and both earned a big three points to stay in the mix at the top.

    Meanwhile, Steve Kean and Steve Bruce saw their managerial seats gets a little bit hotter, as Blackburn and Sunderland both lost.

    What else happened in Week 13 of the Premier League season? Let's find out.            

Mixed Results for Manchester United Summer Signings

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    Ashely Young came to Manchester United this past summer and started the season, like his new team, in scintillating form. He seemed unstoppable on the wings and scored a few fantastic goals. 

    Since then, however, the Englishman has cooled off quite a lot. For yet another game, Young was very quiet for Manchester United against Newcastle and had difficultly getting on the ball or delivering good crosses. 

    With the scores knotted at one goal apiece, Young played a tame cross that was easily collected by Newcastle's Tim Krul. It was a ball Javier Hernandez, sitting right in front of goal and going through a rut of his own, would've loved to put in the back of the net. 

    David de Gea, meanwhile, the young and pricey goalkeeper who came over from Atletico Madrid, started his season off shaky at best, but he was no doubt man of the match against Newcastle. 

    De Gea matched his counterpart Krul fantastic save for fantastic save, even though he didn't have nearly as much to do in the second half. 

    Manchester United has too many players who are playing mediocre football at the moment, but under Sir Alex Ferguson, they have won numerous titles with strong second half play. Manchester City's lead is only five points, so United is certainly still a team to watch out for. 

    They need Young and Chicharito to rediscover their previous form, however. 

Andre Villas-Boas Does Know What He's Doing

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    Andre Villas-Boas is a good manager, and he knows what he's doing when he doesn't let the owner make decisions for him. 

    Granted, playing Wolverhampton Wanderers is much different than playing Liverpool, but Chelsea looked an entirely different and more relaxed side while beating Wolves, 3-0, on Saturday. The win kept Chelsea in fifth place, but it was a good weekend for them, seeing five of the other top seven sides drop points. 

    AVB left Frank Lampard on the bench after the English midfielder has been fine at best this season, and his side looked quicker for it. Lamps is clearly not to blame for Chelsea's poor form of late, but he was almost invisible against Liverpool a week ago. 

    The selection also prevented Lampard from picking up a yellow card that would've ruled him out against Liverpool in the Carling Cup on Tuesday (like John Terry). 

    It also seems as though AVB will not be bullied into playing Fernando Torres the way Carlo Ancelotti was. Torres is playing so poorly right now, there's really no way anyone can complain.

    If AVB can get more performances like the one against Wolves, he may guarantee himself a few months of job security.  

    AVB said after the game Saturday he thinks his side can win the title. At 10 points behind Manchester City, it's not impossible, but Chelsea simply don't seem strong enough. They may have a say, but it won't be for themselves. 

Which Steve Will Be Out First, Kean or Bruce?

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    In terms of results, nothing can go Steve Kean or Blackburn's way. Moreover, there's probably nothing Steve Kean could do to get the Rovers fans back on his side.

    Still, with Blackburn firmly rooted bottom of the table and fans calling for his head daily pretty much since he was hired, it doesn't look like Kean is going anywhere anytime soon. 

    Over in Sunderland, though, after several somewhat successful seasons, Steve Bruce seems to already be on way out after a poor start to the season that has the Black Cats at 16th in the table with only 11 points. 

    Both Blackburn and Sunderland suffered defeat at the weekend, to Stoke and Wigan, and both managers were horribly delusional in their post-game talks. 

    Kean thinks his Blackburn side is playing well and still has time to turn things around, while Bruce says he will not just run away despite extremely angry chants from the fans. 

    Oddly enough, Bruce is more likely to be sacked first. Blackburn's owners have stuck with Kean this far, so what would a new manager even be able to do? 

    Bruce, meanwhile, could've met his end. Sunderland have been in a free fall since letting Darren Bent go to Aston Villa last January, and they don't have the talent to come out of their funk. 

Tottenham Are Third!

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    Tottenham Hotspur are third in the table, just two points behind Manchester United, and they have won five straight Premier League games and six of their last seven. They also haven't lost in the league since they lost their first two matches against Manchesters United and City. 

    How does Harry Redknapp do this every time? Spurs aren't playing spectacular football, but they're doing enough to get wins, whether they deserve them or not. 

    Will Tottenham be able to keep up this form, though? 

    Redknapp says he won't bring in any new players in January (but he always says things he doesn't mean), and Spurs don't have the deepest of benches. 

    They are, however, consistently good under Redknapp. Spurs don't face many dry spells where they drop lots of points or games where they just don't score for no conceivable reason (Liverpool). 

    Tottenham are outperforming Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal so far this year, but it remains to be seen if they can keep it up. 

There's a Reason It's Always You, Mario

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    First off, Martin Skrtel made a huge meal of the elbow he took late on in Liverpool's 1-1 draw with leaders Manchester City. 

    However, Mario Balotelli is continuously shooting himself in the foot. 

    Balotelli was already on a yellow card for another stupid foul, and there was no reason for him to challenge for the ball that way. He clearly led with his elbow, and that's what Martin Atkinson saw, and that's why he sent the Italian bad boy off (OK, the Liverpool players helped a bit). 

    Luckily for Roberto Mancini, he's got Joe Hart in goal, so his side remained undefeated, but he was certainly angry that his striker continues to get himself into trouble. 

    Atkinson had a poor game (again), but Balotelli needs to be smarter, especially late on in big games. 

    Balotelli was brought on late in the game, and his only impact was his two yellow cards. He's a fantastic player, but if he could only get his head on straight (lost count of how many times I've said that). 

    Based on his post-game talk, it seems as though Mancini is just one more Balotelli slip-up away from giving up on the striker. Who could blame him given how much money he has at his disposal either?