5 Things We Learned from Premier League Weekend

Neri SteinFeatured ColumnistDecember 6, 2011

5 Things We Learned from Premier League Weekend

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    There won't be any Premier League players in Zurich when the Ballon dÓr is announced in January, but England is still the place to go for the most exciting football each weekend—most weekends at least.

    Liverpool lost 1-0 to Fulham on Monday to close out a terrible weekend for them, as Tottenham, Arsenal and Chelsea all registered big wins on Saturday. 

    Table-toppers Manchester City got back into the swing of things with a 5-1 demolition of Norwich City, but Manchester United stayed within touching distance with yet another 1-0 win, this time over Aston Villa. 

    So, what else did we learn this weekend? 

Chelsea Unconvincingly Get a Much-Needed Win

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    Chelsea picked up a much-needed win at Newcastle on Saturday, but yet again, it was in no way convincing. 

    Frank Lampard did nothing to shut up his critics with a poorly taken penalty, which was saved by Tim Krul, and the defense was shaky once again, especially David Luiz who should've been off early in the game for barreling down Demba Ba. 

    The 3-0 scoreline didn't do Newcastle justice as Chelsea didn't put the game to bed until late on. Still, it's the results and the points that count, and that's what Chelsea got to make it two 3-0 victories in a row. 

    It's a very good result for Andre Villas-Boas and the Blues and certainly gives the manager a bit of breathing room, but it is not a win they can get caught up in. It was a good result but in no way a good enough performance. 

    The Blues are fourth in table now, but that won't do for Roman Abramovich come May, and Chelsea's lack of consistency throughout the season and their poor play against other top sides is still cause for concern. 

Fernando Torres Is No Longer Needed

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    Continuing with Chelsea, the Blues' latest mega transfer just isn't working out, and it's safe to say, it's not going to. 

    Fernando Torres has not settled into life at Chelsea yet, and he hasn't had anything resembling his previous form in close to a year, and it's time Roman Abramovich gives up—or Andre Villas-Boas tells him to. 

    Didier Drogba has played surprisingly well this year despite injuries and suspension, and Daniel Sturridge has been excellent. 

    Torres, meanwhile, has showed moments of brilliance coupled with far too many moments of nothing. He certainly still has some skills left as he provided the assist for Chelsea's second goal at Newcastle to really kill the game off, but Chelsea did not pay £50 million for the odd assist in an 11-minute substitute appearance. 

    Selling Torres may actually be difficult as there are plenty of hot, young strikers on the market, but a loan move is certainly not out of the question.

    Are there any Premier League teams that would take a chance on the striker, or does his future lie abroad? Or will Abramovich cling to this one a bit longer?

Martin O'Neill Has a Lot of Work To Do

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    Sunderland fired Steve Bruce last week and hired Martin O'Neill as his replacement. The former Aston Villa manager was on hand to see his new side's 2-1 defeat at Wolves, and he saw just how much work he has to do. 

    Sunderland have struggled since early 2011 when they let Darren Bent go to Villa, and with Asamoah Gyan leaving late in the summer, the Black Cats are very inexperienced and have a long way to go to stave off relegation.

    There is a lot of potential at Sunderland though, and O'Neill could well be the man to make something of it. His Aston Villa side regularly finished in the top six, but it may be too late in this season for that to happen with Sunderland.

    With O'Neill at the helm, however, a mid-table finish is not out of the question for Sunderland. He's always been a manager who's gotten the best out his players, and he very well could've passed up the England job to return to the Premier League (granted, Harry Redknapp is the front-runner there). 

    The real question is, where will Bruce go from here? 

Spread the Wealth

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    It's never good to be too dependent on one or two players to do to the bulk of the team's scoring, and that's certainly been true this season and particularly this weekend.

    Arsenal have been led by Robin van Persie much of this season, but they beat Wigan Saturday 4-0, with all four goals coming from different players. Manchester City saw five players score, and Chelsea and Tottenham each had three different scorers for each of their goals. 

    Liverpool and Manchester United, on the other hand, have struggled to score in bunches much this season, and both have frequently been relying on the same one or two players to put the ball in the back of the net. 

    You need to have plenty of scoring options in the Premier League these days, in addition to a solid defense, to get the job done.  

How Are You Supposed To Tackle These Days?

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    We've seen quite a few silly red cards this Premier League season, and Gary Cahill against Tottenham and Jay Spearing against Fulham are just the two latest ones. 

    Cahill stuck his leg out in front of Scott Parker around midfield, and Stuart Atwell's decision to send him off immediately was baffling. It wasn't nearly a reckless enough challenge to be a straight red, and there's no way it could've been for preventing a scoring opportunity.

    Spearing was penalized rather harshly for his follow-through on Dembele at Craven Cottage Monday. The young midfielder, who was brought in to replace the injured Lucas Leiva, won the ball, but because of how he went in, he was always in danger of being sent off. 

    It's almost impossible to tackle these days because challenges always look worse than they are, and officials are too quick to send players off, except of course when they actually should be sent off (David Luiz, for example). 

    So what should players do? If they don't make the challenge, chances are they put their defense in a tight spot. If they do, it could be even worse, as we've seen much of this season.