Premier League Winners and Losers: Manchester, North London, and More from GW 22
I think it's safe to say this weekend in the English Premier League lived up to it's hype.
But as exciting as it was, the favorites emerged as winners in both of the big matches, and provided us with no upsets or shock results. Sure, both North London sides didn't go down without a fight, and in the end the Manchester sides left it late before asserting their leads at the top of the table.
It was a disappointing weekend for the clubs chasing a European spot, as Arsenal, Newcastle, and Liverpool all suffered crushing defeats.
There are plenty of winners, losers, and talking points from this weekend, so let's get right to it.
Winner: The Goal-Drought Sufferers
Tim Cahill ended his goal drought lasting for over a year with a strike that put Everton in front against Blackburn. Unfortunately, Cahill's failed clearance was later at fault for Blackburn's equalizer, but getting the goal monkey off of his back should surely help the midfielder's season.
He wasn't the only one, as Wigan forward Hugo Rodallega was in on it too. Rodallega was the Lactics' main goal threat last season, but was yet to score in this Premier League campaign until his second half strike against QPR this weekend.
Torres has still had no such luck...
After a rough start to the season, things seem to be finally falling into place for Sunderland. But rather than crediting the Tyne-Wear outfit's success to quality players like Larsson and Sessegnon, you have to hand it to Martin O'Neill.
Since Martin O'Neill took over at Sunderland, the Black Cats have climbed up to 10th place, saving their season from a relegation scrap and now looking ahead to a high-to-mid table finish.
As one of the best managers in the business, O'Neill certainly has the ability to lead his side to glory.
After an average start to the season, QPR looked destined to finish their Premier League campaign in midtable. But in the past few months the Rangers' season self-distructed as they fell to 17th place and sacked their manager, with Mark Hughes shortly taking over.
The London outfit got their first win under Hughes' management in a crucial 3-1 victory over fellow relegation-threatened Wigan Athletic, climbing back up to 16th place with 20 points.
Nonethelss, Mark Hughes still has plenty of work to do in order to save QPR from a devastating relegation.
Winner: Clint Dempsey
Clint Dempsey's hat trick in Fulham's 5-2 win over Newcastle made him the first American to ever score a hat trick in the Premier League.
In my opinion, at least, Dempsey is the best American outfield player to ever play in the Premier League.
Can you think of someone better?
Winner: Bolton Wanderers
Bolton's shocking 3-1 win over Liverpool at the Reebok Stadium raised them out of the relegation zone and into 17th place.
It was a completely unexpected win from Owen Coyle's side that can hopefully give them a boost to salvage a midtable finish from their frankly awful season thus far. It's been a really disappointing campaign for Bolton, as people expected them to achieve a top half finish and at least do better than a relegation scrap.
For the Wanderers, this 3-1 upset is hopefully the result that can set a good run of form and pull them farther away from the zone of death.
Winner: Super Mario and Manchester City
Manchester City clearly aren't as dominant as they were at the start of the season—but they're still pretty darn good.
The first goal the Citizens conceded against Spurs was one due to poor defending, as a Tottenham clearance somehow ended up with Jermaine Defoe slotting the ball home into an empty net. City couldn't do anything about the second goal they conceded, which was just a bit of Gareth Bale magic, but the Manchester outfit have any chinks in their armour, they were certainly exposed today.
Nonetheless, the dynamic Mario Balotelli converted a well-deserved penalty in stoppage time, and City have kept their Manchester rivals still chasing their heels.
Winner: Manchester United
Manchester United kept the pressure on Manchester City as they travelled to the Emirates and defeated Arsenal for the second time this season.
After a hard-fought and well-deserved win, Manchester United grabbed the three points that they desperately needed to stay alive in the title race, as they still find themselves just three points behind the blue half of Manchester.
They may be playing Europa League football, but you never can count the Red Devils out of the title race...
After Wolves stayed out of the drop zone for a good chunk of the season, they've now fallen into 19th place following their 3-2 loss to Aston Villa at the Molineux.
Mick McCarthy's men always seem to be candidates for relegation, but until this weekend they seemed to be doing a decent job at keeping themselves out of the dreaded zone of death.
And something tells me that they'll be there for a while...
So much for a calm, stress-free season for Wigan.
After their 13th loss of the season in a 3-1 defeat to QPR, Roberto Martinez's men are now at dead bottom of the table with a goal difference of -26 and 15 points. That's three points behind the 19th placed team, Wolves, and 7 goals worse than the second-worst goal difference in the league, Bolton.
Will they be able to pull off another Houdini this season, escaping relegation on the last day of play?
It's football—who knows...
Liverpool have arguably been the most disappointing side so far this Premier League season. After Kenny Daglish made his mark on the club by making mega million-pound moves in the January and summer transfer windows, fans were predicting a certain Champions League spot and maybe even a title challenge.
But here's what happened to the signings that were supposed to do that: Luis Suarez is racist, Andy Carroll is the second biggest flop in the Premier League at the moment (need I say who the biggest is?), and Stewart Downing hasn't scored one goal in the Premier League so far.
Aside from Jose Enrique being one of the best right backs in England and Charlie Adam proving a good signing, Dalgish has yet to make much of an impact at Anfield through the transfer market.
With just nine wins and having scored less goals than relegation-threatened Bolton and Blackburn, Liverpool will be lucky to get a Europa League spot from their lackluster season.
As an Arsenal supporter, I really don't know where to start, so I'll try my best not to rant.
It's been a strange season for the Gunners. They usually start strong and fade towards February/March, but instead this season they started very weakly and resurged with a brilliant run of form. We've now become weak again, losing three straight and losing our grasp of a top four finish.
Arsenal are no longer title contenders, and there's really no secret why. Firstly, Robin Van Persie seems to be the only player on Arsenal capable of scoring goals. Sure, Vermaelen is a threat from just about any part of the pitch, both Gervinho and Walcott can score when they've got their shooting boots on and Arteta knows where the goal is, but for the most part the North London outfit's attack would be pretty dull if it weren't for the Flying Dutchman.
Second, Arsenal have no player that can come off of the bench and really make an impact, besides loanee Thierry Henry, ironically. Benayoun is good at times and did make his mark against Aston Villa, but Chamakh provides no threat whatsoever—and don't even let me get started on Arshavin.
Third, of course, is Arsene Wenger's reluctancy to spend any of his transfer kitty, which apparently is about 35 million pounds. With that kind of money the Frenchman could bolster his defense with a man like Jan Vertonghen or Christopher Samba, or give his midfield a creativity boost by buying Eden Hazard or Mario Gotze.
Did I forget about the defense leaking goals? That one's just a given.