Seven things we learned from this weekend's Premier League: Liverpool attack is title material, but their defence is not; Ole Gunnar Solksjaer has brought no bounce to Cardiff City; Spurs defeat couldn't come at a worse time for Tim Sherwood
Also, a century of wins puts Steve Bruce in impressive company; Ruthlessness goes hand in glove with Sam Allardyce's loyalty; Wayne Rooney has a lot still to pay back to Manchester United; The League Cup could wreck Manchester City’s season
Liverpool's attack are genuine title contenders, but their defence is not
Liverpool maintained their Premier League title credentials with a nail-biting 4-3 victory over Brendan Rodgers' former club Swansea, and England fans will have been delighted to see Daniel Sturridge maintain his red-hot form with a brace against the Swans. However, their back-four once again failed to impress, while Simon Mignolet failed to keep a clean sheet for the 22nd time this season. Unless they can solve their serious concerns at the back, they won't be challenging the back four anytime soon.
“Dead cat bounce” is a phrase used by City brokers to describe the phenomenon by which even worthless shares recover something of their value before falling through the floor for the final time. In football it applies to changing the manager. There appears, however, to be no such thing as a dead Dragon bounce. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s appointment has accelerated rather than slowed Cardiff City’s decline. Under Malky Mackay, Cardiff averaged 0.94 points a game, which would probably have been just enough to survive. In the nine matches since, that modest haul has fallen to an ominous 0.55 points per game.
Spurs' shortcomings don't help Tim Sherwood's future
The pressure was on Chris Hughton to earn a result against Tottenham on Sunday, and like he has shown time again when his back is against the wall, his Norwich side produced the goods to earn the three points. But for opposite man Tim Sherwood, defeat couldn't have come at a worse time. The match came at the end of a week that has seen speculation regarding an approach for current Italy coach Cesare Prandelli and Netherlands manager Louis van Gaal express their interest in working at White Hart Lane.
Century of wins puts Bruce in an impressive company
Hull City’s 4-0 thrashing of Cardiff was Steve Bruce’s 100th Premier League victory. He is the 16th manager to reach this landmark and given the clubs he has taken charge of – Birmingham, Wigan, Sunderland and Hull – this ranks as a serious achievement. Of those 16, only four – Sam Allardyce, Martin O’Neill, Alan Curbishley and Bruce – have not taken charge of a club where they have been allowed to spend serious money. Curiously, all four are from the United Kingdom.
Ruthlessness goes hand in glove with Big Sam’s loyalty
The old East End quality of loyalty still remains at Upton Park. The backing Sam Allardyce received from the club’s owners was key to West Ham’s survival, which the 3-1 win over Southampton virtually guaranteed. So were the goals scored by Kevin Nolan, who followed Allardyce from Bolton to London via Newcastle. Yet a turning point was Allardyce’s dumping of Jussi Jaaskelainen, a goalkeeper he had worked with at Bolton. Had Adrian not been beaten by Maya Yoshida, he would have equalled West Ham’s record for successive clean sheets, set by Phil Parkes in 1985-86.
Rooney has a lot still to pay back to Manchester United
After Wayne Rooney’s sweetly struck volley at Crystal Palace, the headlines were all about the striker repaying something of the vast sum he had extracted from Manchester United. The 2-0 win moved United up from seventh to sixth in the Premier League. That represents £750,000 prize money – or 0.01 per cent of Rooney’s £75m contract.
The League Cup could wreck City’s season
Sunday’s League Cup final between Manchester City and Sunderland is expected to be the most one-sided Wembley affair since... the last time City were there. However, after a laboured 1-0 win over Stoke took the club’s tally of goals to a trickle of three in five games, Samir Nasri recalled that Arsenal won just two league games after losing the 2011 League Cup final against Birmingham, slipping from second place to fourth.
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