Six things we learned from the Premier League this weekend: Manchester United lack belief under David Moyes; Norwich remain a formidable bet; capital gains for Newcastle; Southampton anniversary; Puncheon's goal does the talking; Solskjaer needs to find home comfort
A round-up of the key talking points from the latest round of Premier League fixtures
A C Grayling
A. C. Grayling is an English philosopher and founder of independent undergraduate college, New College of the Humanities. He is the author of several books including The Refutation of Scepticism (1985), The Meaning of Things (2001) and The Good Book (2011).
Monday 20 January 2014
United under Moyes lack Fergie’s comeback power
Almost exactly two years ago, Chelsea went 3-0 up early in the second half at Stamford Bridge, only for Manchester United to surge back into the game and draw 3-3. Eight of the players who started for United that day started on Sunday, but the big change has obviously been off the pitch.
United, in the post-Ferguson era, do not have the same reserves of courage and belief that helped them to come from behind as well as they used to do.
Even when Javier Hernandez scored last night, it only ever felt like a futile consolation.
Hull win shows Norwich remain a formidable bet
If you’ve always wanted to bet on football but were afraid to start, Norwich City will offer you a gentle introduction. Their Premier League form is fairly predictable. If Chris Hughton’s side are facing anyone in the top 10, don’t bet on them. The last time they got a point from those teams was in August against Southampton. Yet against any of the bottom 10, they will usually earn something, like on Saturday when they beat Hull 1-0. Aside from a December defeat to Fulham, you have to go back to August, when they lost 1-0 at Hull for when they last did not.
Pardew has made good capital gains for Newcastle
It was once a fact of life for Newcastle fans that trips to London were memorable only for the beer and the nice service provided by the East Coast main line. Alan Pardew, born in Wimbledon and who until he came to Tyneside had spent his playing and managerial career no further north than Barnet, has changed that mindset. He has already engineered Newcastle’s first wins at Chelsea since 1986, at Arsenal since 2001 and the first win at Tottenham for five years, in November. Saturday’s 3-1 win at West Ham was their third in the capital this season.
Some Southampton 2-2 draws are better than others
It was fitting that Mauricio Pochettino should celebrate the first anniversary of his appointment as Southampton manager with a 2-2 away draw. It was a more difficult 2-2 draw, away at Chelsea rather than Sunderland, that persuaded Nicola Cortese to sack Nigel Adkins, who had taken Southampton from the third tier to the Premier League. Though Saints are in a better position now, it does not excuse Cortese’s most ruthless piece of business. Adkins celebrated the anniversary of his sacking by leading Reading to a 7-1 win over Bolton.
Puncheon falls silent but his goal does a lot of talking
After Jason Puncheon’s goal against Stoke took Crystal Palace out of the drop zone, many rushed to gauge his reaction on a Twitter account that has already offended the loveable pair of Neil Warnock and Nicola Cortese.
Sadly, while Puncheon’s laughable penalty miss against Tottenham provoked tweets to Warnock that may end up in court, his winner has produced nothing from @punch_jason. Yet his goal may mean a proposed deal with Southampton to make his loan move permanent is that much easier to seal.
Solskjaer needs to find home comfort next month
For those who follow Cardiff City, geography is important. Saturday’s 4-2 defeat at the Etihad was the first of three straight games in Greater Manchester. However, in the league at least Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will spend the whole of February in Wales. Cardiff’s home games against Norwich, Aston Villa and Hull are matches that will go a long way to deciding their fate and are winnable – as is the derby at Swansea, who last tasted victory as long ago as 4 December. If they are bottom come March, Ole’s game might be up.
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