Six things we learnt from this weekend's Premier League: Arsenal must make most of Manchester City win; Oscar the new star for Chelsea

United's fourth-place a precarious place to be, Redknapp can't afford to lose, City get a chance to bounce back and Spurs make case for fitness first

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The Independent Online

ARSENAL NEED TO USE VICTORY AS A TURNING POINT

The sheer surprise among Arsenal fans that their side had claimed a 2-0 victory at Manchester City said all that need to be said of the Gunners’ season so far. Flashes of brilliance have been largely undone by individual errors, injuries and periods of play that wouldn’t look out of place in the Conference. But Sunday’s showing will have injected the squad with a renewed confidence that they are capable of mixing it up with the best – now they need to do exactly that.

Arsene Wenger’s side still face Chelsea and Liverpool at home as well as Manchester United away, and if they fail to win those games then this result will be worthless in another season of mediocrity. Victory, however, will show that they’re capable of challenging for the title, and even if it isn’t enough to beat Chelsea to the top come May, it will show that next season might just be the year for the Gunners.

 

HAZARD TAKES THE PLAUDITS BUT OSCAR IS COMING OF AGE

Eden Hazard is used to stealing the headlines at Chelsea with his dazzling performances over the past 18 months, but it’s Oscar who is currently enjoying the form of his life as he drives on the Chelsea juggernaut. The Brazilian midfielder scored twice in the 5-0 rout of Swansea on Saturday to add to his goal against Newcastle last week, and he is beginning to show signs of a beautiful understanding with striker Diego Costa, who was again among the goals in what is proving to be a very impressive debut season in the Premier League.

At the tender age of 23, Oscar still has his best years ahead of him, and he looks to have won over Jose Mourinho who appeared to be uncertain of him when he returned to Stamford Bridge at the start of last season.

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Oscar scores one of his two goals against Swansea

UNITED SHOULD ENJOY THE TOP FOUR WHILE IT LASTS

Yes, the Premier League is a results business, but that’s all Manchester United have to go on right now. Their performances of late have been flat, uninspiring and disappointing and Saturday’s 2-0 win over what was a poor Queens Park Rangers side only covers up the cracks. If United don’t find a spark from somewhere then their standing in the top-four could very well come under threat – and the players were talking about a title challenge not so long ago.

With Arsenal and Tottenham in close company, United will face a significant challenge to make an instant return to the Champions League, and you can’t rule out Liverpool either who are five points behind their fierce rivals. Any slip-up could prove too costly for United – and Louis van Gaal.

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Marouane Fellaini celebrates with his Manchester United team-mates

DEFEAT AT STOKE COULD SPELL THE END FOR REDKNAPP

Had Harry Redknapp been given the boot after a loss to Manchester United, the wider conception would’ve been that it was a harsh decision. Defeat at Stoke this weekend will be different though, and chairman Tony Fernandes will certainly consider whether Redknapp’s time at the club is done. Redknapp himself claimed that he can’t ask any more from the majority of his squad, which has been largely pieced together from free transfer, ageing players and those who couldn’t cut it at a top Premier league club.

But those excuses will fall on deaf ears if QPR produce another lacklustre performance at the Britannia, and that could prove to be the final nail in the coffin for Redknapp. The one thing Fernandes needs to consider is who could he bring in to replace him? The answers don’t exactly fill you with confidence.

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Redknapp's future at QPR is in threat

CITY HAVE AN IMMEDIATE CHANCE TO MAKE UP FOR DEFEAT

Manchester City lost significant ground to Chelsea in the Premier league title race after their 2-0 defeat to Arsenal yesterday afternoon, but they will be afforded a rare chance to make up for their performance immediately. City travel to London next Saturday to take on the Blues in a top of the table clash – they face Middlesbrough in the FA Cup this weekend – and they can cut the lead at the top to two points with a victory.

It will also be a highly charged day for Frank Lampard, who will return to Stamford Bridge for the first time since leaving the club last year – and scoring against them in the corresponding fixture at the Etihad earlier this season.

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Manuel Pellegrini was critical of his captain's decision-making

SPURS MAKE THE CASE FOR FITNESS FIRST

No team in the top flight has played more than Tottenham this season given their runs in the Europa League, Capital One Cup and the FA Cup, yet they have made a knack of stealing games at the death when the opposition begin to run out of steam. Christian Eriksen’s late winner (how many times have we said that this season) in the 2-1 victory over Sunderland on Saturday was the 11th time this season that Spurs ground out a win by just a single goal, and stands as the seventh game that the winning goal has come in the final 10 minutes.

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Eriksen celebrates his late winner against Sunderland

You have to suggest that Mauricio Pochettino has trained his side in being one of the fittest in the league such is their ability to come on strong late on, and you can be sure that this weekend won’t be the last time that they steal a victory in the closing stages this season.

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