Six things we learnt: Manchester United show even the mighty can fall; Arsenal in danger of slipping away; Liverpool are tired for a reason

Pardew and Allardyce reaping rewards of owners' faith, time running out for Poyet and Spurs must give Pochettino a real chance

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The Independent Online

Manchester United’s celebration of a point against Chelsea shows how far they’ve fallen

The celebrations at the final whistle showed the importance of Robin van Persie’s injury-time goal to Manchester United, but have you ever seen a 1-1 equaliser cheered so vigorously by the home side at Old Trafford?

Once upon a time United were kings of ‘Fergie time’, when their never say die attitude would see them fight back from the jaws of defeat to an unlikely victory. One such memory was Michael Owen’s match-winner against rivals Manchester City back in 2009 to secure an incredible 4-3 win, but that’s exactly what they are now. Memories.

Louis van Gaal can take positives from the late goal, there’s no question about that, but it’s a sad day when a club that was as powerful and dominating such as United were resorts to cheering a 1-1 draw with a team 10 points ahead of them with as much passion as winning the Champions League.

 

Arsenal are in danger of falling away before Christmas

A 2-0 win over Sunderland was a welcome relief for the Gunners having endured a pretty miserable run of two wins in eight games, but it still wasn’t the type of clinical performance you would expect from such a talented side.

Alexis Sanchez is looking like a very smart buy from Arsene Wenger – certainly more so than the £42.5m addition of Mesut Özil a year previous – but at the moment he is having to do it alone. Danny Welbeck enjoyed a strong start to his Arsenal career but has proven wasteful over the last few weeks. He’s young enough to develop further, but Arsenal really need something to lift them now.

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With Arsenal nine points off the pace set by Chelsea, they must get victories against Manchester United, Southampton and Liverpool in the coming two months as well as results against the smaller teams that have posed them significant problems this season already – think back to games against Leicester, Crystal Palace and the midweek miracle against Anderlecht. Failure to do so would see the Gunners slip further from the top, and into an all-to-familiar battle for fourth place.

Liverpool are struggling to cope with increase in fixtures and a busy summer

What has gone wrong at Anfield, it can’t be all down to the departure of Luis Suarez, surely? He’s certainly a big loss, and the enforced absence of Daniel Sturridge hasn’t helped at all. But it’s the Liverpool midfield where they look particularly sluggish.

The likes of Raheem Sterling, Jordan Henderson and Philippe Coutinho were almost unstoppable when they were on the front foot, while Steven Gerrard rolled back the years with commanding displays from his newly adapted holding role in the centre of the park. But this season the added pressure of Champions League group games off the back of a World Cup campaign for the England stars named above has seen Liverpool dramatically suffer a major dip in form.

Gerrard.jpgA look at Gerrard’s stats this season hides the truth. The Reds’ skipper has played 12 times this season, missing only the Capital One Cup penalty shootout win over Middlesbrough. By this time last year, Gerrard had played 11 matches for Liverpool, but five for England given he was still playing for his country. So he shouldn’t be any more tired than he was in 2013? From both his and Liverpool’s performances, he clearly is and the lack of a summer’s rest could be the key factor in their decline.

Alan Pardew and Sam Allardyce are rewarding club owners’ faith

Only Tony Pulis has left a Premier League club this season, and even that came on the eve of the campaign when he parted company with Crystal Palace. He could easily have been joined by two others, but somehow Alan Pardew and Sam Allardyce have survived their stay of execution.

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Sam Allardyce makes a gesture on the touchline on Saturday

Allardyce was backed to be the first man to lose his job following the frustration and anger shown at his side’s performances last season, but with the board at Upton Park showing support in not sacking him and investing in the squad during the summer, the Hammers are reaping the rewards this season. Flying high in fourth, pre-season expectations of a relegation dogfight appear to be on the verge of being thrown out the window, and Allardyce appears a much happier character in the dugout than he did when he was being jeered by the West Ham faithful.

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Pardew and Carver celebrate a Newcastle goal as Pochettino looks on in despair

Pardew is not out of the woods yet, far from it in fact, but back-to-back wins have lifted the Magpies out of the relegation zone. Last weekend’s 1-0 victory over Leicester replicated that of a nervy side that was desperate for a change in fortunes, and Gabriel Obertan’s winner proved to be just that. But Sunday’s 2-1 win over Tottenham was a deserved victory that showed there may be life in Pardew yet. The one worry will be their next two matches – a trip to Manchester City before entertaining Liverpool.

Time might be running out for Gus Poyet

The 8-0 demolition to Southampton was bad enough, but the manner of the 2-0 loss to Arsenal might be even worse for Gus Poyet. The Uruguayan stuck with his first-choice goalkeeper Vito Mannone despite growing criticism in the wake of his performance at St Mary’s, but the former Gunner did nothing to vindicate his manager’s faith on Saturday.

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Another defeat won't bode well for Gus Poyet

Wes Brown left him high and dry for the opener as his complete miss-hack back-pass towards Mannone allowed Alexis Sanchez to run through unopposed on goal. The second was a complete howler from Mannone, as he received another poor back-pass just yards from his own line yet chose to dally with possession rather than clear his lines. Needless to say, Sanchez nipped in, dispossessed the goalkeeper and scored his second. Poyet was far from impressed, and you can bet neither was Black Cats’ owner Ellis Short.

Spurs need to stick with Mauricio Pochettino despite slow start

Andre Villas-Boas lost his job at White Hart Lane last season after picking up 27 points from his opening 16 matches. The 5-0 defeat to Liverpool on 13 December proved to be the final nail in his coffin in what was their fifth league loss of the season. Mauricio Pochettino has already lost four games and we’re not even at the end of October, and with 11 points from nine matches this season, the Spurs hierarchy might be getting that familiar feeling that has frustrated fans for many years.

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Mauricio Pochettino hasn't has the best of starts at Spurs

What the North London club need though is stability. Pochettino didn’t have a great start at Southampton. Sure it was good, but they still lost to Norwich, Aston Villa and of course Tottenham in the run to Christmas. If Pochettino is given more time to implement his desired style of play on a side that he predominantly inherited, Spurs can yet reap the rewards this season. That said, Tottenham’s business in the summer does look suspect, given that Eric Dier is the only player to feature regularly this season while Michel Vorm, Ben Davies, Federico Fazio and Benjamin Stambouli have all struggled to make their mark at their new club.

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