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Premier League’s Top Dogs & Bottomed Out Duds

Andrew O’Reilly looks at the positive and the negative performances of last weekend’s Premier League action.


Top Dogs

Crystal Palace

Having conceded in the first minute many could have wilted and let Liverpool return to last season’s blitzkrieg side but Palace came back into the game and fully deserved the three points from a ‘Neil Warnock performance’ as he himself heralded it.

Remember Neil, self-praise is no praise and if they were to continue a typical Neil Warnock performance, that means relegation. Palace have now scored six times in their last two meetings against two very different Liverpool sides. Dwight Gayle scored his fourth goal against Liverpool, which is startling, considering he has notched just nine goals in the Premier League.

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Burnley

Well, well who saw that coming? Back-to-back victories against Stoke and Hull have seen the Claret’s leapfrog QPR and all of a sudden they are just a point from safety. With games against Aston Villa and QPR in the near future, this is a real chance for Sean Dyche to live up to his moniker as the ‘Ginger Mourinho’

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Danny Ings

To stay up you need goals. If Danny Ings can keep his knee intact, he may well be Burnley’s best chance of survival.

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Chelsea

Devastintly effective in the first half hour to provide a routine 2-0 victory over a much improved West Brom side. Given the Baggies’ recent form against Chelsea this was no foregone conclusion and Mourinho was not allowing for any signs of complacency here.

Although West Brom defended resolutely, the two times their defence lost concentration they were punished. It’s brutal, it’s clinical and this season is beginning to look like a Champion’s tour around the country for Chelsea.

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Manchester United

Watching the first half of this match was strange. Arsenal dominated in a way they should be dominating so much more often, however with the exception of Jack Wilshere’s one-on-one, they didn’t actually create that much.

Sky’s pundits commented at half time on how it could have been three or four nil to Arsenal but this writer thought that line of thinking was naïve. Arsenal are not a clinical side and they need more chances than most, especially when they have a striker who fluffs more chances than he connects with. United’s makeshift defence performed admirably given the almost grave circumstances.

The three points for United put them back in the top four for the first time in almost a year. This isn’t a direct reflection of their form as it’s the lowest points total for a top four side after 12 games since a win became three points. Two wins against Stoke and Hull at home and United will have four consecutive victories and a real platform to build some sustained form, of both performance and point accumulation.

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Wayne Rooney

He’s had some week. He is on a purple patch. How long will it last?

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Newcastle

Fifth after five consecutive Premier League victories, built on a stubborn defence that has kept clean sheets in four of those wins.

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Everton                                                      

After a poor start to the campaign, Martinez has wrestled form back and Everton are back on the rise mainly as a result of a greatly improved defensive record. Currently on the same points as Everton and Arsenal still, but showing much more vigour and ability than either of those sides.

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Bottomed out duds

Arsene Wenger

In this writer’s managerial Premier League Table, Arsene Wenger has been chosen in 20th place. Here he will remain until he can improve his side and show evidence to support his claims of this squad strength, belief and bond. Absolutely nothing from his side’s performance against United showed that. Their record against the sides they are said to be competing with is beyond abysmal.

Arsenal have not beaten Man City in 838 days, Chelsea in 1122 and Man United in 1302 days. This is the most damning charge against Wenger right now. If Arsenal can’t even muster a win over Man United in the last 12 months when will they?

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Jack Wilshere

Should have been sent off for an attempted head butt that looked like he was trying to cuddle Fellaini. This writer thinks the only saving grace was the size difference made it less clear as the referee was stood right in front of it.

Wilshere was petulant and displayed a similar lack of coolness when placed through on goal to miss from about six yards. His glass ankle gave way again and in the end this writer guesses he was unlucky not to be sent off in a game where he could have avoided yet another injury.

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Liverpool

Where to start with this performance. It was just totally insipid. To not manage a shot on target after the first minute is embarrassing. This Liverpool side looks listless and devoid of any sort of ideas.

They don’t know what type of team they are and one must question if Rodgers still has the players’ backing. From their last nine league games, Liverpool have attained a paltry eight points against such titanic opposition as Crystal Palace, Hull, QPR, West Ham, West Brom and Aston Villa.

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Brendan Rodgers

“You have to be bold enough to make the decisions as a manager and that is why you are paid the money you are. If you make more wrong ones than right ones you will be out of work, it’s as simple as that.”… Live or die by your words.

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Nacho Monreal

Now being referred to as ‘our friend’ by oppositions’ managers is a very damning entitlement.

Andrew O’Reilly, Pundit Arena

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