5 things we learned from this weekends Premier League action

first_img1. Ferguson not counting his chickensWhile many commentators have been quick to claim the Premier League title race is effectively over, Alex Ferguson has done little to indicate he is overly confident of a positive outcome for his side come the season’s end.While he may have been tempted to rest some of his stars ahead of their vital Champions League clash against Real Madrid this week, Ferguson opted to pick a strong team for Saturday’s game with Norwich.In contrast with their upcoming Spanish opponents, who rested players such as Ronaldo and Xabi Alonso for their encounter with Barcelona over the weekend, the likes of Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney and David de Gea all featured from the start at Old Trafford.The veteran manager risked putting himself in a difficult position if one of these players were to get badly injured during the game, but Fergie had the conviction to start them anyway, and he was duly rewarded as his men comfortably defeated Norwich.2. Chelsea fans need to get behind BenitezDespite Chelsea securing a valuable 1-0 win over West Brom, Rafael Benitez’s position as manager remained the prevailing topic at Stamford Bridge yesterday. The fans’ booing could conceivably have an impact on not just Benitez, but the whole team’s morale, reducing their chances of Champions League qualification and harming the long-term health of the club in the process.3. McClean cannot afford to keep shooting himself in the footJames McClean’s stunning first season in the Premier League (or half-season to be exact) seemed like a long time ago yesterday.The player was introduced as a 76th minute substitute, amid Sunderland’s 2-2 draw with Fulham, and his belated appearance was met with widespread booing from his own supporters.The fans’ unhappiness stems from provocative remarks the star made on Twitter recently, expressing his love of an IRA-glorifying Wolf Tones song – not a wise move, especially as the winger has already made a series of controversial comments relating to this subject matter.Moreover, unlike similarly controversial players in the league, McClean is not playing well enough for his manager to overlook such problems.Consequently, he needs to stay away from social media from now on, or risk blowing his undoubted talent and being shown the exit door at the Stadium of Light.4. Coutinho looking like money well spentYouTube credit: TheChannelshotaMuch of the post-match talk following Liverpool’s convincing win against Wigan yesterday surrounded Luis Suarez.However, the Uruguayan’s vintage performance somewhat overshadowed the substantial contribution from another impressive performer – Philippe Coutinho.The Brazilian playmaker showed good skill and fine crossing ability for their first goal, and an eye for a defence-splitting pass during their second.If he continues in this vein until the end of the season, his £8.5m transfer fee, paid by Liverpool to Inter in January, will be considered a significant bargain.5. Champions League race not over yetThe more hyperbole-prone Tottenham fans would be forgiven for thinking today’s crucial win over Arsenal means they have effectively sealed their place in the top four.Yet Tottenham still have teams of the calibre of Man City, Liverpool and Chelsea to play, while Arsenal have a number of eminently winnable games coming up.And though Andre Villas-Boas’ men looked relatively solid as goals from Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon helped them overcome their North London neighbours, they were in a similar position last year before a dramatic end-of-season collapse enabled the Gunners to leapfrog them in the table.Arsenal, however, minus Van Persie, and with a defence that always looks prone to shipping goals, appear a weaker outfit this time around, and the prospect of them missing out on Champions League football for the first time since the 1997-98 season is looking more likely by the day.POLL: Who is your Premier League Player of the Season so far?>Arsenal: We have had no contact over a potential takeover> Fans brought banners to the stadium deriding the embattled manager, and his midweek outburst suggested these persistent taunts are affecting him on a personal level.And although some of the remarks that the Spaniard made about Chelsea while Liverpool manager – saying he would never manage them and appearing to suggest that the London club’s fans needed flags to support their team – may have been unwise, surely it’s in the interest of all parties to move on for the ultimate benefit of the team.last_img

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