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    Five Things We Learned This Weekend: Leicester march on, Cesc's back to his best and Newcastle still have a chance



    Who needs Vardy?
    Plenty of gossip and speculation in this week’s footballing community has been focused on how Leicester would respond to losing Jamie Vardy and to Spurs closing the gap after the Foxes slip-up last weekend. Well, the total domination of Swansea on Sunday afternoon was as emphatic an answer as there is. Ranieri’s team yet again showed their unity and togetherness, brushing off the psychological pressure and responding to losing the talismanic Vardy by hammering four past Lukas Fabianski. If Spurs forced their foot in the door with their drubbing of Stoke, this victory firmly slammed it shut again.



    Rafa’s Magpies continue to sing
    Newcastle fans must be used to the drama by now. Two weeks ago their fortunes looked bleak; Norwich were on the up and facing a run of severely challenging fixtures to contend with. However, Benitez has inspired a turnaround of epic proportions, following up a good win against Swansea with a point against both City and Liverpool that hinted at the belief and determination starting to flow within the squad. They have since closed the gap to a point, and although Sunderland and Norwich both have games in hand, Newcastle will be fearing no-one. It may still be too little too late but Benitez has turned things around, given them a fighting chance and ensured they can’t be written off.


    Arsenal are regressing
    Sunderland were never going to be an easy proposition and you sense Sam Allardyce relishes the opportunity to get stuck in to teams he thinks are 'soft' - such as Arsenal. However, even with the added motivation of a relegation scrap driving the Black Cats on, the Gunners were firm favourites. As it transpired, Wenger’s men produced another flat and insipid performance, the regularity of which must be alarming to Arsenal fans. Their team should be challenging for the title with the resources at their disposal but instead they are battling for their top four place and never seriously looked like winning at the Stadium of Light. It appears that only Arsene himself will decide when it is time to go, but surely he must now put aside his pride and ambition and recognise that the club is slowly regressing, and that change is needed.


    Fabregas is still the master of the final ball
    Technically more of a reminder than something new, but on Saturday Cesc Fabregas showed us why he is still one of the best creators on the planet. Made all the more prudent due to their awful season, Fabregas’ match-winning hat-trick of assists was redolent of autumn 2014 when his passing and vision was a central reason that Chelsea raced into an unassailable lead. Along with most of his teammates, Cesc has had a campaign to forget this time around, but this intelligent and gifted playmaker showed this weekend why Chelsea paid what they did and if they are to challenge for honours again next season, he must churn out this type of performance far more regularly.


    Stoke are falling apart
    The trademark of Mark Hughes’ teams are much the same as his playing days; hard-working, combative and with a fighting spirit. He will be as shocked as the rest of us therefore, to find that by Saturday lunchtime, the Potters had been on the end of their third successive four-goal mauling. The quality of the opposition mean it’s unlikely many fans would have predicted much in terms of points gained from the last two games, but with players such as Glenn Whelan, Ryan Shawcross and Charlie Adam in the team, they would have at least expected more fight. Stoke are a good side, making sustained progress under Mark Hughes, but right now the team looks abject and hapless and will all want the season to end, and fast.
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    Item Reviewed: Five Things We Learned This Weekend: Leicester march on, Cesc's back to his best and Newcastle still have a chance Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Jamie Morris
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