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    What we learned from the EPL this week

    By Dave Cook

    Following another thrilling and, at times, chaotic weekend of Premier League action we must try to make some sense of what we've seen and where teams stand as the season really begins to take shape.

    The weekend saw wins for the top four, although none were wholly convincing. Jurgen Klopp described Sunderland as the "most defensive team" he had ever come up against in his managerial career following a hard fought 2-0 win but a bigger concern will be the fitness of Philippe Coutinho, who was stretchered off in a leg-brace after a challenge from Didier Ndong in the 34th minute. Losing Coutinho would be a huge loss and it will be a nervous wait to see how severe the injury proves to be. Liverpool fans will also be slightly concerned about rumours of an approach for klopp from Bayern Munich, although it would be a shock if he were to walk away from Merseyside so early. 

    Chelsea fought back strongly to win against Tottenham with the seemingly reborn Victor Moses playing a crucial role scoring the winning goal. Moses has gone from being a peripheral figure at the beginning of the season to a vital part of Antonio Conte's 3-4-3 system which has reenergised this Chelsea side   

    Manchester City and Arsenal will consider themselves fortunate to have won tough matches against Burnley and Bournemouth respectively. City were lucky not to concede a penalty with the score at 0-0, when Jeff Hendrick was clearly barged in the back by Nicolas Otamendi but, after falling behind, they battled back well to win 2-1. Arsenal were also not always in control despite Alexis Sanchez's early goal, capitalising on a horrible back pass by Steve Cook, which Danny Welbeck couldn't help but give Jack Wilshere some stick for as they sat in the stands. Bournemouth levelled through a Callum Wilson penalty and were on top at times in the first half before Theo Walcott gave Arsenal the lead once more and Sanchez grabbed his second late on to put some gloss on the score line.

    One side, for whom a top four finish is seeming more unlikely each week, is Manchester United. They failed to beat West Ham, meaning they have now won just one of their last seven league games, including five draws. More concerning perhaps is the ever souring demeanour of Jose Mourinho, who seems to become more angry and frustrated with each passing game. He was sent to the stands in the first half for kicking a water bottle on the touchline by referee John Moss, who had previously sent him off in 2015 when Mourinho was manager of Chelsea. The season is far from over for United but if their poor run continues they could be facing up to life outside the Champions league next season.

    At the bottom of the table the pressure continues to grow for Alan Pardew, following a shambolic defensive display from his Crystal Palace side. The 5-4 defeat to Swansea, although thrilling, featured some shocking defending, particularly from set-pieces
    and left Palace outside the relegation zone on goal difference only. Another display of this nature could well raise questions about whether Pardew can turn Palace’s fortunes around with a home game against Pardew’s former club Southampton to come. 

    It was a first win as Swansea manager for Bob Bradley but he will be under no illusions that his side were just as disorganised as Palace but, given their predicament, Bradley will take the win however it comes. Another side in danger of being dragged into a relegation battle are Leicester. The Champions have won just one of their last eight league games and lie just two points above the relegation zone. Things could have been even worse if not for Islam Slimani’s late penalty which salvaged a vital point against fellow strugglers Middlesbrough. In a season where Leicester are making history in the Champions League and have qualified for the knockout stage as group winners, the thought of them fighting a relegation battle alongside a successful European campaign seems unthinkable. In the 96/97 season Middleborough reached the FA and Football League cup finals and were relegated from the Premier League. Could Leicester win the Champions league and suffer the same fate? Both scenarios seem unlikely but in a season which has surprised on so many levels anything seems possible.

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    Item Reviewed: What we learned from the EPL this week Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Dave Cook
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