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    What we learned in the EPL this week





    It was another incident packed weekend in the Premier League at the top and bottom of the table so let's look back and assess the action as we approach the busy Christmas period.

    It was another weekend of frustration for Pep Guardiola as Manchester City's defence was severely exposed by Leicester's direct, counter-attacking football in a 4-2 defeat. The champions showed all the intensity and guile that brought them the title last season and Jamie Vardy finally broke his ten game Premier league scoring drought with a fine hat-trick. At times Manchester City looked all at sea defensively and seemed to be unsure of exactly what they had been asked to do. Aleksandar Kolarov particularly struggled as part of a defensive three and was out of position on numerous occasions, helping Leicester to race into a three goal lead inside twenty minutes. It was also a tough day for John Stones as he continued to look uncomfortable with the system that Guardiola is trying to implement. The defensive horror-show was complete when John Stone's weak back-pass let Vardy in to complete his hat-trick. Despite two late goals putting a gloss on the score line, this was a comprehensive and alarming defeat for Guardiola and will lead to serious questions around the system he is attempting to put in place and whether he has the personnel to achieve success with it.



    Chelsea moved back to the top of the table and extended their winning run to nine games with a hard-fought 1-0 win over West Brom at Stamford Bridge. It wasn't a vintage display by Antonio Conte's side but they did enough to win as Diego costa benefited from a Gareth McAuley error to curl in a fine finish and equal his league goal tally for the whole of last season. In contrast to Manchester City, Chelsea look extremely solid defensively and have discovered a system and style of play that has them looking like genuine title contenders.

    There was disappointment for Jurgen Klopp as Liverpool could only draw 2-2 with West ham on the back of some questionable goalkeeping from Loris Karius, particularly after he failed to keep out Dimitri Payet's 25 yard free-kick. Liverpool look good going forward but there are questions regarding their goalkeeper and defence which will need to be addressed if they are to seriously challenge for the title.



    Arsenal continued to put pressure on leaders Chelsea with a 3-1 win against Stoke, as Arsene Wenger's side recorded there fifteenth consecutive home win against Stoke and means that Mark Hughes has now lost all ten Premier League away games against Arsenal. Stoke took the lead through a questionable penalty which was converted by Charlie Adam but Arsenal fought back well and ran out comfortable winners in the end. This makes it fourteen games unbeaten in the league for Arsenal but Arsenal fans will need convincing that this is not another false dawn.

    At the bottom of the table Swansea recorded a vital victory against Sunderland, a result that dragged the black cats back to the foot of the Premier league. Three second half goals, including a double for Fernando Llorente, handed Swansea a deserved win. It will come as a huge relief for Swansea manager Bob Bradley, who's job had already come under scrutiny due to a run of poor results, but this win will give his side confidence that they can survive this season. However, it will be a huge setback for David Moyes, particularly as it appeared that his side had made significant progress after winning three of their previous four matches.


    It looked as though Hull would move out of the relegation zone until a late goal from former City player Frazier Campbell denied them all three points as they drew 3-3 with Crystal Palace. The match was all-square at 1-1 following two contentious penalties, Hull's was particularly questionable as Robert Snodgrass went down in the area despite Scott Dann making no contact with the player. Snodgrass later apologised on social media for the incident and said that it should not have been a penalty. Wilfred Zaha capped a superb individual display with a fine goal which gave Palace the lead before two quick goals handed the lead back to Hull. Campbell's header sealed a late point for Alan Pardew's side and meant that the game rightly finished in a draw.

    With a full programme of fixtures in mid-week before the hectic Christmas period there will be a huge amount of twists and turns as we approach the end of 2016.. 

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