Five things the Premier League taught us this weekend

Five things the Premier League taught us this weekend

1. IF THEY PUT THEIR MINDS TO IT, ARSENAL CAN DEFEND

Arsenal’s recent record against teams finishing in the top four stood at a woeful one win from 12 matches before their trip to the Etihad. Away from home, the Gunners had taken particularly heavy punishment, losing 6-0 to Chelsea, 5-1 at Liverpool and 6-3 to Manchester City last season.

On his Sky Sports punditry debut at the Etihad Stadium, Thierry Henry reiterated the widely-held view that Arsenal lack a world-class holding midfielder to protect Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny.

Against City, Arsenal clocked just 35% possession, but were diligent in their off-the-ball work. Francis Coquelin screened the area around David Silva effectively, Santi Cazorla has, for now anyway, added dynamism and aggression to his silky skills and Aaron Ramsey backed up his full-backs when needed. In the end, Mertesacker and Koscielny were relatively untroubled.

2. CHELSEA’S BLIP IS OVER

Defeat for City left Chelsea five points clear at the top of the Premier League table and looking massive favourites for the title once again. In the stunning 5-0 demolition of Swansea, Jose Mourinho notably urged his team forward in a first-half masterclass, clearly keen to lay down a marker in the psychological battle and the goals columns.Beat City at Stamford Bridge in a fortnight and the Blues may have one hand on the trophy.

3. PARDS REMAINS THE COMEBACK KING

Newcastle grabbed ten points from losing positions this season. Now Palace have snatched six in a week. Despite those turnarounds, Alan Pardew never won the fans over at St James Park, but three games into his tenure at Crystal Palace, he could scarcely be more popular. After the cup win over Dover, the wins over Tottenham and Burnley catapult the Eagles up to 12th and four points clear of the relegation zone.

4. SOUTHAMPTON ARE GOING NOWHERE

Far from dropping off the pace as expected, the Saints have just hit a club milestone in the Premier League: three away wins on the spin. The season’s surprise-packets followed up the impressive win at Old Trafford with another three points at Newcastle. They needed a bit of luck, with Jose Fonte’s late handball going unpunished, but that will only fuel Southampton’s belief that their Champions League challenge is very much on.

5. '2-1' TO THE SPURS IS THE NEW '1-0' TO THE ARSENAL

Cometh the hour, cometh the man for Tottenham this season. Christian Eriksen popped up in the 88th minute to earn Spurs a 2-1 victory over Sunderland on Saturday. It was the third time the Danish playmaker has scored a late winner in the last two months – a warning Tottenham’s forthcoming opponents would do well to heed.

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