5 things we learned from the weekend’s Premier League action
Liverpool strengthened their grip on the Premier League title race with another win while the top four race was blown wide open.
West Ham won their vital game at the bottom against Southampton, while Duncan Ferguson continued to impress in his job interview at Everton.
Here, the PA news agency looks back at five things we learned from this weekend’s action.
Pellegrini’s stay of execution
The vultures were circling for West Ham boss Manuel Pellegrini after a run of one win in 10 games and there was a sense that his job could possibly have been riding on the visit to fellow strugglers Southampton. If there were any doubts that the Hammers were playing for their manager before the game, then they put them to bed with an emphatic performance on the south coast. The 1-0 win moved them four points above the drop zone, after Sebastien Haller’s first goal in eight games eased the pressure on his manager.
Duncan does it again
Duncan Ferguson insists he is not looking to be the permanent Everton manager, but his results are making him hard to ignore. After beating Chelsea in his first game as caretaker, he followed that up with a 1-1 draw at Manchester United. In the pouring north-west rain a jacketless Ferguson saw his side take the lead in the first half through Victor Lindelof’s own goal. They withstood United’s pressure until the hosts levelled 13 minutes from time through Mason Greenwood. Ferguson showed he has a ruthless streak, too, as he took off substitute Moise Kean just 18 minutes after bringing him on to waste time at the end of the match. Carlo Ancelotti is still a favourite to take over at Goodison Park and Ferguson has said the club “need the best manager in the world” – but he could prove a tough act to follow.
Wheels coming off at Chelsea?
A few weeks ago there was talk of Chelsea possibly challenging for the title such was their good form. However, Saturday’s 1-0 loss to Bournemouth was their fourth defeat in five games and it leaves them hanging on to a top-four spot. The youthful nature of Frank Lampard’s side, many of them playing a maiden campaign in the Premier League, always meant there were going to be blips, but there were alarming signs against a Cherries side who had lost their last five games and were besieged by injuries. Their stuttering form has allowed Spurs, who were 12 points behind when Jose Mourinho took over, to cut the gap to just three points ahead of a blockbuster clash next Sunday.
Reds move another step closer
Is anyone going to stop Liverpool from winning their maiden Premier League title – and first championship since 1990? It is looking increasingly unlikely as they extended their lead at the summit to 10 points. That was thanks to another win where they were not at their best, beating Watford in Nigel Pearson’s first game in charge, while their closest challengers Leicester surprisingly dropped points at home to Norwich. Despite a hectic looking schedule, including this week’s FIFA Club World Cup in Qatar, it will take some capitulation from Jurgen Klopp’s men if they are to fail to end their title drought.
City’s response leaves rudderless Arsenal embarrassed
Having seen their title challenge effectively ended with a defeat in the Manchester derby last week, City responded in style by thumping managerless Arsenal at the Emirates. A scintillating first-half display by the reigning champions saw Kevin De Bryune’s double and a Raheem Sterling goal put them 3-0 up and it could have been far more handsome had they not been so wasteful after the break. City’s joy meant despair for the Gunners, who faced a backlash from their supporters, and this result will surely push them into making a permanent appointment soon. Interim Freddie Ljungberg has won one of his four Premier League games at the helm and the Gunners are treading water.