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Premier League Weekend Roundup

Per the usual, it was an eventful weekend in the Barclays Premier League, as Chelsea gave hope to the other title challengers and big clubs with high expectations that haven’t been delivered on so far this season came through to earn vital points and inch up the table:

Southampton 0, Manchester City 3

Photo: @theScore | Twitter

The most anticipated match of the weekend featured the clubs 2nd and 3rd in the table, as City traveled to Southampton to take on the Saints. Though the first half was evenly matched, City went ahead thanks to a Yaya Toure goal in the 51st minute before Frank Lampard (not so old and useless is he Chelsea?) secured the points for the defending champions in the 80th minute with a classic Lampard finish from the top of the box.

Frank Lampard Goal

Not even going down to 9 men (thanks to a red card and then an injury to Vincent Kompany without a substitute to take his place) could stop City from winning the match and drawing within 6 points of league-leading Chelsea.

Key takeaway: Many have questioned City’s desire and tenacity to defend their title this season and there have been rumors that manager Manuel Pellegrini’s job is in jeopardy, as apparently winning the league title in your first season isn’t good enough. Yet this victory brings City into second place in the table, only 6 points behind leaders Chelsea. Combined with their big victory over Bayern Munich earlier in the week, leaving them with an excellent opportunity to advance out of their Champions League group, things are looking up on the blue side of Manchester.

Sunderland 0, Chelsea 0

Photo: @premierleague | Twitter

Chelsea’s not a machine, it’s a man! (OK, a collection of men.) Channeling their inner Rocky Balboa, plucky Sunderland stood up to the Ivan Drago-esque Chelsea to earn a surprising point at the Stadium of Light on Saturday evening. Though many people, including some on this very website were prepared to hand Chelsea the Premier League title already, Saturday’s result proves there is a long way to go in this campaign and anything can happen in football. On a side note, as a Chelsea fan, I did not appreciate that article, as I believe very strongly in the power of the jinx. Look what you have wrought my fellow scribes!

Key takeaway: A draw to a team in the bottom half of the table is never a good result for the league leaders, but this is a match that Chelsea would have lost in the previous few seasons. Chelsea was fortunate in a number of ways to get the point in this match, as despite what Jose Mourinho claimed in the post-match presser, Sunderland was going for the victory. Chelsea has a London derby against Tottenham on Wednesday and will be without the services of superstar striker Diego Costa, as the Spaniard picked up his 5th yellow card of the season in this match (which could have been red) and is suspended.

West Bromwich Albion 0, Arsenal 1

Photo: @Arsenal | Twitter

Last weekend’s 2-1 defeat to Manchester United was a rough one for Arsene Wenger and led to renewed calls for a change at the top for the Gunners. August acquisition Danny Welbeck came through for Wenger in this match with the only goal in the 60th minute. While this victory will surely not completely quiet the critics (there were banners in the away fans section asking for Wenger to go), it’s certainly better than the alternative.

Key takeaway: With the win, Arsenal sits in sixth position in the table, 2 points out of the coveted 4th place trophy Champions League spot that Wenger values so highly. While it seems unlikely that Arsenal would make a managerial change during this season, the longer they remain outside the top 4, the more likely a major change becomes.

Liverpool 1, Stoke City 0

Photo: @LFC | Twitter

On the 16th anniversary of club legend Steven Gerrard making his debut for Liverpool, the guest of honor and team captain found himself on the bench to start this match. The season has been extremely disappointing for the Reds and their captain, who has been hearing complaints about his age and lack of form all year. After coming so close to winning the league title for the first time since 1989-90 last season, Liverpool has yet to find the same form in a Luis Suarez-less world. It looked to be more of the same on Saturday, until Glen Johnson scored the winner in the 85th minute to give Liverpool and its beleaguered manager Brendan Rodgers a much-needed victory. 

Key takeaway: Liverpool currently sits an unimaginable 11th in the table and Rodgers himself has admitted that he is on the hot seat. Liverpool, along with Arsenal and Manchester City, are the high-profile jobs in England that could come open this season with a continued run of disappointing results. With Borussia Dortmund manager Jürgen Klopp frustrated with his lot in Germany and ready to make a move to England, it could turn into an arms race for his services. Which means that the club that sacks its manager first could be the one to convince the much-coveted manager to make the move from the continent, creating an interesting incentive to make a change sooner rather than later.

Tottenham 2, Everton 1

Photo: @NBCSports | Twitter

Roberto Soldado’s first league goal since March gave the Spurs a much-needed victory over Everton at White Hart Lane on Sunday. Spurs had lost four of their six home matches coming into this one and then fell behind early after Everton’s Kevin Mirallas early curler. But Spurs rallied with two goals of their own, including one in injury time of the first half and then held off a furious Everton rally to secure all three points. 

Key takeaway: Despite their struggles, Spurs sit in 7th position in the table, level on points with arch-rival Arsenal, only 2 points outside 4th position. No, seriously, that’s true. I had to re-focus my eyes on the table several times to verify that. A big match for Spurs midweek against league-leaders Chelsea without Diego Costa is an opportunity to improve their fortunes even more.

For Everton, the loss leaves them in 10th position. It appears as though Everton is falling victim to the yearly poisoned chalice that is the Europa League. Though it sits atop its Europa League group, its results in the Premier League, especially following a Thursday Europa League match, have not been nearly as successful. Though Roberto Martinez claims that Everton intend to try and win that competition, there surely are Everton fans that would wish for a quick exit to focus on their league position.

What to look for this week:

The Premier League is back in action with mid-week fixtures on Tuesday and Wednesday, with Chelsea-Tottenham and Arsenal-Southampton the most intriguing matchups. That means only 1 day without football, America. We can do this.

Follow Mike Smith on Twitter @thefootiegent

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