Belfast Telegraph

5 things we learned from the Premier League this weekend

After an entertaining, and goal-packed, weekend of Premier League football, Press Association runs the rule over five key lessons learned in the last 48 hours.

CITY'S DEFENCE IS NOT THE STUFF OF CHAMPIONS

Another week, another defensive performance that undermines Manchester City's bounty of attacking talent. Jamie Vardy, who had not scored for 16 matches, found them so accommodating he helped himself to a hat-trick. John Stones is promising but still worryingly raw, Bacary Sagna, Pablo Zabaleta and Aleksandar Kolarov are no longer up to task of shepherding a team to the title and the injured Nicolas Otamendi flatters to deceive. In goal, the arrival of Claudio Bravo has done wonders for Joe Hart's reputation. Pep Guardiola says he refuses to change his philosophy, which means he must change personnel.

DEJA-VU ALL OVER AGAIN FOR CHELSEA

Chelsea ended the weekend three points clear at the top of the table and with a friendly-looking festive fixture list to look forward to. While rivals continue to rotate players and styles, the Blues are a predictably effective unit. The starting XI hardly changes, the primary goal threat is invariably Premier League top-scorer Diego Costa and the clean sheet count is now up to seven in nine games since Antonio Conte changed to a three-man defence. The challenge has been put out to all and sundry: you know how we play, come and stop us. The answer remains elusive.

MOYES CAN SHELVE HIS MID-TABLE DREAMS

Prior to the archetypal 'six-pointer' against Swansea, Sunderland boss David Moyes boldly claimed that departing the relegation zone was merely a step on the road to his main ambition of a safe mid-table finish. His confidence was built around three victories from the previous four matches but blown apart in emphatic fashion as the Swans ran out 3-0 winners at the Liberty Stadium. The Blacks Cats duly sank back to rock bottom and there can be no more room for delusion - survival is the best and only aim for the embattled Wearsiders.

MOURINHO DROPPED THE BALL ON MKHITARYAN

A charitable view on Jose Mourinho's treatment of Henrikh Mkhitaryan would be that he has wisely bided his time integrating the Armenian and is now reaping the rewards. A realistic one would be that he had a high-class match-winner under his nose for months before a disappointing string of results forced his hand. Having opened his account for the club against Zorya Luhansk in midweek he buried a fierce drive to see off Tottenham on Sunday. That is arguably the best result of Mourinho's rein and it was delivered by a player he has been bafflingly lukewarm on.

ACTION, NOT WORDS, NEEDED ON DIVING

Robert Snodgrass has been in wonderful form for struggling Hull this season and without the Scot they would surely be high and dry already. But he burned through a good deal of good will when he tumbled theatrically to the deck to earn a penalty in the 3-3 draw at Crystal Palace. He took to Twitter to offer a flimsy explanation about taking preventative action but that will not wash. Diving is everywhere and ruining games up and down the country on a weekly basis. Rugby Union referee Nigel Owens even called a radio phone-in to call for a citing process. It is time for the FA to take heed.

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph