Belfast Telegraph

5 things we learned from the Premier League this weekend

Chelsea, Tottenham, Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United had a week off from Premier League action due to FA Cup duty.

Here, Press Association Sport looks at five things we learned from the Premier League's four games this weekend as Liverpool, Bournemouth, Everton and Hull all won.

1. Reds rising?

Liverpool avenged defeat at Burnley with victory over the Clarets. Jurgen Klopp's side benefited from the FA Cup-enforced league absences of their rivals for the Champions League places. They are now five points clear of Arsenal who have two games in hand. Liverpool must build on three wins in the last four to secure a top-four spot, but face Manchester City and Everton in their next two matches.

2. Should Bilic be looking over his shoulder?

It was hardly a vote of confidence from West Ham co-chairman David Sullivan after the 3-2 loss at Bournemouth. "Slaven, the players and the staff all know we have to do better," Sullivan said on the club's official website. Bilic has over-achieved in his 18 months at a transitional time for the club, but perhaps he should be wary after setting a high bar last season.

3. Lukaku looking the real deal

Romelu Lukaku scored his 19th goal of the campaign in Everton's 3-0 win against West Brom for his best return in a Premier League season. The Belgium striker is still just 23, a proven Premier League goalscorer and is ambitious. He left Chelsea, under Jose Mourinho, because he did not believe he would get the first-team opportunities. A return to Stamford Bridge - or move elsewhere - is possible this summer, unless Everton can convince Lukaku he needs them as much as they need him.

4. Home and away

Midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum likes the comforts of home. All 16 of his Premier League goals (five for Liverpool after 11 for Newcastle) have been scored at home, including in Sunday's win over Burnley. More surprisingly, defensively resilient West Brom have kept one clean sheet away from home this season, in their first game at Crystal Palace. Tony Pulis' men have conceded in 13 straight away games.

5. Enthralling relegation battle

Chelsea may be cruising at the top of the standings, but the battle to avoid the drop is intensifying. Southampton, in 10th place and above West Ham on goal difference, are only nine points clear of the drop zone. Saints have two games in hand, but points on the board are more important. Hull, Swansea and Leicester have had revivals brought about by managerial changes. But any loss of momentum could prove catastrophic for any of the teams in the bottom half of the table.

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