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Dublin: 11 °C Thursday 21 August, 2014

5 talking points from this weekend’s Premier League action

We give our thoughts on United-Chelsea, Liverpool-Everton and some of the other recent games.

Chelsea's Juan Mata celebrates scoring the winning goal.
Chelsea's Juan Mata celebrates scoring the winning goal.

1. Nerves palpable in Tottenham and Arsenal displays

Both Arsenal and Tottenham were less than convincing in overcoming two Premier League strugglers in the form of QPR and Southampton yesterday.

Though clearly superior to the sides they were up against, their performances were marked by a conspicuous level of hesitance and uncertainty.

Tottenham needed a late Gareth Bale strike to get them out of trouble, while Arsenal failed to dominate QPR in the manner that would be expected of them, even after taking the lead thanks to Theo Walcott’s goal within 20 seconds of kick-off.

They were matches which the two teams would have surely won more comfortably nearer the beginning of the season, but their below-par displays provided a stark reminder that these footballers are human, and thus as susceptible to pressure, prompted by the Champions League race, as anyone else.

2. Wigan may be made to rue early-season ineptitude

As they did last season, Wigan are looking capable of pulling off a miracle escape owing to a surge of impressive late-season performances.

Yesterday, they unexpectedly won away against West Brom – a side who also have tended to defy critics’ expectations of late.

Consequently, the 3-2 victory had people praising the ‘character’ of Roberto Martinez’s side.

However, a pertinent question must be asked: are they overachieving, or is the opposite invariably the case?

It’s all well and good consistently pulling off miraculous performances when relegation is staring them in the face, but if they adopted such a positive attitude throughout the season, they undoubtedly wouldn’t be in such trouble in the first place.

3. Fulham surely the Premier League’s most erratic team

(Fulham’s Dimitar Berbatov reacts after they concede a third goal yesterday – Andrew Matthews/EMPICS Sport)

Are Fulham the most enigmatic side in the Premier League?

Over the course of this season, they have punched above their weight sporadically, taking points off the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham.

Nevertheless, yesterday’s 4-2 loss at home to Reading – a side whose relegation has been confirmed – highlighted their chronic inconsistency.

Their erratic nature is perhaps epitomised by star striker Dimitar Berbatov – a match for anyone when in the mood, but decidedly uninspired – as was the case yesterday – if the correct attitude is not applied.

4. Luis Suarez conspicuous by his absence for goal-shy Liverpool

Liverpool began temporary life without Luis Suarez with a six-goal demolition of Newcastle on Saturday, but they badly missed the Uruguayan, who was sat in the stands with his family, in the 220th Merseyside derby.

In Jamie Carragher’s 30th and final senior game against Everton, the Reds began strongly but were unable to break down the visiting backline – with Phil Jagielka immense on the day.

David Moyes’ men took control in the second half but are in real need of a potent goalscorer as neither Victor Anichebe nor Nikica Jelavic are firing on all cylinders.

The game’s main talking point arrived in the 56th minute when Sylvain Distin had the ball in the net when he headed home from a corner. 28-year-old referee Michael Oliver awarded a free-kick, not a goal, after deciding Anichebe had fouled Pepe Reina.

The contact looked minimal and it’s not surprising that Moyes was upset to miss out on the club’s first win at Anfield since 1999, as the goal should have stood.

5. The type of behaviour displayed by David Luiz today is damaging to the sport



Perhaps partially on account of the lacklustre nature of this afternoon’s match, the primary issue of discussion following the United-Chelsea game was Rafael’s controversial sending off.

Though it was arguably the correct decision by Howard Webb to punish the United defender’s impetuous act with a red card, David Luiz did himself no favours whatsoever by exaggerating the extent of the injury and smiling as he lay on the ground.

Luiz showed a blatant lack of respect for his fellow Brazilian and for the game in general by behaving in the manner that he did.

It would be unfair to single out the Chelsea defender though, as this tendency to sacrifice any vestige of dignity in order to maximise your team’s chances of gaining an advantage is pervasive in modern-day football.

An apology is therefore the least that should be asked of Luiz, as this type of behaviour is putting many fans off the sport.

Additional reporting by Ben Blake.

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