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Dublin: 13 °C Thursday 21 August, 2014

5 talking points from Saturday’s Premier League action

We discuss Aiden McGeady’s big move, United’s much-needed victory and much more.

Manchester United's Danny Welbeck (right) celebrates with Shinji Kagawa and Nemanja Vidic.
Manchester United's Danny Welbeck (right) celebrates with Shinji Kagawa and Nemanja Vidic.

1. Moyes’ good judgement facillitates United victory

David Moyes has received considerable criticism lately, but he deserves praise for the way he handled today’s challenge.

Going into the game, United had lost three successive matches, and at the half-time break, a fourth loss looked far from unlikely against Swansea at Old Trafford this evening, with the score still 0-0.

The hosts delivered a conspicuously flat 45 minutes devoid of any real energy, attacking threat or general inspiration.

Nevertheless, Moyes’ decision to move Januzaj to the left and put Kagawa behind Welbeck paid dividends, with the 18-year-old Belgian-born star proving particularly influential as United upped their tempo and subsequently dominated the play.

2. Will Tottenham miss Defoe?

It was typical that, having just announced his move to Toronto FC, Jermain Defoe would come off the bench to seal Tottenham’s victory against Crystal Palace today.

Replacing the ineffectual Roberto Soldado, the England striker made a near-immediate impact as he scored Spurs’ second goal and generally looked more threatening in his brief cameo than his Spanish counterpart did for the duration of his much longer period on the field.

Defoe’s recent form, though, gives an indication of why Tottenham were so willing to part with him, having scored just once in the league in all of 2013.

Nonetheless, the majority of his opportunities in recent times have been limited to substitute appearances, and with Soldado floundering, Emmanuel Adebayor an enigma and Harry Kane unproven, it’s natural to question the wisdom of letting such a clinical finisher (when on form, at least) leave the club.

3. McGeady has the talent to succeed at Everton

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(Everton’s new signing Aiden McGeady is unveiled — Peter Byrne/PA Wire/Press Association Images)

Aiden McGeady’s move to Everton, which was confirmed today as he was unveiled before their game with Norwich, could be a hugely significant moment for Irish football.

Indeed, if Shane Duffy breaks into the first team next season, Ireland could have as many as five representatives for one of the Premier League’s top clubs.

Of course, the one potential stumbling block is the level of stiff competition each player is bound to face.

That said, McGeady is a talented player, whose stint in Russia will ultimately be adjudged a success and who has the potential to thrive in the Premier League. Moreover, it’s hard to believe Roberto Martinez would have pursued him so relentlessly if he didn’t have considerable faith in the player and wasn’t at least considering making him a fundamental part of the club’s plans.

4. Hazard brilliance shows why Chelsea are title contenders

Chelsea overcame Steve Bruce’s Hull today in a performance that was typical of their recent form.

Having looked uncertain defensively at times this season, Jose Mourinho’s renewed emphasis on caution has paid dividends — the Stamford Bridge outfit have conceded just once in their past six games.

And that kind of solidity at the back is always a useful starting point to work off. Chelsea have so many talented attacking players at their disposal that, even when they are not at their flowing best — as was the case again this afternoon — they are bound to produce at least one moment of individual brilliance.

Eden Hazard was the man who stepped up today, with the 23-year-old Belgian international curling an unstoppable shot past Allan McGregor in the 56th minute to inspire them to yet another unspectacular but hard-fought victory.

5. Hoolahan needs to leave Norwich

Wes Hoolahan’s failure to emerge from Norwich’s bench amid their 2-0 defeat by Everton today was telling.

The decision can be read a number of ways — perhaps Chris Hughton knew the player was unsettled owing to recent speculation regarding Aston Villa and thus, was reluctant to play him.

On the other hand, Hughton has shown a lack of trust in the Irish international all season, choosing to leave him on the bench more often than not, in spite of Norwich’s woeful form.

Paul Lambert, by contrast, is a manager who Hoolahan has worked with extensively and successfully before, and it therefore seems unlikely that he would be similarly neglected in a Villa team desperate for the type of attacking creativity the Irish star offers.

Consequently, it seems essential for a player who is coming towards the latter end of his career to make a move that would surely guarantee greater first-team opportunities, with the ex-Shels man likely to face a nervous wait to discover if this integral move is ultimately realised over the next few weeks.

As it happened: Manchester United v Swansea, Premier League>

Opinion: Why Aiden McGeady is on-field key to Martin O’Neill’s success as Ireland manager>

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