Five things we learned from this week's Premier League action
The midweek round of Premier League games showed up some trends that may point to where the title goes this season.
No fade for Leicester
After Leicester’s sprightly start to the season, the vast majority of pundits, fans and even Claudio Rainieri predicted a mid-season dip from the early momentum that propelled the Foxes to the summit of the table.
An injury to Jamie Vardy and a three-game winless streak in late December seemed to showcase that the predictions had come true.
However, a win against top-four rivals Tottenham and a 3-0 battering of the much improved Stoke was followed this week by Leicester’s win against Liverpool, with Vardy bagging a brace and a goal of the season contender.
This result proves that Leicester can perform against the big teams, and a return of form and fitness for Vardy and a solid performance from Riyad Mahrez cap off a bright week for Leicester ahead of their game against Man City on the weekend.
A return of the ‘old’ Manchester United?
One of the biggest complaints of Louis van Gaal’s reign has been his preference for negative football, with a slow build up and a reliance on back-passes and long balls a far cry from the attacking prowess of the Ferguson era.
However, a 3-0 win against Stoke was a marked difference from the side that faltered against Southampton, with Anthony Martial’s goal a powerful showcase of the potential that this team has to play positive, beautiful football.
Arsenal still not learning from past mistakes
While many in Arsenal’s camp were adamant that this year would be the year that they could put their title winning hiatus behind them, with the arrival of Petr Cech and the hot form of Mesut Ozil, it seems that Arsenal are still stuck in the past with their yearly traditions.
In yet another season it seems that Arsenal are again dipping as they approach the Last 16 of the Champions League, where the inevitable yearly loss results in a sapping of morale that drags them out of the title-race, before a resurgence in the latter parts rescues their campaign.
Their 0-0 draw against Southampton seems to suggest that this is happening yet again, from an Arsenal team who really should have been itching to revenge their Stephen's Day disaster at the hands of the Saints.
Villa are destined for relegation
While enjoying a three-game streak without defeat, Villa’s season seems to be teetering on the edge of disaster, having won only two games all season. The majority of the players seem none-too-fussed about their imminent demise, and the red-card of Jordan Ayew and the early goal conceded after the break broke the already low confidence of the Villa side that stumbled to a 2-0 loss against West Ham.
Spurs showing no signs of slowing down
The underrated and under-the-radar Tottenham continue their march through the table, under the careful guise of the excellent Mauricio Pochettino.
The breakthrough young player of the season in Deli Alli and a Harry Kane who’s keen to dismiss the calls of one-season-wonder brandished at the start of the season have also shone.
Both players were instrumental as Spurs swept aside Norwich, with Alli scoring and gaining the penalty for Kane, who scored in the dying minutes to shore up the victory for Tottenham.
By Fionnbarr Thompson