Daniel Sturridge's return offers Liverpool timely boost
Liverpool keenly felt the absence of Daniel Sturridge as they lurched through the first half of this season. His injury hurt Liverpool’s fluidity moving forward and stripped away the most reliable figure in the final third. Sturridge finally returned after a five-month layoff to score from the bench in the 2-0 victory over West Ham United. If the England striker can continue to build on this performance, then he could fire Liverpool back into Champions League picture.
Getty ImagesShaun Botterill
Manchester City spurn chance to take advantage of weakened Chelsea
The champions watched their grip on the Premier League title slip a little bit more at Stamford Bridge. Manuel Pellegrini’s side desperately needed the full complement of points against a Chelsea side without Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas. City produced a heartening response after falling behind in the 1-1 draw, but their inability to make better use of their superiority let Chelsea off the hook and squandered a chance close the gap at the top.
Getty ImagesClive Mason
Arsenal reveal their teeth to tear apart Aston Villa
The absence of Alexis Sanchez through a hamstring injury raised some doubts about this straightforward task at the Emirates. How misplaced they were. Arsenal summoned their swashbuckling best after the break to rip Villa apart. Santi Cazorla glittered once again, while Mesut Ozil offered an encouraging reminder of his potential influence with his display. There are harder tasks ahead than a Villa side struggling for goals and points, but this evidence supplies plenty of belief for those tasks.
Getty ImagesPaul Gilham
Manchester United exorcise Leicester City demons as Falcao and van Persie come good
There were no reprisals here of the stunning defeat at the King Power Stadium back in September. United manager Louis van Gaal fielded his team in a 4-4-2 setup and watched his players ease past their outclassed opposition. The presence of both Radamel Falcao and Robin van Persie on the scoresheet made the entire exercise worthwhile. If those two star men can start scoring regularly, then United might slough off those persistent shape issues to strengthen their Champions League credentials.
AFP/Getty ImagesPAUL ELLIS
John Carver celebrates his appointment with emphatic victory at Hull City
Carver angled and petitioned for the permanent job for weeks. He received the good news in the buildup to this visit to Humberside and clearly relished the decision to hand him control through the end of the campaign. His charges responded in kind, too. Newcastle exacerbated Hull’s recent misfortunes with a 3-0 victory at the KC Stadium. It proved an important marker for a club without a win since Carver took charge. Now it is on him to build upon it and steer this group back toward its expectedl place in the top half.