Arsenal defeat leaves Man City with little margin for error
The champions clawed their way back to the top of the Premier League after it looked like Chelsea might run away with it back in the fall. Those heady days are long gone now. The defeat to Arsenal on Sunday leaves City five points back of the once-again rampant Blues. It now looks like the meeting between the two sides on Jan. 31 is one City simply cannot afford to lose.
Getty ImagesAlex Livesey
Chelsea returns to its swashbuckling best against Swansea City
Away form threw a wrench in Chelsea’s bid to pull away from City before the turn of the year. Those stumbles away from Stamford Bridge look well and truly cured after a scintillating display to brush aside Swansea at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday. Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho labeled the 5-0 demolition “a perfect game.” The evidence -- including four goals in the first 36 minutes -- left little room for argument.
AFP/Getty ImagesGEOFF CADDICK
Too much tinkering leaves van Gaal and Manchester United searching for a foundation
Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal warned it would take some time to restore United back to its best, but he probably did not expect to extend his search for a cohesive shape into the second half of January. Van Gaal watched as his players fumbled through the first half at Loftus Road in a 3-5-2 setup before a switch to 4-4-2 after the break prompted modest improvements. United claimed a labored 2-0 victory over Queens Park Rangers in the end, but the lack of fluidity in the performance reinforces the work still ahead.
Getty ImagesMark Thompson
Jermain Defoe receives a grand welcome as Sunderland illustrates the difficult road ahead
Both sets of supporters at White Hart Lane heralded Defoe’s return to English football after a frustrating spell away at Toronto FC. Defoe did not maintain his previously sterling record of scoring on debuts, but he buzzed about energetically and showed why Sunderland manager Gus Poyet yearned to sign him. Poyet will need the rest of his team to respond accordingly to make the best use of his new striker after Christian Eriksen’s late goal permitted Spurs to snatch a 2-1 victory at the death.
Getty ImagesPaul Gilham
Hull City stares into the abyss after second-half collapse at West Ham
Ambition prompted Hull City manager Steve Bruce to disrupt the balance of his squad during the summer and splash the cash on players theoretically capable of dragging the team further up the table. The gambit simply hasn’t worked. The latest evidence emerged during the painful second-half capitulation in the 3-0 defeat to West Ham. Bruce criticized captain Curtis Davies and goalkeeper Allan McGregor for their roles in the collapse, but he must look firmly in the mirror to figure out how to extricate his remodeled side from this predicament.