It was a fantastic weekend in the Premier League off of the back of a great round of Champions League. So far this season, the Prem hasn’t disappointed.
There were a lot of people questioning Liverpool before Sunday’s match. This was their physical and mental test. Upton Park is a tough place to play; I’ve won there and I’ve been beaten there. I think this is the one match that everyone said they might slip up on. Not necessarily at home against the big clubs, but away against someone they’re supposed to beat.
But it was Steven Gerrard who again stepped up. His two penalty kicks gave Liverpool the three points they needed. Sure, the Reds have played better and more attractive football, but this was what I’d call a performance of champions. They’ve finally convinced me that this season just might be the one they finally win the Premier League.
Manchester City are continuing their charge at the title, and Yaya Toure has truly become the difference maker in the team. Every team at the top needs to have a giant player, and his performance has gone up another level this year. Having him in their ranks is a massive boost as City try to win their second title in three years. Their performance against a confident Southampton club was impressive.
In their 3-0 win over Stoke, Chelsea did what they do best – I wasn’t surprised by their strong performance. While Jose Mourinho may have said his Blues can’t win the title, I think they’re going to fight to the end. Maybe City falls away, perhaps Liverpool slips up, but what is certain is that it’s in Chelsea’s nature to push and fight until the very end. They’re not quite out of this race just yet.
While the reigning champions, Manchester United – it does feel odd to say that, doesn’t it? – have had a very difficult season, at least they’re showing a little bit of spirit. Their big win over Newcastle is obviously pleasing for David Moyes and the fans. Not only does it help restore a little faith in the club, but it gives the Red Devils a big boost ahead of their Champions League second leg against Bayern Munich. They actually have a shot at this one, despite all the doubters who had them out before the tie even began.
Newcastle on the other hand, really disappointed me, and no one more than Alan Pardew. I like him as a manager, but when he said after the match that he found it hard to motivate his players, I was baffled. That’s part of your job as a manager. If you can’t get your team up to play against Manchester United in front of 50,000 people, you might want to reassess.
And finally, as much as Arsenal were poor in their 3-0 loss, Everton were quite remarkable. The job that Roberto Martinez has done this year is fantastic to see. The Gunners weren’t even in the match at all – it was just an all-around really good performance from the Toffees. They have every chance now to finish in fourth.
The Gunners, though, are now well and truly out of the title race. Yet again, they’ve come up short, and for me, the blame is still squarely on Arsene Wenger and his lack of transfer-window moves. Again, Arsenal will be second best behind the top tier of EPL clubs. While that may be enough to keep the owners happy and the books well into the black, are they really happy doing it? It has to be quite demoralizing. Expectations have been lowered much too far. I will say this: If Arsenal can’t pull the FA Cup this year, they’ll never win anything.
I love chatting with you guys, so do take a moment to follow me on Twitter at @WarrenBarton2. It’s a lot of fun to be able to banter with you guys each week. And don’t forget, you can always ask questions to us at @FOXSoccer. We’ve got an exciting batch of Champions League matches coming up this week, with Chelsea vs. PSG and Dortmund vs. Real Madrid on Tuesday, (2 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1 and 2) and Bayern Munich vs. Manchester United and Atletico Madrid vs. Barcelona on Wednesday (2 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1 and 2), so I do hope you’ll join us. Thanks as always for reading!