Things this week went according to script in the Premier League – and this is possibly the first weekend all year we’ve been able to say that! Everyone we expected to win did – including my lads, Newcastle – and perhaps the only surprise is that both teams on the Mersey sit in the top four ahead of tomorrow’s game in London.
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Liverpool deserve to be where they are: They brushed aside Spurs last weekend, and this weekend did the same to a wobbly Cardiff team in Wales. Luis Suarez continues to impress, and for me, he is right now the best striker in the Prem. But I was also impressed with Jordan Henderson’s link-up play for the second game in a row. Henderson has picked himself and his game back up after a very rocky period, and I’m pleased to see him in this form.
Unfortunately, the match was overshadowed by what I can only call a soap opera. Cardiff owner Vincent Tan apparently told his manager, Malkay Mackay that he had to resign or he would be sacked. Tan subsequently backed off that threat, but this is no way to run a club. Mackay has done a very good job getting the Bluebirds to where they are right now, and while the club isn’t a great Premier League team, let’s not forget that not so long ago it wasn’t a Premier League team at all. Mackay got them here, and on the evidence, he has the skills to keep them up. The owner should be more mindful of that.
Everton have looked very impressive, and I think you must credit Roberto Martinez. He’s done a very fine job and some of the players he has – Seamus Coleman, Ross Barkley – have just grown and grown under him. If there’s one problem I see them facing down the road it’s that they have a lot of fine players in on loan. They need to see if they can hang on to them, which is questionable given their finances. But right now, they look very positive, and it’s great to see them succeeding.
Tottenham finally righted their ship a bit on Sunday with a win over a reeling Southampton. The Saints hadn’t won in five matches coming in, but with Spurs in such a state, this might stop the rot a little bit. Interim manager Tim Sherwood playing an adventurous lineup and when the team finally settled in, it looked quite dangerous. But, they remain quite unbalanced, and I still think better teams will take advantage of their midfield weakness.
Both Manchester clubs did what they were supposed to do. It was a very professional job by United over West Ham, only marred a bit when they conceded that late goal. Ashley Young has rebounded as well, and it was good to see him and Danny Welbeck get on the score sheet. But the man to single out is the young Adnan Januzaj, who continues to impress me every time he steps on the field. He’s still very young and has a lot of learning to do, but he was very dangerous on the ball.
Adnan Januzaj has started to make an impact at United. (Photo: Richard Heathcote/Getty)
City showed some spirit after Fulham dealt them a couple punches. It seemed as if City might collapse again on the road, but despite letting the Cottagers back into the game, Manuel Pellegrini’s men battened down and got the job done. Alvaro Negredo was very solid Saturday, and so was Jesus Navas in his run-in off the bench. City look a real threat, and I think if there is a winner on Monday in London, both those clubs will be looking over their shoulders. City will be right there with anyone.
Speaking of Fulham, it’s good to see Clint Dempsey returning there. I think he will help them a great deal, and add some of the bite that team has too often been lacking. It’s good to see him back in the Prem, and I do hope he helps Fulham stay up.
And then there’s my lads. It was a confident performance, and no less than we deserved. Tony Pulis has Palace playing better, but I think we were better in every positional game long, and the score line reflects that dominance. I also think we’re where we deserve to be right about now – sixth is good, and being a full twenty points above Sunderland is even better.
I want to take a moment and wish everyone very happy holidays. This is a special time of year in England — we really love Christmas! — because it’s a time for family and friends to celebrate and cherish what we have. This holiday season, please do take some time out to think of and help out those less fortunate than you as well.
I love chatting with you guys, so do take a moment to follow me on Twitter at @WarrenBarton2. And, if you have questions, feel free to drop us a line at @FOXSoccer or @FOSXSoccerDaily! As always, thanks for reading and I’ll see you again next week! Merry Christmas, everyone!