6 Things We Learned From an Action Packed Weekend of Premier League Football

 90min.com  12/17/2018 17:25:50  2  Jamie Spencer

The Premier League moves towards the busy Christmas and January periods at frantic pace, with the latest weekend of action no different to the usual drama and excitement on offer.

All 20 clubs were involved across 10 games over the course of Saturday and Sunday, including arguably the biggest rivalry game in the country.

Here are six things we learned...

Huddersfield and Fulham both lost at home over the weekend and are starting to get cut adrift at the bottom of the table. 

Huddersfield are still close enough to escape the relegation zone with a win if other results go in their favour, but the Terriers have lost four in a row and should be looking to at least draw at home with other sides in the bottom half. But Newcastle took all three points on their Saturday.

New manager Claudio Ranieri hasn't been able to stop the rot at Fulham and West Ham emerged comfortable winners at Craven Cottage. An immediate boost when the Italian took over last month hasn't lasted, while even spending big in January doesn't look like the answer.

Cardiff manager Neil Warnock saw his side go 3-0 down against Watford inside 70 minutes on Saturday and only avoid embarrassment because of the heroics of goalkeeper Neil Etheridge. The Bluebirds fought back to 3-2, making for an uncomfortable final few minutes for Watford.

Warnock's biggest gripe about the game appeared to not be his own side's failings in the first 70 minutes but a complaint about a referee he unfairly labelled a 'trainee' for not dishing out punishment to Troy Deeney for a foul on Etheridge in the second half.

It was Andy Madley's first Premier League game of the season, but he has officiated in the Premier League before and has 100 Championship matches on his record. Warnock suggested Cardiff might have been given a short straw with the appointment because they're Cardiff, but all top flight referees have to start somewhere.   

New Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl was beaten by Cardiff in his first game in charge earlier this month, but his first home game produced a very different result. 

A Saints team that has been poor all season was suddenly able to get the better of Arsenal in a 3-2 win an end the Gunners' long 22-game unbeaten run that has been intact in all competitions since August. Now, the new boss has to find a way to build on that momentum.  

In years gone by, a Tottenham side struggling at home against a bottom side club like Burnley might have failed to win and be called 'Spursy'. 

That isn't the case any longer, and a Spurs team that rescued its Champions League hopes by reaching the knockout rounds a few days earlier kept plugging away as Burnley visited Wembley and took all three points thanks to a stoppage time winner from Christian Eriksen. 

Their ability to grind out that result after a bust week has ensured that Mauricio Pochettino's side remain only six points off the top of the table and well in the top four.  

The hope that Manchester United will 'come good' at some point this season keeps getting pushed back and back. Against Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday, even Jose Mourinho's famous ability to organise to get a result in a big game finally deserted him. 

It wasn't that Liverpool were superb on the day, it was that United failed to get near them. The hosts ran the midfield and Romelu Lukaku barely got a sniff up front because the service was non-exisent.

United are now eight points off the top five, 19 points off the top, and are essentially battling the likes of Wolves, Everton, West Ham and Watford for the right to finish sixth and be considered the 'best of the rest'.  

Given that Manchester City ran away with the Premier League title last season, having effectively sewn it up before Christmas, and were expected to do similar this time around, the fact that Liverpool are not just in contention but actually leading is rather incredible. 

The Reds have built a team that has, so far, proven impossible to beat in the Premier League, doesn't concede many goals and have a sharp and dangerous attack. It is the perfect combination and this title race could be set to go the distance.

That it was substitute Xherdan Shaqiri who ultimately made the difference and not Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane or another 'usual suspect', was important as it showed squad depth.

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