Jamie Thomas reveals what caught his eye in this weekend’s latest thrilling Premier League fixtures. . .
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1. Chelsea’s late show
Cesc Fabregas has toiled for Chelsea recently, but the former Barcelona ace is always capable of being a game-changer. He proved that again with his winner for Jose Mourinho’s men with just three minutes to go at Loftus Road.
It really is the sign of champions: grinding out results and keeping clean sheets while your rivals invariably slip-up. But the west London derby was marred by QPR fans lobbing missiles, including coins, bottles and lighters, although with three points in the bag, Mourinho didn’t make it a talking point.
2. Sher delight
Tim Sherwood got revenge on old club Tottenham – who axed him after just five months in charge – thanks to a reinvigorated Christian Benteke’s winner at White Hart Lane. The Villa boss is bringing the best out of the Belgian striker as he did with Emmanuel Adebayor (briefly) while managing Spurs.
Sherwood got his tactics spot-on, making sure Benteke got the service he deserves, to all but secure their safety on 32 points. Villa also kept a certain Harry Kane quiet. In fact, he hasn’t been the same since the international break . . .
3. Swans aiming high
Many expected Garry Monk’s appointment as Swansea City manager to go south, but this weekend the club equalled their highest ever points total in the Premier League after drawing with Everton – with no less than six matches remaining.
Despite losing a plethora of big names on the pitch and off it – Joe Allen, Wilfried Bony, Michael Laudrup and Brendan Rodgers to name a few – Swans are now targeting a top-eight finish and their highest ever points total.
4. The joys of Brazil
Alan Pardew and Crystal Palace are the perfect fit. The former Eagles star has ensured they’ve soared up the league from the danger zone to 11th after eight wins. Hat-trick hero Yannick Bolasie ran riot in their latest victory over Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.
The Palace boss told BBC Sport “it was like watching Brazil”. While it’s true the much-maligned former Newcastle boss deserves more credit, most of us wouldn’t go that far. However, if he guides them to that first top-half EPL finish, we may all revise our opinion come the end of the season.
5. Pellegrini still not worried? He should be.
Earlier in the week, Manuel Pellegrini insisted his job was safe – but after a heavy defeat in the Manchester derby this weekend he can’t be so sure. Sergio Aguero got the opener, but City surrendered the lead six minutes later and handed the momentum to United, who won 4-2.
Many stars, including Yaya Toure and David Silva, were fairly anonymous throughout the game. It’s clear the ageing squad’s in need of an overhaul. But with their title defence in tatters, being dumped out of the Champions League at the last 16 for the second year running and the City boss admitting he’s to blame for the slump, time’s surely running out for Pellegrini?
Read more from Jamie Thomas here.