Saturday, April 2, 2011

Five Things We Learned From Saturday's EPL Action

1. Wazza is back to his best- Three goals for Rooney, and three points for Manchester United, the results of United's stunning comeback at Upton Park. Much maligned for long periods of this season, Wayne Rooney stamped his class all over the second half of this morning's match. His first goal, a curling free kick from outside the area that got United back into the game. That effort was soon followed by his second, a low, powerful finish, gleaned after a superb turn on the edge of the area. And then, there was the third, and arguably the most important of them all, a penalty, which Rooney dispatched with supreme confidence, sending Robert Green the wrong way. Rooney is beginning to develop a penchant for scoring important goals at important times, as his bicycle kick against City demonstrated. Certainly, Rooney is creeping back to the kind of form that he displayed for the large portions of last season.

2. Chelsea are out of the title race- United's come back kicked off a bad day for Chelsea, which was made even worse by their failure to take the maximum from the Brittania Stadium. In all honesty, it was Stoke who actually came the closest to winning the match, with only Petr Cech and the underside of the crossbar denying them all three points. That draw leaves Chelsea eleven points behind leaders Manchester United, albeit with a game in hand. Assuming Chelsea take care of business against Birmingham in that game, they will have to beat United at Old Trafford, and hope that the Red Devils drop five points somewhere else along the way.

3. The art of penalty taking is enjoying a renaissance- Five perfect penalties, in just two games. Mark Noble got the ball rolling with two fabulous spot kicks, one which sent Kuszczak the wrong way, and another which nearly the broke the net. In that same game, Rooney demonstrated exactly why he is United's designated penalty taker, with a classy conversion that sent Rob Green the wrong way, and all three points to Manchester. Next up was Chris Brunt, his first penalty putting West Brom level, and his second, blasted past Reina, giving West Brom the win. It's been a while since we last had two players in two different games who both netted a brace of penalties, but if the Premier League's finest continue to deliver from the spot, then we are likely to see a myriad of other conversions.

4. Darren Bent can actually score in Villa colors- After his blockbuster debut against Manchester City, Aston Villa striker Darren Bent has struggled to find the net for the Villains. Instead the former Tottenham man has reserved all his goalscoring form for the English National Team, a side that he has scored for on all of his last three appearances. However, earlier today, Darren Bent finally recovered his Premier League goalscoring touch, finding the net twice in Aston Villa's two all draw with Everton at Goodison Park. Bent's goals will help his confidence I'm sure, but perhaps more importantly, they may have saved the job of the under pressure Villa manager Gerard Houllier.

5. Kevin Nolan is a better goal scorer than Andy Carrol- Okay, this one might be a bit of a stretch, but statistically at least, it's dead accurate. Having scored Newcastle's opener against Wolves earlier today, Nolan has edged above Carrol in the Premier League top scorer charts. Carrol currently has eleven goals to his name, while Nolan is now just ahead of him with twelve. It is remarkable, that after all the drama surrounding Andy Carrol's future, it is striker partner Nolan that is enjoying a more fruitful season. To be fair, Carrol has spent the last couple months out injured, while Nolan has managed to maintain fitness, but still, Newcastle captain Nolan should be applauded for what is a terrific achievement.

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