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Premier Picks: Clint makes Tottenham's day

TEAMtalk looks at the talking points from this weekend's Premier League games, with Clint Dempsey's goal and David De Gea's display among them.

Last Updated: 21/01/13 at 12:44 Post Comment   

Dempsey: Celebrates late equaliser for Spurs

Dempsey: Celebrates late equaliser for Spurs

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Tottenham 1 Manchester United 1

While the story from White Hart Lane will be Manchester United dropping two points in the Premier League title race, Tottenham's late equaliser was more than deserved, and Spurs fans will perhaps now be viewing fourth place as the minimum requirement for this year.

In what was an even, entertaining game in north London, both sides' defence overshadowed their attacking forces on Sunday afternoon, with David De Gea particularly impressive in the United goal.

Having denied Gareth Bale and Jermain Defoe in the first half, his second half save to prevent Clint Dempsey finding the net was spectacular, as were the performances of Rio Ferdinand and Michael Carrick in ensuring Spurs were kept out until the second minute of added time.

United carved out chances intermittently, but this Spurs side are made of sterner stuff than the side that lost 3-1 in this corresponding fixture last season, and while dropping Jan Vertongen was a risk, the performances of Steven Caulker and Michael Dawson justified Andre Villas-Boas' selection.

United won't let this result get to them too much, and the positives more than outweighed the negatives for Sir Alex Ferguson. Manchester City will also take heart from their rivals' slip-up, but elsewhere, Chelsea and Arsenal will surely be concerned after another terrific performance from Villas-Boas' battlers.

Jack Woodfield

Chelsea 2 Arsenal 1

As much as Arsene Wenger will have been impressed with his side's second-half showing against Chelsea, the flaws they displayed in the opening 45 minutes need to be addressed urgently.

Chelsea were 2-0 up and cruising at the break on Sunday, with the Gunners midfield and defence parting politely as wave after wave of Blue attacks surged forward towards the unfortunate Wojciech Szczesny's goal.

Wenger was unimpressed with the failure of referee Martin Atkinson to award his side a free-kick after Ramires' challenge on Francis Coquelin in the build-up to Juan Mata's opener, but the shoddy defending which allowed the Spain international to score is of more concern.

The Gunners were similarly culpable for Chelsea's second, as Abou Diaby gave away possession before Szczesny felled Ramires and Frank Lampard made no mistake from the spot.

Their attacking efforts were not much better either, with Olivier Giroud missing a glorious opportunity to beat Petr Cech moments before Mata struck, while the corners they did force were then lofted hopelessly into Petr Cech's arms.

Rob Parrish

Liverpool 5 Norwich 0

Liverpool seem to save some of their best performances for when they face Norwich and, following a 5-2 victory at Carrow Road earlier in the season, they ran out even more convincing winners at home after a clinical demolition.

The Reds have regularly dominated possession without managing to take their chances but there were no such problems here and the early signs are that Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez will complement each other very nicely up front.

They both have good movement and already appear to be developing an understanding, as demonstrated by Sturridge's clever dummy which set up Suarez to make it 2-0, while perhaps Liverpool will not now have to rely so heavily on the Uruguayan for goals.

New players have not always fared so well immediately after making the move to Anfield, but sometimes it is a matter of patience and the displays of Jordan Henderson and Stewart Downing would suggest they could still have important roles to play this season.

Norwich supporters would have liked to think their team had improved considerably since their last meeting with Liverpool, but on this evidence they have slipped back and may now be relegation candidates again.

The Canaries still have a seven-point cushion despite losing five and drawing one of their past six games, but with confidence fading and other struggling teams starting to prosper, Chris Hughton will be concerned.

Norwich looked hard to break down for the first 23 minutes, but then capitulated after falling behind and completely lost their organisation, while they never looked like scoring themselves and Hughton may decide he needs reinforcements before the end of January.

Lewis Rutledge

Man City 2 Fulham 0

The difference between title challengers and potential basement battlers is that those towards the top of the table boast a greater number of match winners within their ranks.

City were grateful to one of theirs on Saturday, with David Silva picking a good time to get back among the goals and net a well-taken brace.

Carlos Tevez was short of his best, Edin Dzeko's radar was all over the place and Sergio Aguero was only offered a cameo appearance off the bench as he made a welcome return from injury.

The efforts of that trio did not matter, though, as Silva stepped up to the plate and stamped his authority on proceedings inside the opening 95 seconds - as he broke the deadlock.

City were a long way short of their best after bursting out of the blocks, but were always in control of the tie and had enough creativity and firepower within their ranks to ensure that they secured a fourth straight success in Premier League competition.

In contrast, if Dimitar Berbatov fails to shine for Fulham, the Cottagers fail to shine.

The Bulgarian endured a frustrating afternoon at the Etihad, as he was unable to pick up possession in areas in which he could harm City, and unfortunately for Fulham their pool of talent is not quite as deep as City's.

Martin Jol will be concerned that far too many of his players have gone missing over recent weeks, with the Cottagers still looking anxiously over their shoulder at the drop zone, but Roberto Mancini will be delighted to see his side grinding out wins when required and keeping pace with arch-rivals Manchester United at the top of the table.

Chris Burton

Newcastle 1 Reading 2

An outstanding display from Reading, but this game cemented Newcastle's place in the relegation dogfight.

Alan Pardew's side are in desperate need of signings, but the way they are playing, he could need to perform major surgery on his men.

Reading should have been put to bed by half time, but they were allowed back into the game and Newcastle could look back on this display with huge regret.

Reading on the other hand showed they have the grit and determination to win away and their knack of coming from behind could be a huge weapon in the final run-in.

Graeme Bailey

Swansea 3 Stoke 1

These sides came into the game with identical records in their last seven Premier League games, but Stoke were thoroughly outclassed by a second half blitz from Swansea.

One thing you can guarantee about Swansea is that they will score attractive goals, and all three were sublime. The composure of Ben Davies for the first perfectly epitomised the progression in the young defender, but the most praise must be saved for Jonathan De Guzman. Signed on loan from Villarreal, the Dutchman looked the complete midfielder: defensive solidity, an impressive range of passing, a composed finish for the third goal and excellence from a dead ball for his first and Swansea's second.

Stoke looked off the pace as soon as Swansea stepped up the pressure, and it is now one away win in 21 Premier League away games. At least Michael Owen got off the mark.

Daniel Storey

West Ham 1 QPR 1

This game had everything on the bill - London derby, manager returns, player back at his boyhood club and surprise signing starts.

It promised for a game whereby form and positioning would be thrown out of the window and we certainly had that when Loic Remy netted for QPR against the run of play. The 26-year-old's arrival at Loftus Road has been met with scrutiny, people questioning the motives of a man who turns down a usually consistent Newcastle United - despite their recent results - in favour of a rock-bottom club but an arguably healthier bank balance in the shape of QPR.

The game at West Ham proved a perfect chance to see just how Remy would cope during a freezing cold afternoon in a game QPR had to get a result from. On reflection, I'd like to think that QPR fans have nothing to worry about. Remy looked hungry, dangerous, pacy and clinical in front of goal - netting his first chance with expertise. He did seem invisible in the second half but I would like to think that was down to the Hammers' dominance and QPR's lack of service. Either way, it's a huge addition to the squad and one who has the ability to rescue the side - much like Carlos Tevez did for West Ham a few years back. 

Joe Cole's commitment to his first-love club was apparent for all to see in the game. It might have been the simplest of tap-ins for the midfielder but being his first for the club since his return, he celebrated like he had just scored from the halfway line. That type of passion is the sort that suits Sam Allardyce and will no doubt help Cole in his efforts to get back into the England squad - a feat I believe he can still achieve.

Julio Cesar is another to mention from the game. He is going to be a pivotal figure for QPR in their search for survival. He oozes comfort between the sticks and his experience will have to be exploited if Rangers are to escape.

Hayley Paterson

Wigan 2 Sunderland 3

On one of the more bleak Saturdays of the year both sides did their best to provide some cheer for the fans who had made the journey to the DW Stadium.

It was the visitors who went away with the points thanks to a stunning 40- minute period in the first half.

After David Vaughan had diverted past his own 'keeper early on, performances by Adam Johnson, debutant Alfred N'Diaye and in particular Steven Fletcher led Sunderland to a deserved victory.

Gardner slotted home from the penalty spot after 17 minutes to level the score. Then, Fletcher got in on the act, stabbing in after his first attempt was blocked to put Martin O'Neill's men ahead.

Fletcher's second and Sunderland's third was the type of goal the Sunderland fans have been used to seeing since he signed for the club from Wolves. After good link-up play between Fletcher and Johnson the Scotsman made no mistake side-footing the ball emphatically past Al Habsi to make it number 14 of the season.

Wigan tried hard in the second half and on loan Manchester United player Angelo Henriquez pulled one back but in the end it wasn't enough.

The result will please the travelling Sunderland fans but Roberto Martinez will be concerned because for yet another season it looks like his side will have to perform further heroics to survive.

Tom McDermott

West Brom 2 Aston Villa 2

Aston Villa will be disappointed not to have taken all three points away from the Hawthorns after a first half display that defied their starting position of 19th in the Premier League table.

Paul Lambert's side may be without a win since their shock 3-1 success at Anfield in mid-December, but more performances like this will surely see this young side pull clear of the trouble they find themselves in.

The first half display showed the talent that the former Norwich boss has at his disposal, and the combination between Christian Benteke, Gabby Agbonlahor and Charles N'Zogbia is something that Villa fans will be hoping to see develop from this display.

If you hadn't seen either of these sides before this game, it would've been difficult to pick which side was in the shake up for Europe and which was languishing in the bottom three, and that must serve as a boost to Villa, even though they failed to hang on in the second half.

One thing that the youthful element will give Paul Lambert is an absence of fear, even with their precarious position.

West Brom on the other hand appear to be suffering from over-expectation caused by their astonishing start to the season where they rose to a dizzying third position in the table.

Now in a more familiar eighth, they are still just three points off a European place despite being without a league win since Boxing Day.

Steve Clarke has to take credit for continually putting out an attractive side with few real stars who all work hard for each other to perform beyond their means.

And despite their recent poor run, it is unlikely that any sort of dramatic fall will follow. In fact their main problem may come from being too secure. With 34 points already - the same as the might of Liverpool - they are probably as likely as Brendan Rodgers' side to find themselves near the bottom three come May.

Rebecca Stephenson

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Readers' Comments

I

may well get slated by other United fans for this, but out of the three contenders, I'd far prefer Liverpool to win the title. Yes some elements of their fanbase can be a bit OTT, yes they're our biggest rivals and yes it will make our poor season feel even more like the end of an era (Fergie's gone, Liverpool are back on top). However I just have to applaud Brendan Rodgers and the way he's turned Liverpool around in just a couple of seasons. It...

Mike_Christie
Please Stop Telling Us What To Think

H

ooray! We are all excited now, we beat a very mediocre team! With all due respect to WHU supporters, not winning that game shouldn't even be a consideration. This is the problem, there is no winning mentality at the Emirates - we're all congratulating ourselves beating a team that we have a winning record against.

TheWhiz
Wenger hails important win

I

s this meant to be an aspiration for United supporters? Moyes mediocrity strikes again. I see the Bayern boys don't want to sign for him, and his reputation amongst the senior European coaches make other key signings unlikely.

redbornandbred
De Gea's Europa League target

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