Premier League Talking Points: Gameweek 27

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Starting off down at the bottom, Cardiff managed to start brightly enough at home against Hull and after a couple of early fizzing shots, you wondered whether it might have been Solskjaer’s day. Enter the Premier League’s most dangerous strike duo – no, not Luis and Daniel – Shane and Nik of course! While they may sound like members of a now defunct Irish pop band, their goals could certainly play a big part in pushing Hull closer to a Top Ten position. Big money was splashed in January on two players in and out of their respective starting XI’s and bang out of form. Whether their explosive start to life in the East Riding has longevity, is another matter, but early indicators suggest the £14m outlay for the pair may be money well spent if it guarantees Premier League status for another year and another TV deal windfall. Their link-up play carved Cardiff open, consigning Solksjaer to yet another defeat. His problems lie in defence, with major summer purchase Steven Caulker failing to track Jelavic for his headed second. It was schoolboy stuff, and as Steve Bruce celebrated another impressive away win, Cardiff’s hopes of challenging survival look increasingly unlikely. Should Mr Tan have stuck with Malky after all?…

One chairman who will be happy with his manager’s progress is Roman Abramovich. Jose Mourinho is positioning himself well in the title challenge, slipping rather quietly into top spot amidst the earlier buzz of first Arsenal, and then Man City. Pellegrini’s side could return to the top on goal difference if they win their game in hand, however they still face away games against Man Utd, Arsenal and Liverpool, versus Chelsea’s more favourable run-in. One thing for sure, is that the Portuguese has been here before, many times, and has very rarely bottled big opportunities. This was no more apparent than at their lunchtime kick off against a stubborn Everton side. A scrappy game was decided by a scrappy goal (that John ‘I’ll take credit for this one’ Terry definitely didn’t score). It was a clichéd scrape of a 1-0 win, the home side ‘grinding’ out a result in a way only a true title challenger. It weren’t pretty, but the Blues are certainly sitting pretty ahead of this week’s fixtures after which, City will have two games in hand on them. It’s worth getting front row seats for this battle.   

On a weekend where Newcastle finally and exhaustingly chalked up a home goal and home win deep, deep into stoppage time, their local neighbours Sunderland were left reeling at the type of defensive horror show the Geordies have recently been churning out themselves recently. A trip to the Emirates will always be daunting experience, but it all seemed a little too much for on-loan January recruit and Premier League virgin, Santiago Vergini. Brought in for Wes Brown, the Argentine endured a baptism of fire, at one point sending a hospital ball back towards the direction of the helpless Vito Mannone. Olivier Giroud was there to pounce, and Sunderland had once again shot themselves in the foot. Cup finals are usually good levellers (as Man City themselves found out to their cost last season) however Poyet must be concerned about his backline going into the Capital One Cup Final on Sunday. Does he stick with rabbit in the headlights Vergini, or opt for the immobile, disciplinary liability Wes Brown? Whichever man he puts faith in for Wembley, I don’t envy the Uruguayan’s dilemma.

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