Here are five things we learned from a busy Tuesday night in the Premier League...
1) Arsenal have the grit and guile to be champions
Though the Gunners were forced to leave St Mary’s with just a point, it could prove to be valuable come the end of the season. With goals from Jose Fonte and Adam Lallana either side of strikes from Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla, the red card to Mathieu Flamini changed the game.
Arsene Wenger’s men, so often lacking mental toughness in the past, rallied together to hold on and were able to extend their run of matches unbeaten in all competitions to nine. Their grit and determination in the final stages, epitomised by the solid Wojciech Szczesny, was admirable and meant they could consider it a point gained rather than two dropped.
2) Daniel Sturridge does not get enough credit
Daniel Sturridge was the star of the show on Tuesday night as Liverpool hammered rivals Everton in the Merseyside derby. Despite missing a penalty and a petulant strop with manager Brendan Rodgers, Sturridge highlighted yet again what a prolific marksman he has become.
In a season where Luis Suarez has taken the plaudits, the England striker has also become a crucial cog in the side, with the goals in the 4-0 hammering his 12th and 13th of the campaign. With Chelsea in dire need of a consistent striker, his goals and performances this season have highlighted what a huge mistake it was to sell him to Liverpool last January.
3) Mata is a start, but Manchester United need more
Though Manchester United were comfortable enough in their 2-0 win over Cardiff City, the central partnership of Ryan Giggs and Phil Jones left a lot to be desired. With Giggs’ days drawing to a close and Jones naturally a centre-back, David Moyes will need to buy big whether it be this month or in the summer.
Toni Kroos has reportedly emerged as a target for the Red Devils. The current crop of midfielders, barring Juan Mata and Michael Carrick, are not up to scratch. Cardiff dominated the midfield at times, and against the stronger sides United may find themselves punished in the future.
4) Tony Pulis is a genius
Somehow, Tony Pulis has got this Crystal Palace side up to the lofty heights of 14th in the league table. Without Wilfried Zaha, the side were languishing under Ian Holloway, yet since Pulis’ arrival he has turned things around.
They now sit a point above his former side, Stoke City, albeit having played one game more, but Pulis has started to show them how wrong they were to sack him at the end of last season. Palace now sit five points above the relegation zone after their 1-0 win at Hull and will be hoping Pulis can guarantee a second stint of Premier League football next campaign.
5) The bigger they are, the harder they fall
Bradley Johnson is a solid unit - a strong, muscly character. And yet the way he overreacted to Loic Remy’s moving head (not headbutt, he simply moved his head towards him) in Norwich City’s 0-0 draw with Newcastle was embarrassing.
It has sadly become the norm to make the most of any sort of contact. Though Remy deserved the red card given the intent, Johnson similarly deserved it just for his poor reaction alone. Chris Hughton should have a word, because he embarrassed the football club on Tuesday evening.
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