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Premier League Winners and Losers

A look at the winners and losers in the Premiership this weekend.

Winners
Manchester United
 
It was only two months ago that Liverpool were seven points clear of Man United. Now, after winning their second trophy of the season Sunday, United find themselves points clear at the top with a game in hand.

Stoke City 
The most unlikely comeback of the season? Stoke’s draw at Villa, snatched after trailing 2-0 after 88 minutes, accounted for only the fourth point they’ve collected on their travels this term.

Middlesbrough
Undefeated against Liverpool at the Riverside in their last seven encounters. Boro have a terrific record against the Big Four and, as explanation, it may not be a coincidence that the visit of a Big Four team tends to re-ignite the interest of the local populace – Saturday’s attendance of 33,724 was their biggest of the season and represented an increase of almost 30% on the gate for their previous home league match.

Fulham
While Fulham and Stoke hold the distinction of being the only top-flight sides without an away win in 2008/09, Fulham are, by a considerable margin, the lowest scorers with just three goals on their travels. Yet they also boast the best away defense in the league outside of the top four, so Saturday’s 0-0 draw at Arsenal was their seventh in 14 away games.

Tim Cahill
Is their a more valuable player to his team than Cahill? His goal on Saturday was his seventh league goal this term in just 19 starts.

Chelsea
It is not the free-flowing samba style football we were looking for this season, but with their third single-goal victory in a week, Chelsea have once again became hard to beat.

Losers
Liverpool

Liverpool’s title dreams once again are over and their biggest rivals are once again poised to win another championship. A lot of the blame will be laid at the feet of Rafa, but the hard reality is that Liverpool are simply not good enough. Too many of their players are average, too few are top quality. The acid test of any aspiring team is how many players would claim a place in Manchester United’s first eleven. Beyond Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard, the list at Liverpool is short. Go further and Liverpool’s inadequacies run even deeper: there is not a single back-up player at Anfield who is the equal of his opposite number at Old Trafford. Shallow depth has sunk Liverpool, a slump in form occurring at exactly the time of year when squad strength is critical.

Aston Villa
The draw at home against Stoke was a horrible result for Aston Villa, and their small squad is looking really tired. The problem for Villa is that the fixtures come thick and fast at this time of the year and their is no opportunity to rest key players. Consider Villa’s next seven games:

Wednesday: Away to Man City
Sunday: Home to Tottenham
March 22: Away to Liverpool
April 5: Away to Man United
April 12: Home to Everton
April 18: Home to West Ham
April 25: Away to Bolton

With only six points separating Villa and Arsenal, that deficit could be erased in one bad week.

Arsenal
A fourth consecutive goalless draw continues a problem that has haunted Arsenal all season. They cannot score goals at home. In the last eight league games at the Emirates Arsenal have scored four goals.

The Three Promoted Sides
With Hull in freefall, they’ve won just once in their last eighteen games, the odds are growing that all three teams will be returning to the Championship next season.

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