IF ARSENAL’S MEETING with Chelsea ends in a draw tomorrow night, Liverpool fans will be able to tuck into turkey and ham in the knowledge that their club is top of the Premier League on Christmas Day.
It is four years since that last happened and although Brendan Rodgers has been determined to play down their chances of a first title 24 years, he must be incredibly satisfied with how the first half of the season has gone.
Many believed Luis Suarez’s days at the club were numbered last summer but with 19 goals from his last 13 appearances, the Uruguayan, who signed new long term contract signed this week, has been head and shoulders above everyone else since returning from his 10-match ban.
His two latest goals helped see off Cardiff but the Reds face their biggest test so far when they travel to the Etihad for a mouth-watering fixture on St Stephen’s Day.
2. Januzaj must cut out diving
As bad as West Ham were on the day, David Moyes will have been encouraged by the performance but was forced to defend Belgian teenager Adnan Januzaj after the talented teenager was booked for simulation for the second time this season.
Moyes was critical about the physical treatment Januzaj has been receiving lately (saying he has been “kicked in every game, upside down”) and added that his reason for going down was because he felt he was about to tripped by James Collins’ leg, which he pulled back at the last moment.
It comes as no surprise that the United boss would defend his player publicly, but he needs to cut it out of Januzaj’s game, just as Alex Ferguson did with Cristiano Ronaldo, as he is undoubtedly a fine prospect.
3. City still scoring freely without Aguero
Manuel Pellegrini will not have been happy about news last week that his top scorer Sergio Aguero is facing a month on the sidelines due to a calf problem.
And with Aguero missing, players from other positions stepped up to chip in with goals. A single point behind Liverpool going into their clash on Thursday, City will be confident that their home form will be enough to see them leapfrog the Merseysiders.
4. Sherwood stakes a claim for Spurs job
In a 4-4-2 systerm, a midfield four of Moussa Dembele, Christian Eriksen, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Erik Lamela were tasked with feeding a brand new strike partnership in Roberto Soldado and Emmanuel Adebayor.
Spurs did go behind to Adam Lallana’s opener early but the game plan, and in particular the decision to start Adebayor, ultimately paid off. Frozen out by the previous manager Andre Villas-Boas, who persisted with a lone frontman, the Togolese forward followed up his first goal of the season on Wednesday with a double.
It remains to be seen whether Sherwood will be given the opportunity to take the role on a permanent basis but he didn’t do his chances any harm at St Mary’s.
5. Coleman continues to shine
Just like their city rivals, Everton currently hold one of the top four berths and are unbeaten in 10 games after today’s 2-1 win away to Swansea.
Roberto Martinez, who began his managerial career with the Welsh side before moving on to Wigan, has put his faith in 20-year-old Ross Barkley and the midfielder again came up with the goods with an outstandingly-struck 84th-minute free-kick.
From an Irish perspective, it is refreshing to see both Seamus Coleman and James McCarthy excel at a club in the top half of the Premier League. While McCarthy was his usual reliable self, Killbegs full-back Coleman was a constant threat going forward and scored a 25-yard rocket on 66 minutes.
With four Premier League goals, Coleman is the top-scoring Irish player this term — which also says a lot about how our strikers have been faring.
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- Sergio Aguero