Five things we learnt from the weekend in English Premier League football

Attack is the best form of defence for QPR, Sunderland are a bogey team for top two as only a title will do for Arsenal fans and more.
Arsenal's Danny Welbeck, right, scores a goal during their English Premier League soccer match against West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns in West Bromwich, central England November 29, 2014.
Arsenal's Danny Welbeck, right, scores a goal during their English Premier League soccer match against West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns in West Bromwich, central England November 29, 2014.

Attack is the best form of defence for QPR

There are a number of reasons QPR are in the bottom three, but the fact they’ve conceded the first goal in 10 of their 13 league games so far is chief amongst them. Fellow strugglers Leicester arrived at Loftus Road without a goal since October 4, but needed only four minutes to take advantage of QPR’s generosity through Esteban Cambiasso. However, QPR found a remedy with wave after wave of attacks. There were a total of 51 shots in a remarkable match, and 32 of them were QPR’s. Charlie Austin’s 73rd minute strike - which proved the winner - took him to seven goals in 12 this season (and five in six at home) to move alongside Saido Berahino as the top-scoring Englishman in the league.

Sunderland a bogey team for top two

Manchester City head to Sunderland on Wednesday, and you can almost pencil in a 1-0 home win now. That is how the last four meetings between the sides at the Stadium of Light have ended, firmly establishing Sunderland as a bogey team for City. But they might have some redeeming qualities in the eyes of the City faithful, as Gus Poyet seems to enjoy the same hold over Chelsea. Sunderland beat Jose Mourinho’s side twice last season and Saturday’s 0-0 draw saw them become the first team to stop Chelsea scoring this campaign. A December defeat in the Capital One Cup last year saw Mourinho cancel Christmas for his players - but while he insisted this year’s party was still on, it was City who received a gift as they made up ground in the title race.

Only a title will do for Arsenal fans

When Arsenal won the FA Cup in May, they ended a nine-year wait for a trophy and, most assumed, lifted a huge weight off the shoulders of Arsene Wenger. He even followed it up by loosening the tight purse-strings to splash out on the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Callum Chambers and Danny Welbeck. But six months on, the pressure is once again growing on the Frenchman as they sit 11 points off the pace they set at this stage last campaign. When Wenger walked out at the Hawthorns he was confronted with banners in the away end calling for him to go, and a scrappy 1-0 win over West Brom did little to quell the dissenters. Arsenal may be only two points off the top four they have called home for so many years, but it seems only a first title in 10 years will be enough for the growing number of restless fans.

If Swansea could hold a lead...

For the second week running, Wilfried Bony scored early to give Swansea a lead. But for the second week running, they couldn’t hold it. Last week, Manchester City came back to beat them 2-1, while on Saturday Crystal Palace equalised with a penalty and held out for a 1-1 draw. Few Swans fans will complain too much, not with their side sitting seventh just three points off the top four, but their habit of dropping points from winning positions must be of concern to Garry Monk. They’ve now let 13 points slip through their fingers. Add those to their tally, and they’d be one point behind leaders Chelsea.

Southampton fail first real test

Ronald Koeman did little to discourage the billing of Sunday’s match against Manchester City as the first major test of Southampton’s top four credentials, but can’t have been too impressed with how his side then measured up. The Saints were second best almost throughout on home turf, and were lucky that some wildcard refereeing decisions did not allow City to cash in earlier. Few would make a case that the final 3-0 scoreline flattered City - not after they played the final 15 minutes down to 10 after the sending off of Eliaquim Mangala - and were reduced to nine in stoppage time once Vincent Kompany hobbled off. Southampton have been good value for their 26 points to date - particularly after the dire pre-season predictions - but there is a feeling they’ve been helped by a kind fixture list and a short injury list. Sunday’s result, and the impact of Schneiderlin’s departure, did little to change either perception.

English Premier League fixtures

Tuesday (in UAE time)

Burnley v Newcastle United, 11.45pm

Leicester City v Liverpool, 11.45pm

Manchester United v Stoke City, 11.45pm

Swansea City v Queens Park Rangers, 11.45pm

West Bromwich Albion v West Ham United, midnight

Crystal Palace v Aston Villa, midnight

Wednesday

Arsenal v Southampton, 11.45pm

Chelsea v Tottenham Hotspur, 11.45pm

Everton v Hull City, 11.45pm

Sunderland v Manchester City, 11.45pm

Follow our sports coverage on twitter at @SprtNationalUAE

Published: December 1, 2014 04:00 AM

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