5 talking points from the weekend's Premier League action

We assess Man City closing in on the title, Sunderland’s great escape and more.

Manchester City's Edin Dzeko (centre) celebrates scoring their third goal of the game with team-mates.
Manchester City's Edin Dzeko (centre) celebrates scoring their third goal of the game with team-mates.
Image: PA Wire/Press Association Images

1. City show the resilience of champions

CRITICS HAVE SUGGESTED Man City may not have the stomach for this title race, particularly after their recent nerve-ridden 2-2 draw against Sunderland.

However, against Everton on Saturday, they showed the type of resilience that’s invariably needed to win title races.

Ross Barkley’s stunning strike put the Toffees 1-0 up and City were consequently staring at the prospect of another setback.

Trailing to a team that have already caused Tottenham, Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea to drop points at Goodison Park, their title hopes looked in serious danger. Yet Manuel Pellegrini’s side dug deep to ultimately secure a 3-2 win, persevering even after losing influential striker Sergio Aguero to injury.

With home matches against Aston Villa and West Ham to come, they are now justifiably odds-on favourites to win the title.

2. Season set to end on anti-climax?

It’s been one of the most exciting Premier League seasons in recent memory, and up until recently, it looked as if the league was set for an appropriately thrilling final day.

Yet now, the Champions League places have all been sorted, and a point for Sunderland against West Brom on Wednesday will mean the three relegation spots have been effectively determined.

The title race, of course, is still likely to go down to the final day, but two routine wins for Man City against Aston Villa and West Ham would ruin any sense of drama at the top of the table too.

That said, City are hardly immune to last-minute nervousness, as their shaky 2012 final-day title triumph over QPR illustrated, so perhaps there remains one last turn in this highly dramatic campaign.

3. Can Sunderland complete the most unlikely of great escapes?

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Manchester United v Sunderland - Old Trafford(Robin van Persie is closely watched by John O'Shea -- Source: Martin Rickett)

After Sunderland suffered a run of five consecutive losses up to and including the 1-0 defeat by Everton on 12 April, their stint in the Premier League looked all but over.

They were expected to get few points if any from their next four games, which included daunting away trips to Man City, Chelsea and Man United.

Yet Gus Poyet orchestrated a remarkable 10 points from a possible 12 in the games in question, steering his side to the brink of safety in the process.

And at Old Trafford yesterday, the Black Cats proved they are a team worthy of a Premier League place, as they deservedly beat an out-of-sorts Man United.

4. Unhappy Arsenal fans should look at United’s current predicament

Despite the team securing a Champions League place for the 17th consecutive season, there is a sense of discontent surrounding Arsenal and in particular, Arsene Wenger.

Granted, the season was tainted by their ultimate failure to sustain yet another title challenge, owing to some desperate performances and lacklustre results at definitive moments.

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However, those calling for Wenger’s removal are surely being more than a little unfair — in addition to their fourth-place finish, the Gunners are expected to prevail in the FA Cup final against Hull, thus ending their much-discussed nine-year barren-spell without a trophy.

It’s easy to understand Arsenal fans’ frustration, particularly when they compare themselves with Liverpool, whose own astronomical improvement this year is the type that Wenger’s side have been long threatening but consistently failing to deliver.

Nevertheless, for those fed up with Wenger’s continual near misses, perhaps they should consider how dramatically Manchester United have declined ever since their longstanding veteran manager departed the club.

5. Chelsea out of title race

Chelsea needed to win their remaining two fixtures and hope that both Manchester City and Liverpool slipped up at the final hurdle if they were to pick up some silverware this season, having gone out of the Champions League in midweek.

They proved incapable of doing so, however, as a Norwich team who had been beaten in all of their last five outings came away from Stamford Bridge with a point. It could even have been more had referee Neil Swarbrick awarded the Canaries one of two genuine penalty claims.

After Jose Mourinho’s comments about Eden Hazard not “sacrificing” himself for the team, the Blues boss opted to leave his most creative outlet on the bench and although the Belgian attacker came on and sparked some life into Chelsea in the second half along with David Luiz, they couldn’t manage a breakthrough and Neil Adams picked up his first point as Norwich manager.

Moreover, not for the first time this season, Mourinho’s post-match comments were laughable. He questioned the negative tactics deployed by Chelsea’s opponents, an incredibly hypocritical stance considering how he went about trying to overcome Atletico Madrid in Europe.

Additional reporting by Ben Blake

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Paul Fennessy

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