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5 talking points from Saturday's Premier League action

We assess United’s eighth loss of the season and the Irish players’ performances for Hull.

David Moyes' Manchester United suffered their eighth defeat of the season on Saturday.
David Moyes' Manchester United suffered their eighth defeat of the season on Saturday.

1. Disjointed United fail to sparkle as Moyes’ hapless streak continues

ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER United slip-up rife with new problems.

Despite starting with their three best players — Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie and Juan Mata — they could not overcome lowly Stoke.

It was another day in which luck went against David Moyes’ men — Charlie Adam’s opener took a wicked deflection off Michael Carrick, while the Red Devils lost both their starting centre-backs to injury during the game.

Consequently, it was no surprise that the United team ultimately looked more than a little disjointed, with Carrick in defence and Rooney in midfield for much of the game.

Yet Moyes at least can take heart from the fact that there is surely much more to come from his men, as Mata has yet to settle, while both Rooney and Van Persie still aren’t fully fit.

2. Everton recover from midweek horror show

Some critics dismissed Everton’s Champions League qualification hopes following their recent 4-0 mauling by Liverpool.

However, Roberto Martinez’s men went some way towards showing that they have the stomach for the fight with their display on Saturday.

There were signs of a hangover from midweek in the first half however, as Everton went 1-0 down against Aston Villa and failed to produce much of substance, barring one curling Aiden McGeady effort that struck the post (the Irish international was making his first league start for the Toffees).

Yet a tactical switch that saw Steven Pienaar replacing Ross Barkley at the break eventually paid dividends.

Robert Martinez’s side became increasingly dominant in terms of possession and territory, and were rewarded late on, with strikes from Steven Naismith and Kevin Mirallas winning them the game.

3.  Long shows Hull and Keane his worth

YouTube credit: Footy-Goals | Not Only Highlights

Irish international Shane Long is undoubtedly under pressure to deliver for struggling Hull.

Before Saturday, the striker had scored just three goals in 16 appearances this season.

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However, there is hope that a manager such as Steve Bruce, who appears willing to offer Long more first-team chances than he was used to receiving at West Brom, will give the 27-year-old the confidence to improve his goalscoring rate.

And with Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane watching, Long delivered yesterday, demonstrating his pace and finishing ability when scoring Hull’s opener (see above).

Keane will also be pleased with news of Kevin Doyle’s debut goal for QPR, as well as the fact that three other Irish players — Paul McShane, David Meyler and Robbie Brady — started for Hull.

4. Saints’ Lallana deserves to make England World Cup squad on current form

For a club that wasn’t even in the Premier League two seasons ago, Southampton have overachieved significantly in recent times.

And somewhat refreshingly, this success story involves a manager — Mauricio Pochettino — willing to play adventurous football that affords opportunities to domestic players.

Having produced players of the calibre of Luke Shaw, Gareth Bale and Theo Walcott over the years, the club’s youth system is undoubtedly among the most impressive in English football.

Adam Lallana is another product of the Saints’ famed academy, and he continued his excellent season on Saturday, scoring the all-important opener amid a convincing 3-0 victory over Fulham.

Lallana’s form is so impressive this season that he surely merits a place in England’s World Cup squad on current form, while his fellow goalscorers on Saturday, Jay Rodriguez and Rickie Lambert, are also staking strong claims for a spot on the plane to Brazil.

5. Poyet-led Sunderland revival continues

As the Paolo Di Canio era at Sunderland came to an abrupt end, many pundits felt it didn’t matter who took over — the Stadium of Light outfit were simply not good enough to stay in the Premier League.

However, having been stuck to the bottom of the table at the beginning of the season, they have since improved immeasurably and now find themselves in 14th position (albeit still only two points off the relegation zone).

Their confident 3-0 victory over Newcastle in this weekend’s early kick-off — the second time they have beaten the Magpies in the league during Poyet’s reign — epitomised their sudden rejuvenation.

New signing Liam Bridcutt looks an astute purchase on first glance, while winger Adam Johnson continued his own mini-rejuvenation, with a sixth goal in four games, as the Black Cats emerged with a well-deserved victory.

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Paul Fennessy

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