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Dublin: 9°C Wednesday 12 May 2021

5 things we learned from the Premier League today

Wes Hoolahan continues to show Trap what he’s missing, while both Arsenal and QPR demonstrated familiar flaws.

Wes Hoolahan was outstanding for Norwich.
Wes Hoolahan was outstanding for Norwich.

Mancini needs to show more faith in Tevez

ONE OF THE more questionable decisions Roberto Mancini made during the week was his decision to leave Carlos Tevez out of his starting line-up, as they produced a lacklustre Champions League performance.

The Argentinian striker has been frequently brilliant for City when he has been given the opportunity to play, yet a lingering suspicion remains that Mancini still hasn’t fully forgotten their long running feud, stemming from Tevez refusing to come on as a substitute in Europe last season.

Mancini placed his faith in Tevez today, and was duly rewarded, with the striker producing a brilliant finish to seal his side’s victory over Swansea, in what was the longest game in Premier League history, owing to an exorbitant ten minutes of injury time.

It would perhaps be a wise move from Mancini’s perspective to start Tevez more often, and in particular in the Champions League where, unlike in their somewhat less taxing domestic fixtures, they cannot afford to leave out players of Tevez’s quality.

Arsenal and QPR show familiar failings

Arsenal escaped with a narrow 1-0 victory against QPR today, with both sides illustrating faults that longtime watchers of the clubs will have been accustomed to.

In an incident that had shades of Joey Barton’s sending off against Man City last season, QPR’s Stephane Mbia was given his marching orders following a moment of rash stupidity, reacting to a hefty challenge by kicking his opponent impulsively.

QPR were consequently severely punished, as their ten men could not contain Arsenal for long, with their ill-discipline more or less costing them the game, as was the case with Barton last year.

Arsenal, however, could still have slipped up.

Having taken the lead, they proceeded to show a discernible nervousness in attempting to keep it, with the visitors’ ten men almost equalising on more than one occasion.

Thus, the lack of mental strength and an inability to play matches out in a convincing fashion – a recurring criticism of Wenger’s side – was again in evidence today.

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Arsenal’s Bacary Sagna (left) challenges QPR’s Nedum Onuoha during the Barclays Premier League match at the Emirates Stadium (Jonathan Brady/PA Wire/Press Association Images).

The sooner Trap calls up Wes Hoolahan, the better

The midfielder has been mostly snubbed by the Italian manager up until now, but he is making it increasingly difficult for Trap to ignore him.

Following his superb Man of the Match performance against Arsenal last week, he delivered another outstanding display today.

Hoolahan pulled the strings in midfield, helping Norwich to earn a point against Aston Villa, providing the cross for his side’s equaliser against a Villa team that were hampered by the sending off of Joe Bennett early in the second half.

With the Ireland squad being announced on Wednesday, surely the Norwich man deserves to be included.

While he may not have the solidity and defensive qualities of players such as Glenn Whelan, he represents a more creative alternative and would be an ideal man to bring on if Ireland need a goal in the final 20 minutes of a game, as his recent Premier League performances attest.

Berbatov proving an astute signing

A few eyebrows were raised when Fulham signed Dimitar Berbatov.

The enigmatic Bulgarian had been brilliant but also frustratingly inconsistent during his time at both Tottenham and Man United.

Nonetheless, he has started his Fulham career in convincing fashion, already notching a number of important goals amid the London club’s impressive start to the season.

And he was on the scoresheet again today, as Martin Jol’s side drew 3-3 with Reading.

Consequently, while they evidently have problems at the back, Fulham can take heart from the fact that Berbatov has quickly recovered from his underwhelming spell at United, to develop into one of their most influential and effective players.

Irish stars fail to shine in dour Sunderland-Stoke draw

Giovanni Trapattoni visited the Britannia Stadium today, where a number of Irish players were on show.

Trap would have been keeping a keen eye on the performances of John O’Shea, James McClean, Marc Wilson (who went off injured, worryingly) and Jonathan Walters.

Yet their international manager’s presence could not inspire any of the aforementioned individuals to give a particularly distinguished performance, in a game of few thrills.

And even more worryingly for the Italian coach, goalkeeper Keiren Westwood once again remained on the bench for the duration of the contest.

As it happened: Manchester City v Swansea, Premier League>

‘The little man, Hoolahan, was the best player on the pitch’ – Jamie Redknapp>

About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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