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Some thoughts from this weekend's Premier League games

We’re feeling particularly sorry for Steve Bould, and excited about Liverpool’s new strikeforce.

Liverpool pair Suarez and Sturridge.
Liverpool pair Suarez and Sturridge.
Image: Peter Byrne/PA Wire/Press Association Images

YOU HAVE TO feel sorry for Steve Bould.

A rod for the back of the Arsenal assistant manager was created by the Gunners’ fine start to the season. After no goals conceded in their first three Premier League games, the former defender was heralded as the foundation on which a long delayed title tilt would be built.

They’re now level on points, with just one game in hand, on a Liverpool side in their third decade of a transitional phase.

At various times in their Arsenal careers, Thomas Vermaelen, Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker have each looked like some of the league’s better defenders. The problem seems to be that only one seems to function at a time, with Vermaelen and Koscielny caught bang in the middle of their worst form at the Emirates.

Bacary Sagna stopped even phoning it in at the start of the season, he was truly awful against Chelsea, and it must seem like a century ago that Bould formed part of THAT defence. Chelsea were regularly allowed time and space on the flanks in the first half and could have been much further ahead than 2-0 at the break.

Arsenal’s greater discipline in the second half was led by the unlikely Theo Walcott, who was far better than even his single goal would suggest. With Cazorla enjoying a nice mid-season break and Jack Wilshere harried into submission by Ramires, Walcott played talisman and was left to rue the poor finishing skills of partner Olivier Giroud.

The second half was far more like it and you’re rarely left with the impression that Arsenal won’t score. The problem is that ‘not conceding’ seems even more unlikely.

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They haven’t played this weekend so far, but a word on Southampton.

One of the scribes on Sunday Supplement said he had never seen a more bizarre managerial sacking in the Premier League, given the strides made by Nigel Adkins in recent months.

True.

Never let it be said that we’d take the side of Paul Merson, but it was hard not to nod along when he said he hoped Southampton would be playing Championship football next season.

When a manager who has presided over just two defeats in 12 games, using a squad that contains Maya Yoshida and Kelvin Davis, gets the sack, all hope for sanity is lost.

That all being said, what’s done is done. Hopefully Mauricio Pocchetino won’t be greeted by boos when the Saints take on Everton. Hardly his fault the club is run by lunatics. Everyone deserves a chance.

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Manchester City clearly don’t need Mario Balotelli, and should get rid of the Italian as soon as possible.

It’s not that their performance against Fulham was anything other than decent, it’s just that the Italian is absolutely never missed by his club side when absent.

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A player who is only ever noted for the things he doesn’t do on the pitch, and nonsense off it, is surely an irrelevance when even Sergio Aguero can’t get a game.

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The last time Liverpool put five goals past Norwich City, they followed it up with a defeat to Udinese in the Europa League and a scoreless home draw against Stoke City.

Next up for Brendan Rodgers’ side is the gimme against Oldham in the FA Cup, before trips to Arsenal and Manchester City in the league.

Win either of those matches and tentative talk about the Champions League can resume, but the fact remains that the Reds have risen to 7th through flat track bullying, and have not beaten a side above them in the table this season.

If that all sounds a little negative after the club’s best performance of the season, it’s offset by the fact that Liverpool have played all but the last three games without Daniel Sturridge.

They appear to have struck gold with the Bolton version of the striker, and will there have been any more pleasing goal to Liverpool fans than the 23-year-old’s glorious dummy for Luis Suarez’ strike on Saturday? Hardly.

Not to be premature, but early indications are of a ‘Keane-Berbatov’-style understanding between the pair, and if another player or two can be added by Rodgers, genuine optimism will (again) envelop Anfield.

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All credit to Andre Villas-Boas after Tottenham followed up September’s 3-2 win at Old Trafford with a well-deserved draw against the league leaders today. An 18th Premier League goal of the season for Robin van Persie had put the visitors ahead in a game which had looked in doubt due to the heavy snowfall at White Hart Lane. Spurs rallied and created numerous chances to restore parity in the second half but were kept at bay by some excellent saves by David De Gea.

It was the Spaniard’s weak punch in injury time, however, which allowed Aaron Lennon, who was a thorn in Patrice Evra’s side on the day, to tee-up Clint Dempsey for a routine finish.

The equaliser was the kind of goal which United have become famous for scoring, not conceding, and represents real progress for a Spurs team who sit in fourth and are now unbeaten in the league since going down 5-2 to North London rivals Arsenal back in November.

Additional writing from Ben Blake

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As it happened: Tottenham v Manchester United, Premier League

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