EPL Matchday 17 Review: Big Winners And Losers

 After another dramatic weekend in the English Premier League, here is a rundown of the big winners and losers.

Winners:

Harry Redknapp (QPR)

Finally, at the seventeenth time of asking, Queens Park Rangers have recorded their first Premier League victory of the season. Their 2-1 win at home to Fulham came as a huge relief to everybody at Loftus Road and none more so than new manager Harry Redknapp, who must have been wondering whether his decision to take the reins at the struggling west London club was nothing short of madness. As it is, Rangers have hauled themselves off the foot of the table and back within five points of safety as the Premier League heads into the busy Christmas fixture schedule. Has the ‘Redknapp effect’ kicked in? The next three games, all winnable for QPR, will tell us more.

Paul Lambert (Aston Villa)

 What a week it’s been for Aston Villa boss, Paul Lambert. First came the superb 4-1 demolition of Norwich City to take his side into the semi-finals of the Capital One Cup, and then to put the icing on the cake, his fledgling team went to Anfield and recorded an impressive 3-1 victory. The youngest starting eleven ever to take the field for Villa in the Premier League are seemingly starting to come together under the tutelage of the soft-spoken Scotsman, who can thank Christian Benteke’s stunning performance for the three points against Liverpool. There are still many ups and downs to come for Lambert this season so he won’t rest on this week’s success for too long.

 Chris Hughton (Norwich City)

 After his team’s spectacular home defeat to Aston Villa in midweek, Chris Hughton would have been dreading the possibility of further disappointment as Wigan Athletic pitched up at Carrow Road on Saturday. But the Norwich chief is a calm head and his side were able to take all three points, extend their unbeaten League run to ten games and drag themselves up to the heady-heights of seventh place in the table. Hughton is a realist, so would be the first to admit this purple patch can’t go on forever. However, can there be a manager performing as well as him in the Premier League right now? The statistics would suggest there isn’t.

 Losers:

Marouane Fellaini (Everton)

 The only player to feature in this list, Marouane Fellaini, who has covered himself in glory so far this season,  gave a disgraceful performance during Everton’s trip to Stoke City. The Belgian looked only partially interested during the first half of Saturday’s encounter, whilst the second half was littered with his attempts to assault opponent Ryan Shawcross. One headbutt, one elbow to the face and a short right-hand jab, all caught on television cameras rather than by referee or officials, means Fellaini can expect a spell of inactivity forced upon him by the disciplinary committee. His petulance, a trait most thought had vanished from his play, will likely cost the club dearly during his absence from the crucial Christmas fixtures and possibly beyond.

 Alan Pardew (Newcastle United)

 Newcastle manager Alan Pardew must be wondering where it’s all going wrong at St.James’ Park this season. After a superb 2011-12 campaign which saw them finish in 5th place, he is now experiencing the other side of the game as the Magpies struggle from one week to the next. Although his side produced a sterling second half effort against champions Manchester City, they realistically should have been four or five goals adrift by half time had City brought their ruthless streak with them on Saturday. The injury situation is no doubt having a large effect on team selection and with form at its lowest ebb during Pardew’s time in the North East, upcoming tricky fixtures against QPR, Arsenal and Everton will test their mettle even further. Pardew’s Christmas wish must be that the very possible departure of top scorer Demba Ba won’t happen and that the Senegalese striker will sign a new contract rather than jump ship in January.

 Brendan Rodgers (Liverpool)

 The Liverpool manager went into this weekend’s game against Aston Villa full of optimism, believing his side were a good bet to challenge for the top four this season and even dared to suggest a place in the top two was not out of reach despite Liverpool being eleven points in arrears of current champions Manchester City in second place. Those words came back to bite Brendan Rodgers squarely on the backside as his team were humbled in front of their own fans proving that his Anfield project is far from being good enough to fulfil those lofty prophecies. Rodgers may point to the game itself and claim his men were unlucky to suffer defeat, but they are still yet to reach anything close to the level of quality and consistency required to achieve such feats in the Premier League. Back to the drawing board Brendan.

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