Paul Parker

Liverpool need to rule Britannia

Paul Parker

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Upset of the weekend: Stoke City v Liverpool

Liverpool's win over Chelsea was thoroughly deserved, and offers plenty of hope of Roy Hodgson beginning to make progress at the club, but the midweek draw at Wigan shows they still have a way to go yet.

It was always going to be a struggle to lift their performance at the DW to the same level they reached when welcoming the champions into their own back yard.

Now they have a trip to the Britannia Stadium, never an enjoyable place to go, and Stoke will be up for this game.

Two Champions League clubs, Spurs and Manchester United, are the only two teams to win there so far this term, and both of those defeats were narrow ones.

Hodgson is likely to play reasonably defensively, because he knows the value of avoiding defeats at Stoke.

Win or draw, and they go into their next game - at home to West Ham - unbeaten in seven. Lose, and it's just one point from a possible six, probably a return to the bottom half and everyone is talking about Liverpool again.

Match of the weekend: Everton v Arsenal

You just never know what you are going to get from Arsenal. Not so long ago they were scoring 12 goals in three games against Shakhtar, Man City and Newcastle, and then they stuttered to a late win at West Ham before losing in Donetsk and at St James' Park.

Wednesday's 2-0 win at Wolves was by no means cut-and-dry either, and Everton will fancy their chances when they welcome the Gunners to Goodison on Sunday.

The Toffees' derby win over Liverpool was supposed to mark the end of their customary bad start to the season but, whilst they are unbeaten in their four matches since then, they only won one of those games.

However, they have proved time and again that they can be a match for any big side at home on their day.

Yakubu has suddenly rediscovered his form and fitness (is it a coincidence that his contract is up at the end of the season?) and he is just the sort of forward Arsenal's defenders will hate facing. With Mikel Arteta's dead balls deliveries, the Nigerian and Tim Cahill will be a real threat.

When they are allowed to play, there is no better team to watch than the Gunners, but Everton will not make it easy for them.

Under pressure: Ian Holloway (West Ham United v Blackpool)

There has been a lot of fuss about the side Holloway fielded against Aston Villa, making 10 changes from the previous match.

While I do not agree with the idea of him being punished for him utilising his squad, he shouldn't have issued the ultimatum by threatening to quit if he is punished by the Premier League.

Holloway's problem is that he talks too much. He's got a lot to say when it suits him about other managers and other clubs, but he has to learn that there is a reason why other top-flight managers aren't like that.

He needs to concentrate on keeping his club in this division rather than trying to prove some kind of point to everyone.

I can see him being punished - just as Wolves were last season - and Holloway not quitting.

Player to watch: Asamoah Gyan (Chelsea v Sunderland)

It's good to see the Ghana striker getting a run in the Sunderland team at the moment.

It may be only be due to an injury to Darren Bent, but Gyan has scored three goals in his two league starts. The club paid out a record fee for him, and the early signs show that he will adapt to the English game quickly.

Steve Bruce seems determined to only field one striker at a time this season, regardless of the options open to him.

Bent scored 24 league goals last season by playing up front alongside Kenwyne Jones, so there must be room for manoeuvre in order to forge a potentially lethal partnership.

After all, they are the only two players to have scored in the league for Sunderland so far this season — a pretty damning statistic.

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