Pitchside Europe

Facts: 7 Premier League truths — Sturridge, Arsenal, Abramovich

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1. Newcastle play more long-ball football than West Ham

Under-pressure Toon boss Alan Pardew accused West Ham of playing long ball in their goalless draw, but the stats told a different story: Newcastle played more route-ones than the Hammers, 44 to 38, even though they were the home side.

While Big Sam’s sides like to play it direct, so do many other sides, and at least the Hammers have some quality out wide. Toon don’t really have an excuse, other than the chronic loss of confidence that seeped in last season and seems to remain.

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2. Daniel Sturridge is really quite good

Claims that Liverpool can do without Luis Suarez are bordering on ridiculous – they may be playing well in his absence, but they need to sign a top-class forward if he leaves. Sturridge, however, has proven an excellent buy.

If you believe in him as he believes in himself, the ex-Manchester City and Chelsea man will deliver. He needs confidence and love, and it seems he’s getting that at Anfield.

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3. Mark Hughes is changing the way Stoke play – but they’re still up to their old tricks

Tony Pulis’s ‘binary’ style of football saw Stoke embroiled in a relegation scrap last season, as fine players were bought, underused and moved on. Sparky prefers a more cultivated approach, and Stoke are certainly keeping it on the ground more.

But both their goals in the 2-1 win against Crystal Palace came from classic Potters plays: a high ball into Peter Crouch caused the havoc that saw Charlie Adam equalise, while the dreaded long throw yielded Ryan Shawcross’s winner. Old dogs, etc.

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4. There is no loyalty in the game. At all. None whatsoever

Ian Holloway taking Crystal Palace up was nothing short of miraculous, yet – after two narrow defeats – the club’s owners are seriously considering sacking him for failing in the transfer market. They reportedly want to bring in Alan Pardew, who is now close to being a pariah on Tyneside.

Palace will probably go down whatever happens – they simply don’t have the appeal to top players – but at least they can have fun doing so. Ollie is immensely popular, and his failings in the transfer market are not really his fault.

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5. Roman Abramovich has more money than sense

Chelsea have over half a dozen attacking midfielders, yet they just had to sign Willian, who surely is no better than their existing playmakers. If anything they needed a top-class striker, but it appears Roman wanted to flex his Russian connections to sign the Brazilian from Anzhi. Still, it stops Spurs from getting him. An expensive block…

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6. Manchester City have the same problems as last season

A tendency to implode at the back, an out-of-form keeper and an over-reliance on Vincent Kompany leaves City – who have spent £100m on three attacking midfielders and a striker – just as short in the back five as they were last term.

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7. Arsenal STILL need to spend some money

A 3-1 win over a mediocre Fulham side (and the trouncing of Fenerbahce in midweek) was greeted with joy by Arsenal fans, but that cannot be used to mask clear deficiencies in the squad. A big player is needed in literally every area of the pitch, but no doubt Arsene Wenger will continue to claim that he does not need to buy. There is one week left. Pay for new players, or pay the consequences…

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