Pitchside

Facts: 7 truths – Rooney, Sherwood, Liverpool’s defending

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Liverpool can't possibly win the league defending like that. Can they? The bald facts of Liverpool's 4-3 win over Swansea: They raced into a two goal lead, chucked it away, took the lead again, chucked it away, then finally won it. Conventional wisdom says this is no way to win a Premier League title. But did they make any more of a mountain out of a molehill than Manchester City or Chelsea, both of whom struggled to 1-0 home wins? Liverpool have the two top scoring players in the division, have the most goals as a team, and have Jordan Henderson, Raheem Sterling and Jon Bleeding Flanagan playing like world beaters. The odds are still against them - but the longer Brendan Rodgers' entertainers can keep up their goalscoring feats the more sceptics they will convert into believers.

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Manchester City are losing their mojo: Having spent much of the season tearing everyone to shreds, Manuel Pellegrini’s side appear to be running out of confidence, and steam. Grinding out a 1-0 win over Stoke may show they can still win matches while playing badly, but their travails against good opposition do not bode well in that they have to play Liverpool, Arsenal and a potentially rejuvenated Manchester United. Progress in the Champions League is unlikely, so at least they’ll be able to focus on the league.

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Wayne Rooney can kick a football: Eyebrows were raised and heart-rates increased when Manchester United striker Rooney was handed a career contract at a whopping £300,000 per week. Rooney showed that he is a fine footballer, scoring a cracking effort as United won at Crystal Palace, but is he really worth around the same as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo? Is he really worth 50% more than Luis Suarez and Sergio Aguero? Is anyone worth that much?

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Tottenham fans need to cut Tim Sherwood some slack: This is covered in more depth in Overreaction Theatre, but the hostility aimed towards Tim Sherwood during the defeat at Norwich was truly astonishing. Forget the 23 points in 10 games (second only to Chelsea in that time), and to hell with galvanising the team and returning Emmanuel Adebayor to form. Sherwood's omission of Christian Eriksen at Norwich, and his (admittedly odd) refusal to bring the Dane off the bench provoked a torrent of abuse from fans seemingly unaware that, like it or not, in Sherwood's hands lie the club's Champions League hopes - and he's done a pretty great job so far. Fair enough, a bloke with no coaching badges isn't exactly anyone's idea of a perfect manager, but that's a debate for the summer. Until then, that vocal band of keyboard warriors might consider getting behind both the team and the man in the dugout.

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There is life in Arsenal yet: Okay, Sunderland were not the strongest opposition, but the Gunners were superb. A couple of their goals were works of beauty, while Olivier Giroud was at his bullish, effective best. You do wonder why Arsene Wenger stubbornly benched him for the Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich, one assumes because of his hotel indiscretion – surely he’ll start the second leg?

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Change can be a good thing – but it can also backfire: Felix Magath’s Fulham showed great spirit in holding West Brom, even if a rare error from goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg robbed them of a victory. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Cardiff, meanwhile, are bloody awful and have clearly gone backwards since Malky Mackay’s inexplicable sacking. The Bluebirds are likely to go down as a result of that. Fulham, meanwhile, look set to make a fight of it but – despite Magath’s appointment boding well – it may just be too late for the Cottagers.

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Chelsea really need a striker this summer: Even if Jose Mourinho forgives Romelu Lukaku for daring to ask for first-team football in a World Cup year, Chelsea will spend big this summer. Despite occasionally threatening to return to form, Fernando Torres seems destined to be a decent but unspectacular squad player and will likely be sold at a considerable loss in May. Samuel Eto’o and Demba Bah, meanwhile, are stop-gaps at best and if Chelsea are to maintain a sustained challenge over the next few years, they need a fresh face or two leading the line. Diego Costa appears to be at the top of the list, and Lukaku surely will be given his chance. Just imagine that front pairing…

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