Debrief: The Premier League weekend reviewed, Dec 1
Deulofeu dazzles on debut start, Oviedo excels as Baines back-up
Everton fans may have had to wait a while to see Barcelona loanee Gerard Deulofeu in full flight, but on Saturday's showing it was worth it.
The 19-year-old had been limited to eight substitute appearances in the Premier League before the weekend and celebrated his first start by ripping into Stoke at Goodison Park, scoring the opener before playing a key role in two more goals.
"I think he was fairly disappointed with last week - from my point of view I thought he was outstanding when he came on against Liverpool but he had two very good chances and he thought he should have took them," said manager Roberto Martinez. "I thought his goal was sensational."
Saturday's 4-0 pummeling of the Potters also witnessed a star turn from stand-in left-back Bryan Oviedo.
As Leighton Baines nurses a toe injury on the sidelines, the 23-year-old signing from FC Copenhagen also made his first league start of the season and seized the opportunity, bagging Everton's third from long-range and teeing up Romelu Lukaku to score the fourth.
"This is a very good chance for me. Leighton is a great player but I have waited a year and a half for this chance and I am so happy to play again," he said. "I think the coming games are a good opportunity to play for the team and make the most of my chance."
Man United's missed opportunity at Tottenham
Meulensteen needs more from Taarabt, Bent
New Fulham manager Rene Meulensteen may have insisted the news of Martin Jol's sacking was a surprise, but he was probably the only one.
The Dutchman's departure was confirmed on Sunday afternoon, a day after a 3-0 defeat at West Ham United made it six consecutive defeats for the Cottagers in all competititions, leaving them in the drop zone.
Former Manchester United coach Meulensteen arrived at Craven Cottage less than a month ago to join Jol's backroom staff, and said of his compatriot's ousting: "We have a fantastic understanding with each other and I really enjoyed working with him and was looking forward to working with him in the future to ensure we can turn this corner. We were both confident we were capable of doing it."
To turn that corner, the 49-year-old needs to start getting more out of the gifted individuals at his disposal, including Adel Taarabt and Darren Bent, as FFT's Ben Welch explained in his findings from Upton Park...
Taarabt’s talent is not in question, but his decision-making cancels out his ability. Time and again the Moroccan chooses to dribble when he should pass. At Upton Park he attempted 13 take-ons – more than any other player – but lost the ball 7 times, often in promising positions.
Arsenal's other unit working just as well
Amid the clattering applause for Arsenal's attack, let's not forget the boys at the back. The clean sheet at Cardiff means that the Gunners have only conceded once in five league games - Robin van Persie's winner at Old Trafford, also the only time they've failed to score in this season's Premier League.
Cardiff caused trouble for the two Manchester sides but were held at bay by Arsenal's back six. Aaron Ramsey has caught the eye going forward but topped the charts for ball recoveries with 10; alongside him, the increasingly impressive Mikel Arteta registered 7 ball recoveries but also won a match-leading 7 out of 10 tackles and made 5 interceptions, topped only by Gary Medel and matched by Laurent Koscielny behind him.
Koscielny also contributed 10 clearances, as did Kieran Gibbs, with Per Mertesacker contributing 7. Arsenal completed 38 clearances as a team – but there's the rub: the defensive section of their unit is currently working as well as their more eye-catching brethren farther forward. And as long as that continues, so will Arsenal's charge for glory.
Jay Rodriguez should have a future with England