Saturday takeaways: Arsenal are good and the relegation race is bonkers

Clive Mason

There are five points between 10th and 20th. How is this a thing?

The Premier League relegation race continues to be insane, and was the main focus of Saturday's main block of games. Watch Hull or Norwich somehow end up in 20th before the end of February.

Gus Poyet has instilled resilience in Sunderland

by Callum Hamilton

Gus Poyet did not seem like the most sensible managerial appointment at all, but anything must have seemed better than Paolo Di Canio at the time. The North-East club have partly been held back by some shocking officiating since the Uruguayan took charge, but he is doing a fine job. They certainly could still go down, but it will not be through lack of fight.

Today summed up all the present strengths and weaknesses of the club, too easily allowing themselves to be shut out of the game before finding a new spirit and coming back to almost steal all three points. The mental resilience Poyet has instilled is quite something, but they are still short on quality. Yet compared to the likes of Fulham and West Ham, they look far more capable of staying in the division.

Arsenal are very good, Fulham are very bad

by Kevin McCauley

Saturday's game at the Emirates was somehow an example of both how good Arsenal are and how bad Fulham are. The Gunners sleepwalked their way through the first half and the beginning of the second half, giving Fulham plenty of opportunities to take the lead. Fulham could not take those opportunities, which isn't shocking. Once Arsenal woke up and decided to play, they scored twice in five minutes on two of their prettiest moves of the season. On Santi Cazorla's first goal, there were three Arsenal players in the area where he shot from and no Fulham players.

Arsenal scored as soon as they turned up the heat on Fulham. Then they scored again. Then the game was over, 30 minutes from time. Thankfully, we don't have to watch these two teams play each other again.

Also, Fulham are clear of the drop zone because the Premier League is stupid.

Cardiff's real test comes in two weeks

by Kevin McCauley

Cardiff once looked destined to avoid a relegation scrap and get to 40 points with quite a few matches to spare. Now, through 22 rounds, they find themselves bottom of the Premier League on the league's second-worst goal differential. There's no shame in losing by two goals away to Manchester City, but their current run of form has put them in a spot where they're in much more than a rut. They're in pretty deep trouble.

The good news for them is that they're facing the wildest relegation race in recent memory. With their loss to Norwich on Saturday, 10th-placed Hull City are now just five points clear of the league's worst team. The bottom 11 teams in the league are all in a relegation scrap, and it wouldn't be much more surprising to see Cardiff finish 10th than it would be to see them finish 20th.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hasn't changed anything yet, but it's unreasonable to expect him to produce results away to City. Cardiff's next league game is at Old Trafford, so they'll probably lose that too. The real test of Solskjaer and Cardiff's capacity to turn things around comes on February 1, when they host fellow relegation battlers (and somehow 12th-placed) Norwich.

Yohan Cabaye is amazing

by Ryan Rosenblatt

Yohan Cabaye was sensational at Upton Park, once again raising the question, "why hasn't a big club come calling for the Frenchman yet?" Cabaye put the Magpies in front with a wonderful little touch and finish, then sealed the Newcastle win with a sublime free kick in the final minutes. In between, he hit balls to spring the Newcastle break and made passes to put his teammates in on goal. If the Magpies finished better, he could have had two or three assists to go with his brace.

Newcastle will obviously want to keep Cabaye, but with Manchester United struggling in the midfield yet again this season -- and it forcing them down the table this time -- you have to wonder what is stopping the Red Devils from swooping for the Frenchman.

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