This Sunday was less about learning things and more about obtaining more evidence of things that we were pretty sure about. Manchester City are really good, Tottenham Hotspur are really boring, Swansea are inconsistent defensively and Christian Benteke still has some quality inside of him.
Go ahead, feel bad for Sunderland
by Kevin McCauley
Sunderland did everything right against Manchester City in the League Cup final. They avoided bad giveaways in their own half, countered quickly and created some chances with limited numbers without opening up too much. Fabio Borini put them ahead early and City struggled to create clear chances. Things were going perfectly for them.
Then Yaya Toure hit a bullet. Samir Nasri hit a bullet of his own. A 1-0 lead turned into a 2-1 deficit instantly, and they didn't even make any serious errors. It took some serious quality to score on them, and City found serious quality twice in less than two minutes in a way they couldn't in last year's FA Cup final against Wigan.
A lot of Sunderland fans probably thought they were going to pull off the same feat Wigan did last season. They played well enough to do it, but it wasn't enough. But congrats to City, we guess?
Spurs aren't going anywhere
by Callum Hamilton
Spurs are now six points away from Arsenal. That's not quite enough to make them favorites for making the Champions League spots, but it's surprising they're challenging at all. Today was another game where they weren't as good as they really should be in pretty much every department.
As much as Tim Sherwood's reign seems to be the opposite of everything André Villas-Boas did, the results are the same -- the victories are normally narrow, drab affairs, and the losses come as a result of randomly and inexplicably awful displays.
It's hard not to suggest Spurs have a problem with their personnel -- not because Sherwood has been so great that he must be getting the best out of them, far from it -- but because for any team to play more or less exactly the same under two such radically different approaches suggests that something else needs to be done to get them playing how Spurs supporters would like.
Ben Hoskins/Getty Images
Benteke's still got it
by Ryan Rosenblatt
At his best, Christian Benteke is easily the best player Aston Villa have. The problem is that he's rarely been at his best this season.
On Sunday, he was definitely at his best.
While the 4-1 scoreline makes it look like Villa thrashed Norwich -- and they did -- it also obscures how the early part of the match went. You know, when the Canaries went up 1-0 inside of three minutes and Villa looked lost. But Benteke changed all of that.
Benteke's magic started in the 25th minute when he hit a remarkable bicycle kick to bring the home side level. Two minutes later, he put them in front when he rose high on a corner kick to nod home the go-ahead goal.
It was the consummate Benteke performance, first flashing great skill and recognition on the opening goal then showing off his great size and strength for the brace. Benteke was unstoppable on Sunday and once he was, so was Aston Villa.
Swansea robbed, but made the ref's job hard
by Ryan Rosenblatt
Swansea were robbed of a win. Chico Flores deserved his red card, having hauled down Glen Murray from behind in the ultimate example of denying a clear goal scoring opportunity, but it wasn't a penalty, too. Every replay showed that his foul came outside of the box, maybe by as much as a yard. It wasn't that close and yet the referee pointed to the spot, essentially handing Crystal Palace a draw.
The Swans were livid and rightly so, but that doesn't mean they were perfect, or even close to it. The entire play that led to the red card and penalty was a disaster. Allowing the long ball over the top and watching Michel Vorm come out of his box for the ball only to see him pull back while the defense put Chico in the unenviable position of having no choice but to take the red card.
So yes, Swansea should have taken all three points, but it's not like they were completely innocent. They're the ones who let it get to the position where the referee had to make a call, even if it was a terrible one.