EPL Hits and Misses: Saints top list for upstaging United
Southampton are the obvious hits this weekend after beating Manchester United in the weekend's battle for third while Alexis Sanchez continues to cement his place as this season's best signing. It's Hits and Misses time, people...
Deservedly top of the hits after their spirited display saw them record their first ever Premier League win at Old Trafford.
During the match, commentator Peter Drury mentioned how Southampton fans were expressing their grievances online over their club being given the pity treatment despite their strong start to the season.
After overcoming a torrid run of losses in December, Saints fans can afford to feel a little belligerent with their team on a five-match unbeaten run that has included impressive wins over Everton, Arsenal and Manchester United as well as a draw with Chelsea. Certainly not too shabby.
While much has been made about the exodus of their players in the summer, credit is certainly due to manager Ronald Koeman for expertly assembling and bonding together a team unit despite the flurry of new recruits entering St Mary's gates.
Such unity and cohesion was a stark contrast against Louis van Gaal's United. The Saints expertly battened down the hatches to shut out the EPL's second-best home team on their own patch before Dusan Tadic - one of Koeman's excellent summer signings - delivered the sucker punch for the winning goal.
It's probably justified given the Saints' misfortune in the inexplicable 2-1 loss in the reverse fixture at St Mary's.
Must have enjoyed getting one over his former friend and compatriot.
Thanks to Steven Naismith's towering header, Jose Mourinho's side now have a little bit of breathing space at the head of the EPL table. Chelsea barely needed to get out of second gear as they routinely dispatched an Alan Pardew-less Newcastle with relative ease.
The shining light that is pretty much single-handedly keeping Arsenal's Champions League hopes alive. The Chilean has been consistently excellent this season despite the Gunners' obvious shortcomings and had a hand in all three goals against Stoke on Sunday. It definitely makes one wonder where Arsenal would be now if Arsene Wenger had made signings of a similar calibre for the problem areas of their squad...
Finding form at the right time with many of their rivals starting to flounder.
Liverpool fans can also be heartened by the performance of match-winner Lazar Markovic, who put in a good shift after failing to fire in his first months in England.
Jeremy Peace & Steve Parish
Vindicated by their decisions to sack their managers as West Brom and Crystal Palace both posted wins.
It's amazing what a win can do. The Foxes are unbeaten in three games since they dispatched Hull on Dec 28.
There's still a lot of work to do for the league's bottom side, but at least Nigel Pearson has some momentum to work with to engineer a possible great escape.
After tucking away another three points to get them out of the relegation zone, the Clarets now have a good chance to get more points on board against fellow strugglers Crystal Palace (H), Sunderland (A) and West Brom (H) in the coming weeks before their visit to Old Trafford next month.
Manchester United & Louis van Gaal
Once again the victims of the defensive frailty that has plagued their season.
While Louis van Gaal was left claiming that Southampton came to Old Trafford looking for a draw, the Dutchman must have been secretly hoping that his side had the ability to defend the way the Saints did to upstage the hosts.
Instead, the United defence was at sixes and sevens when Southampton eventually struck.
Yes, the Red Devils might have a fearsome attacking edge on paper, but on days when the forward line inevitably has an off day, a tight defence will more often than not see a team through.
And while the players deserve blame for failing to even fashion a chance of note in the abject defeat, some should be directed at van Gaal for persisting with his favoured 3-5-2 formation.
Several United players were left looking like lost sheep and a reversion to a familiar back four can only be a good thing to instill some sense of stability at Old Trafford.
On the receiving end of their favourite 2-1 scoreline. Ah, the irony.
Only Everton have a lousier run of form over the last five games in the EPL, although they at least managed a hard-earned point against the champions over the weekend.
Despite a decent start to the season, Villa have been in a tailspin since September and their defeat to bottom side Leicester can only suggest that a struggle to stave off relegation is on the cards.
They might have bagged the bragging rights when they won the Tyne-Wear Derby on Dec 21, but the Black Cats' fortunes have certainly failed to improve since.
While Gus Poyet's men gave Manchester City a run for their money only to fall 3-2 in their last outing, there was no such fight against Liverpool as a solitary strike from Lazar Markovic settled the tie.
With just a point separating them from the drop, Sunderland must show some drastic improvement if they want to continue having derby matches against Newcastle next season.
Still unable to find their first point on the road after 10 games.
Since October, the Tigers have accrued just 13 points from a possible 45. How the heck does Steve Bruce still have a job?