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Wednesday, 23 January, 2019

Five things we learned from the weekend football

Sarriball can fly when star men get going

Eden Hazard of Chelsea
1 of 1

1 Hazard and Kovacic could be a dream team
There were obvious defensive issues in the first half of Chelsea's 3-2 win over Arsenal but Blues fans got a sight of Maurizio Sarri's attack-minded vision when Eden Hazard and Mateo Kovacic came off the bench to make a decisive contribution.

Kovacic finished with a 100 per cent pass rate from 43 attempted passes and his link with Hazard will add a new, potentially outstanding, dimension to Sarri's side.

Hazard produced something very special to create the winning goal and don't be surprised if the Belgian has a brilliant campaign.

He certainly looks of interest at 12-1 to be voted as the PFA Player of the Year, particularly as countryman Kevin De Bruyne is a long-term absentee for Manchester City.

2 Not-so-happy Hammers
Losing 4-0 at Liverpool on the opening weekend was passed off as one of those things for West Ham but it's not so easy to dismiss their 2-1 defeat at the hands of Bournemouth at the London Stadium.

Of course Manuel Pellegrini needs time to find the right balance to the team but criticising supporters for leaving ten minutes before the end was an interesting decision so early in his tenure and despite spending heavily in the summer the lack of dynamism in midfield is obvious.

Playing skipper Mark Noble alongside Jack Wilshere does not appear to be a workable long-term solution and among West Ham's next five league fixtures are trips to Arsenal and Everton as well as home dates with Chelsea and Manchester United.

3 Baggies bagging for fun
West Brom followed their four-goal haul at Norwich by smashing seven past QPR with Jay Rodriguez and Dwight Gayle both on target.

Rodriguez really should be playing in the Premier League, while Gayle is a proven Sky Bet Championship goalscorer so expect Albion to fill their boots this term, or at least until January, when Jay-Rod could find himself the subject of interest from top-flight teams.

With Matt Phillips and Harvey Barnes providing quality from the wings, expect Albion to be involved in high-scoring encounters.

4 Robins desperately short of defenders
QPR were admittedly shocking at the Hawthorns, but even they may fancy their chances of taking down Bristol City on Tuesday unless the Robins recover some of their defensive players from an injury crisis.

City boss Lee Johnson said his rearguard was "made of paper" in the 2-0 loss to Middlesbrough, but maybe that should not be a huge surprise as centre-backs Bailey Wright, Nathan Baker and Jens Hegeler were all ruled out on Saturday.

Check the team news before readily opposing Rangers in midweek.

5 Wombles wonderful at the back
It's three league games and three clean sheets for AFC Wimbledon, who were once again seen as likely relegation candidates from the third division before a ball was kicked this season.

The Wombles, who also knocked Portsmouth out of the EFL Cup, had previously held Fleetwood and Coventry to shutouts but much more impressive was the 0-0 stalemate at Oakwell.

Barnsley had smashed in 19 shots on target in their opening two wins and yet managed only one effort at goal against a well-drilled Wimbledon outfit.

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Barnsley had smashed in 19 shots on target in their opening two wins and yet managed only one effort at goal against a well-drilled Wimbledon outfit
E.W. Terms
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