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Five trends of the 2014-15 Premier League

Tactics & Analysis
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Sunderland halts longtime futility

Stephane Sessegnon's second goal in a week handed Paolo Di Canio victory in his first home game as Sunderland eased themselves further clear of relegation trouble with a 1-0 win.

The Benin international's strike in first-half injury time secured a second successive win for the Black Cats and their first over Everton in 20 attempts in all competitions.

But more importantly, it was well deserved as they dominated for long periods and limited the Champions League-chasing Toffees to a handful of half-chances in front of a delighted crowd of 44,614.

Midfielder Sebastian Larsson had earlier gone close with three free-kicks, the last of which Tim Howard had to claw out of his top corner.

However, opposite number Simon Mignolet had little to do at the other end as Everton struggled to impose themselves in the face of a concerted assault by a Sunderland side rejuvenated by their new manager.

They ran out still basking in the euphoria of last weekend's famous derby victory at Newcastle, but under no illusions as to the task still ahead of them. West Brom 1, Newcastle 1
Newcastle were left to rue a series of missed opportunities as they squandered a chance to pull away from relegation trouble at West Brom.

The Magpies dominated the first half of their Barclays Premier League clash at The Hawthorns and deservedly led through Yoan Gouffran's early header.

But after Papiss Cisse wasted another gilt-edged opening, the second half was a different story and West Brom hit the bar through Romelu Lukaku before Billy Jones equalised.

After that West Brom looked the side most likely to claim a winner and Rob Elliot, in for the injured Tim Krul, made a fine save to deny James Morrison.

Newcastle looked a tired side by the end and were obviously frustrated their early superiority had counted for so little.

It was clear by the way they started they wanted to make amends for last week's humiliating derby defeat to Sunderland.

West Ham 2, Wigan 0
The chances of another famous Wigan escape act took a severe blow as they were beaten 2-0 at West Ham this afternoon.

Fresh from their midweek draw with Barclays Premier League leaders Manchester United, the hosts scored once in either half to leave Wigan in the relegation zone and put another dent in the FA Cup finalist's survival bid.

A first Upton Park goal for Matt Jarvis and a Kevin Nolan volley secured the win which moved Sam Allardyce's side into the top 10, although they were second best for much of the second half with the Latics unable to make their dominance pay.

Wigan started brightly and were the first side to create an opening as Antolin Alcaraz -- who was replaced after 15 minutes due to injury - fired a low shot straight at Jussi Jaaskelainen.

Hammers skipper Nolan had found the net just once since the turn of the year before today, but he had two half chances to open the scoring as the hosts came back into the game.

Firstly he could not rise high enough to make meaningful contact with a Gary O'Neil corner that had been flicked into his path by James Collins before latching onto a free-kick and seeing his volley pushed clear by Wigan goalkeeper Joel Robles. Southampton 0, Swansea 0
Southampton edged closer to Premier League survival as they ground out a goalless draw in a lacklustre encounter at Swansea.

The Saints may feel aggrieved they did not leave south Wales with all three points after Adam Lallana had an effort ruled out for handball after an error by Michel Vorm just before halftime.

Nathan Dyer went closest for the hosts as Maya Yoshida cleared his effort off the line, but in truth neither side showed sufficient quality in the final third to craft a winner in what was, for large parts, a tepid game.

Not that Southampton will mind too much. Mauricio Pochettino's side are now eight points clear of the drop zone, and are well-placed to secure survival having been written off in some quarters at the start of the season.

Swansea can also look forward to another top-flight season, but Michael Laudrup will be concerned that their campaign is tailing off as they equalled their previous longest winless run in the Premier League of five games.

Swansea had made a promising start, with their movement causing the visitors problems without creating any clear-cut opportunities.

The best early chance fell to Jonathan de Guzman. Pablo Hernandez's pull-back fell behind Michu to the Dutch international, but several Southampton defenders were out quickly to block.

Stoke City 2, Queens Park Rangers 0
Peter Crouch today pushed former club QPR closer to a seemingly inevitable relegation as Stoke kick-started their own battle to beat the drop.

Harry Redknapp urged Rangers to keep the faith in the build-up but even he will be hard pushed to remain positive after this afternoon's 2-0 defeat.

As fate would have it, a player the QPR boss had hoped to bring to Loftus Road during the January transfer window did the damage in west London.

Crouch, a man Redknapp has managed four times before, put Stoke ahead late in the first half and was pulled back by Clint Hill for the second-half penalty which Jon Walters fired home.

Rangers did look dangerous in spells today but whenever they found the target another of Redknapp's former players was in the way, with Asmir Begovic in inspired form.

The result moves Stoke six points clear of danger and could well act as a catalyst in their bid to beat the drop, although QPR's fate looks bleaker than ever.

Perhaps with half an eye on next season, Redknapp made five alterations to the QPR starting line-up today.

Robert Green came in for regular number one Julio Cesar, while Tal Ben Haim was given his first league start by the Rs.

Norwich 2, Reading 1
Norwich won for just a second time in 17 Barclays Premier League games to enhance their survival claims and all but condemn Reading to relegation.

Pavel Pogrebnyak's close-range miss at the end of the first half was punished when Ryan Bennett and Elliott Bennett scored within three minutes of each other after the restart as the Canaries climbed to 13th, seven points clear of 18th-placed Wigan.

Garath McCleary pulled a goal back after 72 minutes, but, 10 points adrift with 12 to play for, Reading's one-season sojourn in the top flight appears to be coming to an end.

A first victory in Nigel Adkins' fourth game in charge was a must if the Royals were to give themselves a survival chance and drag Norwich deeper into the relegation scrap.

Reading's away record has been miserable, with five points on the road this term and they knew they must end the Canaries' six-match unbeaten run at Carrow Road, which included victory over Everton.

The Royals ended their eight-match losing streak with a 0-0 draw at Liverpool last weekend, but had to withstand an early barrage from the hosts.

The Canaries responded to vociferous support, with Elliott Bennett - one of two changes following the loss at Arsenal -- twice shooting narrowly off target in the opening skirmishes.

Norwich's strong start continued when Robert Snodgrass shot wide and then Javier Garrido drilled in a low shot which Alex McCarthy gathered at the second attempt.

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