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PLAY IT SHORT: How can Spurs be so far ahead of Arsenal?; Would Adams make it at Arsenal today?; Valencia plays his way to Real Madrid start; Platini can protect next Chelsea manager

ARSENAL DIDN'T LAY A GLOVE ON SPURSDespite the claims from Arsene Wenger, Arsenal barely laid a glove on Tottenham yesterday. A deflected goal apart, Hugo Lloris was hardly tested and certainly didn't need to produce any five-star performance to repel a rampaging Gunners performance, as Wenger suggested in the post-match. Spurs looked a team two-and-a-half-wins better than the opposition, if not more. A fantastic stadium, cash reserves of over £120 million and the benefits of 16 consecutive years in the Champions League, Arsenal are streets ahead of Tottenham off the pitch. But on it, serious questions need to be asked about the manager.

AVB REWARDED FOR SIGURDSSON BACKINGTottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas again was rewarded for backing his in-form players yesterday. Gylfi Sigurdsson has worked his way into the first team in recent weeks and AVB delivered a great show of confidence in the Icelander by starting him against Arsenal. It was Sigurdsson who created Gareth Bale's opener and also who won the ball back for Spurs which led to Scott Parker's wonderful little inside pass that created Aaron Lennon's second. Sigurdsson could've been sold to Reading in January and by his own admission was willing to listen to their offer. But AVB blocked the deal and that faith was repaid by the midfielder yesterday.

WOULD ADAMS MAKE IT AT WENGER'S ARSENAL?Lee Dixon (24) and Steve Bould (26) both signed for Arsenal from Stoke City, Nigel Winterburn (24) from Wimbledon. All three joined the club as established senior players and went onto become Gunners legends. Would they have even been considered by today's Arsene Wenger? Would a player in the Tony Adams mould even be allowed to come through the Arsenal academy these days?

SOUTHAMPTON NEED TO DO BETTER AGAINST IMMEDIATE RIVALSSouthampton fans must be sick of the sight of Harry Redknapp. Last time he was at St Mary's, he'd taken them down. And on Saturday, his QPR sucked Saints closer to the dropzone with their surprising win. One win in seven isn't what Nico Cortese will have been expecting from Mauricio Pochettino. The Manchester City result was a triumph for the Argentine, but dropping points against the likes of QPR and Wigan Athletic is what will make or break their survival hopes. Saturday's game with Norwich City now looms as a must-win, not just for Saints, but also for Cortese and Pochettino.

PLATINI CAN SAVE NEXT CHELSEA MANAGERCould Michel Platini be the saviour for Chelsea's future manager? All the focus has been on how Roman Abramovich and his advisors will restructure Chelsea's transfer spending with Financial Fair Play looming. But the millions squandered in compensation by Abramovich's sacking policy will also become an issue should it continue under UEFA president Platini's spending limits. It will have to be pointed out to the trigger-happy billionaire that sacking managers and paying out his coaching staff to the tune of millions upon millions is going to prevent Chelsea from signing the likes of Radamel Falcao and Edinson Cavani in the future.

AMEOBI DAZZLES ON BORO DEBUTAlan Pardew said Middlesbrough would be a good move for Sammy Ameobi. On the evidence of his goalscoring debut, the Newcastle United manager was absolutely spot on. It was a wonderful goal from the Toon winger, beating three opponents inside the Cardiff City penalty area before lashing home. Pardew, like England U21 coach Stuart Pearce, rates Ameobi highly. An extended first team run at Boro appears ideal at this stage of the 20 year-old's career.

VALENCIA PLAYS HIS WAY TO REAL MADRID STARTShinji Kagawa rightly grabbed the headlines with his hat-trick against Norwich City. But what will be most pleasing for Sir Alex Ferguson, with an eye on Tuesday's Champions League clash with Real Madrid, would be Wayne Rooney and Antonio Valencia's performances in the rout. Rooney created two of Kagawa's three goals and scored the other in Manchester United's 4-0 win. Another positive for United was Valencia, who may've played his way to a start against Real. Ferguson, reviewing the first-leg in Madrid, will know Real's greatest threats came down Rafael's right flank and having an in-form Valencia as added security in front of the young Brazilian will give the manager added confidence going into the showdown.

Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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