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Johnson makes World Cup case in Sunderland rout

Tuesday 14th January 2014
Tom Pyman brings us the latest from the Premier League.

An Adam Johnson-inspired Sunderland jumped off the foot of the Premier League table with a remarkable 4-1 victory over Fulham.

The England winger stole the headlines as he scored a hattrick in an incredible game at Craven Cottage. Johnson's first came on 29 minutes as he scored a stunning free-kick before Ki doubled the Black Cats' advantage before the break. Steve Sidwell pulled one back for the hapless hosts shortly after the restart, but Johnson was determined to take centre-stage, making it three with a smart finish and then four from the penalty spot late on.

With Theo Walcott's long-term injury, Roy Hodgson will be on the lookout for a wide man to take to Brazil, and the rare commodity of Johnson's that is a fully-functioning left foot means he's suddenly in contention for the World Cup. The 26-year-old impressed in flashes at Manchester City but consistency has long been his issue. If he can replicate these kind of performances, though, there's no reason why Sunderland won't escape the drop or why Johnson shouldn't be on the plane come June.

Meanwhile, there was a blockbuster of a game on Sunday at the Britannia as Liverpool beat Stoke 5-3. Ryan Shawcross put through his own net after just five minutes and then Luis Suarez scored his 21st goal of the season to set the visitors on their way to what looked like a routine win. But the rest of the game was anything but a cruise for Brendan Rodgers' side.

Not long after doubling their advantage, Liverpool were pegged back by two of their former players, as Peter Crouch and Charlie Adam levelled the scores before half time. Five minutes after the break, Raheem Sterling was brought down in the area in soft circumstances and Steven Gerrard scored the resulting penalty. Suarez then added a fourth before Jonathan Walters set up a grandstand finish with Stoke's third of the match. The returning Daniel Sturridge secured the points late on, however, to ensure Liverpool kept the heat on the teams above them.

Earlier that afternoon, Manchester City claimed three points at Newcastle thanks to goals from Edin Džeko and the in-form Alvaro Negredo, despite Cheick Tioté having a goal controversially disallowed. It's a testament to City's supreme attacking firepower that the absence of Sergio Agüero, who many would argue is their most dangerous player, has barely been noticed.

Chelsea beat Hull 2-0 courtesy of Eden Hazard and Fernando Torres in the early game on Saturday to temporarily go top, but Arsenal had retained their place at the summit by Monday night having beaten Aston Villa 2-1; Jack Wilshere and Olivier Giroud with the Gunners' goals.

Elsewhere, ten-man West Ham, humiliated by conceding 11 goals in two games in the cups last week, bounced back emphatically with a crucial 2-0 win at Cardiff, whilst Manchester United and Everton registered the same result against Swansea and Norwich respectively.

2-0 seemed to be a popular scoreline this weekend, and that was the margin in Tottenham's victory over Crystal Palace who got plenty of attention themselves after Jason Puncheon provided widespread hilarity with what some are describing as the worst penalty of all time. Southampton beat West Brom 1-0 thanks to a fine Adam Lallana goal.

Next week sees Chelsea entertain Manchester United as well as an intriguing Saturday lunchtime clash between Sunderland and Southampton.
Tom Pyman
Tom is a journalism student at the University of Sheffield and, more importantly, a passionate Arsenal fan. Too many players have come and gone to adopt a favourite but if he had to name one, it'd be difficult to look past Thierry Henry. Or Dennis Bergkamp. Or Freddie Ljungberg. Maybe not Park Chu-Young. He used to regularly attend home games but living three hours away has now made getting to the Emirates every other week a bit tricky. Follow Tom on Twitter @gooner_tom

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