This was also the weekend where Manchester City were supposed to slip up given their dislike of playing Burnley at Turf Moor. We’ll come on to that as well.
With Tottenham, Arsenal and Chelsea playing as if they could do without Champions League football next season, could Manchester United actually finish in the top four after all?
So many questions, so many questions.
We start at Anfield where Jan Siewart sent his Huddersfield team out to have a go and play on the front foot against Liverpool. So, how did that work out, Jan? Liverpool put five past the Terriers, the first within the first 30 seconds.
Liverpool don’t need someone to pull the strings in the middle of the park when the opposition midfielder can pick out a pass that early in a match. And with Sadio Mane on a one-man-mission to push Mohamed Salah to 25 goals this season, the result was never in doubt.
Mane and Salah got a brace each as Mo stayed on his feet long enough to register the most goals ever by a Liverpool player in his first 100 games. I don’t have the exact number in front of me. You don’t expect that level of research, do you? Don’t forget, Salah is having a very average season despite still being top of the goalscoring charts. And Mane is having an amazing season because he has as many goals as Salah. Well, both opinions cannot be right, can they?
Liverpool went first and put the pressure back on City but City refused to blink. Their goal only went in by 27mm but, as they say, 27mm is as good as a mile when you are chasing a title. Yeah OK, nobody has ever said that but I am sure Peppy G agrees given the importance of those three points. Liverpool will have played another two matches before City step on to the field again against Leicester City, presumably fresh, relaxed and ready to stick a few past a team that are bound to come and play a bit of football at the Etihad.
Sergio Aguero became just the second player to notch 20 Premier League goals for five seasons in a row and, incredibly, has still only one the Golden Boot once. Thierry Henry’s the other one, incidentally. And that’ll remind Arsenal fans once more that they used to be in these title races once upon a time.
Tottenham were briefly in this Premier League chase too, if you recall. It was around Christmas time. It didn’t last very long, a bit like their unbeaten record in their new home. In the ‘New Stadium Derby,’ West Ham turned up and beat the Poch’s men thanks to a goal from Michail Antonio.
Antonio should be allowed to score more goals just so we can see what his next celebration is going to be. One week he is stroking a claret carpet and the next he is riding an imaginary horse. The weirdest thing is, West Ham showed that they can play quite well in a new stadium after all. Who would have thought it?
David de Gea really does the most imaginative ways to ask for a pay rise at Manchester United. According to sources, he is holding the club to ransom by refusing to save a shot until they agree to his new contract demands. I’m sure regular readers will agree that this stance might actually work considering he is negotiating with Ed Woodward, but ‘holding them’ to ransom? It’s about the only thing de Gea is holding on to at the moment.
De Gea is thought to be wanting to leave Old Trafford because he wants Champions League football next season. David, dear boy, if you stopped chucking them in United would be playing Champions League football next season.
United looked good in the first half against Chelsea. It’s amazing what a bit of Ander Herrera can do and a switch back to the tactics that were actually working for Solskjaer. The problem was, they weren’t very good after De Gea gifted Chelsea the equaliser.
In the end, the point wasn’t that great for either team.
Sarri has said before the game he needs ‘two more years’ to make Chelsea title challengers. Maurizio, mate. This is the Abramovich era (still, just about). No Chelsea manager gets two or three years to win the league, let alone challenge for it. You are already a dead man walking.
Imagine knowing that you only need two points from matches against Crystal Palace, Wolves and Leicester to remain in control of your top four destiny. Welcome to the world of Arsenal Football Club, folks. As I said at the start of the season, Unai Emery is a Europa League specialist and that is what Arsenal will be playing in next season.
They were completely out-played by Brendan’s Leicester City side for whom Jamie Vardy scored for the ninth game in a row. Imagine if Arsenal had done something vaguely intelligent and tried to get Rodgers themselves last summer?
Of course, the Gunners might have had their eye on Thursday’s Europa League semi-final, but still. They were terrible and can anyone honestly say the club has made any progress since Arsene retired?
Southampton versus Bournemouth was never likely to be a low-scoring affair. Shane Long took a lot longer than in the midweek to open the scoring but managed to get his third goal in as many games; almost as many as he has scored in the last three seasons. It was a good day out for England manager Gareth Southgate, though. He got to see Callum Wilson score twice and James Ward-Prose once. Southampton are definitely staying up and (don’t hate me when this is proved wrong) will be a very decent side next season.
Brighton scored their first goal in seven matches and it proved to be a point-grabber against Newcastle. It should have been all three except Glenn Murray headed over from close range. It probably won’t matter though, Cardiff lost again and remain four points behind with two matches remaining. The Premier League will really, really miss Neil Warnock.
Fulham’s 1-0 win over Cardiff was Scotty Parker’s third W in a row. Surely that is enough for him to get the gig next season? And if they’d given it to him earlier in the season, who knows what might have happened. He wouldn’t have been worse than Uncle Claudio. Fulham have even kept three clean sheets in a row now, something that was a tad unlikely after they shipped 200 in the first 20 games.
Wolves did not have revenge on their minds against Watford, OK? They absolutely did not think about their gutting FA Cup semi-final defeat when deciding whether they were going to put in a shift or not on Saturday. Wolves won 2-1 but, you know, Watford are in the FA Cup Final so probably don’t care.
It says here that Everton’s hopes of reaching Europe were dashed by their draw with Palace. Hopes of reaching Europe? This is the Everton side that lost 2-0 to Fulham, right? I think they need to set their sites a little lower, like following up a 4-0 win over United with anything other than a drab 0-0 away to a Palace team who are woeful at home a lot of the time.
Congratulation to both Norwich City and Sheffield United whose reward for getting promoted to the Premier League next season is to feature in this column each week. That’s got to be worth more than the £190m they get nowadays, no? As for Leeds, they’ll have to make it via the playoffs but they also have the knowledge that in his first season in English football Marcelo Bielsa has put the wind up both Frank Lampard and John Terry. That folks, that is something we can all get behind.