What we learned from a weekend when Liverpool took another step towards a most unlikely title triumph...
1. The title race is still a very complex beast
It was said in some quarters that the winner of Liverpool's meeting with Manchester City would effectively win the title, but in fact the 3-2 win for the home side failed to make things much clearer. As before, if Liverpool win their remaining games they will be crowned Premier League champions. However, there is the added complexity that if Chelsea win their remaining games, they will finish above the Reds, but not above Manchester City if Manuel Pellegrini's men win their remaining fixtures as well. If City do go the rest of the season with a 100% record then they may need Chelsea to win at Anfield in what is now the most pivotal fixture of the run in on April 27. Liverpool have the momentum, but there's plenty of drama left in the first genuine three-horse race in a long, long time.
2. Raheem Sterling must start for England at the World CupVincent Kompany with a dummy, his undeniable quality. Roy Hodgson was at Anfield and Sterling made a compelling case for inclusion once again. Forget the squad, the Liverpool star demands a place in the England XI.
3. Vincent Kompany should have had the afternoon off
4. When do two yellow cards not add up to a red?
Chico Flores was guilty of an idiotic red card in Swansea's 1-0 defeat to Chelsea as he contrived to get himself booked twice in the space of two minutes early on at the Liberty Stadium. Neither decision could be disputed, yet the decision to send him off still attracted criticism, not least from Garry Monk who employed some rather alarming hyperbole to make his point: "If you go by the letter of law, it's a sending-off. But if you go by the letter of law every single game, you have six or seven reds a game." Nonsense, of course, and Chico got exactly what he deserved. The time on the clock should have no bearing on the level of punishment dished out.
5. Pepe Mel is a genius, at one thing...
Mel certainly knows how to inspire a team to give away a dominant winning position as they were held to a 3-3 draw by a late goal for the second home game running. Switching Stephane Sessegnon for the defensive-minded Claudio Yacob before the hour mark sent a powerful message to his West Brom players: sit back and soak up the pressure. What ensued was a barrage of pressure from Tottenham that had not been even remotely on the cards beforehand and a comeback that saw Sherwood’s side claw their way back to salvage a dramatic draw. Mel has yet to win a match at home with West Brom and one is unlikely to come with his tactical approach.
6. The best keeper (on form) in the Premier League is English
Felix Magath’s best decision since taking over at Fulham has been to put his faith in David Stockdale in place of previous number one Maarten Stekelenburg. It was a brave call, but also the right one. Stockdale was in inspired form when Fulham most needed a heroic display from their goalkeeper in the biggest match of the season. A truly stunning save from a Rickie van Wolfswinkel effort was followed by a series of other incredible stops. Rarely can such a display have been more valuable for a Premier League side fighting for their lives. A place in the World Cup squad should now await.
7. Newcastle have left the beach and are now at the spa
It has long been confirmed that the entire Newcastle squad and staff have been at the beach since January, but now Alan Pardew’s men have packed up their rubber bands, buckets and spades and are now in the holiday spa. Such has been their decline since their best player was sold and their manager decided to headbutt an opposing player that there barely seems any point in them turning up at all. A fourth straight defeat – this time against Stoke – has left the Magpies fans crushed once again. Fans don’t deserve anything, really, but let’s just say they are due better than this.
- Sports & Recreation
- Premier League
- Manchester City
- Manuel Pellegrini
- Vincent Kompany
- Raheem Sterling