Forget the title race, itâ€™s still over – the drunken stumble to 4th place is where the upper-end interest now lies in the Premier League.
Arsenal seem to be sobering up quickest – with 13 matches left to play, they are in the chair after their 3-2 win over Watford. They have one more point than Manchester United, who are very much into their run-in now with just ten Premier League rounds to go. West Ham, manfully keeping up drink for drink despite not having as much money in their wallet are three points back with ten to go too and Tottenham – well Tottenham are either pacing themselves for a final binge over their 13 remaining games or they are already under the table, completely done. Iâ€™m not quite sure.
At the Etihad, the inevitable outcome in the Manchester Derby was confirmed after about an hour – Riyad Mahrez scoring Cityâ€™s third from a corner routine. There was briefly the chance of it being a decent battle – Jadon Sancho scoring a fine goal as he ploughs the lone furrow of the one player to be improved by Ralf Rangnick.
KDB got another derby double before Mahrez killed it completely in injury time – though by that point United had pretty much given up the ghost. Lindelof needed a ticket back into the ground after Foden turned him inside out in the build-up to De Bruyneâ€™s second. Wan Bissaka saw all the credit heâ€™d built up by not being in the side disappear with his 90 minutes here. Edinson Cavani had the right idea, ruling himself out injured before the game. Weâ€™ll probably find out whether Ronaldo was really injured or his blushes being spared once Rangnick gets the boot in the summer – nobody really thinks heâ€™ll have enough juice in the orange to stay for the consultancy gig, surely?
Cityâ€™s 4-1 win opened the gap back up to six points on Liverpool, who had got their customary win over David Moyes on Saturday.
Sadio Mane netted the only goal of the game where West Ham clearly had a plan to stop Mo Salah – which, in fairness, worked even without Declan Rice. The Hammers can feel a bit disappointed to have lost – they were very good and Micky Antonio was at his mischievous best. Theyâ€™ll just hope that Jarrod Bowenâ€™s injury isnâ€™t season-ending and that King Klopp wasnâ€™t tapping him up when he had a word as the striker limped off at Anfield.
The most effort expended on Merseyside was certainly by the crowd, though – a plane flew over the ground suggesting that the life of a cat is also important and the Kop reworked â€˜attack, attack, attackâ€™ to â€˜a cat, a cat, a catâ€™ – I bet the meeting of minds coming up with that one was worth being at.
Burnley might have spent just a little too long patting themselves on the back having kept Chelsea out for the first 45 minutes – Tommy Tâ€™s men put three past Sean Dycheâ€™s hard workers within the first ten of the second period before James Tarkowski created the clearest chance of the match forâ€¦ Christian Pulisic – who made it four.
New manager, same result at Leeds United. Jesse Marsch is the man brought in to reunite a city in mourning after their iconic, mythical, crazy and, ultimately, not good enough for the Premier League, jefe Marcelo Bielsa was sacked last Monday.
The American, who by his own admission knows his accent goes against him thanks to Mr Lasso, managed to tighten up the Leeds backline whilst still seeing white shirts bomb forward – but, in the end, they still contrived to lose 1-0. His new side sit just two points off the drop zone but, as we were reminded at least 100 times before kick-off, are very, very fit.
One thing we can all agree on is that Arsenal just look weird in red shorts – but, poor colour combinations or not, they rallied to beat Roy Hodgsonâ€™s Watford 3-2 at Vicarage Road. Once again it was the young guns doing the damage – Odegaard, Saka and Martinelli all on the scoresheet and barely 60 years shared amongst them. Hodgson, with a smidgen over 60 years in the bank and some, admitted his side could not play much better than that – which will stand them in good stead in the Championship next season.
They will be down there with Norwich and that is for certain – the Canaries absolutely stank the house out against Brentford, for whom Christian Eriksen started and caused chaos by simply putting corners into the area. Not an area, just the penalty area.
Ivan Toney helped himself to a hat-trick, once again reminding us how prolific he is against second-tier opposition. He also showed off his penalty prowess, scoring two from the spot leading to Thomas Frank saying nobody is better in the world at them than his frontman. â€˜Not Ronaldo, not Messiâ€™ said Frank, stopping short at adding a certain Spanish goalkeeper to the list.
Wolvesâ€™ boss Bruno Lage was not a happy chap after his side went down 2-0 to Crystal Palace. Lage called out having too many â€˜kidsâ€™ in his side – seemingly forgetting he is the man picking the team. These urchins â€œare not prepared as they should prepareâ€ and Lage â€œwonâ€™t waste time on players who do not prepareâ€. None of that seems to explain why Raul Jiminez continues to be on the bench, given his age and his hard work to get fit again. But hey, managers. They need their excuses.
Had you suggested in November that the third most expensive player in world football would have been turning out in a Premier League midtable clash between the Villa and Southampton come March, youâ€™d have probably been tested for something non-pandemic related.
But, Phil Coutinho was on the pitch and some would say he even graced it, playing a part in the first two and scoring the third in Villaâ€™s 4-0 win. He probably should have had his own hat-trick, but silky touches in the middle of the park and a 4-0 security blanket allows people to overlook some very shoddy finishing indeed – and if I sound bitter, it has nothing at all to do with Fantasy Football.Â
Newcastle United won again and Brighton lost again. Both things happened in the same game at St Jamesâ€™ Park where Potter nicked mine/everyoneâ€™s magic wand gag – possibly the best and worst thing he came up with all day given the result for his team.
No doubt by the time you read this, Spurs and Everton will have done nothing to help the former close the gap on the top four and the latter ease their relegation worries. Lampard wonâ€™t be able to pick Dele, of course – not that seems to be a worry given how infrequently Alli has been seen at Goodison Park.