CARDIFF: Liverpool and Manchester City refuse to cede ground in statistically the greatest Premier League title race of all-time.
However, behind the top two posting huge points tallies, the fallibilities of the four chasers for the remaining two Champions League places means that race is just as close as Tottenham, Manchester United and Arsenal all suffered defeats.
United need a revolution
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer began the weekend with talk of a rebuild and reality check for some of his players.
However, even the Norwegian seemed taken aback by the scale of the job on his hands after a 4-0 thrashing at Everton to condemn United to a sixth defeat in eight games.
“If you want to play at this club, it has to mean more,” said a scathing Solskjaer of his side’s display at Goodison Park.
“We can’t change the whole squad, it has to be one step at a time but I said all along, I’m going to be successful here and there are players who won’t be part of that successful team.”
Liverpool hit new heights
Liverpool’s 2-0 win at Cardiff took their tally to 88 points, a club record in the Premier League era, with three games still to play.
“We have the best Liverpool ever, and one of the best sides I have played against,” claimed City boss Pep Guardiola of his title rivals.
Neither side can match City’s record 100 points tally from last season, but both are likely to pass the previous record of 95 set by Chelsea under Jose Mourinho in 2004-05.
Therefore, even the third highest points tally English football has ever seen might not be enough to win the league.
“I can’t see us ever getting another two teams like these two,” said Cardiff boss Neil Warnock. “Thank God we haven’t got to play them again.”
City show their bottle
After the emotional rollercoaster of a Champions League classic that saw Spurs end City’s European dreams for another year in midweek, any nerves left at the Etihad were also shredded on Saturday.
However, in the third act against Tottenham over the past 10 days, City held onto a fifth minute lead given to them by Phil Foden’s first Premier League goal to grind out a 1-0 win.
City were far from their best and Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino claimed the hosts’ goalkeeper Ederson was man-of-the-match.
But with four games left to Liverpool’s three, the title and the chance of an unprecedented domestic treble remains in City’s hands.
Same old Arsenal
For much of the dying days of Arsene Wenger’s reign at Arsenal, it was his team’s defensive deficiencies that hampered his hopes of restoring the club to its former glories.
Fast forward nine months and Wenger’s successor Unai Emery is wrestling with exactly the same problem — as Arsenal’s shock 3-2 defeat against Crystal Palace underlined with disastrous consequences.
A win would have strengthened the Gunners hold on a top four finish.
Instead, Christian Benteke scored his first goal for a year as Shkodran Mustafi and Konstantinos Mavropanos stood statuesque when the Palace striker headed home.
There was worse to come for Mustafi as the German centre-back bizarrely allowed Wilfried Zaha to run past him to score Palace’s second in a slapstick piece of defending that recalled the worst moments of Wenger’s reign.
By the time James McArthur headed Palace’s killer third goal after more sloppy defending, Emery’s problems had been laid bare for all to see.
No shots ‘win’ for Brighton
Brighton did not manage a shot on target, but a 0-0 draw away to Wolves felt like a win according to goalkeeper Mat Ryan believes after a disastrous week threatened to cost the Seagulls their place in the Premier League.
A 5-0 thrashing by Bournemouth was followed by a 2-0 defeat at home to Cardiff, that allowed Neil Warnock’s men to close to within two points of safety.
That gap is now three and Brighton may well need it with Tottenham, Arsenal and City to come in their final four games.
“The point means a lot in the context of things, it almost feels like we’ve won the game,” said Ryan.
“With our superior goal difference, it could prove to be big come the end of the season.”