/ 14 April 2019

Five things we learned from the Premier League

Another shoddy United performance since Solskjær was given the job on a permanent basis was salvaged by two Paul Pogba penalties to beat West Ham 2-1.
Marcus Alonso grabbed both Chelsea goals in the first-ever Premier League game at Wembley. (Reuters)

Liverpool and Manchester City’s titanic battle for the Premier League continued as both came through unscathed on a Sunday that threatened to tilt the title one way or the other.

City briefly went top with a 3-1 win at Crystal Palace and the title remains in their hands at they have an extra game left to play.

But Liverpool’s 2-0 victory over Chelsea, lit up by Mohamed Salah’s sensational strike, means they retain a two-point lead at the top of the table.

Here are five things we learned from the Premier League weekend:

Salah stunner silences critics

By the sky-high standards of his majestic first season at Liverpool, Salah has endured a sophomore slump in the eyes of some this term.

But the Egyptian is now level with Sergio Aguero as the Premier League’s top-scorer after a sublime strike clinched their 2-0 win over Chelsea.

At the end of a week in which Chelsea fans were filmed chanting a vile racist song about Salah, it was fitting that his brilliant 25-yard drive put Liverpool two goals up at Anfield, killing off his former club and damaging their chances of a top-four finish.

Salah now has 22 goals this season and if Liverpool end their 29-year wait for a top-flight title, he will have supplied the perfect response to the doubters.

Solskjær’s worrying slump

“I feel good about the players for Tuesday,” said Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær at the prospect of another remarkable Champions League recovery against Barcelona. “Because we cannot get a lot worse than we were today.”

Another shoddy United performance since Solskjær was given the job on a permanent basis was salvaged by two Paul Pogba penalties to beat West Ham 2-1 and remain in the hunt for a top-four finish.

However, concerns are rising that the drop off in performance from the Red Devils since famously beating Paris Saint-Germain 3-1 last month is more than just a blip.

United have lost four of the six games since and even the two they have won, against Watford and West Ham at home, Solskjær has admitted they did not deserve all three points.

Man City pass Palace test

Pep Guardiola claimed he would be paying as much attention to the drama at Augusta as Tiger Woods won the Masters as matters at Anfield after his side won at Selhurst Park.

The Eagles have been a thorn in Guardiola’s side, halting City’s record 18-game winning run in the Premier League last season and becoming the only visiting team to win at the Etihad in the league this campaign back in December.

However, what many predicted would be a potential banana skin for City in between two Champions League ties with Tottenham, turned into a cruise for the champions.

Five more matches stand between Guardiola’s men and becoming the first side in a decade to retain the Premier League and he expects to have to win them all.

“In the Premier League the position is in our hands and we need to win all the games,” said the Catalan coach.

Officials cost Cardiff dearly

The title race and fight for top-four places may be set to go down to the wire, but the battle to avoid the drop may be all but over should Brighton beat Cardiff on Tuesday.

Brighton still hold a five-point lead over Neil Warnock’s side despite a 5-0 home thrashing to Bournemouth as, not for the first time this season, controversial refereeing calls cost the Welsh side in a 2-0 defeat at Burnley.

Warnock is famous for his outbursts at officials, but even he claimed “I am lost for words” after Mike Dean reversed his decision to award a penalty with his side trailing just 1-0 at Turf Moor.

Goals the difference for Spurs

With the four-way race for the final two spots in the top four incredibly tight, Mauricio Pochettino was relieved to see Tottenham run riot in their 4-0 thrashing of Huddersfield.

Back up to third place thanks to their third successive win at their new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Pochettino’s team showed they can cope without injured stars Harry Kane and Dele Alli.

Even more importantly, Victor Wanyama’s opener and Lucas Moura’s hat-trick were a huge boost to Tottenham’s goal difference, which is now better than top-four rivals Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United.

“I think until the end it will be a very tough race. Of course, to score goals in that opportunity can help in the end. Goal difference can be decisive,” Pochettino said.