With the home stretch of this season already on the horizon, the Premier League provided yet another bumper round of action.
Here is a look at five things we learned from this weekend’s fixtures.
Liverpool’s midfield trio have crucial influence
No doubt Liverpool’s front three will dominate the headlines after the club’s convincing 3-0 victory over Bournemouth. However, it was The Reds midfield trio of Naby Keita, Fabinho and Gini Wijnaldum who really set the tone of proceeding at Anfield.
Liverpool’s attacking verve was back in full flow in a match that could and should have ended with a much bigger margin for the home side. That swagger up front was made possible by what looks to be the Red’s best midfield combination at the moment.
With more freedom to link up with the front three, Naby Keita was so much more influential. Gini Wijnaldum was also superb and got a wonderful goal for his day’s graft. Fabinho as a number six offers so much more quality on the ball for Liverpool as well. If they can get those three playing together more often, it could bode very well for their title challenge.
Man City put in their best display of the season
Chelsea’s trip to Manchester City was billed as the match of the weekend, and perhaps another banana skin for the Champions this season.
Maurizio Sarri’s side started brightly for all of two or three minutes, but once City got ahead through Raheem Sterling, they simply blew their opponents away in a thumping 6-0 victory. It was a dizzying display of football which had Chelsea cut apart all over the park.
Sterling and Aguero were outstanding as Chelsea put in yet another lifeless display and surrendered the midfield to their dangerous hosts. Taking nothing away from Man City though, this was their best work of the campaign and could be a vital moment in the title race.
Cardiff continue to give it everything
Neil Warnock said proudly on Saturday evening, that his side didn’t know when they were beaten. On the evidence of their display at Southampton, it’s hard to disagree with the veteran manager.
With the trauma of Emiliano Sala and the stark dearth of Premier League quality in their ranks, it would be understandable if the Bluebirds capitulated and fell back into the bottom three.
However, the club appears to have rallied in the most admirable way and the last gasp winner at St Mary’s should give their fans belief that they have a puncher’s chance of survival this season.
Manchester United in pole position for fourth
Two months ago Champions League qualification looked a distant and dimming reality for a tepid Manchester United team managed by a failing manager. Following this weekend’s action though, it’s hard to see anyone else catching the Red Devil’s in the hunt for the fourth and final Champions League spot.
Their convincing 3-0 win away at Fulham saw Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men leapfrog Chelsea into the top four. They are playing with real confidence, creativity, and maturity now; which should give their players real belief that they can get over the line and into the Champions League places this season.
With Chelsea falling apart and Arsenal still a work in progress under Unai Emery, United and Solskaer have done superbly to capitalize and will likely reap the rewards of their hard work – come the end of the season.
Everton’s woe continues with Watford result
Marco Silva received a decidedly and somewhat understandably hostile welcome back at Vicarage Road as he brought his struggling Everton side to face his former employers.
It was yet another disappointing day for the Toffees as they succumbed to a plucky Watford display and remain marooned in mid-table mediocrity. Silva just cannot engineer a turnaround of form and he will be disappointed to see his side out fought yet again by a side they should really be looking to beat comfortably if they are to achieve a return to European football.
To rub salt in Silva’s wounds, his old club continue to surpass expectations this season as they held on for a tenth win of the season to keep the pressure up on Wolves in seventh place.