Manchester City’s coronation as Premier League champions must wait as their loss to Chelsea coupled with Manchester United’s come-from-behind win at Aston Villa kept the title race alive for a few more days at least.
Sam Allardyce’s record of never having been relegated from the top flight came to an end as West Brom’s fate was sealed, while the race for the top four has heated up after defeats for Leicester and West Ham.
Here, the PA news agency looks at what we learned from the latest round of fixtures.
Chelsea lay down a marker
Not only was this a chance for Manchester City to wrap up a third league title in four seasons, they could have gained a psychological edge over Chelsea ahead of their Champions League final later this month. City were well in the ascendancy just before the interval, leading 1-0 and with Sergio Aguero hovering over a spot-kick. But the Panenka penalty backfired horribly as Edouard Mendy, having initially made a move to his right, got back to his feet to pluck the chipped effort out the air. The Blues rallied after half-time thanks to goals from Hakim Ziyech and Marcos Alonso, bursting City’s bubble and giving them plenty to think about before their May 29 meeting.
Comeback kings at it again
Murmurs of discontent are never far from the surface at Manchester United these days but there can be no doubting the spirit of the side under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as they recorded a 10th comeback win of the term at Aston Villa. Bertrand Traore’s fantastic goal had given Villa hope of recording a first home win over their opponents in 26 years but Bruno Fernandes’ penalty was swiftly followed by Mason Greenwood’s strike – becoming United’s top-scoring Premier League teenager as a result – before Edinson Cavani added a third. A 3-1 win has momentarily delayed City’s title triumph while West Ham’s defeat against Everton has guaranteed United a top-four finish.
There would have been a shiver among West Brom’s relegation rivals when Albion appointed Allardyce last December. After all, the former England manager had never been relegated from the Premier League. But while there has been an upturn in performances since he replaced Slaven Bilic, this was a challenge beyond even Allardyce. The Baggies needed a miracle – they had to win their last four matches and hope for an implosion from one of the teams outside the drop zone – but they fell at the first hurdle as Arsenal claimed a 3-1 win to bounce back from their Europa League heartache. As for West Brom, can they now hang on to Allardyce, who has a break clause in his 18-month deal?
Leicester outfoxed by magnificent Magpies
The surprise of the last few days goes to Newcastle, who were humiliated 5-0 by Leicester on their last visit to the King Power Stadium, the gulf in quality painfully obvious. The same was true on Friday night – except this time it was Newcastle, defying their respective positions in the table, dishing out the punishment. A 4-2 win lifted the Magpies 12 points clear of the relegation zone and on the cusp of safety for another season. Such a setback for Leicester raises concerns at the prospect of a collapse similar to last season, when they missed out on a top-four finish. Tuesday’s trip to Manchester United is an opportunity to bounce straight back and steady the ship.
Reds still in contention for top-four finish
Defeats for Leicester and West Ham leave the door a little more ajar for Liverpool, who got back to winning ways after successive draws against Newcastle and Leeds by defeating Southampton 2-0. Sadio Mane’s first-half header and Thiago Alcantara’s first goal for the club in the 90th minute saw Liverpool finish the weekend six points behind fourth-placed Leicester but with one game in hand – the postponed clash with Manchester United. Jurgen Klopp has set his side the challenge of winning their last four matches, conceding: “It will be difficult but we will try anyway.”