Manchester City’s stumbling block in Southampton has given Liverpool hopes of reviving the Premier League title race after a weekend of significant developments in the battle for a top four finish and avoiding relegation.
Nine points now separate the top two after City were held 1-1 at St Mary’s and Liverpool defeated Crystal Palace 3-1, but Jurgen Klopp’s men have a game in hand and have yet to travel to the champions in April defeat.
Manchester United were the big winner in their battle to qualify for next season’s Champions League as they climbed to fourth place thanks to a last gasp 1-0 win over West Ham, while Tottenham and Arsenal dropped points.
The battle at the bottom also flares up as victories for Norwich and Newcastle put the pressure on Everton to get their next permanent manager appointment right.
AFP Sport looks at three conversation topics from the Premier League weekend.
Ziyech corrects Chelsea’s course
Hakim Ziyech’s mood summed up a difficult month for Chelsea as he refused to celebrate his goal in a 1-1 draw at Brighton on Tuesday after an on-field feud with Romelu Lukaku.
Ziyech has been through a rough patch since he was taken over from Ajax in 2020 and was kept out of the Moroccan roster for the African Cup of Nations in January.
But he lifted his side out of a slump with a brilliant left-footed curler in the top corner to open the scoring in Sunday’s 2-0 win over Tottenham, securing just a second win in eight league games for Thomas Tuchel’s men.
This time, Ziyech pointed ecstatically to the sky before being mobbed by his cheering teammates after a goal that brought the feel-good factor back to the Bridge.
Rashford drives to the rescue of Man Utd
Tottenham’s defeat completed the perfect weekend for United as they reached the top four.
Not for the first time in the interim period from Ralf Rangnick in charge, the result was glued to the cracks of a tasteless attacking performance, but the German came away inspired when his three substitutes combined for the winning goal with virtually the last kick of the match.
Marcus Rashford got the final touches after some good work from Anthony Martial and Edinson Cavani in what Rangnick hopes will be a turning point for the England international’s season.
The signings of Cristiano Ronaldo and Jadon Sancho helped Rashford down the pecking order, but his poor form has also been usurped by younger team-mates Mason Greenwood and Anthony Elanga in recent weeks.
Rangnick pointed to confidence as the reason for Rashford’s decline and after ending a three-month drought in Brentford mid-week, he once again showed predatory instincts to be in the right place to meet Cavani’s perfect cross.
Everton’s small margin of error
A change of management did not result in a change of fortune for the Toffees as caretaker boss Duncan Ferguson’s side were beaten 1-0 by Aston Villa.
Everton’s kisses over the bottom three have been reduced to four points and the momentum is against them.
Back-to-back wins for Norwich have knocked the Canaries out of the bottom three for the first time this season.
Meanwhile, Newcastle are expected to strengthen in the closing days of the transfer window after a crucial 1-0 win over Leeds brought the Magpies within a point of safety.
That’s a luxury Everton cannot afford due to financial fair play pressures after having spent hundreds of millions of pounds in the transfer market since owner Farhad Moshiri took charge in 2016.
Burnley remain bottom of the table but also increased their chances of survival with a 0-0 draw at Arsenal with several games left for the Clarets.