Even with a couple matches postponed due to the Capital One Cup final, there was plenty to talk about in the Premier League. We had errant red cards, revised expectations, incredible goals, and a huge (albeit somewhat dubious) day for a former non-league player. In short, it was a pretty great weekend. Here’s a few things you might have missed.
With Chelsea’s league fixture this weekend postponed so they could go win some silverware, Manchester City had a chance to close the gap on them to two points and exert real pressure on the title chase as the Premier League season groans into the final act. But Anfield proved once again to be a place of wailing and gnashing of teeth for the Sky Blues. Philippe Coutinho scored a belter from outside the box—which seems to be his new hobby—late in the second half to give Liverpool all three points and pull them to the very threshold of the Top 4. It’s still March, and it’s still the Premier League, so anything can happen. But it’s really hard to imagine Chelsea slipping up enough to give City the title at this stage.
Radamel Falcao was pulled down in the box by Sunderland’s John O’Shea, giving Manchester United a penalty and their first goal. And because it was clearly Denying an Obvious Goalscoring Opportunity, O’Shea should have been sent off. Yet it was his partner in central defense Wes Brown who was given marching orders. Something similar happened around this time last season, when Arsenal’s Kieran Gibbs was sent off for a handball committed by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain while playing away at Chelsea. It’s easy to blame the officials- and surely they bear some responsibility- but it’s becoming increasingly obvious that they simply do not have the tools to perform their duties accurately. Video replay may or may not be the solution, but the problem itself isn’t going to go away on its own.
Arsenal are tough, and have been doing well in the league so far, but Everton had a real opportunity to scrape some points off of the Gunners this weekend. With the humiliation at home by Monaco in the Champions League in midweek, Arsene Wenger under increasing scrutiny, and Olivier Giroud misfiring again, the visitors couldn’t have picked a better time to visit North London and start pulling themselves out of the hole they’ve dug. Instead, Arsenal got their groove back and nailed down a solid 2-0 win. Everton are now in 14th place, six points above the relegation zone, with continued European football to juggle. Stormclouds are beginning to gather.
At the start of February, Southampton were, inexplicably, in 3rd place in the Barclay’s Premier League. A team that everyone had pegged to go down were now seriously threatening to become Champions League debutants next season. One month later, Southampton have posted a record of 1 win, 1 draw, and 3 losses. They’re now in sixth, which might be enough for a Europa League spot—which, hey, better than nothing—but would be a profound disappointment given the season they’ve had so far.
After playing senior level football for nearly 13 years, Glenn Murray might’ve had the biggest day of his career. The 31-year-old, who spent much of his early playing days bouncing around non-league clubs, notched two goals against West Ham to seal an important win for Crystal Palace. The only thing that would’ve made his day perfect would’ve been to complete a hat-trick. Alas, it was not to be— five minutes after scoring what would end up being the gamewinner, Murray received a second yellow card after a rough challenge on Winston Reid. It was as if the Gods punished Murray for flying too close to the sun.