Nine things we learnt this weekend: Steven Gerrard still has something to offer; Arsenal enter title race; Manchester United back

A look back at an action-packed weekend in the Premier League

Click to follow


Despite having returned to fitness, Brendan Rodgers opted to start Steven Gerrard on the bench for the trip to Wales. The decision was perhaps pragmatic considering the looming tussle with Manchester United. It was probably sensible considering the former England captain has missed the last seven matches and could be hurt if rushed back. Maybe it was tactical - Liverpool have been excellent in his absence.

But leaving the skipper out of the starting XI still causes a ripple and Gerrard proved he still has a role to play in the final few games of his Liverpool career. He came on after 64 minutes and just four minutes later Liverpool scored the winning goal.


Jose Mourinho's team were handed a massive bonus by Burnley when the Clarets handed Manchester City a shock defeat at Turf Moor.

Plenty of pundits handed the title to Chelsea, but they couldn't take advantage on Sunday, producing another flat performance as they struggled to a 1-1 draw with Southampton.

The Blues still hold all the cards with a six point lead, a game in hand and a superior goal difference. But Jose Mourinho's team still have to host Manchester United and Liverpool and travel to Arsenal - one could say they have a tough run in or their destiny still in their own hands.

In their next three games Chelsea play Hull (a), Stoke (h) and QPR (a). They must pick up nine points.

Chelsea couldn't fully take advantage of Manchester City's slip


Manchester City might be second in the table, but it is the north London club who have all the momentum heading into the final weeks of the season.

Pellegrini's team had a chance to close the gap on Chelsea in what should have been a routine away trip to struggling Burnley, who had not won in their previous seven Premier League matches. But City, like Chelsea a day later, were flat and lethargic and barely created anything, even if they should've had a late penalty.

Arsenal were excellent against West Ham, playing beautiful football to run out rampant 3-0 winners at the Emirates. Not only were Olivier Giroud and Mesut Ozil excellent, but Arsene Wenger got excellent contributions from Aaron Ramsey (who scored his first goal since December) and Theo Walcott (who started just his third Premier League game of the season).

Now just a point behind City and Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United to play, the Gunners have a real chance.

Arsenal are now just a point off Manchester City


Plenty was written last week about the decline of Manchester United and the tactics of their embattled manager Louis van Gaal. But the side responded in the best possible way, dominating Champions League rivals Tottenham in what was their best performance since the turn of the year.

Wayne Rooney was excellent but it was Van Gaal's team selection that made the real difference. Taking the plodding but neat Daley Blind out of midfield and slotting Michael Carrick back into the middle was huge, as the English man plays at a much higher tempo than the Dutchman; Carrick was great, recording an assist and a goal.

The reintroduction of Juan Mata, who hadn't started in the Premier League since New Year's Day, was another decision that reaped rewards - Spurs had no answer to the superb Spaniard as they were blitzed in the first 30 minutes.

Rooney's knockout celebration against Tottenham


Since their win in the north London derby at the beginning of February, Tottenham have quietly run into some dreadful form. They have won just two of their eight games since then and their challenge for the Champions League is starting to really falter.

They have played big matches against Liverpool, West Ham, Fiorentina, Chelsea and now Manchester United and recorded just one draw, against the Hammers where they needed to late goals.

Pochettino's youngsters were brilliant in getting Tottenham into contention but seem to lack the experience to get over the finish line.


The Foxes are now seven points from safety and in the final nine matches of the season only face three teams who are around them, with two of those (Burnley, Sunderland) coming away from the King Power Stadium. Nigel Pearson's team only managed three shots on target against fellow strugglers Hull, who had to play the final 20 minutes or so without Tom Huddlestone.

Pearson was later involved in a war of words with a journalist, apparently heard muttering under his breath calling someone a 'p****'.

The signs are equally ominous for Queens Park Rangers who continued their dreadful away form with a 3-1 spanking by Crystal Palace in a game that was over at half-time. Rangers still have to play Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City, in a difficult run of games at the end of the season.

QPR were blown away by Crystal Palace


Burnley have bloodied a few noses this season, picking up four points against Manchester City and recording another two draws against Manchester United and Chelsea.

When Sean Dyche's team play the big boys they display a huge amount of desire and discipline that can frustrate teams who set up to attack, and the Clarets are dangerous on the counter-attack. But teams don't usually stay in the Premier League by picking up points from teams in the top half of the table - they have to beat the teams around them.

This season they have already lost to both Sunderland and QPR, drew at home to the Black Cats, West Brom and Aston Villa and generally struggle to create - only Aston Villa, Leicester and Sunderland have scored fewer.

Burnley have a gruelling run of games on the horizon with Southampton, Tottenham, Arsenal and Everton to play before they host Leicester. They also have to play Hull and Villa before the end of the season but by then it may be too late.

Burnley were brilliant against Manchester City but need to beat the teams around them


Sunderland produced only the second worst performance of the season when they were thrashed by struggling Aston Villa at the Stadium of Light. Unfortunately for Gus Poyet the Black Cats also produced the worst when they rolled over and allowed Southampton to score eight at St Mary's earlier this season.

The biggest crowd of the season came to see Sunderland play a crucial relegation battle with Tim Sherwood's team, but half of them had left before the whistle sounded after 45 minutes. A truly embarrassing performance by the players in red and white, who gave up after the second goal.

It came as little surprise when Gus Poyet was sacked on Monday.

Gus Poyet could be out of a job soon


Phil Bardsley has a mean left jab...