Another controversial weekend of Premier League action has been and gone, with ‘the world’s greatest league’ serving up plenty of talking points.
It was a glorious return to form by Liverpool, who faced a must-win game at home to Arsenal, after losing at Leicester City last week.
The Reds stormed to a richly-deserved 3-1 victory over the Gunners, with Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Georginio Wijnaldum all finding the net to cap off a brilliant team performance.
Jurgen Klopp‘s side’s top-four chances have been greatly enhanced in the process, in what promises to be an intriguing final few months of 2016/17.
Away from all things Liverpool, there were plenty of eye-catching moments throughout the weekend, whether it be good, bad or downright ugly.
Sakho inspires Palace resurgence
Klopp is never one to put up with a disruptive influence, so it was no surprise to see Mamadou Sakho shipped off on loan to Crystal Palace in January.
The Frenchman is a very popular figure at Anfield, as well as a good defender, so many were left frustrated by his exit. What was Klopp to do though?
If Sakho is to have any future at Liverpool, he has to knuckle down and prove himself at relegation-threatened Palace. It couldn’t have gone much better for him so far.
Having helped his side to a 1-0 win at home to Middlesbrough on his debut, Sakho inspired the Eagles to another clean-sheet in their 2-0 victory at West Brom on Saturday.
Not only that, but the 27-year-old also managed to comically slide tackle referee Mike Jones in his own awkward style.
Whether we ever see Sakho represent the Reds again remains to be seen, but he is doing a good job of winning Klopp round.
Harry Kane a man possessed
For so long, many non-Tottenham supporters were keen to label Harry Kane as a one-season wonder, but we are looking very foolish now.
The Spurs talisman is in the form of his career at the moment, with everything he touches seemingly nestling in the back of the net.
He continued his stunning run on Sunday afternoon, as Liverpool’s Merseyside rivals Everton were outplayed and beaten 3-2 by Mauricio Pochettino’s in-form side.
Kane opened the scoring with an outrageous long-range strike, before coolly adding a second after the break. His post-match disappointment at not scoring another hat-trick sums up his hunger for goals, like all great strikers.
It is easy to downplay English players, with foreigners often the more hip choices, but Kane is among the best strikers in Europe right now.
His importance to Spurs is the same as Alexis Sanchez and Zlatan Ibrahimovic at Arsenal and Man United, respectively, and if he keeps scoring, a top-four finish will comfortably be secured.
Wenger & Sanchez row leaves Arsenal in tatters
As soon as the team news was announced on Saturday, nobody could quite fathom how Arsene Wenger had left Sanchez out of his starting line-up.
Although Arsenal‘s manager did his best to claim it was a tactical decision, it was clear that the Gunners’ best player had been dropped for different reasons.
It has since emerged that Sanchez has been involved with bust-ups with teammates and shown a poor attitude, with the Chilean’s future now surely destined to be spent elsewhere.
His influence in the second-half showed just how dependent Arsenal are on him, with the first-half performance one of the most spineless by an away side at Anfield all season.
If Wenger and Sanchez don’t kiss and make up any time soon, it is impossible to see Arsenal keeping up their record of qualifying for Champions League every season for the last 20 years.
They look distinctly average all over the pitch, and while they often finish the season strongly, there is so much negativity at the club that this year feels different.
North east duo looking Championship-bound
The relegation fight has been fascinating all season, with six or seven teams slugging it out at the bottom of the table and swapping places with one another.
The bottom-three is slowly starting to take shape, however, and in terms of momentum, Sunderland and Middlesbrough look in real trouble.
The Black Cats were comfortably beaten by Man City at the Stadium of Light, leaving them six points adrift of 17th-place Palace.
Sunderland have evaded the drop so many times, but this feels like a season too far for them. Good old David Moyes working his magic again!
Boro, meanwhile, have gone 10 matches without a win in the Premier League, and their insipid 2-0 loss at Stoke City leaves them 18th. Hull join them and Sunderland at the bottom, having been seen off by Leicester.
With a number of teams finding form – Leicester, Palace and Swansea, in particular – they are looking increasingly like this season’s relegated trio.
Mings vs. Zlatan
On paper, Man United‘s clash with out-of-form Bournemouth at Old Trafford looked one of the weekend’s most foregone conclusions.
As it turned out, however, it had the biggest talking point of the last few days, while United’s failure to beat the 10-man Cherries was a great result for Liverpool.
The game’s big moment came in the first-half, as Tyrone Mings and Ibrahimovic did their best attempt at showing more hatred towards one another than David Haye and Tony Bellew.
Having already squabbled earlier in the game, Mings’ inexcusable stamp on Ibrahimovic’s head went unnoticed by the hapless Kevin Friend. Watch it closely, though, and the United man attempts a stamp of his own first, but misses.
In retaliation moments later, the big Swede landed a nasty and deliberate elbow into the face of Mings, but once again, Friend didn’t punish the aggressor. Instead, he laughably showed Andrew Surman a second yellow card for ‘shoving’ Ibrahimovic.
After the game, Wayne Rooney had the audacity to berate Mings for the stamp, claiming he had been right next to the incident when it happened. You had Wayne, you are correct, but footage shows you were whinging at Friend in your usual delightful manner.
The bottom line is that both players deserve retrospective bans for at least three games – let’s see if United dodge another bullet there. Losing Ibrahimovic would be an almighty blow.