LONDON: Premier League champions Manchester City must win at Chelsea tonight/Thursday to retain their title for a few more days.
Defeat or a draw will assure Liverpool of their long-awaited first crown in 30 years after Jurgen Klopp’s team defeated Crystal Palace 4-0 at Anfield with goals from Trent Alexander-Arnold, Mo Salah, Fabinho and Sadio Mane.
Behind the top two Leicester sit uneasily followed by Chelsea and then relentlessly pursuing Manchester United, Wolves and even Tottenham.
The first hat-trick of Anthony Martial’s English career saw Manchester United defeat stumbling Sheffield United 3-0 to maintain the pressure on Chelsea in pursuit of fourth place which will guarantee a return to the Champions League next season.
United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has managed preparation for the restart perfectly. United look fitter and sharper than most other teams in the Premier League. In addition Solksjaer had the bonus of being able to start January signing Bruno Fernandes and fit-again Paul Pogba together for the first time.
** Real Madrid maintained their LaLiga leadership with a 2-0 victory over Mallorca on goals from Vinicius Junior and Sergio Ramos**
Solskjaer’s men cut the Blades apart repeatedly down the right wing. Marcus Rashford created Martial’s first goal after six minutes and Aaron Wan-Bissaka the second just before half-time. Rashford laid on the chance for Martial to become the first United player to score a league hat-trick since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013.
Wolves stayed level on points with United by defeating struggling Bournemouth 1-0 with a second-goal from Raul Jimenez after Tottenham, on Tuesday, finally found winning form for the first time in eight matches in all competitions by defeating relegation-threatened West Ham 2-0 in north London.
It could have been more. Heung-min Son had a goal disallowed by VAR for a marginal offside decision but eventually set up Spurs’ second goal for Harry Kane. That was Kane’s first goal since last December and before he suffered the hamstring injury which had kept him out ever since. Kane’s 137th goal in the Premier League in his 200th game followed an own goal by Tomas Soucek.
At the other end of the table future for Daniel Farke and Norwich is looking increasingly uncertain.
Farke has insisted that his Canaries need five victories to achieve the near-miracle of survival but they are running out of games. A 1-0 defeat at home to Everton left Norwich still bottom of the table and six points from safety.
Everton achieved the breakthrough with Michael Keane’s annual goal. The England central defender has scored one goal every year now since 2016.
Norwich may be accompanied back in the second tier by Aston Villa who were held 1-1 at Newcastle.