Manchester, United Kingdom | AFP | Manchester City remain just a point ahead of Liverpool at the top with two games of the Premier League season to go as both were victorious again this weekend.
By contrast, the pack of four chasing behind them for Champions League football failed to muster a single win between them once more, whilst at the bottom of the table Cardiff edged closer to relegation.
Here, AFP Sports looks at five things we learned from the Premier League:
Liverpool’s Golden boot battle
Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane both scored twice as Liverpool cruised past Huddersfield 5-0 at Anfield on Friday to move the Reds temporarily back on top of the table and edge ahead in the race for the Golden Boot.
Salah, last season’s winner, holds a slender lead with 21 Premier League goals to Mane’s 20.
However, it was Mane and not the Egyptian who made it into the PFA’s player of the year this week.
Salah has now scored more goals (69) in his first 100 games for the club than any other player in Liverpool’s history and Jurgen Klopp believes backing up his incredible 44-goal debut campaign with another stellar season is an even bigger achievement.
“It’s such an important season for him,” said Klopp. “After a flying season in which nearly every shot was a goal, then being assessed by everyone, is it just a one-season thing?
“Keeping that level (the next season) is an even bigger achievement than scoring 40 goals last season, which was already an incredible achievement.”
‘Legend’ Aguero hits 20 again
Sergio Aguero moved level with Mane as his winner at Burnley ensured the Argentine has now scored 20 goals in five consecutive league seasons — the first player to do so since Thierry Henry.
“He is a legend; he does that all the time, score important goals for us,” said City boss Pep Guardiola. “He is an incredible player.”
City are now just two wins away from a fourth title in eight seasons.
Aguero, whose memorable stoppage time goal against QPR in 2012 started that run, remains as important to City’s challenge now as he was then.
Tiring top four contenders falter
For the second consecutive weekend, none of the contenders for the final two Champions League places behind City and Liverpool won.
Tottenham were first to falter in a 1-0 defeat at home to West Ham.
Ten-man Arsenal were thrashed 3-0 at Leicester before Manchester United and Chelsea played out a 1-1 draw.
Spurs, Chelsea and Arsenal are all still involved in European semi-finals this week, while United were also playing their seventh game in April, and tiredness is catching up on all four.
“The stress and the fatigue arrived. We are competing with circumstances that are not the best,” said Spurs boss Pochettino.
De Gea decision to make
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insisted before his side’s “must-win” clash with Chelsea that he would not consider dropping David de Gea as the Spaniard’s years of excellent service outweighed a recent bad run.
However, Solskjaer’s loyalty may have cost United Champions League football next season as De Gea was at fault once more for Chelsea’s equaliser at Old Trafford.
The Norwegian must now not only decide whether to reconsider that call for United’s last two games of the season, but whether the time has come to cash in on De Gea come the summer.
United’s player of the year for four of the past five seasons has just one year left on his contract and is holding out for a new deal on a par with the huge contract given to Alexis Sanchez last January.
Sanchez has done little to justify his wages in the past 16 months and rewarding De Gea on current form with a similar pay packet is a huge risk.
Warnock wonders what could have been
Cardiff manager Neil Warnock lamented the tragic loss of Emiliano Sala after his misfiring side slipped closer to relegation.
Warnock’s side were beaten 1-0 at Fulham to leave them four points from safety and with a much inferior goal difference to 17th-placed Brighton with only two games remaining.
Cardiff’s perilous position is largely due to their toothless forward line according to Warnock, who bemoaned Sala’s death in a plane crash before he had even played a game for the Bluebirds following his January transfer from Nantes.
“It was a great finish and I can’t complain about that. That’s the Premier League for you,” Warnock said of Ryan Babel’s late winner for Fulham.
“You get what you pay for. For me it brings home the Emiliano Sala tragedy. I thought he could have got us 10 goals. It’s been blow after blow for us.”