Another week, another set of results in the Premier League and beyond that keeps alive a season that lost any sense of normality months ago.
Firstly, Aston Villa waved goodbye to their top-flight status as they went down 1-0 at Old Trafford, unable to muster any real fight as their inevitable relegation was confirmed – a thumping 3-0 win for Sunderland at fellow strugglers Norwich had given them a brief stay of execution (and also puts Sunderland right back in the mix for survival), but Villa have been woeful all season, and there are serious doubts they’ll survive in the Championship, much less bounce back.
Manchester United briefly closed the gap on Manchester City in the battle for fourth place, but City won emphatically at Chelsea (thanks to an Aguero hat-trick), and after Arsenal could only draw at home against Palace, City are now pushing for third.
Liverpool, fresh from their exhilerating win over Borussia Dortmund in the Europa League, might have been forgiven for lacking energy in their trip to Bournemouth, but goals from Firmino and Sturridge mean Liverpool have won 5 of their last 7 Premier League games, keeping them with an outside chance of a top four finish.
They were aided in their quest by West Ham failing to win at Leicester – though the Hammers did put a dent in the Foxes’ title challenge, after a 2-2 draw that saw some questionable referee decisions draw ire from both sets of fans. If Spurs should win at Stoke on Monday, they will reduce Leicester’s advantage to five points, setting up a nervy finish.
Elsewhere, previously runaway La Liga leaders Barcelona crashed to a third straight league defeat (having also gone out of the Champions League in that time), to find themselves level on points with Atlético Madrid and only one point of Real Madrid. Everywhere we look, football throws up surprises, and this season has seen more than most, with talking points that will occupy us for years to come – and we haven’t gotten to Euro 2016 yet!