Talking points from the Premier League weekend:
BRIGHTON RUE DECISIONS AS EURO HOPES HIT
Brighton & Hove Albion had every reason to feel hard-done-by after their hopes of qualifying for Europe were dented by a 2-1 defeat by Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday.
Not only did they largely outplay their fifth-placed hosts, they were on the receiving end of some poor decision that even led to an apology from officials body the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL).
Howard Webb, the PGMOL chief, admitted Brighton should have had a penalty when Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg stood on Kaoru Mitoma’s foot in the 70th minute and referee Stuart Attwell waved away appeals for a penalty and VAR failed to intervene.
Brighton also had two goals, one for Mitoma and one for Alexis Mac Allister ruled out for handball.
It all proved a poor advert for VAR as Brighton, for the third time this season, received an apology about decisions.
MISSING MITROVIC A PROBLEM FOR FLIMSY FULHAM
The effect of the eight-match ban handed down to Fulham striker Aleksandar Mitrovic for pushing the referee in their FA Cup clash with Manchester United last month was glaringly obvious as they lost 1-0 to lowly West Ham United on Saturday.
Marco Silva’s side spent the game slinging cross after cross into the box, but with their talismanic target man sitting in the stands for the foreseeable future, there was no-one on hand to make the most of them, and West Ham ended up winning thanks to an own goal.
Mid-table Fulham have little chance of either making the European places or being relegated, but they will need to work out how deal with the absence of the fiery Serb if they are to avoid a repeat of this embarrassing defeat.
MANCHESTER CITY RELENTLESS IN PURSUIT
One thing Arsenal can be sure of is that Manchester City are not about to hand over their title without a hell of a fight.
City are back in the type of groove that twice saw them hold off Liverpool in epic title races and Saturday’s 4-1 victory at bottom club Southampton, while expected, was another example that they will continue to churn out victories.
Since losing to Tottenham in early February, City have taken 22 points from 24 on offer and have the momentum going into the final weeks of the season.
Arsenal remain six points clear, but have played a game more than City and may soon have them breathing down their necks.
ARSENAL UNRAVEL AT ANFIELD
With eight games to go as they try and close in on a first Premier League trophy since 2004, Arsenal will be hoping that squandering a two-goal lead against Liverpool does not end up costing them the title.
Through most of the first half, the league leaders turned Liverpool inside out with the ruthless precision they have shown for most of the season to go 2-0 up. However, they conceded just before the break and unravelled after halftime to draw 2-2.
Goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale produced a highlights reel of spectacular saves late on and was a big reason the north Londoners got out of Anfield with a point at all.
Arsenal faced 19 shots inside the box, the most they have faced since records began for this statistic in 2003-04.
“You need your goalkeeper in title races, you need magic moments from your keeper, and Aaron was there for us, just like Alisson has been for Liverpool so many times,” manager Mikel Arteta said.
“But we look at ourselves in mirror and could have done better with some big chances.”
HODGSON UNLOCKS PALACE POTENTIAL AS OLISE PULLS STRINGS
In two games since his return to the Crystal Palace hot seat, new manager Roy Hodgson has seen his side score seven goals — as many as they did in their previous 15 matches — to move six points clear of the relegation zone.
A team struggling to find the net under Patrick Vieira were at their aggressive and free-flowing best as they thrashed Leeds United 5-1, with 21-year-old Michael Olise orchestrating the attack and grabbing a hat-trick of assists in just 16 minutes.
“I have seen him for 10 days less than I have seen the others. What I make of him is that I think he is an enormous talent,” Hodgson said.
“We (coaches) are orchestra leaders. We know the music, we know all the notes, but they have to play the tune.”