After Liverpool left Signal Iduna Park with a crucial away goal on Thursday in the Europa League, it was easy to forget about the team's league campaign. But a 4-1 win over Stoke City and an all-around entertaining weekend refocused the attention for a moment on Premier League happenings.
Headlining the action on Saturday was the performance of a lifetime from none other than Andy Carroll, who netted three goals for West Ham in a riveting 3-3 draw with Arsenal that effectively ended the Gunners' fading title hopes. Arsenal had gone up 2-0 early in the match through Mesut Özil and Alexis Sanchez, but Carroll responded three times in eight minutes to give the Hammers the lead. While Laurent Koscielny earned a point for Arsenal with a 70th minute equalizer, the damage was done.
"Why did we struggle with Carroll? Because he's good in the air," manager Arsene Wenger said. "We had a good game but a bad result, and we paid for a weakness we have had all season - headers in our box."
"We are third on 59 points and that's not where we want to be," he added.
Two other clubs not where they want to be: Manchester City and Chelsea. The two pre-season title favorites have endured a difficult season, but Manchester City managed a 2-1 win over West Brom to at least maintain their position in fourth place. Chelsea, meanwhile, lost 1-0 to Swansea City on a Gylfi Sigurdsson first half goal. The defeat was their first in the Premier League under Guus Hiddink.
In place of the heavyweights at the top of the table, of course, remains LeIcester City. The Foxes won again through a Jamie Vardy brace, topping Sunderland 2-0. Though Tottenham dismantled Manchester United 3-0, Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri knew that his side had moved one meaningful step closer to the title and left the pitch in tears.
"I want to say thank you to everybody who came," Ranieri said in his post-match interview. "Nobody could have believed we would be in this position - but now we have to fight and fight."
Next weekend, Chelsea and Manchester City square up in a match that people once thought would have much more significant implications. Elsewhere, Leicester City face West Ham and Tottenham try to keep pace at the top of the table against Stoke City.
|1||Leicester City||72 PTS|
|4||Manchester City||57 PTS|
|5||Manchester United||53 PTS|
|6||West Ham||52 PTS|
|9||Stoke City||47 PTS|
|12||Swansea City||40 PTS|
|13||West Brom||40 PTS|
|16||Crystal Palace||37 PTS|
|17||Norwich City||31 PTS|
|20||Aston Villa||16 PTS|