Premier League: Race for top four is far from done

Posted By: Arpan Bhandari
Marcus Rashford

Bengaluru, March 12: The race for top four in Premier League and eventually, a Champions League spot for next year took another turn this weekend. Manchester United firmed their grip on second place with a 2-1 win at home against old rivals Liverpool. Tottenham ended the week third with a hard fought win over Bournemouth. Chelsea got a 2-1 win over Crystal Palace, hoping to put pressure on Liverpool, being just four points off the top 4.

Mourinho's long ball tactics

Mourinho's long ball tactics

Manchester United vs Liverpool, apart from having pride at stake, was a game between two teams who were looking to secure the second place finish in the league.

Saturday's early kick off at Old Trafford saw Marcus Rashford bag two quick first half goals for the home side. Mourinho's long ball tactics being the catalyst to taking Liverpool's defence by surprise.

Silent Salah

Silent Salah

In-form Egyptian Mohamed Salah was kept silent with Mourinho giving Ashley Young the man marking job and the Englishman did extremely well to not allow Salah a single effort on goal.

A tactical switch in the second half saw Liverpool have more possession as United seemed to be content with just seeing the game through.

Liverpool were given some hope to salvage a point when Eric Bailly turned the ball into his own net as he tried to clear the ball off a hard hit cross from Sadio Mane.

Klopp's team came short however as United bagged the three points to mark the start of an important week with upcoming knockout matches against Sevilla and Brighton in the Champions League and FA Cup respectively.

United ended the week on second place with 65 points while Liverpool are fourth with 60 points.

Spurs move up

Spurs move up

Mauricio Pochettino's Tottenham made a trip to the Vitality Stadium, after a disappointing result mid-week against Juventus that saw them getting knocked out of the Champions League. Bournemouth took the lead in the 7th minute when Junior Stanislas converted Adam Smith's cross.

Harry Kane had to be subbed off at the 34 minute mark when the in-form English forward hurt his right ankle while attempting to finish one past Bournemouth keeper Begovic. Dele Alli equalized for the North London club at the 35th minute.

A poor defensive shape resulted in a second goal for Spurs as Son Heung-min netted home in the 62nd minute to make it 2-1 in favour of Spurs. The game was played end to end with Eddie Howe bringing on Jordon Ibe and Jermain Defoe to level the game. However, in search for an equalizer, the Cherries conceded two more goals as Son and Aurier scored in the 87th and the 91st minute respectively.

Tottenham finished the week third with 61 points.

Chelsea keep pressure

Chelsea keep pressure

Chelsea hosted Crystal Palace who nearly salvaged a point against Manchester United last week. Two first half goals, one from Willian on the 25th minute and an own goal from Martin Kelly saw Antonio Conte's men lead at half time.

Chelsea create more chances in the second half but failed to convert any. They had 11 shots on target in total but managed to convert just one. Patrick van Aanholt pulled one back at the 90th minute but it was too late as Chelsea then saw the game out to grasp the three points.

Antonio Conte hopes his team continue the good performance in mid-week as they take on Barcelona in the second leg of their Champions League round of 16 tie.

Chelsea ended the week on 56 points, four points off the top with with eight games still to play.

Arsenal's Europa route

Arsenal's Europa route

The top four is all but decided as we enter the business end of the 2017-18 season. While Arsenal are a massive 12 points off the top four, will they employ the Europa League route to achieve a spot in next year's Champions League? They host AC Milan at the Emirates mid-week having beaten the Italians 2-0 away from home in the last week.

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    Story first published: Monday, March 12, 2018, 11:01 [IST]
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