By PA sport staff
Manchester City’s march towards the Premier League title continued as they won 2-0 at Crystal Palace.
Pep Guardiola’s team are within touching distance of being crowned champions for the third time in four years after moving 13 points clear of rivals Manchester United, who have five matches remaining after fans protests saw their game against Liverpool postponed.
At the other end of the table, another defeat for Fulham left them on the brink of relegation.
Here, the PA news agency looks at five things we learned from this weekend’s top-flight action.
City on the brink
Sergio Aguero provided a reminder of his goalscoring brilliance with the opening goal City’s 2-0 win at Selhurst Park to put the Premier League leaders on the verge of another title. After a frustrating first half, it was City’s record goalscorer who broke the deadlock with a superb finish and Ferran Torres wrapped up the points soon after with a fine curling effort for the club’s 25th league victory of the season.
Guardiola’s side would have been confirmed as champions on Sunday had second-placed United lost at home to Liverpool. But after that match failed to go ahead due to fans protests in and around Old Trafford, City can ensure they will finish top of the table once again at the Etihad Stadium against Chelsea next Saturday.
United fans want change
Former Manchester United captain Roy Keane claimed Sunday’s protests against the Glazer family were “just the start of it from United fans” as he urged the club’s owners to “sit up and take note”. The clash with Liverpool had to be postponed on safety grounds after supporters broke into Old Trafford and invaded the pitch.
Long-standing anger with the Glazers has increased in intensity since it
emerged United were one of the driving forces behind the breakaway European Super League, which collapsed within 48 hours due to huge, unrelenting pressure.
“The United fans have had enough and they’re doing it because they love the club,” Keane said on Sky Sports. “It’s not just as a result of what’s happened the last two weeks with the Super League…it’s been building for a number of years. They’ve come to the end and feel enough is enough.
“It’s a huge statement for the game to be called off. Some people won’t agree with it, but sometimes you have to put a marker down for people to take notice. This will go out all over the world and hopefully the owners of Manchester United will sit up and take note. These fans are deadly serious and this is just the start of it from United fans – I can guarantee you.”
Meanwhile, former United right-back Gary Neville said the Glazers should do “the honourable thing” and sell up.
Havertz finding his feet for Chelsea
Germany forward Kai Havertz finally looked the full £70million part for Chelsea, scoring both goals in the 2-0 victory over west London neighbours Fulham. The 21-year-old has struggled to find his niche during his first season at Stamford Bridge but he hit top form against the Cottagers.
Havertz’s natural languid style had jarred amid his protracted recovery from Covid-19 and staccato search for form. German manager Thomas Tuchel has elevated Havertz above all those previous tribulations however, and the 13-cap forward carried a regal air throughout this landmark performance.
Havertz’s movement off the ball, ability in possession – and his majestic finishing – had the German star in his ultimate pomp as Chelsea swatted aside Scott Parker’s game but limited Fulham team to boost the Blues in their quest for Champions League qualification.
Fulham’s failings keeping Magpies safe
Scott Parker’s team slipped nearer the relegation trap door with a fifth defeat in a winless run of six matches. The 17-game run between December and March which brought 10 draws and three wins and provided the Cottagers with real hope that they might pull off a great escape is nothing but a distant memory now after their recent form looks to have extinguished that optimism.
Fulham are nine points adrift of safety with four games left to play and even though Newcastle are not exactly pulling up any trees themselves, the Magpies look like they will be safe due to Fulham’s inability to win and apply any pressure. The potential all-or-nothing clash on the final day of the season between Fulham and Newcastle looks increasingly like there will be nothing riding on the game.
Spurs still in the race for the top four
Gareth Bale scored a stunning hat-trick as Tottenham kept themselves in the Champions League qualification race with a 4-0 win over Sheffield United. Bale claimed his first Spurs treble since 2012 with a trio of brilliant finishes to move his side into fifth, five points off Chelsea with four games left to play. Son Heung-min also scored a fine goal as Ryan Mason’s side ran riot against a Blades side whose relegation fate has already been sealed.
Bale was alarmingly under-used by former boss Jose Mourinho, even when he had regained peak condition, and playing with freedom in a front four with Harry Kane, Son and Dele Alli, Spurs were a constant threat and a far cry from the pragmatic style that dogged Portuguese’s era. It remains to be seen if it may have come too late to gatecrash the top four this season, but playing like this makes them a strong bet to finish in a Europa League spot.