United restore five-point lead, but Young's 'dive' spoils win
Premier League talking point - from the restoration of King Kenny's crown to the return of Didier Drogba
WITH less than four weeks to go before the Premier League's final match day on Sunday 13 May, time is running out for those clubs chasing glory at the top or fighting for survival at the bottom. Manchester United's 4-0 victory over Aston Villa saw them keep a five-point lead at the top, despite Man City's 6-1 destruction of Norwich on Saturday. Wins for Swansea and West Brom meant they squeaked over the all important 40-point line at the expense of fellow relegation strugglers Blackburn and QPR. Plus, of course, there was FA Cup action, with Liverpool and Chelsea securing a return to Wembley for the final on 5 May.
Here's what the punters will be talking about:
YOUNG'S THEATRICS SPOIL UNITED ROMP
The 4-0 score line may seem decisive, but Manchester United's goal-fest begun with yet another weak Ashley Young penalty. The tricksy winger was criticised last week for going to ground after the slightest touch from QPR's Shaun Derry (the club's chief executive suggested Young could "partner Tom Daley at the Olympics"). Yesterday he did exactly the same, tumbling theatrically over Ciaran Clark's outstretched leg as the Villa defender clearly pulled out of the challenge. Alex Ferguson later admitted Young "overdid" what he called "a dramatic fall". Rooney dispatched the penalty and went on to grab another, with Nani and Welbeck chipping in to what became a United romp.
WATCH OUT BARCA: DROGBA IS BACK
Spurs fans may be lamenting Chelsea's 'ghost goal' that sealed Spurs' fate in yesterday's FA Cup semi-final, but the Blues faithful will be licking their lips at another prospect: the return to form of Didier Drogba. The Ivorian clattered in a stunning drive to kick-start Chelsea's 5-1 victory and bossed a normally reliable Tottenham defence, winning 'Man of the Match' in the process. With Torres failing to ignite Stamford Bridge this season, it looks likely Drogba will start against Barcelona on Wednesday – and on this form, even Champions League holders Barcelona will be apprehensive.
KING KENNY'S CROWN RESTORED
It's been a miserable couple of weeks for the Liverpool boss, with his position appearing increasingly vulnerable after the club's stuttering league form and changes at the top (director of football Damien Comolli was sacked last week). However a dramatic 2-1 Wembley victory over bitter rivals Everton on the eve of the Hillsborough disaster anniversary has turned Liverpool's season around. If they manage to defeat Chelsea next month, Liverpool will have won two of the four competitions they played in this year (having beaten Cardiff on penalties to lift the League Cup in February). Not bad for a manager who is supposedly "on the rocks".
TEVEZ HAT-TRICK HEALS CITY WOUNDS
It seems only yesterday that Carlos Tevez was brooding in Argentina after his monumental falling-out with Roberto Mancini over the striker's alleged refusal to come on in a Champions League game. Now all appears to be forgiven at the Etihad. Tevez inspired City to a 6-1 drubbing of Norwich with an impressive hat-trick: one swirling drive, one poacher's header, one rounding of the keeper. Mancini praised the Argentine's "fantastic" display and said the club would have scored more goals with Tevez this season. His contribution may just come too late, however: City are five points behind with four to play, with the Manchester derby on April 30 looking increasingly like a title decider.
BLACKBURN ALMOST DOWN AND OUT
With both teams losing their preceding four matches, Blackburn's clash with Premiership newbies Swansea was a must-win for Steve Kean's men. Unfortunately, they did the opposite, capitulating 3-0 to the Swans and looking every bit like a team already relegated. Can Blackburn stay up? They need a miracle now. Three points into the drop-zone with both teams above them having games in hand, Kean has four games left to inspire a run. Unfortunately, Chelsea and United are two of their four opponents. Having failed to get a point in their last five matches, the odds are now 1/4 that Blackburn will be playing Championship football next year.