After the inevitable fallout following Sunday’s controversies, it is easy to forget that there was actually a host of high quality Premier League football played over the course of the weekend. English football fans were treated to a full round of fixtures, giving us plenty to ponder ahead of the run-in.
And what a run-in it promises to be. Granted, the title race is done and dusted, but the race for the survival and the fight for the top four looks tantalisingly close. As a result, we some pretty amazing bits of play around this point in the season.
Here are the top three plays from this weekend's Premier League games:
Luis Suarez Assist
In what was undoubtedly one his better moments of the weekend, Luis Suarez produced a bit of magic to get Liverpool on level terms against Chelsea.
When the ball dropped to the Uruguayan on the edge of the penalty area, there looked to be little on. But this has never stopped Suarez in the past, and he produced a sublime, first-time pass in behind the Chelsea back-line. His strike partner, Daniel Sturridge, was on the move and adjusted his feet expertly to side-foot the ball beyond Petr Cech.
Sturridge returned the favor late on in the game, whipping in a devilish cross for Suarez to head home Liverpool’s second equalizer deep into added time.
Gareth Bale Show
For 70 minutes at White Hart Lane on Sunday, the game seemed to be passing Gareth Bale by. He looked off the pace and well short of match fitness. Manchester City were dominating, and Spurs' hopes of a top-four finish looked all but lost.
But the very best players influence the big games when it matters. So it was fitting that Bale, a man who has turned into one of Europe’s top performers this season, turned the game on its head with a devastating seven-minute spell.
First, he was the provider. The Welshman produced a marvelous teasing cross to bamboozle the City defense; Clint Dempsey stole in at the back post and put Tottenham on level terms.
After Spurs went 2-1 up through Jermain Defoe, Bale capped things off in style. Tom Huddlestone threaded a marvelous pass into the path of the Welshman’s marauding run. He cut inside before nonchalantly dinking the ball over Joe Hart and into the net.
White Hart Lane, as you would expect, went crazy. With Bale back, Tottenham will really fancy their chances of securing that fourth-place finish.
Van Persie Volley
It was always going to be difficult for Aston Villa. Going to Old Trafford is a tough enough task as it is, but with the title in sight for United, there was only ever really going to be one outcome.
To compound things even further, the Premier League's leading marksman is clearly back in form. Robin van Persie emphasized his claim to be the Player of the Year with a blistering first half hat-trick. The pick of the bunch was undoubtedly his second.
Some clever movement and an arcing run from the Dutchman left the Villa back-four for dead, allowing Wayne Rooney to play a raking ball perfectly into the Dutchman’s stride. The rest was all about van Persie.
He showcased his magnificent technical abilities once again, hitting the ball first time coming over his shoulder, on the volley. Brad Guzan was rooted in the Villa goal as the ball exploded off van Persie’s foot and into the top corner. An absolutely magnificent strike, and a likely contender for goal of the season.
What a way to cap off a brilliant debut season for Robin van Persie.
All GIFs courtesy of Feint Zebra
What plays impressed you this weekend? Let me know in the comments section or on Twitter @MattJFootball