It's been yet another incident-packed weekend of Premier League football. It was full of captivating drama at both ends of the table, a record-breaking scoreline and mountains of controversy at Stamford Bridge and yet more eye-catching strikes to savour, in particular at Upton Park. Here, we have chosen five talking points to discuss from the past two days of top-flight action.
Prolific Liverpool forward Luis Suarez was at it again against struggling Cardiff City on Saturday afternoon, with the Uruguay international recording his third hat-trick of what has been a quite remarkable campaign in front of goal for the 27-year-old as the Reds ran out 6-3 winners in South Wales.
As a result, El Pistolero has now netted an incredible 28 goals in just 25 league outings for the Merseysiders, equalling Robbie Fowler’s Premier League goalscoring record for the club in the process.
However, with a possible eight top-flight encounters still left to play in this campaign, Suarez now has every chance of creating history by beating both Alan Shearer (1995/96) and Cristiano Ronaldo’s (2007/08) Premier League record of 31 goals in a 38-game season.
And to think that the attacker actually missed the opening five league games of the campaign through suspension!
Luis Suarez on course to break Premier League goalscorer record: http://t.co/WgoLKk6fFn— This Is Anfield (@thisisanfield) March 23, 2014
While it was undoubtedly a blow to lose the services of frontman Robin van Persie for the next six weeks with a knee injury last week, one player Premier League champions Manchester United just cannot afford to be without for the season run-in is the Dutchman’s in-form strike partner, Wayne Rooney.
The England international’s first-half brace was enough to see off West Ham United at Upton Park on Saturday evening as the visitors maintained their faint hopes of finishing the campaign in the top four and, with it, seal qualification for the UEFA Champions League.
But not surprisingly, it was Rooney’s early opener that made all the headlines as the forward found the back of the net from just inside the Hammers half in a strike reminiscent of former United midfielder David Beckham’s famous lob against Wimbledon at Selhurst Park in 1996.
And as if by chance, Becks was actually in attendance in East London to give his own personal seal of approval, as Rooney moved up to third on United’s all-time scoring list by registering his 211th and 212th goals for the club.
ManUtd's top goalscorers: 249: Bobby Charlton 237: Denis Law 212: @WayneRooney 211: Jack Rowley 179: George Best, Dennis Viollet— ManUtd_Fact (@ManUtd_Fact) March 23, 2014
What a time for Arsenal to produce statistically their worst-ever performance under Arsene Wenger on the occasion of the Frenchman’s 1,000th game in charge of the North London club at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, with the 10-man visitors being crushed 6-0 by archrivals Chelsea.
The veteran coach may have previously seen his men lose by a six-goal margin once, when the Gunners lost 8-2 at Manchester United in August 2011, but he has never watched his team go down by six goals without reply before or go in at the break trailing 4-0 either.
Arsenal lose by six goals for just the second time in 1000 games under Arsene Wenger (2-8 vs Man Utd, 2011). pic.twitter.com/k5o19yuMHB— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) March 22, 2014
However, perhaps Wenger knew what was coming all along in the capital, as that is now 10 matches in all competitions without a win against a side managed by the man who recently labelled him a “specialist in failure,” nemesis Jose Mourinho.
And so after a poor recent run of just seven points taken out of a possible 18, Arsenal can now solely concentrate on trying to win their piece of silverware for nine years in the FA Cup and securing a top-four finish in the league, while at the same time putting to bed any dreams they may have harboured of winning the title.
What a difference it makes when Chelsea are able to make a fast start to a Premier League contest, something the Blues have regularly been unable to do of late and to their cost.
However, at home the West Londoners are so dominant that in recent weeks they have even been able to turn in a limp first-half display and still claim the points, as they did in their previous two matches at Stamford Bridge against both Everton and Tottenham Hotspur, although they were not so fortunate at Aston Villa last week.
On Saturday lunchtime, though, the home team were already 2-0 up against title rivals Arsenal after just seven minutes, while by half-time Chelsea had doubled their lead, with a little help from Kieran Gibbs’ red card of course, as manager Jose Mourinho made it 76 games unbeaten now at home in the league across his two spells in charge of the club.
But even that incredible statistic paled into insignificance when placed alongside that of their eventual 6-0 mauling of the Gunners which turned out to be the Blues’ biggest-ever victory against Arsenal, as well as the Happy One’s largest Premier League win.
After the fiasco in West London on Saturday lunchtime, when referee Andre Marriner ended up dismissing the wrong Arsenal player, surely it's now time, as Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho suggested in his post-match press conference, to start arming the fourth official with a TV monitor with which to adjudicate such tough decisions, as they do in American football?
As then we can avoid the ridiculous and frankly embarrassing situation that we found ourselves in at Stamford Bridge. Everybody in the ground, other than the three officials themselves, knew full well that a monumental blunder had just been committed.
Andre Marriner all at sea with the red card. Astonishing that sport at this level could produce such a farce. Wrong player dismissed.— Paul Hayward (@_PaulHayward) March 22, 2014
"The sending-off is big ammunition for people like me who think that one little screen in front of the fourth official is a big help against this kind of mistake,” said the Portuguese after the full-time whistle.
"It would be nice for the referee to have technology and for the players, too. It was [Alex Oxlade-]Chamberlain, not [Kieran] Gibbs. It is the kind of mistake no referee wants to make.”
And as if to make matters worse, the Gunners should not have even been reduced to 10 men in the first place, as according to FIFA law 12, which refers to fouls and misconduct, a player should only be red-carded when “preventing a goal being scored by deliberately handling the ball.”
However, in this specific case Chelsea playmaker Eden Hazard’s effort was clearly going wide of the goal before Oxlade-Chamberlain’s unnecessary intervention.