Nice one UEFA, but not far enough. We have some ideas to make the Europa League better as well as more views on Wayne Rooney, Vermaelen in midfield and...
Each club in the top five needs a new striker this summer, so Matt Stanger evaluates the different options. Lewandowski to United? Should Chelsea sign Gomez?
Forget how poor Norwich were and have been over the past six matches and forget Liverpool's record against teams in the top half (for a moment, at least); this was a match to enjoy in isolation, as the Reds put on a fantastic display of flowing, entertaining football packed with some brilliant goals.
From the first minute to the last, Liverpool were 'outstanding', 'magnificent' and any other adjective Brendan Rodgers can think of above 'okay'. It was a superb team performance and one that ensured Ian Ayre needn't feel quite so embarrassed by his outlandish claim last week that the Reds have the best balance in the league.
Indeed, with four different goalscorers (the fifth being an own goal by Ryan Bennett) and five different assist providers, Liverpool exhibited a harmony that hasn't always been evident this season. The return of Lucas has aided that aim - allowing Steven Gerrard to play with greater freedom - while the understanding between Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge (more on that here) typified the Reds' rhythm.
"I think it gives the opponent someone else to worry about. Suarez has been incredible for us but you now have a recognised goalscorer up beside him," said a suitably delighted Rodgers after his new strikeforce helped to shoot down Norwich. "The second goal was a wonderful demonstration of how good players can link together."
Given the balance of the team, it's interesting to analyse Liverpool's shape on Saturday, which was rather lopsided. Suarez slotted behind Sturridge in the centre (although he was buzzing across the front line as usual), while Stewart Downing cut in from the right and Jordan Henderson tucked in narrowly on the left. This meant that Glen Johnson was afforded the entire left side to make frequent marauding runs and the full-back readily involved himself in attack. It may be a good idea to stick with the system against Arsenal in two weeks' time considering Bacary Sagna's dreadful form - especially if Aaron Ramsey starts on the right.
That fixture on January 30, followed by a trip to Man City four days later, will provide a thorough test of Liverpool's momentum after recent strides have seen the Reds climb level on points with Arsenal and with a goal difference to rival that of Spurs. It may be possible to lose both matches and still stand a chance of snatching fourth - given the open nature of this year's race - but a victory in either game would offer a real confidence boost at a significant stage of the season.
Another point to consider is that after just six Premier League victories at Anfield in the whole of 2012, Liverpool finally look comfortable in front of their own fans with three wins, three clean sheets and 12 goals in the last three home fixtures. Things are gradually looking up.
Robin van Persie
Ten strikes in his last ten matches and the first player in Premier League history to score at least ten away goals in three successive seasons. Van Persie's form has ensured that Wayne Rooney's stop-start season hasn't hindered United.
I wrote at the beginning of December that Henderson's gradual improvement under Rodgers hints that the manager's methods are working, and the 22-year-old capped an impressive shift against Norwich with a superb goal. Rodgers reserved special praise for Henderson after the game, while Steven Gerrard claimed the midfielder deserves his place in the starting XI. It looks like Joe Allen has work to do.
The champions will no doubt have enjoyed seeing the gap at the top close by two points at the very end of a weekend in which they faced a straightforward task against Fulham.
David Silva's two excellent finishes on Saturday highlighted his recent upturn in form at a time when City need the playmaker to be at his best to compensate for Yaya Toure's absence. A central midfield partnership of Gareth Barry and Javi Garcia will be tested over the coming weeks and it's interesting to note that City had a lower pass completion rate and less possession than their opponents for only the second time at home this season (the other occasion being the 1-1 draw with Arsenal). That shouldn't be a concern against QPR in two weeks' time, but Roberto Mancini will need to consider the forthcoming home match against Liverpool, whose midfield has looked more balanced in recent weeks since the return of Lucas.
Aside from Silva's performance, the other encouraging sign for City on Saturday was Sergio Aguero's cameo, with the striker recovering sooner than expected from a torn hamstring. But despite the Argentine's return, City could still benefit from a foray into the transfer window this month to make up for their unsatisfactory summer spending. Daniele De Rossi was subbed at half time in Roma's 1-1 draw with Inter on Sunday and I've already made my feelings quite clear on his situation and City's need for extra quality.
An important home victory secured on the weekend Rafa Benitez tried Roberto Mancini's trick of claiming his team are out of the title race.
It's unlikely Chelsea can make up 11 points on United over the last 15 games, but thanks to Gary Cahill's brilliant tackle on Theo Walcott, the Blues at least gained a result for home fans to celebrate. Arsenal gave Chelsea plenty of encouragement in the first half, but Benitez will have been impressed by his team's quick transition from defence to attack and the win was a welcome boost before Wednesday's crucial League Cup clash with Swansea.
The Swans also prepared for Wednesday with an excellent display in their 3-1 win against Stoke. Jonathan de Guzman grabbed the headlines with an impressive brace, but Ben Davies deserves praise for a superb performance which included a well-taken goal and the most tackles, interceptions and dribbles for Swansea on a busy afternoon.
A vital victory keeps the Royals in groping distance of Aston Villa and with the best goal difference in the bottom four.
The striker scored with his first shot in English football to secure QPR an important point at West Ham. If he can continue in this vein, the Rs may stand a chance of closing the five-point gap to safety. They'll certainly need Remy to perform after inexplicably allowing Djibril Cisse to leave on loan half-way through a desperate relegation battle.
A point at Spurs, who had lost only once in their last 13 matches before Sunday (in all competitions), can be considered a good result, even though Clint Dempsey's late equaliser and Wayne Rooney's denied penalty claim will leave a bitter taste for Sir Alex Ferguson and his team.
United were stronger in the first half at White Hart Lane and their passing and movement was brilliant to watch, with quick interchanges between the front four and Michael Carrick threatening to open up Spurs on several occasions. It was through one such flowing move that Robin van Persie's opening goal arrived, with Shinji Kagawa providing a beautiful flick to Carrick in a quick transition to attack. There was a speed and fluency to the move that wouldn't have been possible if Antonio Valencia or the injured Ashley Young had started, and perhaps Wayne Rooney also, given the forward's rustiness.
United had a good shape before the break but as Spurs grew into the game in the second half, Ferguson lacked options on the bench to change proceedings. The manager could have aided his team's ball retention by introducing Anderson for Phil Jones, but what United really needed was a wide outlet to release the ball for quick counter-attacking. It was a strange decision not to include Nani in the squad, but perhaps the Portuguese was unfit following his return from injury against West Ham in midweek.
United may feel sick after being given a taste of their own medicine by Spurs and there was an inevitability about the hosts' deserved last-minute equaliser as they fired in ten shots without reply in the last 25 minutes. Andre Villas-Boas' side recorded 25 attempts to United's five overall and if Gareth Bale had chosen a different occasion to imitate Jermain Defoe, Spurs may even have ground out a hard-fought victory.
They were foiled by impressive performances from Rio Ferdinand, in particular, and Nemanja Vidic, while David De Gea made a string of excellent saves to deny Spurs an earlier goal that may have given them the momentum to find a winner. I wrote about De Gea's campaign in more depth here, and although the keeper's weak punch played a part in United conceding late on, he provided more positives than negatives on a challenging afternoon in poor conditions.
That is the way Ferguson is likely to view the game on the whole as United crept up to their second-highest points total at this stage since the start of the Premier League. There are plenty more battles to come this season, but for now they are leading the way in relentless fashion.
As Nick Miller wrote in 16 Conclusions, Spurs have done well to remain competitive while going through a transitional period and Sunday brought a deserved point against the league leaders. But despite looking fairly comfortable for fourth at this stage, they have shown few signs of improvement on the first half of last season, which saw Harry Redknapp's side standing eight points better off after 23 games.
In some ways Spurs highlight the general decline in quality in the Premier League this season, and Andre Villas-Boas has benefited from Arsenal's struggles to have a relatively easy ride thus far. Of course the manager deserves credit for his achievements up to this point but, as Redknapp found last year, the real test begins now.
Spurs' staying power in the race for a Champions League spot could be boosted by one or two signings this month, but at the moment the only move on the cards is to bring forward Lewis Holtby's arrival. The German international would help to fill the void left by Sandro in midfield (with Mousa Dembele possibly dropping into a deeper role) but considering Jermain Defoe has scored just once in his last eight Premier League appearances - and that Emmanuel Adebayor has only claimed two top-flight goals all season - a new striker should also be a priority.
It's unlikely that Daniel Levy will pursue a forward this month, however, and Villas-Boas will have to continue with Defoe in a lone role until Adebayor's return from the Africa Cup of Nations. Clint Dempsey can also help out if Defoe suffers an injury, but Fulham's star player last season has been a poor replacement for Rafael van der Vaart.
If it weren't for last season's dreadful January transfer window (in which Redknapp received plenty of criticism for transfer decisions made in conjunction with Levy) Spurs would surely have held on to third and secured a Champions League berth. Hopefully lessons have been learned as we enter the final ten days of the window.
Too young and overworked; it's no surprise Villa let a two-goal lead slip at West Brom in another fatiguing encounter before Tuesday's do-or-die League Cup semi final against Bradford. Paul Lambert desperately needs to add experience to his squad this month to save Villa from a relegation dogfight. Five points above last place with 15 games to go is a long way from safety.
Although Arsenal improved in the second half against Chelsea, it's much easier to perform when the pressure of going behind has been lifted. As with Liverpool's final half-hour against Manchester United last week, the Gunners' eventual effort shouldn't disguise an utterly abject start to the game and the team look in no shape to suddenly surge back into the top four.
Perhaps the most telling moment of the match - and Arsenal's decline on the whole - was Olivier Giroud's failure to convert a great chance immediately before Juan Mata put Chelsea ahead. It was a simple lesson on what you can get if you push the boat out for your top targets and that Mata's new contract (signed in December) is only on a par with Theo Walcott's new deal underlines the bad business that has dogged Arsenal in recent transfer windows.
I asked recently whether Walcott has finally developed to the standard required to play for Arsenal, or if Arsenal have dropped to the standard of Walcott and Sunday's display provided convincing evidence in favour of the latter, as the forward was by far the Gunners' biggest threat despite being anonymous in his previous four appearances. Arsenal have dropped to Walcott's infuriatingly inconsistent level, and worse, they now have to rely on the forward to give them any chance of grabbing fourth.
Sagna's cause may not have been helped by Walcott's advanced narrow role in recent weeks, but the right-back was so poor defensively against Chelsea that it's perhaps time for Carl Jenkinson to return to first-team duty.
The Potters' previously resilient defence is suddenly looking rather porous.
Newcastle and Alan Pardew
Three wins in 18 matches just isn't good enough and it's no surprise the fans vented their frustration in the 2-1 defeat to Reading. As I wrote in the New Year Winners and Losers, there should be serious doubts over whether Pardew can turn Newcastle's current slump around, although the impending arrival of Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa represents another good piece of business in the transfer market. At least Graham Carr's eight-year deal doesn't look quite so foolish.
Chris Hughton may be hoping to bring in a new striker this month, but the fact that his team have kept just one clean sheet in the last 11 fixtures suggests the defence should also be a pressing concern.
They can't rely on a repeat of last season's miraculous run. Similar to Arsenal, the only reason to believe Wigan can achieve their aims is because they have done it before.
And From The Championship...
There were some fantastic goals in the Premier League over the weekend, but none were better than this team effort for Watford in their 4-0 win over Huddersfield (Sorry Winty).
Matt Stanger - he's on the Twitter.