(Reuters) – The following are talking points from the weekend’s Premier League and FA Cup action:
MANE IS LIVERPOOL’S MAINMAN
It has been over 11 hours since Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah found the back of the net, last scoring in early February.
However, with teams focussed on closing Salah down, Sadio Mane has thrived on the opposite flank with 11 goals in his last 11 games in all competitions.
Liverpool’s 2-1 win over Fulham, where Mane opened the scoring, allowed Juergen Klopp’s side to move two points clear of Manchester City at the top of the Premier League.
Mane overtook compatriot Demba Ba as the Senegalese player with the most Premier League goals in a single season with his 17th of the campaign, equalling Salah’s tally for the season too.
SELECTIVEUSE OF VAR IN CUPQUESTIONED
The absence of Video Assistant Referees (VARs) at two of the four FA Cup quarter-final games raised questions about why the system was not being used competition wide after Manchester City benefited from marginal decisions at Swansea City.
Pep Guardiola’s side came back from two goals down at the Liberty Stadium to win 3-2 but the foul on Raheem Sterling that led to the penalty was debatable while Sergio Aguero scored an 88th-minute winner from an offside position.
The system was in place only at Premier League club stadiums hosting quarter-final fixtures, namely Watford and Wolverhampton Wanderers, while games at Swansea and Millwall did not use VAR.
“I’m sorry it was offside, I don’t understand why VAR is not used in this competition at this stage,” Guardiola said after the game.
Brighton and Hove Albion boss Chris Hughton also complained about the lack of VAR which could have potentially helped his side overcome Millwall in regulation time rather than in a penalty shootout.
“If I’m a team who has benefited from it in one game, I don’t think it’s fair on the teams that don’t benefit from it,” Hughton told reporters.
Just when it seemed like Maurizio Sarri had managed to get Chelsea’s season back on track following their League Cup final defeat by Manchester City, Sunday’s 2-0 loss at Everton dented their top four hopes.
Chelsea’s fourth away defeat in 2019 left Sarri’s side in sixth, three points behind fourth-placed Arsenal.
“At the moment this is our limit, I think,” Sarri told reporters. “It will be hard to reach the top four now but I would not say impossible.”
The win was also Everton’s first against a ‘top six’ club in the league this season.
WOLVESPOUNCE ON MANUNITED
Newly-promoted Wolverhampton Wanderers’ dream season got better as they dumped Manchester United out of the FA Cup to seal a semi-final date at Wembley for the first time in 21 years.
Wolves are seventh in the standings and added a lethargic United to their list of ‘top six’ scalps this season, having beaten Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur in the league and Liverpool in the Cup this season.
United’s caretaker boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer conceded it was his team’s “poorest” performance since he took charge as they fell to their second straight away defeat following a 2-0 defeat at Arsenal in the league.
HUDDERSFIELD IN 7-GOALTHRILLER
Before this weekend, Huddersfield Town had scored 15 goals in 30 league games. However, West Ham United were in for a shock when the visitors scored three in 48 minutes to take an unlikely 3-1 lead at the London Stadium.
With top scorers Felipe Anderson and Marko Arnautovic enduring goal droughts, second half substitute Javier Hernandez stepped up with two headed goals in the final six minutes to rescue Manuel Pellegrini’s side.
The result gives ninth-placed West Ham a glimmer of hope of finishing seventh and potentially qualifying for the Europa League.
(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge)