Leicester remain atop the Premier League this weekend – but only just – after a thrilling Sunday that saw both Arsenal and Tottenham take big steps toward the title. Manchester City were left in a heap as Newcastle and Aston Villa racked up embarrassing losses. But the talking point of the weekend? Once again it was the refs, as two big calls were blown on Sunday. Here are the five things we learned this weekend in England. – Jamie Trecker
Arsenal finally win a must-win game
Despite being put in the hole due to a very dubious penalty, the misfiring Gunners finally got what may prove to be a signal win, courtesy of a man who missed ten months of soccer due to injury. Danny Welbeck’s late, late goal was just the kind of win Arsenal needed – and so rarely get. Can it spur the Gunners on to a title? The numbers are against them: they will play twice as many games as Leicester before the season ends. But this should be a confidence booster, something the Gunners desperately need.
Arsenal FC via Getty ImagesDavid Price
Aston Villa losing it all
Birmingham’s a miserable place to be this year. Birmingham City have been in turmoil for years, and Aston Villa – the original Football League team – is heading right down the tubes to join them. Sunday’s 6-0 capitulation to Liverpool, their worst home loss in the Premier League era, felt like an ending. Villa will not avoid relegation this year, and on the evidence, may enter the wilderness for many years to come. The team simply seems to have given up.
Getty ImagesMichael Steele
Manchester United need a change
Sunderland’s big win on the weekend gave the Black Cats a major lift in their relegation battle – but it also signaled just how poor Manchester United have become under Louis van Gaal. Unable to switch gears on the fly, United are a team that have never recovered their swagger, and the sterile tactics they have used over the past two months signal some deep rot at the club. United are unlikely to secure a place in the Champions League as it stands – so why not make the change everyone knows is inevitable now?
AFP/Getty ImagesOLI SCARFF
Tottenham seize the day
Spurs have been superb this season, playing far above their pedigree on paper. Sunday, they collected another big scalp, taking down Manchester City in impressive fashion and moving back into second place. Learning from Leicester, Spurs hounded City in the second half, cutting off their supply lines and forcing them into errors. When the mistake came, Erik Lamela pounced on it to give Spurs the winner, and leave City staring at a six-point gap. Can they ride their fine form to the title? Don’t bet against them just yet.
Getty ImagesAlex Livesey
Refs need help, badly
Mark Clattenburg and Martin Atkinson are not bad refs – Clattenburg, in particular, is probably England’s best. And yet, both men made dreadful calls on Sunday, each awarding a penalty kick that should not have been given. In the first instance, Jamie Vardy dove to win a spot kick that put Arsenal down 1-0. In the second, Raheem Sterling had the ball hit his back, yet was called for handling the ball in the box. These were major errors that could have been avoided had the refs been able to see a replay. Of course, right now they cannot -- and everyone else can, magnifying the errors. Bring in video assistance sooner than later.