Gareth Bale leads Tottenham to Premier League win; Nicolas Pepe stars for Arsenal
The stars, both old and new, came out to play on Sunday in England.
While Manchester City is in the driver's seat for the English Premier League's title race — 12 points clear of rival Manchester United — the lucrative UEFA Champions League places awarded to the EPL's top four teams are still very much up for grabs.
Chelsea and Man United are two of the many clubs in the thick of that fight, and the two English giants went toe-to-toe in London with valuable points on the line. However, neither capitalized on the opportunity in a game that featured an early penalty controversy.
Here are the takeaways from Sunday's biggest Premier League matches.
Pepe powers Gunners
Arsenal bounced back from a loss to first-place Manchester City last week with a crucial away victory at Leicester, thanks to a pair of standout performances on the wings.
Things looked bleak for the Gunners after Youri Tielemans got an opener in the sixth minute, but Arsenal buckled down and turned the tide to make it 2-1 by halftime.
Pepe proved to be a handful and then some for the Foxes, as the 25-year-old's strong first half resulted in not only a yellow card for Leicester's Luke Thomas but also a substitution for the left back at the break.
The reward for Pepe's hard work came in the 52nd minute, when the Ivorian iced the game with a third goal for the Gunners.
While Pepe ran roughshod on the right, Willian garnered special acclaim on Arsenal's left, racking up two assists in the contest against a banged-up Leicester team.
The three points Sunday gave Arsenal 37 for the season, lifting the club to 10th place but still eight points away from securing Champions League play.
Bale is back?
Bale made his 155th Premier League appearance one to remember, breaking open the scoring against Burnley with a picture-perfect run and terrific touch off a Son Heung-min cross to find the back of the net in the second minute.
Bale then paved the way for Tottenham to double its lead in the 15th minute, pinging a deep pass to a streaking Harry Kane, who rifled home with his right foot for his 14th league goal of the season.
Tottenham kept the pressure coming, adding another just after the half-hour mark through Lucas Moura before Son found Bale again to put an exclamation point on the contest in the 55th minute.
On loan from Real Madrid, the 31-year-old Bale had made only eight appearances and a pair of starts in the EPL this season after enjoying six productive years with Spurs from 2007 to '13.
With his recent success with Spurs, it's fair to say Bale has worked his way back into the discussion when it comes to Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho's starting XI.
Chelsea, United split the check
Billed as Sunday's marquee matchup, Chelsea vs. United didn't quite live up to the hype.
Both sides seemed to set up with the idea of not losing the match, rather than going out and winning it.
Minus a handball incident that VAR ruled a non-penalty, the first half was largely lackluster.
The second half started with a bit more attacking verve from both sides, as Chelsea had to make a substitution for an apparently injured Callum Hudson-Odoi at the break.
Neither side's changes brought about a desirable result.
The match petered out and ended in a 0-0 draw and a point apiece, with United standing pat in second place and Chelsea remaining fifth in the table.
After the match, United's Luke Shaw spoke about the first-half penalty controversy, indicating that referee Stuart Atwell didn't want to call it a penalty because of the hullabaloo that would've caused.
Of course, if Atwell did say as much, expect that to be more of a talking point than the penalty kick would've been.
Liverpool ends skid
An emotional week for Liverpool closed with a bit of positivity, as the Reds ended a four-game losing streak in the EPL with a 2-0 win against Sheffield United.
The absence of starting goalkeeper Alisson, excused from the team after his father died in a drowning accident in Brazil, provided a somber backdrop as Liverpool rallied to lift not only the team's hopes but also those of their grieving teammate.
Midfielder Curtis Jones put Liverpool on the board in the second half, dedicating his goal to Alisson and his family.
Sheffield United goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale had a strong performance, keeping Liverpool's attack largely at arm's distance, but a second goal slipped into the Blades' net off a deflection from Kean Bryan.
With the win, Liverpool sits just one point behind Chelsea for fifth place and two behind West Ham United for the fourth and final Champions League spot.