A Salomon Kalou (pictured) hat trick set the pace as Chelsea scored seven goals against hapless Stoke City at Stamford Bridge, including three in the final ten minutes. The 7-0 destruction of the Potters bumps the Blues back to the top position in the Premier League after being surpassed on Saturday by Manchester United. The lead is just a single point but the huge offensive output against Stoke creates an eight-goal advantage in differential, should Chelsea and United end up on the same number of points come season’s end. Stoke drop down to thirteenth place.
An 83rd minute penalty from James Milner was all that separated the biggest clubs in Birmingham on Sunday as Aston Villa came away victorious, 1-0 at Villa Park over Birmingham City. The Second City Derby lived up to its reputation with five yellow cards awarded, four of which were shown to Brum. Villa are now even on points with fourth place Tottenham, but have played an additional game. They are also seven points clear of Everton’s eighth position, meaning there is almost no chance of falling out of at the very least a Europa League qualification. Brum sit tight in ninth place and will try to finish out the season without getting dragged down by all the financial issues surrounding the club.
Liverpool also made themselves a part of the fourth place discussion with a resounding 4-0 win over relegated Burnley at Turf Moor. Steven Gerrard, Maxi Rodríguez and Ryan Babel combined for the four goals and moved the Reds to seventh place. Liverpool are just two points shy of Spurs and Villa and only a point behind Manchester City in what has become an extremely crowded group just short of the Champions League qualification spots. Burnley mathematically confirmed their exit from the Premier League, now seven points below even seventeenth place. The Clarets certainly have some results to remember fondly but this season has largely been a disaster.
And Everton eked out a 2-1 win over Fulham compliments of Mikel Arteta’s extra-time penalty at Goodison Park. A Chris Smalling own-goal in the 50th minute had cancelled out Erik Nevland’s first half opener for Fulham. But it was the last minute penalty that completed the Toffees’ comeback and kept their feint European hopes alive. The Cottagers will not be back in Europe, despite their fantastic success there this season, and drop to thirteenth place in the Premiership.