Best of the weekend
Sky Sports casts an eye over this weekend's Premier League action and picks out some of the key highlights.
Last Updated: 03/03/14 10:02am
Player of the weekend
'Cold-blooded' was how Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho described Andre Schurrle after the Germany international's second-half hat-trick in Saturday's 3-1 win at rivals Fulham. The victory stretched the Blues' lead at the top of the table to four points over Liverpool and Arsenal with 10 games to go, although fourth-placed Manchester City - six points off the pace - have two games in hand. Before the west London derby, Mourinho had complained about the fact his side had little time to recover from the their midweek Champions League assignment at Galatasaray, a match in which Schurrle had been withdrawn midway through the second half. But after a lethargic opening period, Schurrle showed a deadly turn of pace for the first goal on 52 minutes, latching onto Eden Hazard's perfect pass and out-sprinting Dan Burn before slotting past Maarten Stekelenburg. Thirteen minutes later, the Hazard-Schurrle combination worked again from 12 yards out, and only three more minutes were needed before the German's first treble in English football was completed from a Fernando Torres pass, doubling his Premier League tally for the season. Schurrle showed his humility afterwards too, saying the praise should go to team-mate Hazard for his outstanding performance.
Goal of the weekend
Aston Villa's big Belgium striker has struggled of late to replicate his 2012/13 form, which saw him net 19 Premier League goals - only three players scored more. However, the 23-year-old is now looking to get back on the goal trail ahead of the World Cup and showed his class against Norwich on Sunday with two goals, taking his tally for the season to nine. His first, the equaliser in a 4-1 home win, was spectacular. Taking a raking pass from Villa skipper Ron Vlaar on his chest 15 yards from goal, Benteke acrobatically hooked the ball over his left shoulder, leaving marker Sebastien Bassong standing and goalkeeper John Ruddy grasping at thin air.
Performance of the weekend
Four wins in a row, and up to second in the table... the 'Red Machine' is rolling along ominously as the run-in looms into view, and Saturday Night Football pundit Jamie Redknapp described Liverpool's latest triumph - 3-0 at Southampton - as a "statement of intent". With his 24th goal of the season, Luis Suarez stretched his lead at the top of the Premier League scoring chart to six over team-mate Daniel Sturridge, and the Uruguayan is now out on his own in the assists table too with 10. Redknapp called the movement of the Reds strike duo as "unplayable" at St Mary's, and Brendan Rodgers can take a large slice of credit too - bringing on Raheem Sterling with almost an hour gone changed the game in his side's favour.
Moment of the weekend
"Totally unacceptable", "gross misconduct", "a new level for aggression" - those were the views of some of the Sky Sports pundits on an incident at the KC Stadium on Saturday that truly shocked English football. Hull midfielder David Meyler barged into Alan Pardew as he looked to retrieve the ball for a throw-in, and the Newcastle manager - no stranger to touchline altercations - squared up to the Republic of Ireland midfielder. Then, Pardew moved his head deliberately in the direction of the Irishman - there could be no buts about the butt. Referee Kevin Friend promptly sent Pardew to the stands; a £100,000 club fine and formal warning was handed down from the St James' Park boardroom within hours; and Magpies legend Alan Shearer said he would not be surprised to see Pardew resign or be sacked. With the Football Association looking into the matter, the Toon boss - who agreed an eight-year deal on Tyneside in September 2012 - is in a precarious position to say the least.
Moan of the weekend
There was an amusing contrast in opinions on Saturday at the Britannia Stadium, where Arsenal's title hopes were seriously damaged in a 1-0 defeat to Stoke. The game hinged on a 76th-minute penalty award from referee Mike Jones, who saw Laurent Koscielny handle the ball after a Jon Walters flick and pointed to the spot. The issue of intent came into question, with Arsene Wenger disputing the decision before saying: "Nobody knows any more what is handball and what is not handball." When told of the Gunners manager's take on events, Mark Hughes raised a wry grin and responded: "It's clearly hit his hand. I'm surprised that Arsenal think it isn't (a penalty)... then again, maybe I'm not!"
Controversy of the weekend
The major talking point at Goodison Park on Saturday was referee Jon Moss' assessment that Everton's Gareth Barry had not fouled Kevin Nolan just as the West Ham captain looked to be clean through on goal in the first half. When Carlton Cole flicked on a ball to Nolan, exploiting a space between the Toffees centre-back pairing of Sylvain Distin and John Stones, Barry appeared to have both arms around Nolan's midriff before he went to ground on the edge of the area, although Moss waved play on. A red card at that point may have changed the outcome of the match, especially with the Hammers having won their last four and with four clean sheets in their last five games. Manager Sam Allardyce was, understandably, hugely aggrieved at the decision.
Miss of the weekend
Half an hour gone at White Hart Lane on Sunday, and Cardiff are in the hunt for a swift equaliser after Roberto Soldado's opener for Tottenham. Michael Dawson concedes a corner and Craig Bellamy delivers a teasing cross which former Spurs defender Steven Caulker looks certain to nod home from directly underneath the crossbar. Instead, he manages to head against the woodwork from point-blank range - and the Bluebirds are beaten 1-0 to remain three points adrift of safety.
Comeback of the weekend
Glenn Murray spoke to Sky Sports News' Weekend Warm-Up programme last Friday about his delight at finally shaking off the cruciate ligament injury that has sidelined him since May. Having been a substitute in the 3-1 home win over West Brom, he then started the 2-0 home defeat by Manchester United but was withdrawn in the second half. At Swansea on Sunday, he was again asked by Tony Pulis to make an impact from the bench. And having been thoroughly outplayed by their hosts in the first half, in which Garry Monk's men enjoyed 83% possession, Murray replaced Tom Ince for the second period. He ended up winning a penalty off Chico Flores and stuck it away himself for his first Premier League goal, and in the process claiming what could be a crucial point in the battle to beat the drop.