One of the closest English Premier League title races in years got even tighter as just seven points divided the top five teams by the end of a weather-ravaged Wednesday night.
Chelsea lead the pack by a point after their draw at West Bromwich Albion the day before, with Arsenal failing to leapfrog their London rivals after a goalless match against Manchester United at the Emirates.
The draw means United’s chances of qualifying for the Champions League next year took a huge blow, with Steven Gerrard’s late penalty for Liverpool giving them a 3-2 win over Fulham that cements fourth place.
The Anfield side are now 11 points ahead of United, just four points behind Chelsea and one behind third-placed Manchester City, whose home match against Sunderland was postponed due to dangerous winds. Everton’s game against Crystal Palace suffered the same fate.
Tuesday February 11
Cardiff 0-0 Aston Villa
Wednesday February 12
Arsenal 0-0 Man Utd
Coming into the picture are Tottenham Hotspur in fifth, seven points off the top after a 4-0 away win over Newcastle United.
Liverpool’s win at Craven Cottage was done the hard way after Kolo Toure put through his own net to give Fulham the lead after eight minutes.
Daniel Sturridge scored in his eighth match in a row to make it 1-1 at half time before Kieran Richardson put the home side back in front.
Liverpool looked to have salvaged a point through Coutinho’s goal before a foul in the box on Sturridge allowed Gerrard to win it in injury time from the penalty spot.
“Steven Gerrard is peerless in situations like that. He showed brilliant composure,” Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers told the BBC.
“We conceded two goals, that has been unlike us for a while. We need to eradicate the individual errors. Thankfully we have goals in the team.”
That was perhaps and understatement from Rodgers, having seen his side score five in their previous outing against Arsenal – who on Wednesday needed to restore pride and position with the visit of a wounded United team.
But the match at the Emirates proved of little use to either club, with Robin van Persie having the best chance early on and seeing a late header pushed onto the bar by Wojciech Szczesny, after Arsenal had dominated both the possession and shot-count.
For United it was a marked contrast from their last visit in April, when they were welcomed onto the pitch by Arsenal having won the title with two weeks to spare under departing manager Alex Ferguson.
Now his successor David Moyes, with a bleak first six months already behind him, has little to cheer him going into the last 12 games.
Nothing short of a legendary push up the league would see United claim a Champions League place that was once almost rightfully theirs.
Otherwise, their one hope would be to win the trophy in Lisbon on May 24.