Liverpool travelled to Chelsea for a must-win game for both sides. Man City had played twice in recent days, scraping past an excellent Brentford and then beating Arsenal despite being played off the park for most of the match. An off-colour City getting 6 points and moving well clear of Chelsea and Liverpool.
And so, the two chasers met at Stamford Bridge knowing that a loss or draw almost certainly would eliminate them from the title race. For me this game was special for two main reasons: number one, it was played at a frenetic pace from start to finish. Such is the advancement in fitness training and nutrition in recent years, we now see games played at lightning speed over 90 minutes. Ten years ago, this pace would last for 20 minutes then relax into something more sedate.
And secondly, this was the beginning of a new era of standing in matches. Chelsea were given permission to pilot their "safe standing" modification to the stadium which allowed large sections of both supports behind the goals to stand for the whole game. I listened to a podcast after the game where the two podcasters raved about the atmosphere inside Stamford Bridge.
Welcome to modern football. Why anyone wants a return to 1970s "lump it and run" footy played on ploughed fields by men fuelled on beer, burgers and Embassy Regal is beyond me. Today's football players are highly tuned professional athletes playing on perfect pitches. The Sky pundit Alan Smith was told off for stepping on the Arsenal pitch before kick off! Another Sky pundit, Gary Neville, said that if he were 21 again, he wouldn't be good enough to play at the top of today's premiership.
It is just a pity that the highest quality football in English history isn't going to give us a close title run-in. City have dropped just 10 points in 21 games, if they drop another 10 points in the remaining 17 games Liverpool would have to win every single game to claim the title. I don't think that will happen. At Stamford Bridge their midfield just didn't have the legs and the bench didn't provide any answers, that age old Liverpool problem. So, while Pep has robbed us of a run-in for the ages, we can console ourselves that we are watching fantastic footy in the EPL and that the good atmospheres in the stadiums are only going to get better.