Liverpool: Norwich finally succumbed to relegation, a fate its own manager and many others expected at the start of the English Premier League.
Fewer, though, would have predicted Liverpool losing its perfect home record against Burnley.
With two weeks remaining in the longest ever English season, issues at both ends of the standings are close to being finalized.
Certainly, the relegation picture looked a lot clearer on Saturday, with Norwich guaranteed to return to the second-tier Championship after one season after losing to West Ham 4-0 at home.
“From the first day after promotion, our chances to survive were perhaps 5%,” Norwich manager Daniel Farke said, “so in 19 out of 20 cases you will go down.”
That win for West Ham — achieved thanks to four goals by makeshift striker Michail Antonio — and Watford’s come-from-behind 2-1 victory over Newcastle pushed those two victorious teams six points clear of the relegation zone with three games left.
Bournemouth and Aston Villa, the teams in 18th and 19th place respectively, will need three wins from their remaining four matches to survive. A tough ask, considering neither has won since the resumption of the Premier League last month.
At the other end of the table, Liverpool has just records to chase after clinching a first league title in 30 years, and one of them fell by the wayside on Saturday.
The Reds will not become the first team in the Premier League era (since 1992) to win all of its home games in a single campaign, after drawing with Burnley 1-1. They won their previous 17 games at Anfield, and had just Chelsea left to play there.
Given Chelsea lost at Sheffield United 3-0 on Saturday in a surprisingly one-side match, Liverpool likely wouldn’t have been too perturbed.
The heavy defeat meant third-placed Chelsea could get overtaken by both Leicester and Manchester United in the coming days in the race for Champions League qualification.
Fifth place will still secure a place in next season’s Champions League if second-placed Manchester City fails in its bid to get a two-year European ban overturned in the courts. City will discover the result of its appeal Monday.
City won at Brighton 5-0 in the late game, with Raheem Sterling scoring a hat trick.
Players wore black armbands as games started with a minute’s silence in a tribute to England’s 1966 World Cup winner, Jack Charlton, who died on Friday aged 85.
Antonio knew after scoring his first goal that a big haul was on for him against Norwich.
“I could see that they were quite open, so it was a great opportunity,” he said after his first career hat trick.
And that’s been Norwich’s problem this season. The team has played attractive football but been too easy to score against, with its 67 goals conceded being the most in the league.
Norwich dropped 13 points behind 17th-placed Watford with just nine points still on offer.
But its players will take with them that memorable 3-2 win over Man City in September, one of only five victories in total.
“When we are 100%, we are competitive but when it’s 96 or 97% then it sometimes looks like men against boys,” Farke said.
“That’s what I expected.”
While Liverpool cannot complete a perfect home campaign, the champion has one big record to claim.
It needs to win its remaining three games — against Arsenal, Chelsea and Newcastle — to beat the record points haul by a team for a single season in the Premier League, held by Manchester City with its 100 from 2017-18.
Liverpool was heading for an 18th straight home win until Jay Rodriguez drove a low shot into the bottom corner in the 69th minute in a rare sight on goal for Burnley. Andrew Robertson had put the home side into the lead with a powerful header.
“It was a draw,” Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp said, “but I cannot deny it feels like we completely lost the game.”
Man City secured second place with another easy win that took its tally of goals to 23 in seven games.
Alongside Sterling’s hat trick, Gabriel Jesus and Bernardo Silva weighed in with goals at Brighton, which conceded three goals at home to Manchester United and Liverpool in its previous two home games.
Hakim Ziyech, Chelsea’s new signing from Ajax, arrived in London on Friday and took part in his first day’s training on Saturday though he won’t be available until the start of next season.
How Chelsea needed him against Sheffield United.
With Christian Pulisic having a quiet day, Chelsea failed to put up a fight against one of the surprise packages of this season and was overwhelmed at Bramall Lane.
David McGoldrick scored twice — for his first goals of the season, finally — and Oli McBurnie added the other.
Sheffield United moved above Wolverhampton into sixth place.