As the longest-ever English soccer season rumbles on, some unusual things are starting to happen in the Premier League.
Take Wednesday, for example.
Virgil van Dijk made a mistake for Liverpool.
Manchester City got out-shot at home by a relegation candidate.
Jose Mourinho finally won a league game at St James’ Park.
Maybe that’s what playing in empty, soulless stadiums in July does to players.
A 12-month season certainly looked like it was starting to catch up with some in the EPL, including already-crowned champions Liverpool.
A 2-1 loss at Arsenal meant another potential record slipped out of reach for Juergen Klopp’s team, who can no longer beat Manchester City’s all-time leading points haul for a single top-flight season of 100.
Liverpool have 93 points with two matches remaining – against Chelsea and Newcastle – so can’t even get to a century, a milestone which appeared a certainty when the league restarted last month.
The goals conceded were embarrassing on Liverpool’s part, with a sloppy back pass by the usually flawless Van Dijk gifting Alexandre Lacazette an equaliser before goalkeeper Alisson’s poor pass resulted in Reiss Nelson scoring the winner. Sadio Mane had put Liverpool ahead.
The loss came a few days after Liverpool were held 1-1 at home by Burnley to end their bid to go a full league season with a 100 per cent home record.
But the feeling will be no less sweet for Liverpool’s players when they lift the trophy in the iconic Kop stand after the match against Chelsea at Anfield next week – their first title in 30 years.
Man City, 18 points behind Liverpool in second place, also have little to play for in the league, and it showed against Bournemouth.
City fielded a weakened team ahead of an FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal on Saturday and were outplayed by Bournemouth, who had 14 shots to City’s eight.
First-half goals by David Silva and Gabriel Jesus still were enough for City to claim a win, though Bournemouth had great chances to equalise even after David Brooks pulled one back in the 88th.
Bournemouth remained three points from safety with two games remaining, having played a match more than the two teams above them, West Ham and Watford.
At the eighth attempt, Jose Mourinho finally has a league victory away to Newcastle.
The Tottenham manager saw his team win 3-1 to move into seventh place and continue their push for Europa League qualification.
Harry Kane scored twice – taking the England captain past 200 goals in his club career – to add to the opener by Son Heung-min.
A finish in the top four seems beyond Wolverhampton, who conceded a goal from a penalty in the sixth minute of stoppage time to draw 1-1 at Burnley, following Raul Jimenez’s opening goal.
Chris Wood slammed home the spot kick to leave sixth-place Wolves three points behind both Leicester and Manchester United, having played an extra game.