After an eventful Premier League weekend, Iain Macintosh runs the rule over another weekend in the latest edition of Heroes and Villains.
Wes Morgan is a bit like Superman. He's strong, reassuring and supportive, but if you get in any trouble, he smashes through the melee to rescue you. He did it against Southampton by scoring with a powerful header when the Saints were on top, and he did it against Manchester United on Sunday by rescuing a point for Leicester when their nerves seemed to be getting the better of them. There is no situation so dire that it cannot be remedied with his arrival. By Monday night, he could be a Premier League champion.
"Are you watching Real Madrid?" the Manchester City fans sang with tongues firmly placed in cheeks. If they were, they might fancy a cheeky bid for Sadio Mane. The Southampton trickster hit a 40-minute hat trick Sunday at the St. Mary's and humiliated the Champions League contenders with a ferocious display in a 4-2 win. With Liverpool losing, Ronald Koeman's side are back up to seventh place. But will Mane's performance encourage more avaricious advances from the bigger fish to this repeatedly ravaged football club?
For all Newcastle's self-inflicted problems, it's easy to forget they have fallen victim to a fair bit of bad luck too. It's hard enough to fight a relegation battle without your No. 1 goalkeeper, but to do so without your No. 2 goalkeeper as well is desperately unfortunate. Thankfully, their No. 3 goalkeeper, Karl Darlow, is proving a more than capable deputy's deputy. His fine penalty save might prove crucial in the final reckoning, but his performance throughout the game was exceptional too. Only Newcastle could try to get through a season with three good goalkeepers but only one left-back.
Sam Allardyce wasn't entirely sold on the idea of Jermain Defoe when he first took over at Sunderland. Quite understandably, he has always felt that a lone striker should stand approximately twice as tall and be carved out of granite. But without Defoe, Allardyce admitted Saturday, Sunderland would have already been relegated. His penalty was a little soft, admittedly, but it was struck home with admirable composure, given the implications of defeat. If Sunderland are to get out of this mess, he'll be a big reason for it.
Dmitri Payet is West Ham's undisputed player of the year, but in any other season it would surely be Mark Noble. Tenacious, determined and better than most people think, Noble is West Ham encapsulated. Two more goals against West Bromwich Albion sealed an excellent result at the Hawthorns. Scuppered by a string of dubious decisions in recent games, Slaven Bilic's side continue to battle away in search of a European place. It's probably too late for the Champions League now, but it would be a shame if they didn't at least land a Europa League place as a reward for their efforts.
Despite the criticism that met his remarks, there is a lot of truth in Louis van Gaal's assertion that Marouane Fellaini's elbow on Robert Huth was "a normal reaction." It is, after all, absolutely normal for Fellaini to elbow people. Quite what sort of things Van Gaal was referring to when he referenced "sex masochism" is a matter for a more broad-minded and less easily startled column than this. However, we can at least be sure about one thing: Fellaini will be getting a call from the FA later this week.
How quickly things change. Just when you thought Manchester City had settled themselves and were capable of finishing not just in the top three but also possibly even in second, they fall apart all over again. Manuel Pellegrini's men were battered by Southampton on Sunday, and there's a chance they might struggle to make the top four again. None of this will matter, of course, if they beat Real Madrid this week. But that's a very big "if" based on performances such as this. It was a good job that Kelechi Iheanacho turned up; hardly anyone else did.
It's a good thing Liverpool are still in the Europa League because there's no chance of them qualifying for Europe with their league performances. Jurgen Klopp made a host of changes from the team that lost to Villarreal on Thursday, but he still would have expected a better display than this, especially against a Swansea side that have looked so poor for so many weeks. His youngsters were slapped around with impunity in a 3-1 defeat by one of the league's weaker outfits, and he knew it.
You can understand the frustration at Arsenal. With all their advantages, they should be one of the biggest clubs in European football. In a season when Chelsea were dreadful, Liverpool and Manchester United were mediocre and Manchester City were substandard, the Gunners should have had the league tucked up by March. But there was something unseemly about the way the protestors publicly shamed Arsene Wenger on Saturday, and it seems the majority of Arsenal fans in attendance agreed. He is not just any manager: He is the most influential man in the club's history since Herbert Chapman. He deserves more respect than that.
Equally, Everton fans have every right to be frustrated this season. Man for man, are they much worse than Leicester City? West Ham? Southampton? If John Stones, Ross Barkley and Romelu Lukaku hit the open market tomorrow, they'd fetch £150 million among them. Martinez's job is rightfully at risk, but hiring a plane with which to advertise discontent? Which fan did that? Who has that sort of money rattling around in their pockets? In the old days, you'd write a stern letter to the local newspaper. Now we hire flying billboards. What a time to be alive.