Dom has signed off. Thanks for your questions and comments. We will leave you with the story of how Dani Alves reacted last night when Villarreal fans threw a banana on to the pitch as he took a corner for Barcelona:

Dani Alves has last laugh on racists as Barcelona beat Villarreal

The Barcelona defender Dani Alves showed a humorous response to racist abuse after eating a banana thrown at him during Barcelona's La Liga victory at Villarreal on Sunday.

The Brazilian full-back was preparing to take a corner at Villarreal's El Madrigal stadium when the piece of fruit landed on the pitch next to him. A nearby linesman and the home supporters were then surprised to see the Barça player peel open the banana and eat it while proceeding to take the corner.

"We have suffered this in Spain for some time," Alves said. "You have to take it with a dose of humour. We aren't going to change things easily. If you don't give it importance, they don't achieve their objective."

Updated

aman92 has a prediction:

Andy Carroll to have his greatest moment for LFC and score the winner against City at Etihad. Written in the stars.

Guardian staff

A Fabio Borini moment? Well, it would be quite a story...

Simon Atkinson asks:

Interesting to read that the City team watched the Liverpool v Chelsea match before their match. It is likely that the result boosted their confidence. Is that fair?

Guardian staff

They couldn't help but watch it as it was on on the big screen at Selhurst Park while they warmed up on the pitch. I'm sure it must have had an effect, yes. I think Pellegrini "attempted" to avoid watching it in great depth, but he knew what had happened come kick-off...

petsound asks:

Have Liverpool fans stopped singing "we're gonna win the league" yet? And does Rodgers failure to react to the obvious Mourinho gameplan suggest he is perhaps not a top, top manager after all?

Guardian staff

Isn't he a young manager still learning his trade? I don't think he's suggested he's the finished article just yet.

GhostWiper asks:

Not strictly title race related, but having seen Ashley Cole against Atlético and Liverpool in the last week and being reminded that he still exists, would we be bonkers not to take him to Brazil? (I think so). And what do you think of his beard? (I quite like it)

Guardian staff

I'd be amazed if he didn't go to the World Cup now. That ability to have slipped back into the team having hardly featured for two months, with only the occasional flash of rustiness against Atletico last week, has been remarkable. Luke Shaw is clearly England's future at left-back, but I'd take Cole to Brazil for what would be his final tournament. I'd also give him a new contract at Chelsea, mind, and I'm not entirely convinced as yet that he will be staying...

And the beard is quite something.

cavelier5 asks:

I know Roman Abramovic speaks to no one, but what do you reckon he's made of the last couple of Chelsea performances? Not exactly the attacking fantasy football he wanted is it?

Guardian staff

I think the message from on high when Mourinho expressed concern pre-match (after Atletico) over his selection at Anfield was very much: "Just pick a team to win at Liverpool." Which suggests to me that, at this stage of the season given the strains being placed on the squad, there is a certain pragmatism at Chelsea. That may change in future, clearly, but for now a win is a win...

Cryogenic asks:

If Liverpool don't win the league, does Tony Pulis get manager of the year?

Guardian staff

He has my vote.


(Even if I am biased.)

fowlerisgod23 asks:

Apart from the irony of Chelsea scoring both their goals in time added on, could Martin Atkinson not have been more proactive by booking one of the Chelsea time-wasters early in the match to set a precedent – probably Schwarzer as he was really pushing it at various stages, even the first minute?

Were you at the PFA awards last night? What was the mood like if so?

Guardian staff

Afraid I wasn't at the PFA awards, no... I thought Eden Hazard looked a bit startled in the limelight up on stage next to Suarez, mind. On the time-wasting, yes an earlier booking might have done the trick (while also presumably ensuring another, what, 30 seconds added to stoppage time in the process). The tactics were pretty clear. Disrupt Liverpool's rhythm by any means possible, whether that meant keeping hold of the ball or dawdling over set-plays. I'm presuming the ball-boy at Selhurst Park (a striker in one of the Palace youth teams, apparently) who received that lecture from Jose Mourinho re time wasting tactics is pretty confused by everything he saw at Anfield...

K10chopra asks:

Will Manchester City ever win the title by collecting more points than anyone else? Or are they going to win it based upon their goal difference?

Guardian staff

Ha. No one would be complaining if there's a finale to match the drama of two years ago, surely...

Omnislip asks:

Mourinho gets all the plaudits for the performance against Liverpool, but isn't it this style of play that has knocked them out of the title race with dropped points against Sunderland, Villa etc? The win at Anfield is all very well, but it surely can't make up for that!

Guardian staff

That's the issue he has to address, though. He has an excellent Plan B for contests where he feels his team will be up against it, either due to depleted personnel or the sheer vibrancy of the opponents (City at the Etihad, Liverpool at Anfield etc). The problem is Plan A, when rivals press or clutter up midfield, sit deep and defend stoutly. Eden Hazard is the closest thing to a creator who can unlock blanket defences, but he still needs inventive movement and a predatory striker with which to work. Those are the skill-sets Mourinho will be attempting to recruit this summer so that, next season, Plan A is considerably more persuasive.

Guardian staff

(My point being he didn't employ the same tactics against Villa, Palace, Sunderland etc, but this team struggles at time to take the initiative - or, rather, take its chances)

Updated

titainus asks:

If Manchester City do not win the title, is there any pressure on Pellegrini to be sacked?

Guardian staff

I think it would intensify pressure going into the autumn of next season's campaign, undoubtedly. City's is clearly the best squad, bolstered by £90m in new recruits last summer. They may be a world-class centre-half short in terms of their first XI, but they were more "complete" as a team than the other contenders: even with Mourinho back in charge, Chelsea felt like a work in progress; Arsenal's forward-line felt flimsy with Oezil their major arrival; no one really saw Liverpool coming in the manner they have, but they can still be vulnerable at the back; and United, while clearly underachieving to unforeseen levels, were always going to labour in some respect post Sir Alex ferguson... If Pellegrini walks away from the campaign with only the League Cup, then it's hard to see how that haul can be considered a "success".

MrMondypops asks:

If Liverpool don't win the league this season have they missed their chance for a number of years to come?

Guardian staff

No. But next season, with Champions League football thrown in, will pose a very different kind of challenge. And other teams may take a leaf out of Chelsea's book and employ similar tactics for visits to Anfield, which will demand Liverpool find other ways of imposing their style.

BusStopBoxer asks:

Hi Dominic

Do you agree that the notion of Man City being firm favourites now because of yesterday’s events is far-fetched? If I were a Liverpool supporter I would rather have the three-point lead than the game in hand with superior goal difference.

Guardian staff

I've rolled my eyes all season whenever Mourinho has spoken of the Premier League table being "false" because City boast so many games in hand, even as his own team's lead stood virtually at double figures. But now, with three games to go for City and two for the others, I'd agree with him. Everton is awkward, but winnable. Villa and West Ham are definitely winnable. City won at a breeze yesterday: it was such a comfortable afternoon's work with an early goal to settle the nerves and a magnificent second to secure the win. They could stroll through the second half giving some of their number a chance to regain some match fitness, while resting others. The occasion will have taken nothing out of them, and they can spend this week concentrating on Goodison Park. If they play to their potential in the next three games - with David Silva potentially back, and Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero approaching full fitness again - they could ease home. At present, I'd rather have the game in hand and City's squad, to be honest.

mike65ie writes:

Just as Rodgers tweaked his Swansalona formula with the signing of Sturridge to something more direct his buys his summer will no doubt allow further honing – a talented bastard in the middle of the park is probably the player he really needs most of all (plus two full backs)

Guardian staff

Indeed. Rodgers, privately perhaps, might concede this title challenge has come a little earlier than he'd anticipated in terms of the development of this Liverpool team. It's still a work in progress. What they have achieved this season has been remarkable considering where they were a year ago, and the manager has taken such huge strides himself there's nothing to suppose this is the limit of his team's potential.

Oebo26 asks:

Is there any truth to the rumours that Eden Hazard and Samuel Eto'o have been training for the past couple of days? Also what are your thoughts of the upcoming Atlético game?

Guardian staff

Mourinho was cagey about both players' chances last Friday, but I think that was largely for show. As far as I know they've been participating to a certain extent, but continue to be monitored. I'd be surprised if they weren't involved in some way on Wednesday: I'd envisage Eto'o starting the match and, if Hazard is still not fully recovered, Mourinho would want him as an option to throw on from the bench.

It'll be tense on Wednesday. I can't see Chelsea suddenly plucking an expansive game from the ether, so it will be attritional from the start. Those 0-0s away from home in first legs are deceptive. They're actually dangerous, particularly when confronting teams of the calibre of Atletico. The hope is the home players conjure a performance such as that against PSG (or Barcelona / Napoli etc, take your pick) and unsettle their opponents, but I've got a feeling it's going to be nerve shredding...

yougottabekiddinme asks:

Why is defending always seen as one dimensional yet attacking inevitably seems to have four dimensions?

Guardian staff

Why desperation? Surely it made sense for Chelsea to stay solid and remain in the contest for as long as possible, before maybe throwing on a bit more attacking bite (okay, Fernando Torres) in the latter stages? The alternative was to risk being blown away by Liverpool in the first half, as so many teams have been at Anfield this season. Given the players he had been denied, and the fixtures sandwiched around the trip to Anfield, Mourinho's approach surely made sense and gave his team the best chance of winning the game?

Guardian staff

Look what Tony Pulis has achieved at Palace merely be instilling discipline and organisation into the team, while also boasting pace to use on the counter.

Updated

GhostWiper asks:

Why did Brendan Rodgers go all out for the win yesterday when a draw would have been fine? Didn't he realise that he was playing right in to Mourinho's hands?

Guardian staff

I'm not sure that Rodgers team has it in them to sit back and allow their opponents to monopolise the ball. The manager's attacking principles are admirable, and they have been thrilling to watch all season and particularly over this recent run, but, yes, I think they can only really play one way: their natural way was to go for the jugular and, when Chelsea resisted, they rather ran out of ideas.

In truth they had to play to their strengths. Defensively, they are vulnerable. They have been all season, and those frailties have been masked by the weight of goals they've plundered at the other end. They could not have suffocated in the way Chelsea did. They simply do not have the same discipline across the back-line as Mourinho's team (and this was not even the Londoners' first-choice centre-half pairing).

Maybe it's something Liverpool have to develop. It might be against the manager's instincts, even if he claimed post-match that it's not hard to set up a team that way with 10 men behind the ball, but it might have made more sense on a one-off occasion such as this? As you say, secure a point and Liverpool would have maintained the initiative in the title race. Though, in saying that, Gerrard's mistake was not born of a gung-ho approach. It was just an error, a slip and lapse of concentration, which allowed Chelsea a sight of goal and left Liverpool chasing the game. Had it been 0-0 after 70 minutes then, given their position in the table, the onus would have been more on the visitors to take the initiative which, in turn, might have offered Liverpool more space to exploit. That one slip turned it all...

MrMondypops asks:

Why do pundits assume that Manchester City will win the league on goal difference when Liverpool have to play Alan Pardew's abject rabble on the final day, which has the possibility of breaking the Premier League record for biggest win and becoming the first time a team has concede double figures in the Premier League era?

Guardian staff

I take the point, and I did mention in copy this morning that Liverpool could run up cricket scores at Selhurst Park and against Newcastle to see their own goal difference go haywire. But the reality is City, if they beat Everton, Aston Villa and West Ham (good point above on the League Cup semi-final thrashings) will surely not be caught given they already boast an eight-goal advantage...

EyeNEye asks:

If Chelsea do the double, do you see Mourinho staying or going for the Manchester United gig?

Guardian staff

Given he's set upon adding firepower to this squad over the summer, I can't see him walking away (I take it there's an element of tongue in cheek in the link to United). Regardless, if Louis van Gaal takes over at Old Trafford, Mourinho will be galvanised by the thought of taking on his own managerial mentor in a domestic league. That will provide a fine subplot to next season in terms of the title race.

Mourinho does have an issue to address next year because, on one level of another, there are people within the hierarchy at Chelsea who would still seek to see their team go to the Etihad, Emirates, Anfield or Old Trafford and play the hosts off the park in scintillating, attacking fashion rather than with defensive discipline and fine counter-attacking. That has always been Abramovich's ambition, after all. Yesterday was an exceptional circumstance given Chelsea are in the midst of a Champions League semi-final tie, but there is considerable scope for this team and its style to develop. The manager recognises as much.

Easyone asks:

Do you see any of these teams realistically dropping points in their final fixtures. If so, where?

Guardian staff

Manchester City's trip to Everton is the most obvious in terms of a potential slip up, though Roberto Martinez's team (and squad) is starting to look a little weary and stretched. They weren't themselves at Southampton on Saturday, and their defence is not as stingy as it once was (understandably, I guess, given the personnel they're missing at present). Even so, if Arsenal win against Newcastle tonight then Everton simply have to beat City to have any chance of fourth, so you'd anticipate them to find a second wind and unsettle the visitors.

Beyond that, though, we're talking about a major upset if any of the three drop points. Crystal Palace might be awkward for Liverpool if they can keep matters tight through the initial stages (the game against City felt lost after four minutes once Palace were behind). Chelsea will have to break down Norwich and Cardiff in their two remaining fixtures, which is a different "challenge" to their rearguard in winning at Anfield, but recent form suggests neither of those clubs boast the defensive nous or discipline to hold out for long. They're far too vulnerable, even as they fight for their lives at the foot.

Then there's City's home games against Aston Villa and West Ham, which may be attritional but are clearly very winnable... No, Everton away it is. Though, in truth, this title race has been so ridiculous in terms of unexpected twists and turns, perhaps I'm taking a risk in assuming the elite will coast home in the other games...

Dominic is online and awaiting your questions

perezperez17 asks:

Hi Dom,

Are the Chelsea of the last few years the best reactive team of all time? I'm not stating they definitively are; I just can't think of another side in history who have been so good at setting up to play purely on the opposition's weaknesses. Part of me also thinks it's this philosophy which means Chelsea can't blow away the 'weaker' sides in the league as easily as City/Liverpool, when Chelsea are supposed to take the initiative and attack.

Also, Azpilicueta - Chelsea's player of the season? Sensational again yesterday and, in my opinion, more consistent than Hazard.

Guardian staff

Morning... That's not a bad shout, and says much about the strength and power Mourinho recruited at Stamford Bridge during his first spell in charge, qualities which were retained by Cech / Lampard / Drogba etc in beating Bayern Munich in the 2012 Champions League final and have been restated this season in their (away) matches against the other contenders. They have that ability to sit deep, suffocate and stifle the life out of opponents, as Liverpool discovered at Anfield yesterday. And yes, that might explain why they struggle at times when the onus is on them to take the initiative - their losses to Crystal Palace and Sunderland being prime recent examples. Mourinho's 'Plan B' is perfected. It's his 'Plan A', when his own players monopolise the ball and have to break down massed ranks of opponents, that still requires work (and tweaks in terms of personnel).

Azpilicueta has been a revelation. He was brought in last November as a stop gap, someone to fill in at left-back for a while with Ashley Cole still struggling with the rib injuries he'd sustained at Norwich and off the boil in terms of form. But, that game against Sunderland aside, the Spaniard has hardly put a foot wrong all season. Luke Shaw has been a revelation at Southampton and is clearly England's left-back for the future, but Azpilicueta has arguably been the most consistent player in that position this term and might have warranted inclusion in the PFA's team of the year. Despite being more naturally a right-back.

Dominic will be online from 11.15am

Good morning. Dominic will be here shortly, but in the meantime here is some of our reaction to the weekend's football:

Ten talking points from the weekend's Premier League action
Kalas unfazed at Anfield, Southampton have yet more talent of interest to Hodgson and where does Fellaini go from here?

Luis Suárez wins PFA player of the year award
Luis Suárez has won the PFA player of the year award ahead of Chelsea's Eden Hazard and Manchester City's Yaya Touré

Yaya Touré the key man as title pendulum swings away from Liverpool
Manchester City's imperious midfielder led the way again in what may prove the defining day in the Premier League title race

Enjoy the webchat