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Leicester City keep on coming as Harry Kane stars and Man City crumble

Iain Macintosh runs the rule over another weekend in the latest edition of Heroes and Villains.


Leicester City seem to resemble Robert Patrick T-1000. You can hit them with everything you've got and they won't stop. You can run them over with an oil tanker and then blow them up, and they keep coming. Short of luring the Foxes into a steel mill and plunging them into a vat of molten metal, we're pretty much out of suggestions. Three more points, courtesy of another hard-fought victory, keeps them five points clear at the top of the table. This really hasn't stopped being weird yet.

Remember all those people who said Harry Kane was a fraud and would be exploited this season? Where are they now? It took Kane 44 seconds to open the scoring against Bournemouth and another goal followed before half-time, providing a calming cushion for what might have otherwise been a tense afternoon. No wonder there's talk of Manchester United readying a bid for his services. Mind you, given that Spurs are a young, balanced side pushing for the title and United really aren't, perhaps Kane would do well to stay put.

But let's not diminish what Manchester United did this weekend. Just when you think that Louis van Gaal is finished, he lays down an ace and the story moves on. Once again, he had Marcus Rashford to thank, scorer of a fine first-half goal. With the papers full of stories about Jose Mourinho and a pre-contract agreement, Van Gaal needed a result like this. Just look at that league table. All of a sudden, a Champions League place doesn't seem as unlikely as it did a few weeks ago.

Manchester United have found their form of late, but will it be enough for Louis van Gaal to keep his job?

Arsenal had to stand up on Saturday; they had to offer some sort of response to recent results. And they did exactly that, beating Everton with a degree of comfort at Goodison Park. There was something in the swagger with which they took their first goal that reminded you of the quality in this team. It's not too late for the Gunners to rejoin the title race. Arsene Wenger revealed afterwards that it hurts when his players are written off as mentally weak and results like this certainly constitute some sort of counter-argument. Mind you, if they were as mentally strong as he thinks, they wouldn't be 11 points behind Leicester.

Hold the phone. Is something very strange happening in Norfolk? The team with one of the worst defensive records in the league has suddenly learned how to defend. Norwich City has recorded back-to-back clean sheets and they are out of the drop zone, thanks to a win away at West Bromwich Albion. Throughout a miserable quarter, manager Alex Neil has always been adamant that his team will play their way out of trouble. With four points from two games, it's just possible that he might be right.


Manchester City are an absolute shambles. They seem to have infinite money, and just look at the state of that defence. How can a team with infinite money still be reliant on Martin Demichelis, whose race is clearly run? How can a team with infinite money fail to string two wins together for the better part of six months? This title should be theirs, they should be out of sight. Instead, they're facing a real battle just to secure a Champions League play-off place. Pep Guardiola must be wondering what he has let himself in for.

Sam Allardyce's face told its own story. And it was not a happy story. In fact, if you had to assign a story for Sam Allardyce's face, that story would probably be "The Book Thief" or "Little Women." For the second game in a row, a late goal has cost Sunderland two points. And Allardyce knew that his team invited their own downfall by dropping too deep, too early. Sunderland are so much better than they were, probably better than they've been for several years, but if they don't stop messing up, they'll get relegated anyway.

Liverpool fans were furious at Martin Skrtel's dubious display against Southampton on Sunday.

Speaking of throwing things away, what on earth were Liverpool playing at on the South Coast? And what, precisely, is the point of Martin Skrtel? A quick two-goal lead appeared to signal the second big victory at Southampton in Jurgen Klopp's tenure. Alas, it really didn't work out like that. With points being dropped all over the top of the table, Sunday was a perfect opportunity for Liverpool to close the gap and even make a late push for a Champions League place. Klopp will surely be occupied this summer, and his first priority has to be improving that defence.

We banned Aston Villa from Heroes and Villains because their perpetual incompetence was getting boring. How long before we have to do the same to Crystal Palace? They are still without a win in 2016 and are sinking fast. Alan Pardew doesn't seem able to turn this run of form around and there are some very difficult fixtures approaching. It's West Ham away next week, and the Hammers will be in no mood to do their ex-manager any favours. Are they going to get sucked into this? It certainly looks that way.

From a fine victory in the FA Cup to a performance so disappointing that even Roberto Martinez felt moved to issue criticism. This has been a very frustrating season for Everton and you wonder how long patience will hold, especially now that there is a new hand on the wheel at Goodison Park. The atmosphere is starting to turn toxic and if the new man, Farhad Moshiri, wants to make himself popular, there's a very easy way to do it. If ever there was a good time to win the FA Cup, it's now.

Iain Macintosh covers the Premier League and Champions League for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @IainMacintosh.


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