Added-Time takes a look back at match-day 28 of the English Premier League season to get you caught up on all the important results, stories and moments. This week, Shinji Kagawa and Luis Suarez each scored hat tricks in their teams' respective blow-outs, Spurs put the hurt on Arsenal's Champions League hopes and QPR gave Harry Redknapp a birthday present that could kick-start the team out of the relegation zone.
STORIES OF THE WEEK
It has been a pretty rough year all around for Liverpool.
The one-time giants flirted with the relegation zone until October, nearly didn't qualify for the Europa League after a scare from Scottish side Hearts and were bounced from both the League and F.A. Cups in just the fourth round by Swansea City and third-tier Oldham Athletic respectively.
Suddenly, though, Liverpool has found its scoring touch.
After last week's 5-0 thrashing of Swansea City at Anfield, which allowed them to move ahead of the League Cup Champs, Liverpool again took their frustrations out on the opposition this weekend by punishing Wigan to the tune of 4-0.
The Reds got on the board early thanks to Stuart Downing's marker just two minutes into the match before Luis Suarez plain took over. He'd strike three more times to complete his hat trick before the match was even an hour old.
While no one will call Wigan world-beaters – they are currently fighting for their Premiership lives just above the relegation zone – the victory may be enough to turn the tide on Liverpool's season. The team is still within striking zone of a spot in the Europa League for 2013-14 and while few Liverpool fans will get particularly excited about that, it's a necessary step to keep the club competitive and relevant in Europe.
One more reason for the Reds' faithful to get excited is that with his Swansea hat trick, Suarez jumped the ailing Robin van Persie and took sole possession of first in the Golden Boot standings with 21 goals.
Individual awards are rarely enough to salvage a season, particularly one as miserable as the one Liverpool has endured, but it is worth noting that no Liverpool player has won the Golden Boot outright since the Premier League's inception in 1992, though Michael Owen did earn a share in 1998 and '99.
Manager Brendan Rodgers even went so far as to back the Uruguayan for even more hardware.
"He is clearly the player of the year – he is incredible," Rodgers told reporters after the match. "Forget his quality, it is his hunger and desire. Every time he comes on the pitch he produces a stunning performance."
Meanwhile, in the absence of Manchester United's high-profile off-season acquisition (the aforementioned van Persie), the Red Devils leaned on another summer addition to power their way past Norwich.
The match was much a snorer before first-half stoppage time when Kagawa buried a short pass from RVP to send United to the dressing rooms with a 1-0 lead.
Business really picked up, however, in the final 15 minutes of the match as Wayne Rooney found Kagawa twice more to help him complete his hat trick before burying a long-range strike of his own in the 90th.
United clearly has Champions League on its minds right now as it heads into a crucial return match against Real Madrid at Old Trafford on Tuesday. Sir Alex Ferguson was more concerned after the match with what Norwich didn't do than anything Rooney or Kagawa did, choosing to focus on David De Gea's clean sheet.
"It's vital, vital," Ferguson told The Guardian. "If I thought we could get a blank against Real on Tuesday, we'd go through. But I think both teams will score and I hope we score more than them."
Spurs, meanwhile opened up a chasm in the London cluster between third and fifth in the table by topping Arsenal 2-1.
Tottenham busted the North London derby in the 37th when Gareth Bale continued his torrid play and then again in the 39th when Aaron Lennon was let loose in alone on Wojciech Szczesny.
Per Mertesacker cut the deficit early in the second half, but the Ginners would not completely close the gap.
Arsenal, which entered the match within striking distance of both Chelsea and Spurs now sits five points out of the top four and seven back of third.
The win kept Spurs in high spirits and high confidence, something they feel will keep them in the Champions picture.
"We've definitely got more belief this year," Spurs defender Michael Lawson told The Guardian. "We didn't have much of the ball for the first 20 minutes against Arsenal but we showed grit and determination. And after we gave them the goal back so early in the second half, we showed the fighting spirit and commitment that you need to win matches."
RESULT OF THE WEEK
Happy birthday, Harry.
Queens Park Rangers gave manager Harry Redknapp a much-needed 66th birthday gift on Saturday with a 2-1 road win at St. Mary's.
Just the third victory of the year for QPR, the victory helped QPR close ground at the bottom of the ladder and bring the club closer to fulfilling Redknapp's prophecy of keeping the London side in the Premiership.
Loic Remy struck early for QPR putting the team ahead in the 15th with a well-hit ball from a sharp angle. A breakdown just before the half put the Saints level.
However, Park Ji-Sung would connect with Jay Bothroyd in the 77th on a nice cross-box pass to give QPR the three points.
With the result, QPR is now back in the thick of the relegation race, depaite remaining 20th in the table. With Reading, Wigan and Aston Villa all coming up on the losing end, a mere five points now separate 16th from 20th in the table.
With 10 matches still to play – including head-to-heads with the three teams they're chasing – it could be a dramatic spring for Redknapp's men.
Barclays Premier League returns to TSN Saturday, Mar. 16 as Manchester City hosts Everton at the Etihad Stadium.