For several reasons, Kevin de Bruyne and Mohamed Salah did not reach the peak of last season during the current campaign, but both showed their quality when it counted Sunday.
With Manchester City and Liverpool having faced difficult games and played the same afternoon for the last time in 2018-19, it was considered a potentially crucial day in the title race.
But De Bruyne scored two of City's three goals and put on a master class in midfield after winning a comfortable win over Crystal Palace, a couple of hours before Salah's spectacular shot cemented Liverpool's win over Chelsea to put his team back on top of the table.
The former Reds midfielder Danny Murphy explains how both players were so impressive, because they will play an important role in the title race and will give their judgment on who will end up on top.
& # 39; De Bruyne is unstoppable at his best & # 39;
Danny Murphy: "The injuries have ruined De Bruyne's season so far, which tells you how wonderful the City team is.
"Although they have been without someone for me who was the best midfielder of last season, and probably the best player in any full-time position, the fate of the title is still in their hands.
"But what was also very evident about Palace was the fact that, when De Bruyne plays his best, he is not far from being unstoppable.
"His ability to see a pass and open the teams is as good as any midfielder in the world, which he once again demonstrated with the way he created the City opening for Raheem Sterling.
"Obviously he also has a tenacious side, and is willing to take on the team, but it is the same for all the players in the City. What brings De Bruyne is that extra quality on the ball that some of the others don't have.
"In the situation in which City is now, chasing the quadruple, they will have some close games that could be decided in a single moment by someone who can be calm and see the most important passage.
"For them it is all about who can make the difference when it is perhaps the 0-0 to 10 minutes to play in an important game – and De Bruyne is that man.
"Whether it's a cross, a pass, a defense ball, a set-play or a long-range strike, you know it will deliver, it can do a lot and make it easy.
"Whatever city wins in the coming weeks, De Bruyne will play an important role because when they play, they are a better team.
"The good news for them is that not only will it be cool for the run-in, but it also seems to be returning to full fitness and its best form.
"Pep Guardiola only took him to the end of Tuesday's Champions League defeat by Tottenham, but I would be surprised if he wasn't in another starting lineup in the coming weeks."
"Salah's goal was a reminder of how good he is"
Danny Murphy: "You can't really compare Salah's campaign so far with De Bruyne's – he has played almost every game this season and has actually made a huge contribution to getting Liverpool where they are, even if its goal is down compared to last year.
"Because he wasn't so prolific, he took some unfair criticisms, but every time I watch him play, he still has that same hunger and sharpness, he still occupies opposition players and puts himself in wonderful positions.
"I like his humility when I hear him talk about how important it is that the team win games and trophies, rather than succeed with him.
"I think this says a lot about him, and that's why I was glad to see him score on Sunday, especially with such a wonderful strike.
"Even before his goal, his performance against Chelsea was as good as I saw him – right from the start, with his touch and his appetite.
"His goal was sensational, and obviously he rounded it up because he would always give more emphasis to his performance, but even if he hadn't scored, I would praise him.
"Because what Salah did last year was so extraordinary, it was a kind of inevitability that people would have questioned him if he hadn't repeated it.
"I don't see how anyone can say he is having a poor season, because he is the Premier League's top scorer along with Sergio Aguero's City, the fact that he has excellent chances to win the Golden Shoe still says it all.
"The defenders know him, and what he wants to do, better this season but they still can't stop him.
"The teams have actually decided to do it, but this only means that other players like Sadio Mane have had more freedom to contribute more than they did before.
"All this is positive, because it is important not to rely too much on a player, but Salah's goal on Sunday was a reminder of how good he is.
"He is a great player, a world-class talent who will score the biggest goals between now and the end of the season in the Premier League and in Europe."
& # 39; A slip now is all you need & # 39; – Who will win the title?
Danny Murphy: "All goals are important, but the Salah strike on Sunday took the roof of Anfield.
"Liverpool have scored a lot of important goals in the last few weeks – some lucky – but that was so good that it made the fans believe that they would win that game, as if they had seen the players and the crowd together.
"Whether it's a miraculous goal, a deflected goal or a goalkeeper's mistake that earns you points, nobody really cares once the game is won, but obviously a strike like that will give everyone a lift when the title is online.
"I don't think the Reds boss, Jurgen Klopp, his players or his fans will let themselves be dragged away, it was a great performance crowned with an incredible goal but their situation hasn't changed – the city is still so slipped somewhere .
|Compete for the Premier League title|
|Date||Liverpool matches||Date||Man City fixtures|
|April 21st||Cardiff (A)||April 20th||Tottenham (H)|
|April 24th||Manchester United (A)|
|April 26th||Huddersfield (H)||April 28th||Burnley (A)|
|May 5||Newcastle (A)||4 May||Leicester (H)|
|12 May||Wolves (H)||12 May||Brighton (A)|
"It is ironic, given the rivalry between Liverpool and Manchester United, which could be the City's trip to Old Trafford next week which decides the title race.
"I think Liverpool will win the last four games – I would be amazed if they didn't.
"This would mean that if the city slips, Liverpool will be champion.
"The city must play Tottenham first, but going to the Old Trafford will be a great test for them because it is a derby and United still has a lot to play.
"For everyone" we don't want Liverpool to win ", we hear from United fans, they still want to finish in the top four.
"And the players don't have the mentality of those fans anyway, the US team would like to win that game because when you go on the pitch you have your personal pride, pride for your family and the club you play for, and respect for your manager.
"In the case of United, they will also want to play the Champions League next year.
"Yes, the United States is injured and they are not playing well, but when the time comes, they will play in City under the lights at the Old Trafford and, if they win, they will have a great chance of making the top four.
"So obviously, they'll be fine for this, and it will be a great test for City to take three points from a game they will have to win.
"My instinct is that they won't do it, I just have the feeling that they will leave points against Spurs or United.
"Don't get me wrong, if the City goes to win all those games comfortably and plays brilliantly, it wouldn't surprise me because they are a good team, but their run-in is more difficult and they are more likely to slip.
"Whoever wins now, Liverpool and City both deserve great credit for their consistency and also for their style.
"The sad thing is that one of them has to finish second with a point count, attacking the power and the way of playing that would have won many championship titles over the years, but it will be nice to see and find out who ends up on top."
Danny Murphy was talking to Chris Bevan of BBC Sport.