Chelsea took control of the battle to secure Champions League football next season as Timo Werner's goal earned a 1-0 make an impression on West Ham on Saturday, while Liverpool conceded a stoppage-time equaliser to draw 1-1 with Newcastle.
After weekly dominated by England's 'big six' aiming to guarantee top level European football every season with a breakaway Super League (ESL), Chelsea and Liverpool turned their attentions to trying to earn a top-four Premier League finish on the field.
Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham were the other four English clubs involved with proposals for the ESL, which collapsed within 48 hours of its launch after a furious backlash from governments, governing bodies, players and fans.
The Blues are actually in pole position for fourth as just a second Premier League goal in 22 games for Werner opened up a three-point advantage over the fifth-placed Hammers.
Thomas Tuchel blamed the distraction of huge protests outside Stamford Bridge on the night time the ESL proposals crumbled for a 0-0 draw against Brighton on Tuesday.
The German made six changes with one eye also on the first leg of his side's Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid on Tuesday.
However, Chelsea's superior strength comprehensive showed against an injury-hit West Ham without Michail Antonio, Declan Rice and Aaron Cresswell.
"We didn't talk one word about Super League from Tuesday on," said Tuchel. "I felt every person very concentrated and enjoying the give attention to just the overall game."
The result might have been completely different had Chelsea defender Cesar Azpilicueta not escaped strong claims for handball inside his own area as he deflected a shot wide midway through the first half.
Werner has didn't live up to his £50 million ($69 million) price tag since joining from RB Leipzig last summer.
However the German ended his two-month goal drought with a composed finish from Ben Chilwell's cross two minutes before half-time.
Following the break, though, Werner showed the profligacy before goal that has characterised his season as he somehow turned the rebound wide after Lukasz Fabianski parried Mason Mount's long-range effort.
The in-form Jesse Lingard came closest to an equaliser for the hosts as his looping effort drifted just wide.
However the Hammers' hopes were killed off 10 minutes from time when Fabian Balbuena was harshly sent off after a VAR review for his follow-through on Chilwell after clearing the ball.
"I thought it had been a rubbish decision," said West Ham boss David Moyes. "I believe this is a decision made by anyone who has never played the overall game."
- Liverpool don't 'deserve' Champions League -
Liverpool are now four points adrift of the top four after throwing out a late lead against Newcastle, leading manager Jurgen Klopp to state they don't deserve a location in the Champions League.
Mohamed Salah had opened the scoring after just 3 minutes, but Liverpool wasted a bunch of chances to increase their lead and paid in stoppage time.
The Reds even had a reprieve when Callum Wilson's equaliser was eliminated after a VAR review for handball, but nonetheless could not hold on as Joe Willock's deflected strike secured a essential point in the Magpies' bid for top-flight survival.
"In the event that you deserve it, you deserve it," said Klopp, echoing the critics of the ESL as a closed look for Europe's big clubs.
"I didn't see us today playing like we deserve Champions League next year. We've another five games and we'll see. We learn or we don't play Champions League, that's it."
A draw extended Newcastle's cushion over the bottom three to nine points.
But Brighton did little to assist their battle to beat the drop because they lost 1-0 at already-relegated Sheffield United to remain seven points free from Fulham in 18th.
A protest outside Anfield on Saturday was more muted compared to the ones before Chelsea and Arsenal's home matches in recent days, but several flags and banners were mounted on the gates around the bottom calling out the "greed" of the club's American owners Fenway Sports Group (FSG).
Despite not being doing his thing until Sunday away to Leeds, Manchester United fans also gathered outside Old Trafford on Saturday to take aim at the Glazer family, who own the Red Devils.