Although Saturday's results did not create a significant shift in the English Premier League table, a few of the matches will have a large effect on the remainder of the season.
Arsenal entered Matchday 16 with a significant lead in the standings, so they will remain in first place for the moment. However, a 6-3 loss to Manchester City narrows the gap at the top of the table, providing an opportunity for others to gain ground.
Meanwhile, a few other battles between top clubs also have significance that will be felt throughout the league.
Here is an updated look at the table following the majority of Week 16, followed by a breakdown of the most important matches of the day.
|16||West Bromwich Albion||16||3||6||7||-5||15|
|17||West Ham United||16||3||5||8||-6||14|
|Cardiff City||1-0||West Bromwich Albion|
|West Ham United||0-0||Sunderland|
|Hull City||0-0||Stoke City|
via ESPN FC
Manchester City 6, Arsenal 3
This is not a score you usually see in this sport, but Manchester City have been playing at an unusual level at home this year. The club knows how to work in space, and it is simply deadly on the counterattack. When City are able to get the ball in the box, they can score at a very high rate.
That ability was seen early on with goals by Sergio Aguero and Alvaro Negredo to take a 2-1 lead into intermission. However, the squad really piled it on late, with Fernandinho, David Silva and Yaya Toure all scoring in the second half.
Arlo White of NBC Sports was simply amazed by the offensive effort:
I've commentated on 4 #MCFC games this season, they've scored 4, 3, 6 & 6. Incredible. Aguero injury is a concern. So is away form, but wow.— Arlo White (@arlowhite) December 14, 2013
As far as the injury to Aguero is concerned, manager Manuel Pellegrini seems to think it will be a long-term issue:
PELLEGRINI: “We think Aguero has a problem with his calf – the doctor will see tomorrow how many weeks he will be out." #mcfc— Manchester City FC (@MCFC) December 14, 2013
Still, there is enough depth to make City one of the best in the league, even without their top scorer.
Arsenal did not have much to be happy about in this match, with the exception of the return of Theo Walcott. The midfielder made his first start since September after missing time with an abdominal injury, and he scored two goals in the loss. His presence will help the Gunners move forward after this loss and remain a top contender for the EPL title.
Newcastle United 1, Southampton 1
Southampton have been one of the toughest defenses to score against this year, so Newcastle really had to work in this one. They were fortunately able to get onto the scoresheet early after a deflection off a set piece. Yoan Gouffran tapped the ball in to score his fifth goal of the year, which ranks second on the club behind Loic Remy.
However, Southampton would not go down without a fight. The squad did a good job of maintaining possession, but it did not turn that into too many opportunities near the net. That is, until Jay Rodriguez was able to score a goal in the 65th minute on a nice pass from Steven Davis, who helped create a fast break.
The two competitive sides continued to play great defense to prevent a game-winning goal, and the match ended in a draw. Of course, this was not without some excitement at the end, as noted by NBC Sports:
Newcastle and Southampton end even at 1-1, but what an ending! Ref inadvertently hit in the face, plus a sideline coaching scuffle.— NBC Sports (@NBCSports) December 14, 2013
Still, the important takeaway is what happened on the pitch between the players. These two clubs have a lot of talent and will remain in competition with the best in the league all season.
Chelsea 2, Crystal Palace 1
Considering this match took place at Stamford Bridge and featured one of the clubs attempting to avoid relegation this year, most expected Chelsea to cruise to victory. However, that was not the case on Saturday.
The Blues had a lot of chances throughout the match and could have easily left with four or five goals. However, poor finishing and a great effort by goalkeeper Julian Speroni kept this battle close.
Fernando Torres scored the game's opening goal in the 16th minute, but Marouane Chamakh fired back shortly after with the equalizer for Crystal Palace.
However, Ramires came through with an impressive score from outside the box six minutes later, as described by Fox Soccer Trax:
Hazard with the work on the left, finds Ramires with space top box left and the finish is superb— FOX Soccer Trax (@FOXSoccerTrax) December 14, 2013
Despite a number of chances for both sides, there were no more goals in the match and Chelsea were able to leave with a 2-1 victory.
Although they might not be thrilled with this narrow win, the Blues did enough to earn three points, which is big after Arsenal lost earlier in the day. With a lot of season remaining, they are clearly still one of the top contenders for a title.
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