An otherwise pedestrian Saturday slate to the English Premier League in Week 16 was flavored with one of the biggest matchups of the season—and boy, were there fireworks.
Manchester City welcomed league-leading Arsenal to Etihad Stadium to see if the good fortune at home would continue. Five points clear heading into Week 16, the Gunners were in good shape, but their recent form in the last week (draw to Everton and Champions League loss to Napoli) left much to be desired.
Eyeing that spectacle of a game, Chelsea faced a Crystal Palace squad at home that is sputtering toward relegation. Thought to be a cupcake victory in the days prior, however, the Blues got all they could ask for and more.
Those were far from the only entertaining and evenly matched contests of the day. Let's take a look at every result and what it means moving forward.
|Home Team||Away Team|
|Manchester City - 6||Arsenal - 3|
|Cardiff City - 1||West Brom - 0|
|Chelsea - 2||Crystal Palace - 1|
|Everton - 4||Fulham - 1|
|Newcastle - 1||Southampton - 1|
|West Ham - 0||Sunderland - 0|
|Hull City - 0||Stoke City - 0|
Manchester City 6 - 3 Arsenal
This incredible result is likely seen as just another Manchester City home match for some—four, five, six goals at the Etihad is nothing new for Manuel Pellegrini's talented offense. But for those who have put plenty of stock into Arsenal's high-flying start, it's nothing short of a shocker.
Sergio Aguero got things started off in the 14th minute with the match's first goal, but the resilient Gunners fought back when Theo Walcott netted an equalizer in the 31st minute. At that point, it looked like we would see a (relatively) toned-down offensive match from both sides.
Nothing could be more wrong. Thanks to Alvaro Negredo continuing his solid form with goals before and after the half-time whistle, followed by a David Silva strike, City's offense had exploded, putting the game out of reach for the table leaders.
Walcott would add his second, and Per Mertesacker kicked in a penalty in stoppage time, but Manchester City did not let up off the gas by pouring in two more goals in match's final minutes.
Having given up just 11 goals entering the match, Arsenal's defense let up more than half of that in the span of 90 minutes. City's offense is among the best in the world at home, but that can't sit well in the minds of Gunners fans.
Despite the lackluster result, Arsenal will enjoy a two-point lead after the weekend. Chelsea's win has them two points adrift, while City sits three points back. Other contenders still await Sunday matches.
Cardiff City 1 - 0 West Bromwich Albion
Premier League Cinderellas Cardiff City are in the midst of their first season in England's marquee league, but you couldn't tell it by the way they've performed at home.
They continued that prominence with a favorable 1-0 victory over West Brom to pick up three crucial points thanks to a 65th-minute header from Peter Whittingham off a splendid cross from Craig Noone.
Both clubs had success getting the ball into the box—Cardiff notched 11 shots to West Brom's 12—but neither side could take control of possession enough to put on a flurry of chances. Whittingham's fateful and improbable goal was the only difference between a scoreless draw.
With the victory, Cardiff moves further away from the relegation bubble with 17 points as West Brom loses a few spots, at 15 points. Crystal Palace is currently in the final relegation slot with 13 points, so both of these clubs are still very much in the danger zone.
Chelsea 2 - 1 Crystal Palace
The Blues entered a favorable home match against a team in the relegation zone, eyeing a chance to potentially move two points shy of table-leaders Arsenal. What could go wrong?
Well, a lot nearly went wrong. Fernando Torres' 15th-minute goal looked to be the first of an onslaught, before Crystal Palace striker and former Arsenal dud Marouane Chamakh equalized in the 29th minute. A gasp fell over Stamford Bridge as Chelsea fans looked on with disbelief.
Thankfully for the Blues, a saving goal wasn't far away. Just six minutes later, Ramires finished off a feed from Eden Hazard from outside the box in a beautiful goal that proved to be all Chelsea needed to notch three points.
Although it wasn't a convincing win, Jose Mourinho's crew moved within two points of the EPL lead. They can't be too disappointed with that.
Everton 4 - 1 Fulham
Chelsea weren't the only squad hoping to continue their climb toward the EPL hierarchy against a relegation-worthy foe. But Everton was able to win a bit more convincingly with a lopsided victory over sputtering Fulham.
It wasn't convincing throughout much of it, however. An early Leon Osman goal for Everton was wiped out when Fulham star and former Manchester United standout Dimitar Berbatov converted from the penalty spot in the 67th minute to tie things up at one goal apiece.
Then began the onslaught of unlikely goalscorers. First, it was defender Seamus Coleman scoring his third of the season in the 73rd minute. Just 11 minutes later, midfielder Gareth Barry seemed to put things away before Kevin Mirallas added a stoppage-time score. Everton's 58 percent possession finally paid off in the final minutes.
With the win, Everton slides into the top four with 31 points, surpassing Liverpool. However, the Reds can knot it up with their Merseyside foes with a draw against Tottenham Sunday or surpass them with a win.
Newcastle United 1 - 1 Southampton
Looking to win their fourth straight at home and continue impressive form after beating Manchester United last week, Newcastle gave up a second-half equalizer to allow Southampton to pick up a valuable point on the road in a 1-1 draw.
Talented forward Yoan Gouffran netted his fifth goal of the season in the 27th minute to start and finish Newscastle's scoring, but it wasn't enough for the win. A slew of chances from popular goalscorer Lois Remy went wide as the home squad looked to put things away.
Southampton took advantage of Newcastle's aggression, holding a vast possession advantage (60 to 40) despite playing on the road. Although the Saints only took half as many shots (eight) as the Magpies (16), one of three shots on goal paid off when Jay Rodriguez netted an equalizer in the 65th minute.
Newcastle stay on the cusp of the top four with 27 points, currently sixth behind Liverpool and Everton. Southampton stay afloat with 24 points, sitting in eighth.
West Ham United 0 - 0 Sunderland
West Ham and Sunderland played Saturday with hopes of getting out of the league cellar fresh on each club's collective mind, and neither side was able to make any noise in a scoreless draw.
The Black Cats have been the unquestionable worst team in the EPL this season as the only squad with a single-digit point total (nine). That didn't stop them from being the aggressor on the road, holding 58 percent possession and ripping 19 shots (six on goal).
It didn't make a difference. Despite nine corner kicks, Sunderland were unable to score, which isn't such a surprise considering they've netted just 12 goals all season and lost 11 of their 16 games.
West Ham will get out with a point but still sit just one point away from the relegation zone and will be kicking themselves at the missed opportunity to get three points against one of the EPL's most lethargic clubs.
Hull City 0 - 0 Stoke City
Hull City and Stoke City were featured in the final match of Saturday's slate, but it didn't reward those who waited in anticipation for the day's schedule to end. It ended in the second scoreless draw of the afternoon.
On the road, the Stoke squad opted to hold possession with a 54 percent advantage, but it took four saves from Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic to keep the tie alive. A similar effort was required from Hull keeper Allan McGregor, who denied Peter Crouch two times to keep a point alive for his squad.
Hull and Stoke stay at 12th and 13th in the table, respectively, after the contest.
All stats and information courtesy of ESPN FC.