Barclays Premier League Table Week 18: How Saturday's Action Impacted Standings

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistDecember 21, 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 15:  Luis Suarez of Liverpool celebrates scoring their fourth goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool at White Hart Lane on December 15, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
Paul Gilham/Getty Images

The best thing about a closely contested table like the Premier League's heading into Matchday 18 is how it makes every match more important. Whether it's the title chase, European race or avoiding a relegation battle, each club already has a clear motivation.

As for the biggest storyline to emerge from Saturday's action, it's undoubtedly Liverpool's move to the top of the table with a win over Cardiff. It may not last with a clash between Arsenal and Chelsea looming, but the Reds lead the way at least for the time being.

Knowing that, let's check out how the table looks after the first batch of matches for Week 17. It's followed by a list of results and a review of the matches.

Pre-Week 18 Premier League Table
RankClubGPWDLGDPTS
1Liverpool1711332336
2Manchester City1711243135
3Arsenal1611231635
4Chelsea1610331433
5Everton168711231
6Newcastle17935230
7Manchester United17845828
8Tottenham16835-627
9Southampton16664524
10Stoke17566-421
11Swansea16556120
12Hull17557-620
13Aston Villa17548-619
14Norwich17548-1419
15Cardiff17458-1217
16West Brom17377-516
17West Ham17359-814
18Crystal Palace174112-1613
19Fulham174112-1713
20Sunderland172411-1810
ESPNFC

Saturday's results:

Barclays Premier League Results
DateHome ClubRoad ClubScore
Dec. 21LiverpoolCardiff3-1
Dec. 21Crystal PalaceNewcastle0-3
Dec. 21FulhamManchester City2-4
Dec. 21Manchester UnitedWest Ham3-1
Dec. 21StokeAston Villa2-1
Dec. 21SunderlandNorwich0-0
Dec. 21West BromHull1-1
ESPNFC

Liverpool put together a textbook performance to cruise past Cardiff. The Reds scored three goals in the opening half, including a pair from Luis Suarez to continue his remarkable run of form, en route to an easy win and a spot atop the table.

BBC Sport passed along Suarez's comments after the match:

Manchester City almost suffered a major meltdown against Fulham. After building a 2-0 halftime lead it appeared they would roll to three easy points. Instead, the Cottagers fought back and received an own goal from Vincent Kompany to get back level.

Luckily for City, they woke up from their early second-half slumber in time for Jesus Navas and James Milner to each strike late. It would have been a tough pill to swallow if they didn't get all three points, but they deserve credit for bouncing back to avoid that fate.

There are still concerns about their road form, as Opta Joe points out:

Manchester United enjoyed a rare comfortable win as they continue on their quest to climb the table after a shaky start. Danny Welbeck, Adnan Januzaj and Ashley Young scored, as they moved within three points of the top five.

Yohan Cabaye maintained his strong form for Newcastle, scoring just inside the half-hour mark to spark a solid win over Crystal Palace. They also received an own goal from Palace's Daniel Gabbidon, and Hatem Ben Arfa converted from the penalty spot late to cap the win.

After a mundane opening half, the encounter between Stoke and Villa really picked up after the break. Charlie Adam gave Stoke the lead, and Libor Kozak equalized before Peter Crouch netted the winner 20 minutes from time for the Potters.

A win ensures Stoke maintain some breathing room ahead of the relegation zone. Villa are two points behind their Matchday 17 counterparts, but are still looking safe as of now.

The other two matches on Saturday features clubs in the bottom half of the table, both ending in draws and doing little to help any of the sides involved in terms of the table in the short term.

Hull looked destined for a road victory over West Brom, but Matej Vydra scored inside the final 10 minutes to get a point for the Baggies.

WEST BROMWICH, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 21:  Matej Vydra (R) of West Bromwich Albion celebrates with team mate Zoltan Gera after scoring during the Barclays Premier League match between West Bromwich Albion and Hull City at The Hawthorns on December 21, 2013 in
Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Both Sunderland and Norwich were able to create some scoring chances in their clash, but the finishing was far from clinical, leading to a scoreless draw.

The action continues with Southampton vs. Tottenham and Swansea vs. Everton on Sunday, before Arsenal and Chelsea wrap up the matchday on Monday.